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Tregiffian chamber tomb

Introduction to site

Tregiffian chamber tomb is an entrance grave which remains mostly intact, despite part of its mound being levelled for the construction of a road in the 1840s. One stone at the entrance decorated with cup marks is a replica. The original is in the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

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Cup marks are a form of prehistoric carving, and the example at the entrance to Tregiffian may be one of the oldest recorded in the South West of England. They consist of concave depressions, each a few centimeters across, pecked into a rock surface.

Tregiffian chamber tomb lies immediately adjacent to the B3315 Newlyn to Treen road. There is a layby available for parking. There is a sign on the road opposite the layby signposting the Merry Maidens. The entrance grave is a short walk south of the layby along the B3315.

The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.

There are direct bus services available to the Merry Maidens, with the bus stop at the aforementioned layby. Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.

The National Cycle Network Route 3 passes the site, following the B3315.

There are refreshments available approximately 1.75km from the site at Lamorna Pottery.

View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.

The remains of Tregiffian entrance grave lies in close proximity to other monuments including the Goon Rith Menhir and the Merry Maidens stone circle.

The site was first recorded by WC Borlase in 1863  and was opened by him in 1868. He believed that the stones had been taken from the mound to make the surrounding hedges and in their place earth from the building of the road was placed so that it is difficult to ascertain the original design of the mound. He recorded a ring of perimeter stones and a large inclined capstone 2.7m in diameter and 0.45m thick resting on two uprights  at the south and west sides and on the ground on the other side. He recorded ashes and bone splinters and a flint flake, but no metalwork or pottery.

The mound was excavated in 1967 and 1968 when it was recorded that it  may have originally been 12m in diameter. The megalthic passage was discovered and recorded as 4.3m long and 1.2m wide, surrounded by a setting of large granite slabs 0.9m to 1.2m high at about 0.9m from the outer edge of this passage. The stones blocking the entrance, one of them cup marked, had been displaced by Borlase. Slightly east of the entrance a 1.1m square granite block, covered with cup marks, had been set at an angle to the entrance. Another large cup marked stone was found lying in the SE quadrant.

The floor of the passage was strewn with broken and crushed bone and below this floor were two pits. An oval one contained charcoal, stone and cremated bone, and a round one held an undamaged urn 38cm high.

A further excavation was carried out in 1972 to create a plan of the chamber  prior to conservation and restoration.