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Notes on Harlyn Burial Site


In 1866 when Mr Hellyar’s workman was seen wearing shiny trouser ties his employer was told that he had found them in a pot on the cliff near where they had been working and thought the ‘bits of brass’ would come in handy.

Thinking they were of greater importance Mr C.G.Prideaux-Brune of Place in Padstow was consulted and the items handed over to the Royal Institution of Cornwall at Truro.  The Duke of Cornwall later King Edward VII claimed them as Treasure Trove and the rare Gold Lunulae from the …..c  they turned out to be were deposited in Truro Museum ‘for the permanent gratification of public curiosity’.

Some 34 years later in 1900 a Mr Reddie Mallett digging foundations for a new house at the back of the beach came across a grave cist containing human remains.  The RIC were again alerted and this time appointed a committee of worthies which included  Rev William Jago of Bodmin and the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould from Lew Trenchard.  The ‘enthusiastic and energetic’ Mr Mallett under their supervision spent some of the next five years unearthing up to 130 Iron Age graves.

The house ‘Tamariska’ was built and a museum to house some of the remains. A set of postcards of the dig were produced by Reddie Mallett that show the methods used and the appearance of the graves.   A Book was also published written by Mr Ashington Bullen that unfortunately is lacking in detail but was sold widely in the 20’s and 30’s to visitors to the site.  A cluster of buildings would grow up catering for the holiday trade as the advert placed by Mr and Mrs Bellars indicates.

In 1976 the property having passed to Mr Wilson Claridge the museum was closed and items passed to the museum at Truro.

Changes to the building gave an opportunity for Cornwall Archaeology Unit to investigate the site and reconsider the earlier finds.  Excavations revealed a circular stone building beneath the levels  of the later Iron Age cemetery.  This was considered to be some sort of covered shrine  or mortuary house.  The presence of a foundation burial further indicating this.

Few who visit the busy Harlyn Inn complex in summer will be aware of the fascinating past beneath their feet.

J Buckingham 2017

Padstow Museum

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