An ancient chapel
St Piran’s Oratory can be found at Penhale Sands in Perranporth. It’s hard to know the exact age of the chapel. It might have been built by local people, or by Normans or Bretons after 1066. The building we see today probably replaced an earlier chapel on the same site, perhaps built by St Piran himself.
Buried by sand
Around the year 1150, sand blown by the wind began to surround the oratory. This made it difficult for people to enter the building to worship. Eventually, they abandoned the oratory and built another church around 200 metres away.
Eventually, sand completely covered the oratory and it became ‘lost’. It was found again in the 1800s and archaeologists excavated the building in 1835 and 1843. Many skeletons of people who had been buried near the oratory were found.
Buried once again
In 1910, a concrete cover was built over the oratory to protect it. By 1980, the cost of protecting the oratory had increased and it was decided to bury it once again with sand. Some people felt sad about this because they could no longer visit the oratory.
Uncovered for the people of Cornwall
In 2014, money was raised to dig the oratory out of the sand so that people could visit it once again. During the digging, more skeletons were found nearby. Tests showed that these skeletons were the bodies of people buried around 800AD.
Did you know?
St Piran is supposed to have floated to Cornwall from Ireland on a millstone. His first followers in Cornwall were said to be a fox, a badger and a boar.