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Bodmin Moor is a vast and wild area of Cornwall with many ancient monuments, mysteries, and legends surrounding it.
There are many standing stones around this area that have truly stood the test of time and are still there for us to see today.
Trethevy Quoit is an unusual cave-like chamber that sits in the heart of the parish of St Cleer. It’s thought to be a burial chamber that was built thousands of years ago!
The fact that things like this can be seen today is mind-blowing to me and, after my recent visit, I think it’s definitely worth a stop if you find yourself on the moor.
Here’s a complete guide to Trethevy Quoit or the Giant’s House in Cornwall. With the history, legend, how to visit and things to do in the area.
What is Trethevy Quoit?
Trethevy Quoit (pronounced Tre-thee-vee Qw-oy-t) is a capstone chamber that is made up of five standing stones holding up a massive capstone at the top!
It is approximately 2.7 metres tall and the whole thing is thought to weigh around 20 tons.
This type of monument is called a ‘portal’ dolmen which is a popular type of monument found in Cornwall.
A dolmen is a single Neolithic tomb that is made up of two stones or more holding up a capstone or table stone on top.
Trethevy Quoit is thought to be the finest preserved dolmen chamber in Britain and dates all the way back to the Neolithic era around 3,500 BC. This makes it over 5,000 years old!
There is still a lot that is unknown about these monuments, like who erected them or why they did so. But, excavations and historical studies can make a good guess with some solid theories.
The ancient Trethevy Quoit history
There are a couple of theories as to what the burial chamber would have been used for all those years ago.
Some believe that it was a burial chamber used to simply bury the dead. There are theories that believe this was a portal chamber and would have been connected to a larger cairn at the back that you could walk inside.
There are others that say this was a temple for worship and wasn’t associated with the dead at all.
From other studies that have taken place around ancient burial monuments, it is believed that they used solar alignments. With the axis of these tombs pointing to other burial sites and monuments in the area.
Early humans believed that the dead were mediators between the living and the gods. These tombs aligned with the solar system was where they believed they could cross the veil between the two worlds.
Although it is thought to be a burial chamber this cannot be completely proved as no skeletal remains have been found.
Unfortunately, anything that has been buried in the acidic soil for 5,000 years is long gone!
The findings of the recent Trethevy Quoit dig
Even today, archaeologists and locals are curious to know just what is under this ancient tomb.
Last year a huge group of volunteers started to dig under the stones to see what lay beneath.
The team found a large platform of greenstone underground by the monument which is now being sent off for testing and assessment.
It threw a lot of what Trethevy Quoit was believed to be out the window and is now undergoing a huge study.
I would definitely keep up to date with the Cornwall Heritage Trust and English Heritage with their reports if you were curious to know the results!
The Giant’s House & King Arthur’s Quoit
This place also became locally known as the Giant’s House or ‘Chi An Kowr’ here on Bodmin Moor.
According to an ancient legend, some giants hurled these stones together in a game of Quoits. This ancient game requires you to throw rings over a spike!
There are many legends on Bodmin Moor that tell tales of giants especially around the Hurlers Stone Circles and Cheesewring near Minions.
It was believed that giants were unhappy about Christianity being introduced to Cornwall. Some were even petrified and turned to stone for playing games and music on a Sunday!
This temple has also been called King Arthur’s Quoit and has been connected with the Arthurian tales too.
Many dolmen chambers across the country have tales where Arthur laid them on the sites of battles or the wizard Merlin built them with his magical powers.
The exact connection here is unclear… but you can visit Arthur’s Hall and Arthur’s bed on the moor too.
Nearby here is Colliford Lake which is said to be Dozmary Pool. The home of the Lady of the Lake where he received the sword Excalibur!
Where in Cornwall is Trethevy Quoit and how to do I get there?
Trevethy Quoit is on the border of Bodmin Moor in the parish of St Cleer in Cornwall.
The full address is Off B3254, Near Darite, St Cleer, Cornwall, PL14 5JY for your SatNav.
It is best if you have your own car to access the site. Bodmin Moor is a remote area with little or infrequent bus service to connect you with tourist sites.
Trethevy Quoit car park: There is a small car park of around 4/5 spaces that are located next to Trethevy Quoit and is completely FREE to park here.
Walk to Trethevy Quoit: Trethevy Quoit can be accessed as part of many walks around St Cleer or Bodmin Moor and it’s well signposted as a popular tourist attraction in the area.
Bus to Trethevy Quoit: There is a direct bus from the nearby town of Liskeard to St Cleer. Service 174 takes around 20 minutes to reach the town. It’s then a 30-minute walk to Trethevy Quoit.
Opening times and prices for Trethevy Quoit
Trethevy Quoit is open 24 hours a day and all year round. But it’s good to note that this lies on private land with reasonable access laws. There are also a few houses dotted around the site.
It’s also completely FREE to visit Trethevy Quoit. A lot of attractions and car parks on Bodmin Moor are free so it’s a great scenic and bargain day out for travellers.
What to expect on your visit
When you park up at the site, the walk to Trethevy Quoit is less than a minute and the monument itself is located on a grassy field area.
So, I would wear some good shoes if it’s been raining as the grass gets quite muddy and wet.
I found it quite amazing that this huge stone monument has been standing here for over 5,000 years and it’s still upright in its current shape.
You’re allowed complete access to Trethevy Quoit, so you can touch the stones and investigate the tomb as long as you like. You can even climb inside it if you feel moved to!
But, after you’ve seen the tomb and had a little look around it, that’s all that’s here really.
There is a small information board that has been placed here by English Heritage that gives you a little more information about what Trethevy Quoit is and a small history too.
I’d say you’d need around 10-15 minutes to have a good look around, enjoy some of the views, and then you’re pretty much done…unless you want to do some more investigations!
- How old is Trethevy Quoit? – it’s over 5,000 years old!
- Who built Trethevy Quoit? No one really knows! But, it’s thought to date back to the Neolithic age with early humans
- Why was Trethevy Quoit built? The most popular theory was that it was a burial chamber!
- Where to eat near Trethevy Quoit? – St Cleer nearby has the most shops and cafés for refreshments after your visit
- Can you fly a drone at Trethevy Quoit? – is strictly not permitted unless you have permission from English Heritage
- Dogs at Trethevy Quoit – dogs are permitted here all year but keep them on a lead as sheep graze in the field
Things to do near Trethevy Quoit
So, Trethevy Quoit is an amazing monument to see but you’ll only need a very short time here and then you’ll be itching to see something else!
Bodmin Moor is a great day out on the borders of Cornwall that has many places that you can visit nearby.
From scenic lakes, cascade waterfalls, ancient standing stones, and long hikes across the wild moor. There is no end of incredible places to discover.
Golitha Falls & King Doniert’s Stone
Bodmin Moor’s best beauty spot is the Golitha Falls nature reserve. An ancient woodland that surrounds the River Fowey with some scenic cascades crashing through it.
Although the word ‘falls’ is a bit misleading and does inspire the image of a huge crashing waterfall, these are really only pretty cascades that you can follow. But, they are really beautiful.
There are two routes you can take to find the falls here, one is really easy and accessible and the other is a bit harder.
It all depends on what you fancy, how much time you have and your ability!
There is also a theory that King Doniert, the last king of Cornwall, drowned in Golitha Falls in the 9th century.
You can find King Doniert’s Stone nearby here that has a small inscription to commemorate him.
I really loved my visit to the nature reserve and felt this walk was the highlight of visiting Bodmin Moor. Don’t forget to stop by the amazing Inkie’s Smokehouse for a bite to eat.
Hurlers Stone Circle & Cheesewring
The area of Minions nearby Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall has some of the most magnificent ancient monuments to explore.
The Hurlers Stone Circles are an amazing set of three stone circles that date back to the Bronze Age.
A local legend says that these are men who were petrified after playing hurling on a Sunday. You can also see The Pipers and Long Tom nearby. Click here to learn more about the Hurler’s!
The most fantastic walk in this area can be found on Stowes Pound.
The Cheesewring is a set of stones stacked on top of each other in bizarre shapes that are a whopping 20 feet high!
It is thought to have occurred from natural weathering over thousands of years.
This amazing walk on Bodmin Moor will take you over more burial mounds, caves, and has the most breathtaking views. Click here for my complete walking guide.
Even more places to visit on Bodmin Moor
There is so much more to explore on Bodmin Moor and you can find ancient monuments and attractions all over this area!
If you wanted more extensive walks you can travel to Sharp Tor, Hawks Tor, Rough Tor, Brown Willy, and Showery Tor.
There are also a few scenic lakes dotted around the area like Colliford Lake and Siblyback Lake.
If you wanted more ancient sites you can visit Trippet and Stripple Stones or Stannon stone circle.
Or, just outside the moor, you can visit Carnglaze Caverns, some man-made caves which were part of an old mining quarry.
The best place to stay on Bodmin Moor
Without a doubt, the coolest place to stay on Bodmin Moor is The Jamaica Inn. An old smuggler’s pub where bootleggers used to hide their contraband.
It was once a hive of criminals, where gangs, cutthroats, and wreckers met and was a place the authorities wouldn’t visit for fear of their lives.
Daphne du Maurier immortalised the fame of the inn when she wrote her famous novel in 1936.
Although this used to be a dangerous place, it’s now a friendly bar and restaurant and the hotel inside is extremely modern and luxurious. My room was so cosy and had fantastic views.