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St. Piran's Round

OS Grid reference:- SW 779 545

St. Piran's Round, which is situated directly east of the popular resort of Perranporth beside the B3285, consists of a circular earthwork ampitheatre measuring about 45 metres in diameter, surrounded by a single bank of around 3 metres high and a ditch of 2.5 metres deep with an entrance on the south side. It is the most famous of all Cornish 'playing places', although the origins of the Round are uncertain, it was dates from well before the Romans invaded Briain and is thought to have originated in the Iron Age.

St Piran was a sixth century holy man who is said to have floated to Cornwall from Ireland on a mill-stone. He has become the patron saint of Cornish tinners

St. Pirans Round

In the Middle Ages St. Piran's Round became a venue where the Mystery Plays, which were popular at the time and were performed for religious instruction. The Round is large enough to seat an audience of hundreds, it measures around 130 feet in diameter, the embankment itself is around eight feet high with grassed seats on circular terraces. The depression in the middle (The Devil's Spoon) was the place where the Devil sprang from during the performances. In 1969 and 1973 productions of the Cornish Medieval plays were enacted there for the first time in many centuries. Today the Cornish Gorsedd ceremony is sometimes performed at St. Piran's Round.

The nearby Oratory of St. Piran was built in the seventh century, it was an important early Celtic monastery and a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages and was said to contain the relics of St. Piran. Now in the sand dunes, it became submerged by drifting sands in the eleventh century and had to be abandoned.


St. Piran's Round is situated around 1.2km along the B3285 from Goonhavern, travelling towards Perranporth, on the north side of the road, just off a small lane opposite a house. There is open access to the land. A stile leads into the enclosure where the earthwork stands.

Image copyright Alan Simkins

Prehistoric Sites in Cornwall