Monday, June 23, 2014

St Piran's Cross

Saint Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall.  He was from Ireland, where they really didn't like him, to him to the ocean, threw him in with a millstone tied around his neck.  Since he was a holy man, he simple stood up on the stone and surfed to Cornwall, where he landed between Newquay and Perranporth, on what is now Perran Beach.  He is now the patron saint of surfers, too.

We had heard of St Piran's cross, but like so many other ancient monuments, is wasn't that easy to find.  We made it close then followed out GPS coordinates across the Penhale Dunes, where there were signs warning us of poisonous dune vipers.  Well, we weren't worried, we had Molly to protect us by barking at those silly vipers.  Fortunately, we never saw any of them, as apparently they are shy.

Mollie the Collie with Mary at St Piran's Cross in 2009

The cross was first mentioned in a charter of King Edgar in 960, when it was already an old landmark.  There are the remains of an old church nearby, which is thought to have been built by the Saint. Recently, work has been undertaken to reclaim the church from the sand that engulfed it over the years.

The cross in 1890, shows it hasn't changed all that much, just a bit more lichen on the face.
Saint Piran is also the patron saint of tin miners.  He was the one who rediscovered tin after his arrival in Cornwall.  (The Romans found it first, but they left.)  The story goes that St Piran built a fireplace out of a large chunk of black rock.  As the flames in his fireplace grew hotter, he was amazed to find a trickle of white metal coming out of the stone.  Sharing this information with the locals, the famous Cornish tin trade was born.  One of way he is honored to this day is the white cross of Saint Piran against a black backdrop which is the Cornish Flag

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