From ancient Celtic remains, to lost villages and some of the UK’s quirkiest museums, Cornwall is awash with hidden history. Indeed, this wild, mysterious and often secretive side is one of the true unsung joys of the region. Whether you visit as a history enthusiast, a rambler or a fan of literature from Poldark to Daphne De Maurier, there are some wonderfully intriguing English heritage sites to visit in Cornwall. Here are a handful of favourites, from local features to further flung sites.
Although small in size, our nearest museum is a revealing archive of records and treasures stretching back over 500 years. Visitors can discover the town’s former jail and a history of smuggling, fishing and boat building in the area, with some revealing finds on display. Click here for more information.
St. Michael’s Chapel
Located on the beautifully craggy Rame Head (PL10 1LH), this piece of Celtic history dates back to the 14th Century , but it is believed that the site has sacred origins that run far deeper still, to the era of King Ethelred (10th Century) and earlier.
The Cornish Smuggling Museum & Jamaica Inn (PL15 7TS)
Steeped in history of a grisly and fascinating nature right on the edge of Bodmin Moor, this historic inn fuelled Daphne Du Maurier's novel of the same name. The visitor will also find a small but interesting Smuggling Museum, with some strange and eye opening exhibits (including novel tricks for sneaking everything from narcotics to budgies past the authorities). Also worth a trip for beautiful walks, ancient sites and Celtic crosses on Bodmin Moor itself. Click here to fine out more.
Chysauster Ancient Village
A well preserved ancient Celtic settlement site dating from nearly 2000 years ago (above). 2 miles north west of Gulval off B3311 (OS Map 203:Ref: SW472350)
Image: Loz Peacock/ Wikicommons Media
An unusual Bronze Age chambered tomb with a complex layout, this is one of the largest burial chambers in the area. Eerily fascinating, it is well worth a detour. Find the site one mile west of St. Just near Carn Gloose (OS Mao 203: ref: SW354313)
Carn Euny Ancient Village
The remains of an Iron Age settlement with intriguing underground passages. Find the ruins one mile south west of Sancreed off A30 (OS map 203:ref SW402289)
Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery (PL4 8AJ)
Run by passionate locals, you’ll find countless objects and artworks on display at this free to enter collection, but perhaps the real highlight is a revealing portrait gallery, featuring rarities such as an early self-portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds. A must for any history buff on a day excursion in Plymouth. Click here to read more.
Image: Nilfanion/ Wikicommons Media
Geevor Tin Mine and Heritage Centre
Another long haul to almost the very tip of Cornwall, but for the footloose visitor this is about as authentic as it gets for anyone curious about the history of Cornish mining. Plenty of lovingly reproduced exhibits, genuine artefacts and sections of the actual mine from early days to the eventual end, cataloguing centuries of this vital facet of Cornish life. Read more here.
National Maritime Museum (Falmouth)
A longer journey for the visitor, but worth the effort for any maritime history enthusiast, with a huge collection of well over 100 boats and vessels, Viking weapons, lost treasures and much more. Click here for more information.