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Date set for St Piran’s Oratory excavation

By WBEsme  |  Posted: January 17, 2014

  • St Piran's Oratory prior to 1890

  • St Piran's Oratory in 1892-1909

  • St Piran's Oratory in 1892-1909

  • St Piran's Oratory in 1910

  • St Piran's Oratory; protective shell in 1955

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“Expectation is becoming reality” as works to uncover the ancient St Piran’s Oratory in Perranporth will begin on February 17.

The St Piran’s Trust has revealed that after 15 years of campaigning, works to excavate the St Piran’s Oratory will begin next month.

The oratory, which is believed to be the oldest four walled Christian building on mainland Britain, was buried in the 1980s for it’s own protection.

But since then, expert opinion has shifted and many historians have called for it to be uncovered and conserved in a more sympathetic way.

David Barrie, trustee at the St Piran’s Trust, said, “I am delighted that we now have a start date and it’s great news for our hard-working volunteers and all those with a passion for Cornwall and its heritage.

“Many people in Cornwall have longed for the oratory to see the light of day, once more, and now expectation is becoming reality.

It is not clear what the remains will look like, but it is hoped that the oratory will be fully uncovered by the end of the year.

“Upon excavation, we will need to assess and examine what lies within. Until then, it is very much a case of wait and see.

“We expect our conservation work to be completed this year, followed by careful consideration of how to protect the oratory in future years,” Mr Barrie added.

Legend says that the oratory marks the landing place of St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall and tinners, after he was cast out of Ireland on a mill stone in the 6th century.

The saint is said to have built the chapel and forged a white cross of tin which has gone on to become the symbol of the Cornish.

Today, many hundreds of people gather at the site on March 5 to mark St Piran’s Day.

The first viewing of the newly exposed oratory is set to take place on Sunday, March 2, when the annual St Piran play will be staged.

The trust is now looking to raise money and recruit volunteers to ensure the success of the project.

Mr Barrie said: “We are asking the public to get involved and become part of history – either by either volunteering to help and/or by donating funds.

“We need to raise £100,000 to ensure this dream comes true.”

Those wishing to volunteer to take part in the excavation should contact James Gossip at Cornwall Council on 01872 324303 or jgossip@cornwall.gov.uk

To make donations, send cheques to Ian Saltern 2 Corner Gardens, Stratton, Cornwall EX23 9BT.

Online payments can be made to Lloyds TSB, Boscawen Street, Truro (309876) Branch - Account No.32394268; Sort code 30 98 76.

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