it that St. Piran, the Patron Saint of Cornwall fled Ireland in the
5th. century and landed here at Perranporth
having crossed the Irish sea on a millstone. ( There
may be some factual basis to this as a millstone makes perfect ballast for a
small coracle type boat commonly used during this period. ) Having arrived in Cornwall, Piran set about building his oratory among the dunes but
over the centuries the tiny chapel was overwhelmed by encroaching sand. During the 9th. century it was
abandoned and a second church was built on higher and firmer ground. In the latter part of the 18th. century,
this church too was under threat from sand drift and so it was decided to
dismantle it and rebuild it some distance inland at Perranzabuloe.
St. Pirans Cross stands close to the remains of the
second church and is mentioned in a charter of 960 AD. It is of interest as it is a
three-holed cross, only one other of which is known in the county. In the early 19th. century shifting
sands once again revealed the ruins of the oratory, said by some to be the
first Christian church in England.
Excavations unearthed 3 headless skeletons beneath the chapel floor, one of
which was of tall stature and said to be that of St. Piran
himself. At this time, it was decided to build a hideous concrete shell to
protect the remains of this sacred site but a new problem -that of flooding -
forced a decision to rebury the oratory for its own protection. Today the site
is marked by a granite block.