St. Piran's Oratory
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Piran's first oratory was probably built of wattle and
daub which was not very durable so a new one of stone was built at a later date.
It is the remains of this one that now lies buried in the sand.
|Replica of St. Piran's Oratory (Royal Institution of Cornwall)
Excerpts from "In the Shadow of Saint Piran"
by Eileen Carter
People loved their saint so much that they wanted to be,
in death as in life, as close to him as possible and so the oratory thrived for
centuries. During this time sand threatened the building. There is
nothing written down and we can only surmise what happened. Was there a
big sand bar at sea? Or dunes further into and across the bay, the sea level
being lower? Here again spare time for thought and speculation.
There is certainly an inconceivable amount of sand all along the north Cornish
coastal areas. The threat became so intolerable that the people were
forced to consider another site for the new church.
Piran too well brooketh his name in Sabuloe: for the light
sand carried up by the north wind from the sea shore daily
continueth his covering and marring the land adjoinant, so
as the distress of this deluge drave the inhabitants to
remove their church, Howbeit when it meeteth with any
crossing brook, the same (by a secret apathy) restraineth
and barreth his farther encroaching that way. It was
in consequence of this notion that the inhabitants, thinking
such situation secure, removed their church only about 300
yards, it being on the opposite side of the brook.
must have been a very traumatic
decision for them, to abandon the place of their beloved saint;
but eventually nature decided for them, and a new site was
decided upon, a few minutes walk to the east, across a small
stream. Still within sight of the oratory, the people took
heart, knowing that the towering dunes could not cross water.
We cannot be sure that the
oratory building now reburied in sand is the original structure of St. Piran.
Some academics believe that stone was not in use in the 6th century, but the
very hallowed spot Piran chose would have been where the little oratory was
built. Whatever the argument of time scale, no one can say with certainty,
so once again we must ponder and make up our own minds: 5th, 6th, or 7th
centuries: does it matter? We know that a date of great antiquity lies
here. we also know that a graveyard of immense proportions is buried under