NGR: SW 40128 28185. In a field to the southwest of Brane in Cornwall is what one might call a rather crudely-built burial mound, but, it is, in fact, a prehistoric chambered tomb dating from the Bronze Age; the small, round-shaped grassy mound with large stones forming the entrance and kerb stones, is locally called the ‘Carn Euny Entrance Grave’ or ‘Brane Entrance Grave’. It is sometimes called ‘Chapel Euny Barrow’. This rather odd little monument is to be found in the West Penwith Peninsula area of Cornwall, 1¾ miles southwest of Sancreed. But despite all that, it is a fascinating megalithic monument, if a bit eroded away around the front entrance leaving the stonework more exposed than it probably should be. However, it is a reasonably well-preserved monument of its type – there are others in west Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly. Nearby, about ½ a mile NNW of Brane, is the Carn Euny Iron Age village, and, an ancient underground stone-built structure known as a fogou or souterrain, which could be older than the ancient village.
However, in recent times the entrance grave at Brane has been used by farm animals as a shelter, and, in the late 20th century some restoration was needed due to that. There is now a tree growing out of the top of the mound! It would seem likely that an important person from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age was buried in the chamber, possibly a local chieftain, or the head of a local tribe along with members of his family. The monument stands on ‘Private Land’ some 300m to the southwest of Brane Farm.
James Dyer writing in 1973 & 1977 says: “The finest Cornish example of the small group of entrance graves confined to the Isles of Scilly and west Penwith, consisting of short stone-walled burial passages open at one end and covered by mounds of earth and stones. These are almost certainly the last vestiges of the great passage grave burial chambers found in western and northern Britain. At Brane the passage is 2·3 m long and 1·2 m wide, and is roofed with two large capstones. A kerb of large stone surrounds the barrow which is 2·1 m high and 6·1 m in diameter.”
Harold Priestley writing in 1976 says of Chapel Euny neolithic long barrow: “The barrow, about 20 ft (6.1 m) in diameter and edged with upright stones, has an inner chamber entered at the SE and roof of two capstones”. Just to mention here that it is ‘not’ a long barrow.
Sadly, the burial mound at Brane has largely been overlooked by many archaeologists in favour, perhaps, of the more interesting nearby late Iron Age village of Carn Euny (NGR: SW 4023 2885), with its well-preserved souterrain, the granite stone-walled underground passageway being 66 feet long and leading to an inner chamber. The ancient village or set-tlement here was occupied from around 400 BC to the late Roman period and is very similar to the ancient settlement of Chysauster. It is in the care of English Heritage.
John Michell writing in 2003 tells us that: “The Iron-age village, Carn Euny, west of Penzance, contains a ‘fogou’……..This mysterious class of monument, unique to West Cornwall, consists of an underground chamber, approached by passages. Many old villages and farmsteads had one of these. They may have been storehouses or places of refuge, but more likely they were shrines to the spirits of the underworld, invoked by the Cornish miners.”
Sources / References & Related Websites:-
Dyer, James, Southern England: An Archaeological Guide, Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1973 & 1977.
Michell, John, Prehistoric Sites in Cornwall, Wessex Books, Newton Toney, Salisbury, Wiltshire, 2003.
Priestley, Harold, The Observer’s Book of Ancient & Roman Britain, Frederick Warne & Co Ltd., London, 1976.
More info here: https://www.cornwallheritagetrust.org/our_sites/carn-euny/
Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2022.
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