Ballowal Barrow – Carn Gluze – Chambered Tomb

The Ballowal tomb entrance on the cliffs near St Just is special because it is in fact a complex of barrows and cists from different periods, spanning the Neolithic and Bronze Ages (3500-2500BC), and the only one of its kind in Cornwall. Remaining hidden under rubble from nearby mining activity for centuries significantly contributed to its preservation, although an element of restoration initiated in the C19th by its re-discoverer, the historian Borlase, caused some alterations to its original form, including the excavation of the moat-like inner ring which aimed to allow visitors easier access to the chambers within.

The elongated main burial chamber is one of the largest in Penwith, and lies roughly central within the remains of a stony cairn spanning over 20 metres and containing two concentric inner dry stone walls. Around it are a number of stone chambers, known as cists, some of which Borlase found to contain funereal urn fragments in 1878. A further two rectangular burial pits forming a T shape complete the cluster.

The lofty and exposed location is typical of these monuments, which would have been used for both burial and ritual, and the barrow entrance faces southwest towards the setting sun. Evidence in the form of a Roman coin discovered in one of the cists suggests that Ballowal Barrow, or Carn Gloose/Gluze as it is also known, continued to be used for many years after its construction.

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