Carn Brea is often described as the first hill in Cornwall (from a westerly perspective) and rises 198 metres (650 ft) above sea level. The hill is an important historical site showing evidence of late neolithic and early Bronze Age activity, as well as the remains of the thirteenth century chapel from which it is named. The chapel which was pulled down in 1816 was said to be the home of holy men or monks. A manuscript from 1396 kept at the County Records Office, Truro records the ′beaconage′ received from fishermen for the burning an ′ecclesiastical light′, normally a brazier or fire basket. This is the earliest record of a navigational light in Cornwall. The Old Cornwall Society continues to light a beacon fire for the summer solstice on 23 June each year.
During the second world war the summit housed a Royal Air Force radar, a plaque, near the car park is dedicated to those that served there.
Plaque about Chapel Carn Brea, the highest point in St Buryan parish