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For the fishing lugger lost at St Ives in 1909, see List of shipwrecks in 1909.
Cornish: Boskaswal Wartha
Pendeen is located in Cornwall
 Pendeen shown within Cornwall
OS grid reference SW384344
Civil parish St Just
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PENZANCE
Postcode district TR19
Dialling code 01736
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Ives
List of places

Coordinates: 50°09′08″N 5°39′42″W / 50.1521°N 5.6618°W / 50.1521; -5.6618

Pendeen Church
Pendeen Lighthouse at Pendeen Watch

Pendeen (from Cornish: Penn Din, otherwise known as Boskaswal Wartha)[1] is a village and ecclesiastical parish on the Penwith peninsula in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is 3 miles (4.8 km) north-northeast of St Just and 7 miles (11.3 km) west of Penzance.[2] It lies along the B3306 road which connects St Ives to Land's End and the A30 road.

The village has a community centre, a shop, a post office, a primary school, and a few small businesses. Community activities include an art club, a gardening club, silver marching band and a football club. Nearby settlements include Carnyorth and Trewellard and the historic Geevor Tin Mine is immediately north of the village.

The village gets its name from the headland on which Pendeen Lighthouse stands, a mile from the village. Like many other Cornish villages near the coast, Pendeen had a reputation for smuggling activities.

Pendeen is overlooked by a hill, Carn Eanes,[3] referred to locally as 'The Carn', the site of a quarry which provided the granite to build Pendeen church.

Pendeen lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Almost a third of Cornwall has AONB designation, with the same status and protection as a National Park.

Pendeen is close (1km) to the South West Coast Path and in addition has a number of local footpaths for exploring the surroundings. Some of these paths are documented in Pendeen Walks


The parish Pendeen, originally named North St Just, was formed in 1846 from a number of settlements in the eastern part of the parish of St Just.[1] Pendeen comprised the settlements of Bojewyan, Portheras Cross, Boscaswell Downs, Lower Boscaswell, Trewellard, Carnyorth and part of Botallack . Before that time "Pendeen" would have been taken to mean the eponymous headland or Pendeen Manor, birthplace of Dr. William Borlase, rather than the village.

Buildings and antiquities[edit]

The Church of St John was built of granite: it was designed by the parson (Robert Aitken), built by the villagers in 1851 and refurbished in 1878.[4]

At Pendeen Vau is a picturesque farmhouse of the 16th-century (front added in 1670) and a fogou [56 ft long (17 m), with a side passage of 24 ft (7.3 m)].[5]

Horsefield's Life in a Cornish Village[edit]

Pendeen was the subject of the book 'Life in a Cornish Village' by the Rev. F. J. Horsefield in 1893. Horsefield, being an amateur historian, wrote of a multitude of aspects of Pendeen's past.

He wrote, for example, that Chûn Castle, on the 'gump' (Cornish for moor) was most likely a Danish (pre-)viking castle. It was built when the indigenous Celts (viz. 'Cornu-Britons') were joined by Danish military allies against the invading Saxons. The gump itself was a battlefield with many discovered urns indicating this violent history. There remains little trace of provenance for this assertion. Chun Castle is much older than first thought and is possibly Bronze Age or earlier, and much more likely to be the site of a fortified village. It was excavated in 1930 and is thought to have been built in the third century BC, far later than its neighbouring Chûn Quoit.

Boscaswell, arguably a part of Pendeen, traces its name to Bos Castle. Horsefield suggests that what is now Boscaswell was once the site of another Danish castle. Again now not thought to be true, again a wrongful supposition and the name has nothing to do with castles. At the lower end of Boscaswell, recent archaeological excavations are said to have suggested that the land has been occupied for more than 10,000 years. There is an ancient pagan well in Boscaswell which is where the name is thought to have its origins, the name suggests that it is the place (Bos) of Cas' (a person or entity or abbreviation thereof) Well (as in the English word). Problems often exist with such names when they become a hybrid of the indigenous Cornish and the persistent waves of English administration, land ownership and tourism that stretch back into time and continue today.

Geevor tin mine[edit]

Pendeen is famous for its Geevor Tin Mine. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited the mine in 1957. Little in the way of corroboration exists for the following speculations; however, mining has occurred in Pendeen for over 3000 years. 2000 years ago the Romans brought Jews to Pendeen to work the mines.[citation needed] These Jews, suggests Horsefield, came as slaves from the then recently sacked Jerusalem. Moreover, when Horsefield wrote his book, he claimed that locals still called a piece of tin a 'Jew's piece'. Jewish influence can be witnessed around Pendeen through names such as the village 'Bojewyn' (meaning 'abode of the Jews'); (Bojewyn is more likely to be translated from its Brythonic origins as meaning "John's Place", Jowan being a common Cornish family and first name whilst the prefix "Bos" could be most likely referring to a location or domain; Bosjowan is converted to Bojewyn through development of the indigenous dialect of West Penwith. 'Market Jew street' in Penzance, and the small town of 'Marazion' (of St Michael's Mount fame). Horsefield is now considered to be incorrect in his assertion about these names, with his interpretation of the place names; Market Jew Street and Marazion. Both places could derive their names from the Cornish language. Marghas yow is Cornish meaning Thursday market and Thursday is still considered as market day by many local people. Many Cornish place names survive in the form of the Middle or Early Cornish language and in this context the English meaning of the word Jew is probably completely different to that of its original Cornish Language meaning. For example, dialectically the word Jew could be a phonetic version of the written Cornish word "Dhu" meaning Black, as Cassiterrite tin ore is often black in colour until smelted when it turns white this further complicates the debate whilst clarifying the assertions made by Horsefield and similar speculations.


Storm on the coast near the Enys

Horsefield also writes of a large natural cave named 'Pendeen Vau', the entrance of which is to be found on a cliff. Apparently this cave is vast, going far below & into the sea but its existence is disputed by many villagers.

Below Boscaswell is an area known as 'The Craft' which is mostly overgrown by gorse, fern and brambles, although many pathways exist. Here can be found abandoned mine buildings dating from the 19th century (including wash houses, engine houses and arsenic baths).

Pendeen boasts three beaches although some are more accessible than others. The largest of them, and the only one accessible at all states of the tide, was for many years the home of a wrecked ship the Alacrity until the army was called in to clear the wreck as it was presenting a danger to swimmers.

Below Pendeen Lighthouse can be found the wreck of 'The Liberty', although most of it has now been eroded away but the sea parts of the wreck are still visible at low tide on what locals call 'Liberty Rock' which is a favourite fishing spot.

Pendeen Primary School was one of the schools studied in the 1950s by Iona and Peter Opie[6]

Notable residents[edit]

William Borlase, naturalist and antiquary, was born at Pendeen: he was vicar of St Just for 40 years and rector of Ludgvan for 50. Frederic John Horsefield, 1893. In honour of the Borlase family the local football team Pendeen Rovers AFC ground is called Borlase Park as a thank you to the Borlase family for selling the land that they have played on for many years for the sum of £1000.

Pendeen in the media[edit]

In 2011, Overhill, a low-budget horror film, was shot in Pendeen with a cast made up largely of local people.[7] Following a preview at the North Inn, the film was premiered in the East End Film Festival in June 2013.[8]


  1. ^ Place-names in the Standard Written Form (SWF) : List of place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel. Cornish Language Partnership.
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  3. ^ Land's End 1:25000. Ordnance Survey. 2003. ISBN 9780319241165. 
  4. ^ "Re-opening of St John the Baptist Church". The Cornishman (17). 7 November 1878. p. 4. 
  5. ^ Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall, 2nd ed. Penguin Books
  6. ^ Opie, Iona & Peter (1959) The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren Oxford University Press
  7. ^ Barrie, Josh (19 June 2013). "Penwith village and its residents to appear in film premiering in London". Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Frighteningly cheap: £600 horror movie stars at festival". Evening Standard. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Pendeen at Wikimedia Commons
Pendeen travel guide from Wikivoyage