History of St Agnes

Ship in harbour at St Agnes
Ship in harbour at St Agnes

St Agnes and the outlying villages and hamlets of Mount Hawke, Porthtowan, Mithian, Trevellas and Blackwater have a long and interesting history. There is evidence from flint tools that seven thousand years ago people lived in the area; the Bronze Age residents left us barrows, and the Bolster bank earthwork provides archaeologists with an Iron Age or Dark Ages mystery.

From the Middle Ages the church at St Agnes provided a focus for a cluster of dwellings and in the nineteenth century Methodism inspired the building of numerous chapels in the parish.

Small fields with ancient stone hedges reflect the enclosure of land from surrounding moorland. The moorland itself is pockmarked with surface mining for tin and copper. This enterprise reached its height in the mid-nineteenth century with ever-deeper workings and skilfully constructed mine buildings – many still standing.

From the harbour at Trevaunance Cove ships took copper ore to be smelted in Swansea, returning with coal. Until its demise in 1917 the harbour was also used by mackerel and pilchard boats.

Today, the parish relies predominantly on tourism – not surprising in such a beautiful area.