Constantine Cornwall

History of Port Navas

The Constantine History Group’s November meeting began with a short AGM  followed by John Shepperd who spoke about the early history of the hamlet of Port Navas. His mother and father researched the history of the community and produced a book “The Story of Port Navas”.  John worked with his mother to produce a revised second edition for her centenary year in April. Members were delighted that Peggy Shepperd was able to attend.

John pointed out that Port Navas did not really exist as we know it today until Jonathan Mayn developed the creek at Cove, an earlier name, for shipping granite in the late 1820s.

Despite the late development of the present day community that we are familiar with, John began by pointing out that there were 321 sites of archaeological interest in a 6 mile radius of the hamlet. There is evidence of man on the Gower peninsular dating back 33,000 years ago. This is only 100 miles away in a direct line so it is likely that there were people in this area also, particularly as the Bristol Channel was dry land. Seven local finds of hand axes and arrow heads provide evidence of Mesolithic occupation (10,000 BP) whilst Neolithic implements of Gabbro from the Lizard are distributed over England as are Gabbroic clay pots from clay pits at St Keverne. The clay was able to withstand direct heat unlike pots made of clay from other sources where water would be heated by placing hot stones in the pots. By 3600BC bronze was being produced in the Indus Valley and by 2200BC there is evidence of Cornish tin being exported to make this valuable metal. Tin streaming of the local water courses would probably have contributed to Cornish production.  There is also evidence of Bronze Age communities within 8 miles of Port Navas, however, Iron Age people certainly lived in the area and there are seven rounds in Port Navas, three of which are at Calamansack. The Iron Age people don’t seem to have used money yet traded with the Romans, this may explain why several Roman hordes have been found in the area, the tribes of the time had little use for it!

Following the departure of the Romans the tin trade collapsed and the battles with the Anglo Saxons meant the Cornish were soon confined within the current county boundaries but trade with Brittany continued and several Irish Saints settled in Cornwall.

During Medieval time a number of local estates such as Calamansack, Trenarth and Treviades  developed, each one having access to the river Helford to enable fishing, dredging for oysters and trade by sea.

Members concluded that although the present community was relatively recent, the area has a long history of occupation and traded with both other parts of England as well as the continent.

Chairman for the evening, Peter Tatham thanked John for providing an interesting timeline and for setting Port Navas in context.

The next meeting will be on January 20th in the WI Hall, Constantine at 19.15 when Chris Burton will be talking about the Perran Foundry, once a business owned by the Fox family. Visitors are welcome. Contact 01326 250604