Cornwall’s lost city buried by sand remembered as walls emerge on dune

The dunes of Cornwall have incredible stories to tell.

It is said that under the sand lie the remains of a wealthy city, which was lost after a terrible sandstorm centuries ago.

While its fate was a legend, Langurroc was very real. Located where Crantock currently is, it was an influential settlement which was more developed than the old New Quay.

Locals remembered its story this week, after old walls suddenly emerged on a dune at the local beach.

The stone structures, surrounded by dangerous wires, appeared after storms and strong wind shifted the sand which was covering them.

They are thought to be much more recent than Langurroc, probably from the late 19th century.

The National Trust, which owns Crantock beach, told Cornwall Live that it is aware of the walls being partly buried in the sand, and that it closely monitors the dunes.

Old stone walls have emerged from the dunes at Crantock beach
(Image: Charlotte Becquart)

“From referring to historic maps of the area (dated 1888 – 1913), we think the walls are likely to be walling or Cornish hedges that once formed field boundaries and that gradually became covered with sand over time,” a spokesperson for the Trust said.

“However, this is yet to be confirmed by our archaeologist. As the dune system evolves, they are now being revealed again.”

The Trust said the dunes are dangerous and beach-goers should be careful.

“The Trust has put in place warning signs on the footpaths accessing Rushey Green as well as information on the website making visitors aware there can be steep drops from the dunes,” the spokesperson continued. “In some places we have also put in place fencing and further signs to warn against getting too close to the edge.

The dune where a couple of walls were discovered this week
(Image: Charlotte Becquart)

“Sand dune systems are dynamic, constantly changing over time – which is why the walls are now becoming uncovered again – and we will continue to make visitors aware of any changes and historical information as it becomes clearer.”

As pictures of the walls were shared in local Facebook groups, residents remembered the city Cornwall is said to have lost to treacherous sands.

Beach-goers urged to be careful as walls and wire are hidden in the sand

According to the legend, Langurroc, also known as Langarrow, was the largest settlement in England of its era.

While archaeologists and history experts say it was not the case, they confirm it was a powerful village.

“A number of myths and legends are associated with Crantock, including the story of St Carantoc floating ashore on an altar and the ‘Lost City of Langarrow’ – a tale that the settlement was once much larger – a city with seven churchyards that became buried in sand because of the sacrilege of the clergy,” the Crantock Conservation Area Character Appraisal & Management Proposals document, commissioned by Restormer Borough Council, reads.

“These ‘tall stories’, now grown fantastical through centuries of retelling and elaboration, are based on earlier truths; the crossings of the Celtic Saints from Ireland and Wales and the former power, land holdings, influence and subsequent decline of Crantock Collegiate church.”

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Crantock at the time was the principal settlement for what is now the Gannel and Newquay area.

“Much of its importance was based around the collegiate church of St Carantoc,” the conservation document reads.

“This wealthy foundation may have had a hand in the development of the medieval ‘New Quay’ on the north side of the Gannel. The success of this development and the town of Newquay that developed around it ultimately superseded Crantock as the principal settlement of the area.

“Prior to the development of the ‘New Quay’, first documented in 1439, the Gannel estuary was already an important trading place. There are references to Crantock as a fishing port as early as the 13th century with continuing strong links with Wales and Ireland.”

(Image: Charlotte Becquart)

The story says that the rich residents of Langurroc turned to a life of sins, which made God furious.

“A savage storm blew up, lasting for three days and three nights. The sand dunes from Crantock to Perran were formed.

“They wiped the city of sin from the face of the earth,” the South West Coast Path website reads.

The city and its inhabitants were buried in the sand.

Their remains are said to lie beneath the dunes at the back of Crantock beach.

Cornwall Live