Zennor is both a village and a Parish, located on the
rugged north Cornish coast, 14 miles from Land's End and 4 miles west
of St. Ives. The Parish is 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, and consists
of small fields strewn with granite boulders, meandering streams,
dramatic coastal cliffs, and ancient hamlets. Cornish granite hedges
cover the land, and support an abundance of wildlife. These field
systems date back to the Bronze Age (4000 years ago) and are the oldest
living artefacts in the world.
At the height of the tin mining industry (1840s) over 1000 people lived and worked in Zennor. Today, the Parish has a population of around 200. Most of the land is owned by traditional Cornish farming families, who have farmed in Zennor for generations. These farms stretch out along the plateau above 100 metre high coastal cliffs which are pounded incessantly by the Atlantic. To the south the land rises to the open moors where livestock roamed freely 100 years ago.
Zennor is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and some of the land is owned and managed by the National Trust.
Zennor is steeped in myth, legend and history. The name Zennor is Cornish and is thought to derive from St. Senara, the Breton Princess Azenor who was falsely accused by her husband, and thrown into the sea in a barrel. She is said to have floated to Ireland founding Zennor along the way. Zennor is one of the last bastions of the Cornish language - the native speaker John Davey of Boswednack died in 1891. Many of the settlements and houses have Cornish names: Treveglos, Trewey, Porthmeor, Pennance, Boswednack, Bosporthennis, Foage, Treen, Tremedda, Tregerthen, Treveal, and Chy Kembro.
The landscape is literally covered in ancient sites. Nearby on the moors is Zennor Quoit, the world's largest Neolithic portal dolmen (chamber tomb). And for those who know where to look, there are standing stones, quoits, settlements, burial mounds and even a holy well to be found in the Parish.
The spectacular light and incredible scenery have
attracted many artists to Zennor. Patrick Heron, Brian Winter, Terry
Frost and others have all made their home here, and found inspiration
in the wild and romantic landscape. DH Lawrence lived here for a time,
and once wrote:
"At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself. Zennor is a most beautiful place: a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor-hills and a big sweep of lovely sea beyond, such a lovely sea, lovelier even than the Mediterranean..... It is the best place I have been in, I think".