St Piran was born in Ireland and made a Bishop after he returned from Rome where he had been studying. St Piran got into trouble when he brought soldiers back to life after they were killed during skirmishes between rival Irish kings. These tribal leaders were naturally angry and St Piran was forcefully expelled from his native Ireland by being flung into to sea with a large boulder around his neck. Ironically, the miracles that were the cause of his expulsion also saved his life, he is said to have miraculously floated across the sea coming ashore on Perran Beach, Perranporth. It was here he built his chapel or oratory.
The Oratory has been excavated twice and in 1910 a concrete shell was erected over the structure to protect it. The 2010 dig was to find out at what depth the remains. Two other small pits were dug to get an idea the nature of the below ground remains. James Gossip from the Historic Environment Service said of the exercise as a success. “The main trench identified some of the remains of the concrete block shell. We can now begin to work out how much sand would need to be removed to uncover the Oratory and design a detailed proposal to take the project forward”
Piran, of course, is also famous for accidentally discovering tin. The story goes when a black stone on his fireplace got so hot that a white liquid leaked out. It was this discovery that earned Piran the title ‘Patron Saint of Tinners’. Tin mining was the mainstay of Cornish industry for many years.
Pirans discovery also forms the basis of the Cornish flag, the white hot tin on the black of the ore.