Gwennap Pit – Cornwall, England - Atlas Obscura
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Cornwall, England

Gwennap Pit

The excellent acoustics of this natural amphitheater made it a popular preaching spot for the founder of the Methodist Church. 

This striking turf-covered amphitheater started as a simple conical depression in the ground, caused by the collapse of a mine shaft hundreds of years ago. Due to the pit’s excellent acoustics, it was a favorite preaching spot of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.

Wesley is said to have preached there 17 times between 1762 and 1789. Much later, to commemorate the religious leader, locals in the village turned this convenient natural amphitheater into a magnificent outdoor venue, adding terraces and preserving the natural acoustics.

Although named after the village of Gwennap, near Redruth, Cornwall, this beautiful amphitheater is actually nearly 2 miles to the of northwest of Gwennap, in Busveal, a small hamlet near St Day. 

Since 2001, the Gwennap pit has been owned by the Methodist Church and it is used as a place of worship on summer Sunday afternoons.  It is the site of an annual Methodist rally which was  first held on Whit Monday in 1807 and has taken place almost annually ever since (they missed two years in the 1820s).

The site is also used for music and drama events, charity walks, and as one of the most memorable weddings venues in the country. Because of its origins as a collapsed mine shaft, the pit is an important site in mining history as well as religious history. In 2006, it became part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site.