THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.
PENRYN MUSEUM. The Saracen's Head of Penryn stares out from this glass etched door of Lavin's clothing shop. In the early 17th century the place name Penryn was interpreted as 'the head of the foreigner'; the foreigner being the much-feared pirates of the north African coast. Usually referred to as Turks, these marauders were in the white slavery business. Penryners were among those taken to north Africa, and heavy ransoms had to be paid to free them. The trade finally ended when Edward Pellew defeated the Turks at Algiers in 1815.
Since the early 17th century, the Saracen's Head has been the town symbol. It is thought to refer to Barbary pirates who operated off the Cornish coast at this time. The arms also appear on a 1621 candle sconce and the town seal.
Photo: Bernie Pettersen