The story of Tregeagle took a few centuries to develop and as many variations according to who it is told by. Whilst the tasks and the exact nature of Tregeagle's relationship with 'Old Artful' (The Devil) may vary, the premise remains the same; that of a wicked man's spirit being set a series of impossible tasks to keep his soul out of hell until Judgement Day.
In this version of the legend Jan Tregeagle was man who amassed a great deal of wealth by all manner of evil underhand deeds including cheating an orphan of his inheritance. It is thought that Jan Tregeagle actually existed and was an early 17th century magistrate probably in Bodmin.
As he neared the end of his mortal life remorse began to creep up on Tregeagle. There was practically no sin he had not committed and in an attempt to escape the just reward of so wicked a life in the hereafter he lavished money on the church and the poor trusting to obtain the help of the clergy to save him from the clutches of the Evil One.
Bound by the duty of saving a soul, the priests banded together and by constant prayer and powerful exorcisms kept the powers of darkness at bay. When Tregeagle died he was buried in St Breock Church near Wadebridge. But the demons were not so willing to give up what they felt was their lawful prey.
Now the fact that Tregeagle had been brought back from beyond the grave, despite the reason being worthy, placed him once more within danger of the demons. The defendant who had raised the spirit, calmly left him to the Churchmen to once more put to rest. After a long conference, presided over by the Prior of Bodmin, it was decided the only hope for ultimate peace was for the spirit of the evil man was to set him a task that would keep him busy until the Day of Judgement and keep him from the hounds of hell, who would drag him below. As long as he worked unceasingly at the task he might still have some hope for salvation.
With his head stuck in the window and his body dangling outside at the mercy of the demons Tregeagle remained. Eventually the infernal howling of the demons and Trgeagle's screaming drove the priest to call upon his brethren for help. They bound the wretched soul with holy spells and took him safely across to Gwenvor Cove near Sennen on the north coast, where another task was set for him. He was to weave a truss of sand and spin a sand rope to bind it with. When it was finished he had to take it to Carn Olva.
There are two versions of how this task ended the first says a storm blew up and the waves destroyed his labours. In the second there is a night so cold that Tregeagle poured water that then froze onto the sand allowing him to complete his task. Either way it ended with St Petroc being summoned who bound Tregeagle with a mighty chain and led him round to the south coast near Helston.
The final task set for Tregeagle, he is still carrying out to this day. He was taken near Land's End, and there he is still endeavouring to sweep the sand from Porthcurno Cove round the headland of Tol-Pedn-Penwith into Nanjizal Bay (aka Mill Bay). It is said on many a winter night if you are nearby you can hear Tregeagle howling and roaring at the hopelessness of his task.