|This is a long weblog entry, covering as it does a seven day holiday in Cornwall, the majority of which was spent visiting the stones.
08 March 2003 The drive down
Started out from home at 5am, aiming to get as close to Marlborough before sunrise as we could. This plan worked well, as we passed through Marlborough at 6:30, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. It was properly light by the time we reached Woodhenge. I'd never really studied Durrington Walls before, but from Woodhenge I could make out the shape of the banks quite clearly.
After a quick stop at Amesbury Little Chef for breakfast, we hit the road again, passing by Stonehenge. I had hoped to stop, but the car park was roped off, apparently for a private party visiting the stones.
Slightly further down the A30, apart from the copious barrows, we spotted some interesting earthworks and pulled up into a lay-by to consult the map. Yarnbury Castle is marked, but wasn't somewhere I'd heard of before. Sadly I couldn't get a close look, as gates marked 'Private Property Keep Out' barred the way. So it was back to the car to continue the journey.
I couldn't get access from the A303 - it seems to be on private land.
Deciding to pass on Cadbury Castle, the next stop was Dartmoor, and the Spinster's Rock, a delightful quoit, cosy in it's field with attendant pony. And yes, we did miss the turn-off first time past. It really does look like a private driveway to the house visible from the main road, despite being signposted.
Crossing the Moor, we spotted some hut circles close to Bennet's Cross, but there was nowhere convenient to park, so we carried on to our next destination, Merrivale and the Plague Market, where in true Dartmoor fashion, the weather closed in and I got drenched before being able to explore the site fully!
Working our way back up to the A30, after lunch at the historic Jamaica Inn the next scheduled stop was the Trippet Stones. I could have spent a long time here, but time was against me and the Stripple Stones Henge would have to wait for another day as we still had a considerable way to go to Land's End…
Yay! I get to write the first notes for this site! Coming from the East, the stones are easy to find. Having passed the Jamaica Inn, continue west on the A30 to the end of the dual carriageway. Opposite a left hand turn to Temple, turn right (signposted St Brewards). Pass over the cattle grid and continue along the single-track road for about half a mile. At the crossroads (signposted Treswigga), turn right onto a farm track. The stones are on the left about a quarter of a mile along.
The earlier rain having stopped, the wind was blowing a gale, and the telephone wires which run close to the stones were really singing, giving an eerie feel to the site. Each of the stones was in its own small pool of water, like so many islands, having obviously been used as rubbing stones by the local ponies.
The circle consists of 7 uprights with a few recumbent/fallen stones, and a small centre stone. A cist lies just outside the circle to the southwest.
09 March 2003
We started the day with a visit to Chun Quoit and Castle. Rushed preparation meant that I didn't look for Boswen's Menhir whilst up there, but I did spot an upright stone in the field adjoining Trehyllys Farm (SW410337). This may just have been a rubbing post as it doesn't appear on the OS map and is not mentioned in Romance of the Stones nor in the Craig Wetherill volumes Belerion and Cornovia. It looks like the remnant of a much larger stone which has had a bite taken out of the top of it. Another stone was spotted at SW425342 on the Lanyon road, again, not marked on the map nor in the aforementioned books. Am I hunting menhirs or rubbing stones?
I approached from Trehyllys Farm – follow the signs to Great Bosullow and Chun Castle from Bosullow Common (the Lanyon road). Were it not for the GPS, I’d have taken a wrong turn at the farm – turn right at the farm buildings then head for the top left corner of the field for the shortest route to the top via a very narrow track bordered by chest high gorse. I wouldn’t want to tackle this route in high summer!
Having reached the castle at the summit, the view was well worth the climb. I entered the castle via the gateway, and turning round, caught my first view of the quoit.
I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so completely in love with a site as I did with the quoit. It’s totally delightful, but try as I might, I couldn’t squeeze through the entrance to sit inside. The old guys were obviously much slimmer than me. Looking around, it’s difficult to imagine how harsh life must have been back then, as the site is so isolated. I couldn’t help wondering what else is waiting to be discovered under all the gorse and bracken up on the hill. I’ll definitely be back here soon.
Back at the castle, I found the cup-marked stones and what looked like a carved stone chair. I’m not certain I’d want to drink from the well though…
We then did some non-stone activity (shopping etc), moving through Cambourne in the shadow of Carn Brea, through Redruth then down to Helston. This gave an opportunity to look in on Wendron Nine Maidens and the Burras Menhir. When I've been to Burras before, I've never been able to take a decent photo, as there are always black plastic covered bales in the background. Today, the farm gate was open so I was able to walk up the driveway to take an uncluttered photo for my files.
On the way back, we looked for the Giant's Quoit at Carwynnen, but just as we found it (down a very twisty, narrow lane with minimal parking opportunities) the heavens opened, making a visit across the field to the stones a target for another day.
With a strong head cold, I wasn't thinking too straight, and took a wrong turn when looking for the day's final location, Beersheba. With 5 days left, I should be able to fit it in…
10 March 2003
Today was a visit to the Lizard. Once again, we passed the Wendron Nine Maidens and Burras on our way down to Helston. We also passed the Halligye Fogou which I'd seen on a previous visit. Our first destination was the Three Brothers of Grugith, and yes the gorse is that sharp! Having paid our respects and taken the obligatory photo, we moved down to the Crousa Common stones. I couldn't find a way into the field through the six foot high hedge, so had to content myself with long range viewing over the hedge.
Next on the list was the Longstone at Tremenhere, near St Keverne located down a narrow lane not far from Crousa Common. This is the Tremenheere Longstone listed in Craig Wetherill's Cornovia, and not the Tremenhere Longstone as listed in the Romance of the Stones volume, which is a few miles further north, near Stithians. Luckily, there was a pull-in right by the entrance to the field, marked as a Public Footpath, so I clambered over the stile for a closer look. This is a big mother, standing nearly 10' tall. In the subsequent photos, several horses can be seen in the field, which I'm sure weren't there when I took the photo! The main feature I noted at this site was the tracks leading to/from the stones – seven in total. Each path seemed well trodden and well defined, only one leading from the 'public footpath' where I'd entered the field.
Returning to the cottage later in the day, we chanced upon the Drift Stones, which I had actually scheduled for a visit later in the week. I was surprised to see (and hear) the power lines running directly above the stones, and almost in line with them. The crack in the southern stone was inhabited by a large colony of small snails.
11 March 2003 Penwith Wanderings
No definite plans today, although I did want to get to the Tregaseal stone circle. The weather early on didn't look promising, so we headed toward Penzance via the Drift Reservoir. After some refreshment and shopping, we decided to just drive around and see what we saw.
Passing the Blind Fiddler, I decided that the weather wasn't bad enough to keep me from Boscawen-Un. When last here in September, the circle was completely overgrown and hard to distinguish. Today was totally different. Taking the short route from the dodgy lay-by on the A30, the gorse was down and the circle was soon in sight. The entire circle had been cleared of the gorse, and I could enjoy the circle fully for the first time. The white quartz stone glistened in the rain, and despite careful inspection, I couldn't find the arrow marks on the centre stone.
We then decided to take a widdershins route back to Penzance, taking in as many stones as we could. First up was Trevorgans Menhir, just outside St Buryan. The stone was resplendent in a field of daffodils, but I couldn't find a way in for a close inspection, so moved on to St Buryan to view the Cross. Next was a short hike up an embankment and across a field to the Treverven Stone, sitting on its small mound. Further along the road towards Penzance is Boscawen-Ros. I found the stile and first field, although muddy, easy to navigate. Unfortunately the second field had been freshly ploughed right up to the border hedge making further progress impossible. So it was back to the car and the next stop, the Merry Maidens complex.
As posted elsewhere on TMA, I had difficulty identifying the Gun Rith stone, finding that it had in fact fallen across the cart track into the adjoining field. This stone is always described as having a distinct lean, I guess it just went too far recently. The stone didn't seem to be damaged, but from the earth markings it seems to me it wasn't too deeply rooted to start with.
Bad news I'm afraid. This 'sexy stone' is no more. I passed here today (I'll post a fuller weblog on my return home next week), and the Gun Rith menhir is down.
I wondered why I couldn't see it from the Merry Maidens, and it was only when I went into the field that I realised the stone was down. It's fallen across the cart tracks into the adjoining field, so no doubt the farmer will be moving it soon. I've tried to get a message to Andy Norfolk in the hope that the restoration can be done sensitively.
I've taken a few photos of the fallen stone, but can't upload them on this connection. More to follow next week.... ...Pictures now uploaded, and the stone hadn't yet been moved when I paid a return visit a couple of days later.
Finally, we circled back to Tregeseal, via Woon Gumpus (I'll be back later in the week) and I tackled the path up the hill again. When last here, I'd failed to find the stones, having taken a right turn at the farm instead of at the top of the track. This time I made no mistake, and found the circle, also cleared of undergrowth, in all its splendour, with Carn Kenidjack looking on. I think when I come again, I'll take the more direct route of the southern of the two tracks from Botallack which gives an almost level W-E route to the stones.
12 March 2003
Wadebridge was the start point for today's meanderings, the only definite on the itinerary being Pawton Quoit. Finding the quoit was entertaining, driving what seemed like a 7 foot wide car down 6 foot wide lanes and around hairpin bends through St Breock and Polmorla. Finally we got to Haycrock Farm. Walking back down the lane, there was a gap in the hedge through which the quoit could be seen. Clambering through the hedge, there was a 6 foot drop into the field (I'd failed to spot the gate on the way up the lane)! The map shows no footpath in the field, so I skirted carefully around the edge to the nearest point to the quoit before approaching it directly – technically I was trespassing but I'd knocked at the farm and got no answer. The capstone is the heaviest in Cornwall, and it's easy to see why. This is a big stone!
Making our way back to the A39, we moved down to the Nine Maidens row, missing the Fiddler Stone en-route. From there, we passed the Devil's Quoit without actually seeing the remains (Romance of the Stones says that it was broken up in the 17th Century), on the way to the Castle-an-Dinas hill fort.
From there, we dropped down to Liskeard for lunch before taking a leisurely drive home via Dozmary Pool, and Jamaica Inn before criss crossing the moor past the Trippet Stones and along the Camel Valley back to the A39.
13 March 2003
Initially I was going to hunt for Zennor, Sperris and Mulfra quoits today, but a little voice told me no. So instead I headed for Woon Gumpus Common to visit the Boswens Croft stone. I parked in totally the wrong place, which doubled the distance I had to walk, only to find I couldn't get within 100 metres of the stone because of the solid carpet of gorse blocking the way.
Deciding that my inner voice knew best and today was not to be for stone hunting, we headed over to Truro for some retail therapy and lunch, deciding to take a tortuous route back afterward, passing some of the sites already visited.
This time round I stopped properly at the Merry Maidens and The Pipers, taking advantage of the presence of a local farmer to ask for permission to approach the stones directly. The Pipers are serious lumps of stone, and the big (NE) one is leaning at quite an angle. Gun Rith was still down, and thankfully has not yet been moved or further damaged.
Finally to finish the day we drove round by Land's End and Sennen. I couldn't get close to the stone here, but saw it a way off, opposite the church.
14 March 2003
A final day to scoot around Penwith before heading back for London tomorrow. No real plans made, but the weather was better today, although windy, so I decided to try for the hill quoits. Like many others before us, the roads got the better of us when trying to find Mulfra, and we actually ended up at Bodrifty Village so I took the opportunity to take a look around.
Rather than leave my better half alone in the car while I walked across to Mulfra, I decided to drive around and take the short route up to the top. We parked in the Try Valley, right by the footpath from where I climbed up to Mulfra Quoit. I was impressed by the way the capstone, although slipped is carved to fit the uprights.
Pleased with having found Mulfra, I decided to try for Sperris and Zennor. Previously I'd taken the Foage Farm route, and been unsuccessful in finding the quoit. This time I parked up by the 'Eagles Nest' farm buildings and took the footpath directly opposite the house. Much simpler, and an almost flat route took me first to Sperris Quoit, which was in a ruinous state, then a bit of doubling back led to Zennor Quoit. It had a wonderful feeling of isolation, and despite being essentially a reconstruction, I was aware of the spirits of place. This was evidenced by a large eagle swooping along the road in front of the car as we left the site.
Slightly further north on the coast road, Rosewall Hill sprung into view and I immediately saw what Holy McGrail meant when he mentioned the female form of the hill.
After the inevitable shopping trip to Redruth, we returned for the last visit of the day – a stroll round Men-an-Tol, Ding Dong Mine and Bosiliack Barrow. I was really impressed with Bosiliack – I want one of these when I go!
15 March 2003 – The Trip Home
Final day, and an early start. I'd planned just a couple of stops on the way home: Wooley Barrow, Stanton Drew and Stoney Littleton. In fact, we only made the second of these.
Having joined the A39 at the A30, we passed the Nine Maidens again, and continued up toward Camelford, only to find the A39 closed. As I'd left the large road atlas at home I was now driving blind, away from my documented course. We did manage to rejoin the A39, but without recourse to a larger map, I had no idea if we had passed Wooley or not (as it happens, we must have passed through without realising).
So we cut across Devon on the A361 to meet the M5 up to Bristol. Finding Stanton Drew was quite straightforward, and we stopped off in the Druid Arms for a spot of lunch. They must do a roaring trade there – talk about a captive audience!
Such a large site, it's difficult to get a proper perspective – at least at Avebury you can climb a bank and see much of the circle laid out in front of you.
What I got here was a feeling of a large circle for 'proper' ritual, accompanied by a 'training' circle for the neophytes. No idea if this is how it was actually used, just a strong feeling I got.
It seemed to me too that the stones were made of the same rock as at the Rollrights – all eaten away and crumbly.
Sorry, but despite their size these seemed to me to be just an ‘attraction’ for the pub. No life, or sense of ‘place’ at all…
Time was against us so rather than hunt around for Stoney Littleton, we decided to save that for another day and struck out across Bath for the A4 and the route home. Seeing the Cherhill White Horse reminded me that I'd not seen the Longstone Cove so we stopped off for a quick look. We also dropped into Avebury proper to avail ourselves of the 'facilities', but couldn't remember the orientation of Pete's webcam, otherwise we'd have popped up on there too!
A couple of hours later, we were back home, having had a thoroughly enjoyable week.
Posted by ocifant
16th March 2003ce
Edited 2nd August 2004ce
ocifant's TMA Blog
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