Sunday, June 30, 2013

King Arthurs Hall - Ceremonial prehistoric monument?

This mind visit will be a pleasant memory of the moors plus friends and unexplained enigmatic stuff, no ghost stuff of course, just a rectangular megalithic enclosure that defies explanation sitting in a bowl of hills.
Where to start, we met at the Trippett stone circle and followed Roy in the car and we kept turning right, again and again through tiny Cornish lanes slowly circling the moor, until we came to a track way that reached up to a ridge.  The cars bumped up this disintegrating road, just below the ridge was a scatter of rocks, and here we later found Bronze Age cists, and apparently settlement sites according to the map.  Reaching the top of the ridge, we looked down to a small hamlet of three houses, crossing the small rocky beck that tumbled down, the cars were parked on a small green plateau, next to a land rover sporting the title Cornish Heritage and we were to meet the foreign tourists and their guide at the site later on.  Even the vast empty spaces of the moor have life and visitors.
Walking uphill past the inevitable cattle, sheep and ponies with foals, we could see the grassy outlines of KAH in the distant a short walk of about 15 minutes. Climbing the stile and the first feeling is enclosure, you are surrounded for three quarters of the way by the rise of hills, and over in the distance behind a thick swathe of dark green forestry firs is the Stripples stone circle/henge monument which we did not see but is the only henge monument to be found in Cornwall at this time. The large untidy bank that surrounds the stones, causes many of them to keel over, and the walking path below the bank is difficult with great tussocks of grass and hidden stones.  The theory is that this large enclosure was dug out maybe for water. (who knows) and the central area is boggy,  reeds outline the boggy area and cotton grass was in 'flower' blowing gently in the wind, and just at the centre of this area a darker green patch of vegetation which meant deeper ground and water, the dogs drank from here.
A few words from the rather scant Wiki; The monument consists of fifty-six stones arranged in a rectangle with a bank of earth around them and measures approximately 20m by 47m. The interior fills with water and a contemporary ground level has not been established. It has suffered damage by cattle in the past and is now protected by a gated fence. It can be reached by footpaths east of St Breward.
There is a report by an archaeologist that gives the theory that in actual fact this is a medieval pound for the cattle up on the moors, and that two manors whose boundaries met here would have problems with straying cattle and they would be impounded, of course one would ask would it not be difficult with boggy ground and water to keep cattle there.
Feeling tells you that this is a ceremonial prehistoric monument, surrounded by stone circles on Bodmin Moor, there is a certain timelessness, stones cluster at the corners, there is a similar rectangular enclosure in Brittany, and apparently also at Lough Gur in Ireland, but until archaeological excavation proves the point one way or the other we cannot say.

Interesting link from 2010

Square structure at Carnac

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Trevethy Quoit

Forgotten all about this one, the grand daddy of all the quoits, astride its bank it defies interpretation though Roy has written a little book on it.  'Wendy' house to the children that live in the houses, and it is a very dangerous play house by the way, it sits just off the road, and there is even a little parking place.  A Wiki will fill in the detail of this 'Giant's House.  But it is spectacular..

A small entrance to the back chamber

just thought I would get a different angle

Chief always in the picture.

Trippett Stone Circle

This stone circle was visited on the last day, just off the A30 across a grid to St.Breward and then the first cross roads.  The day was miserable, the cold wind blew, beautiful highland cattle and their young, and us five.  We had a picnic here, Roy had sweetly brought plates of food, so Sue and I sat in the cold whilst the men sat in their cars and ate.  There are many stone circles on Bodmin Moor and this one probably reflects many of them.  They sit on flat ground usually below some rocky outcrop, the ground worn into deep pockets where cattle and sheep have rubbed against them.  We all pondered the stones as you can see, Geoff is a landscape architect and Sue works on historic gardens, so they were both interested in the next  enigmatic site called King Arthur's Hall, and when I eventually get my head around it will write about.  
The Stripple stone circle and henge is a long walk from here, and over private land, so we did not go, but it is the only henge monument in Cornwall

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon quoit is so famous that perhaps it needs little in the way of explanation, though there is one here, we missed the layby and walked back up the road to visit it. one thing you will notice is the foxgloves, they graced the hedgerows everywhere, tips curling upwards towards the sky.  Cornish hedgerows are beautiful, unfortunately I had to get rid of all my 'wild flowers' photos because of space.  It is a heavily restored cromlech, and one of eight in Cornwall.  We had to drive for over an hour to get to this part of Cornwall, West Penwith is a treasure trove of prehistoric stuff.  But we intend to take a cottage next year so that we can explore this area, also missed the Zennor Quoit though we did make it to Zennor village and the pub, and it was sunny and warm.  LSs cousin also has suggested that we 'house sit' their cottage next year whilst they go away on holiday, hens, Lillie the dog and Kittie the cat!  Holidays are coming in quite thickly, our American friends have also asked to join them in France this morning for a prehistoric ramble but I am not too sure on three days in Paris.....

Duloe Stone Circle

It is a cosy little stone circle situated in a field in the small village of Duloe, sparkling white with the quartz that make up the stones, a small white crown in a field of green.  Maybe the stones were set around a burial mound, there is a mysterious lumpiness to the centre, but apparently up to the 18th century it had a field hedge going through which could also account for this.  A more detailed explanation is here.  
A friend told us the story of a lady dowser, who would not go into the circle because of the scary hooded figure of one of the stones, featured above, strangely shaped but felt no evil impulse there.......

  Attaching a video that pottered through my email  yesterday.  Sacred Land Video

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Hurler's stone circles

Hurler circles with Cheesewring in the  distance
We arrived in the village of Minions in cold, misty and very windy conditions.  The moors around sported farm animals and ponies, this part of the moor it was the banded white/black cows that were in evidence.  Small ponies everywhere, their foals at heel or fast asleep in a hollow of the land whilst their mothers grazed.
Great excitement on my part for eventually arriving in Cornwall, the pub/hotel was welcoming, room good and the food fairly good as well - pub fare.
How to describe this landscape, dystopia kept coming to mind, the land has been mined for tin and ruined engine houses dot the skyline.  Yet of course it is beautiful, the mine workings flow through the land as bumps, ditches and small pits filled with reeds and water, a green and pleasant land, the mist adding to the romantic industrial tone of the place.
The Hurlers Stone Circles, there are three, though one has almost disappeared, is about 5 minutes walk from the road just outside the village and they lie about half a mile from the Cheesewring, upon which of course they are focused.  What went through the minds of these stone age people as they looked on the weird shaping of the Cheesewring, honed by time and geology to a 'topple' of stones balanced precariously on top of one another.  Did they think their ancestors had built such stone gods? Giants placing each stone carefully, who knows?
On our first visit, the mist came and went so that sometimes the blurred outlines of the Cheesewring was there and then  would completely disappear, we had come in the time of the summer solstice, but the sun had decided not to make an appearance.  We met at the stone circle someone from the forums, Gwass and his friend, who were also there for the solstice.  
The two stone circles have a feeling of serenity and you can fall in love with them quite happily, they pull you in, they are not showy circles just part of the landscape and as you glance over to the two Piper Stones in the distance the question asked are they both part of the same equation, or are these two stones something different.
As we spent three days in Minions village, we visited several times, and also walked to the Cheesewring in blustery weather with Sanctuary and his dog Chief. The front half of this great outcrop of rock (sorry don't do north, south, east and west) has been heavily quarried right up to the strange assemblage of stones before it was finally stopped.  There is an early neolithic wall fronting this and several upright stones balanced precariously on the edge of the quarry, this is part of Stowes Pound Neolithic enclosures.
Silly people were doing the 'Titanic' act of standing on the Cheesewring with arms outstretched in a gale force wind, hopefully should they have been blown off there is a helicopter service in Cornwall.

One of the stones sitting in its own reed filled pond

Mistiness (and I need a new camera to get rid of the black spot!)

The two Piper stones

Misty visions
The Cheesewring is situated on the Stowe Pound Hill, which has Neolithic walling and upright stones that sit on the edge of the quarry,  consists of a larger and smaller Neolithic enclosures, used also at later dates.
Blue skies over Stowe Pound Hill and the Cheesewring.


Neolithic walling

Upright stones at the edge of the quarry


"The Hurlers consist of three rings of stones, they stand on the open moor one and a half miles west of Upton Cross, just west of Minions. The stone circles are set on a line north east, south west and if we work north to south the dimensions are as follows diameter 110ft with 13 standing stones, 135 ft with 17 standing stones and 105 ft with 9 standing stones. The rings can be studied carefully and it can be seen that each ring would have had many more stones at one time, probably between twenty five and thirty five each. The group lies on a route way between the rivers Lyhner and Fowey and are aligned with a number of monuments close by, the cairns on Caradon and stone rows on one axis and long toms cross and Rillaton barrow on the opposite axis. It has been confirmed that the stones had been placed in pits with stones packed around them. They had been hammered smooth and the chippings strewn over the interior. Little was found in the stone circles. The central circle contained an upright stone placed off centre and the northern circle had been paved with granite blocks. Between the central and southern circle lay another patch of paving and a small pit. To the south west, 120 metres away are two more standing stones. known as The Pipers, possibly the remains of another circular monument or an alignment running down to the river Fowey. It is highly likely that the circles were built over a lengthy time span and a single site might retain its significance for centuries. Perhaps the central circle was at the nucleus of a monument collection of different dates.   Daniel Gumb's Country Deborah Bennett

Christopher Tilley on Stowe Pound Hill;

Cornwall's Archaeology Heritage

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Animals I met along the way

Chickens in the sweet corn patch

Chickens getting comfortable, Boris the cock is in there somewhere.

Little grey foal scratching himself on the gorse 

Fast asleep

mother of the grey foal

Miserable pony and foal crossing the road in the village

Sheep at the pub

Highland cattle

Chief at the Cheesewring

Lillie cross between collie/'spaniel ( and her owners)

Rillaton Barrow

View from the barrow entrance
Our short Cornish trip revealed some treasures, the Hurler stone circles certainly being one, but further on the Rillaton Barrow situated between the Cheesewring and the stone circles was  certainly a barrow not to be missed.
Description aside, this large, untidy, desecrated Bronze Age barrow shown by our good friend and guide Sanctuary, did make my heart miss a beat.  Reading up on it, and I find in was restored in 1900, and had some archaeological work done in 1995 to the entrance,  this may have detracted a bit, but still.

Reedy pond on top of the barrow 

Entrance to chamber where the Bronze Age skeleton was found
Firstly this enormous barrow is pitted with stone robber pits, a reed filled pond lies in its centre and the entrance pit has been raised up so as to stop school children going into the hole and damaging the inside stones and the fluorescent lichen, which gives a ghostly green glow inside the tomb. The rather neat internal stones have ferns growing against them, and our proud warrior with his gold cup and bronze age dagger lies buried between the Cheesewring and the stone circles,  also has a marvellous view to the front over the surrounding countryside.

Interesting information of the work done in 1995.

Rillaton Gold Cup

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Cheesewring @ Creative Commons

Well tomorrow we are off, bags packed and plants watered, though there apparently seems to be a deluge tonight, and the summers are going to be miserable and cold till about 2023 according to the meteorologist's meeting yesterday, but of course they could be wrong... We are seeing prehistoric stones on Bodmin Moor, that is why you see the old Cheesewring at the top.  Trevethy Quoit will be one place we visit, I have a print of it above my computer, alongside The Cove, Avebury and Stanton Drew stone circle.
Been busy spinning bluefaced leicester wool, making cushion covers at the moment, and have pulled out my 'patchwork' knitted rug to do more work on.  Not excited by the long journey East to West, though we maybe go past Stonehenge on the A303, unless of course there are thousands flocking for the solstice...

Trevethy Quoit @ Creative Commons
The Cheesewring keeps nagging at the back of my mind, maybe this article

Saturday, June 15, 2013


just about see the two small bees

Early bumblebee  Bombus pratorum;

So glad to see two of these in the garden, maybe there are more than one of these little orange tailed workers but as I take a picture, my heart is happy.  In the old house I would be woken up early by the hum of bees just outside the bedroom window in June.  This little bee loved the cotoneaster flower that spread outside, and I have even planted the same shrub here to attract them, though this one is almost on the verge of flowering so  this bee has been on the flowering thyme and chive flowers.
Bumble bees are a great favourite of mine, we should all grow as many flower types to encourage them and keep them around, protecting them from the unnecessary use of pesticides and herbicides.
What else, a plea from Chris Packham against the slaughter of badgers, scientific evidence says it is foolhardy and will not eradicate TB in our cattle, why can't we vaccinate?  Many years ago I joined a group in my village campaigning against badger baiting, we would go around in the evening checking on the badger setts, looking for the 'white van man' and his dogs, though the police advised against it.  There was a great old sett not far away, within its burrows badgers, foxes and rabbits lived, a happy symbiosis, maybe not, badgers are partial to a baby rabbit or two.
Badgers used to come to the garden at night, one night woken by the squawking of Hetty the hen, dashed outside barefoot with Moss, only to be confronted by Hetty fleeing up the steps with a badger not far behind, she had chosen to sleep in the nest box and the roof was removable and the badger must have pushed it off.  Moss dumbfounded by this strange creature did not know what to do, we all went in pursuit as Hetty lodged herself behind a water butt, and the badger knowing the game was up left the garden.  Hetty disappeared into the blackness and it took at least half an hour to find her squashed tight between a wall and a plant being very, very quiet! No harm done but a few tail feathers lost.

So what else? a trip out the Cats pub today to celebrate Father's day............

Cottage on the way to the Cats pub

pretty Aquilegia surrounded by yellow feverfew at the Cats Pub

trailing rose

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Wild roses at the moment still capture the  rural nature that once existed in England.

The Plot by Madeleine Bunting;  Almost finished and something that has given me food for thought.  She has almost dissed my ideas of a romantic British landscape into the perceived vision of what we would like it to be and the reality which is somewhat different.  We can look back at the romanticised visions of Edward Thomas and Massingham, but the new suburban estates in their time though welcome to their inhabitants with indoor loos and all mod  cons, to the artistic eye are 'characterless and innocent of design as are all its acts, debases the neighbouring countryside and suppresses its crafts and husbandry'.  Who has not frowned at 'mock tudor' basically because the soul says how can these straight planed machine made timber ever echo the beautiful curved and knotted oak timbers of the past.  Snobbery? probably yes, we still love the old for its presumed 'betterness' but know in our hearts that we like cleanable surfaces and roofs that don't leak, or as Massingham says of the cottages or 'put them in fancy dress' with roses round the door and tall hollyhocks growing round the tangled hedge Allingham style, look at any home and garden magazine and money has enhanced 'the vision' with exquisite furniture and Laura Ashley type materials

So what else, a deeper understanding of the vulnerable Yorkshire Moors which are always under the threat of fire, due to the combination of dried heather plants and underlying peat. Peat of course is a fuel therefore if a fire takes hold it can last a long time sometimes for days, and will burn back to the the rock eventually.  Sphagnum moss is a deterrent against dryness, it holds up to 8 times its own weight in water and keeps the ground wet, it also of course is an aid in stopping flooding as it absorbs the water but even the moss is in danger through acidification of the climate because of industrial pollution from places like Teeside.

Bunting brought me back to this book, such a different landscape America - not so lived in, Snyder is interesting on the loss of 'The Commons' in England
And then there is her relationship with her father, the subject the book, an artistic man who works in wood and stone,  Eric Gill his great hero, till he  read Fiona MacCarthy's biography of this rather loathsome man and his ways.  Bunting says of her father that he was misogynistic and misanthropic as well, not liking people had made him move from London to North Yorkshire for this reason, wanting a better way of life. He left the looking after of all the children, running of the household, garden and the self-sufficiency life style he wanted to his wife, who at a later stage  left him. There is a limit to selfishness.  The book is about her father's English Acre, historically it documents the many layered features of the landscape, Cistercian Monks at Byland Abbey, the nouvea riche of the 18th century, and then the farmers of the 20th century one minute rich with subsidies the next poor with bad crops and disease, a life lived on the edge.