Thursday, October 16, 2014

Solving Mysteries

King Arthur's Hall

"Clearance 2013 and investigation 2014 by Roy Goutte and others as members of The Heritage Trust, revealed a revetment wall built to retain the inner bank. It was concluded that over time the earth had covered over the top of the revetment wall and the, what was once c.140, upright stones now lie buried, recumbent, or standing at an angle. This would suggest that the structure was originally a rectangular enclosure from which the earth was extracted and banked up on the four sides, forming a sub-level `tank? with an `apron? between the excavated area and the banks. It is assumed that the `tank? would have been filled with water, either rising or from rainfall. The question unanswered being how was it drained away? The author attempted to determine the depth of the excavated area which appeared to be shallower at the perimeters and deeper in the middle. 
Investigation on removing turf from what was thought to be a fallen upright revealed a granite paved area with a raised centre line and not a stone at all. It abutted the remains of the facade stone perfectly. 
The monument is considered to have some purpose other than an animal pound and would benefit from professional excavation and scientific dating.  Pastscape"

See also Heritage Trust Article By Roy

round hut foundation stones

There are moments in history you get a mention in the sensible bodies of archaeology, and this was one of them.  We had all walked over to King Arthur's hall, a place of mystery, meaning that there is no logic to this isolated rectangular monument which could be prehistoric, I will try not to mention the word 'ritualistic'.  Permission was granted by the local EH archaeologist to explore the area in front of the stones, and this is what we did.  Roy is always very eager to get the world moving on clearing the stones on the many Bodmin Moor stone circles that lie beneath the great tors on this moor, he writes books about his ideas and I love his enthusiasm. 

KAH seen from a distance

King Arthur's Hall, lies next to an old green track, there are the remains of an early medieval cross in the ground. You approach it up a long track way, past a prehistoric settlement of round huts and then come to a green where three houses are to be found, this must have been an early settlement place for people still to be living in a somewhat isolated spot.  A twenty minute walk brings you to KAH a sunken pond covered in cotton grass in the summer, deeper in the middle this water pond/sump has no logical explanation.  It was some years ago identified as a medieval pound for stray animals, as manor boundaries meet at this point, but if one knows anything about boundaries during the Saxon and then medieval centuries, boundaries were taken to an obvious point in the landscape, and this would logically have been a strategic (prehistoric point)? maybe.  It of  course needs a major excavation through the bank to explain things more clearly.

It is a place to visit and contemplate, Bodmin Moors is somewhat untouched in some places by the intrusion of modern building, though the Forestry Commission's hand of planting dire evergreens is to be found, why not deciduous trees?  The great tors rear their heads above the watery moors and its stones. One bad habit discovered this year was miniature 'tor' building on top of Stowe's Hill Neolithic settlement, the  mini tors ranged all along the stone wall, and were taken down by a working group this summer.  Odd 'neopagan' ritual perhaps, whatever it is is very destructive on the old wall, and probably typifies the 'selfie' image of people trying to make their mark in life...


  1. Replies
    1. That of course is the whole point of archaeology Pat, the endless discussion of theories!

  2. There's one to ponder. Bronze Age swimming pool perchance?!! If there is a paleosol then perhaps a few core samples would reveal what the landscape was like at this time. Since it probably pre-dates the deepness of peat laid down in the medieval period (when places like Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor were marginal areas anyway) it might open a window. I think the fact it is where manorial boundaries meet is interesting, as quite often these sorts of boundaries merely echo ones from much much earlier periods (as in the dividing line between the counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, which is marked by burial chambers . . . as is Hirfaen Gwyddog . . .

    1. Hi Jennie, funnily enough there was a discussion elsewhere about boundaries and their relationship to hillforts, how they followed the contour at the base, and as you say how Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion being divided by burial chambers. Bath also has a 19th century 'mock' burial chamber which denotes the meeting of three counties.

  3. Hi Thelma, Did anyone think to photograph the false tors before they were taken down? Did they all attempt to duplicate natural forms or was there any actual self-expression? Were those false tors restricted to ancient monuments?

    I find this sort of thing (including graffiti) very interesting. Whenever I hear of graffiti being removed, I think of the graffiti at Pompeii like "everyone writes on the walls except me". Why do people love ancient graffiti yet despise the modern? I still remember a piece of Calgary graffiti which read "Free Elmer Fudd" It always made me smile.

    I also find it significant that, in the twentieth century, Soviet Russia was the most eager to remove graffiti. Seeing something similar in Toronto, a Russian immigrant said that it was chilling to see the graffiti removed.

    Balancing stones are very popular in Lotus-land (AKA Vancouver, British Columbia):

    The sociological/anthropological nature of all such things are very interesting to me.

    1. Hi John, Well I really only touched upon the subject, yes they have been photographed, and it subsequently happened again. So how to answer, and I must first point to what people bring to ancient monuments, and touch on the difficult subject of neopaganism, which I can't say may have happened here, they could after all been looking at the work of others as that link shows. It was kept quiet by the way ;) because the local archaeologist did not want publicity. In this case the walling was presumably neolithic in origin. If you were to visit the three Hurler stone circles about half mile away from Stowe's Hill, you would find little keepsakes either pushed into the stones, placed upon them, and would know that such places are 'sacred' to the new agers.......Crystals are often buried by the West Penwith stone circles, so some people call it vandalism others would see it as part of their cult. I seem to take a middle road, there is the phenomena of 'new agers' cultivating the old monuments as places of worship, think Stonehenge.
      If I had seen these my mind would have probably wandered off to the 'landscape artists' we see today. Funnily enough rocking stones, and 'propped stones' were also part of the prehistoric background where does one culture end and another begin?

    2. Hi Thelma,

      I would call it "cultural continuity" even though the beliefs would have drastically changed from then to now and perhaps had long periods where nothing was going on.

      Early Christians would not recognize any Christianity practiced today -- they kept all of the Jewish holidays and the Sabbath was Saturday. It was a Jewish (Messianic) sect.

      The belief that magic does not work around iron seems to me to reflect a Bronze Age reaction to the emerging Iron Age. Beliefs have a very long currency!

  4. 'Beliefs have a very long currency' And therefore we should step very carefully around them of course, the 'closure' of neolithic long barrows points of course to the closing down of one belief system. Lots of dissenters in the Christian church of course emigrated to America in the 18th century, and I won't go further than that ;)....