ED ALLEYNE-JOHNSON

Stone Circles

Ed and Denyze have apparently had a lot of enquiries about the stone circles in Cornwall which have inspired much of their work. They have kindly forwarded the following excerpt from The Earth Mysteries Guide to Ancient Sites in West Penwith by Cheryl Straffon. Ed and Denyze strongly recommend that anyone wishing to explore the ancient sites of Cornwall gets hold of this book!

Boscawen-un

OS Grid Reference SW 4122 2736

This circle is in a very evocative place, being placed in an enclosure hidden amongst the fields in the centre of the Penwith peninsular. Two pathways to it are possible, one leading off the A30 through fields where it appears like a distant vision, the other through a sunken lane from Boscawen-un farmyard. The circle was mentioned in the medieval Welsh triads where it was given as one of the three principal gorsedds (Druidic meeting-places) in Britain and it has always been a centre of much ritual activity. It is a fine circle, consisting of 19 stones with an entrance gap to the west. One of the stones on the western side is uniquely made of quartz. Quartz was evidently a sacred stone for ancient peoples and it has been suggested that there may be a special relationship between quartz stone (female) and centre stone (male) at Boscawen-un, which mark the Imbolc/Samhain sunset. This large central standing stone, now leaning at an angle since at least 1796 also points to the direction of the midsummer sunrise, whose first rays illuminate only the bottom of the stone and 2 possible axe-head carvings on it. It has been extensively dowsed for energy lines and many have been found running through and around the circle.

Men-an-Tol

OS Grid Reference SW 4264 3493

Men-an-Tol Cornwall's most famous such site. Men-an-Tol means literally "holed stone". It consists of a holed stone some 3.5ft high, with a hole of 1.5ft diameter, large enough for the average person to crawl through. On either side is an upright of about 4ft high, making it unlike any other monument elsewhere in Britain. There are other stones lying about which may have originally formed a stone circle consisting of 19 or 20 stones, and 11 are still visible.

Men-an-Tol Legends associated with the holed stone are to do with healing and divination: children were passed naked through the hole 3 times and then drawn on the grass 3 times against the sun as a cure for rickets, adults sent through 9 times to achieve healing, and a brass pin placed on top of the stone would by its movement give answer to any question. It has also been suggested that the stone could have served as a means of passing through the bones of dead ancestors for use in fertility rituals, and that the stone could have provided a symbolic "rebirthing" for the people, particularly women, as various "rites of passage" in their lives.

The site can be reached by walking along track from minor road between Madron and Morvah, 4 miles NW of Penzance.