Ancient Stones and Monuments

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Sun over the moors
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North Cornwall is rich in ancient stones and monuments, reflecting its deep historical and cultural heritage. These stones range from prehistoric standing stones to medieval crosses, each with its own story and significance. Here are some of the notable ancient stones and monuments in North Cornwall:

1. The Hurlers

Located on Bodmin Moor, the Hurlers are a group of three stone circles dating back to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. According to local legend, the stones are men who were turned to stone for playing hurling on a Sunday.

2. Trethevy Quoit

This is a well-preserved megalithic tomb, also known as a dolmen, located near the village of St Cleer. It dates from around 3500-2500 BCE and consists of a large capstone supported by several upright stones.

3. Rillaton Barrow

Another significant site on Bodmin Moor, Rillaton Barrow is a Bronze Age burial mound. A notable discovery from this site is the Rillaton Gold Cup, a beautifully crafted gold vessel found during an excavation in the early 19th century.

4. King Arthur’s Hall

Located near the village of St Breward, King Arthur’s Hall is a mysterious rectangular enclosure made up of fifty-six stones. Its exact purpose remains unknown, but it is thought to date back to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age.

5. St Piran’s Cross

This is one of the oldest stone crosses in Cornwall, located in the churchyard of St Piran’s Old Church in Perranzabuloe. St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall, and the cross is believed to date from the early medieval period.

6. Men-an-Tol

Though not in North Cornwall, this iconic stone formation is worth mentioning. It consists of a circular stone with a hole in the middle, flanked by two standing stones. The Men-an-Tol is often associated with folklore and believed to have healing properties.

7. Tintagel Castle

While primarily known for its medieval ruins and its association with the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle also features remnants of earlier occupation, including Dark Age and possibly prehistoric elements.

8. Stannon Stone Circle

Another impressive stone circle on Bodmin Moor, Stannon Stone Circle consists of around 47 granite stones arranged in a rough circle. It is believed to date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age.

9. Boscawen-Un Stone Circle

This Bronze Age stone circle near St Buryan consists of 19 stones with a central pillar. It is considered one of Cornwall’s most important and well-preserved stone circles.

10. Merry Maidens Stone Circle

Also known as Dawn’s Men, this is a perfect circle of 19 granite stones near the village of Lamorna. Legend has it that the stones are maidens who were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.

11. Lesingey Round

This is an Iron Age hill fort located near Penzance. It features the remains of defensive earthworks and offers insights into the ancient tribal societies of Cornwall.

Cultural Significance

These ancient stones and monuments are not only archaeological treasures but also hold significant cultural and historical value. They provide a glimpse into the lives, beliefs, and practices of the ancient peoples who inhabited the region. Many of these sites are also enveloped in local folklore and legends, adding to their mystique and allure.

Visiting Tips

When visiting these sites, it’s essential to respect the natural and historical environment. Many of these ancient stones are located in remote, often rugged landscapes, so appropriate footwear and clothing are recommended. Always follow local guidelines and access restrictions to help preserve these important heritage sites for future generations.