The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Stone Circle


As it had been such a nice morning I decided to take advantage of the weather and seek out Stannon stone circle on Stannon Moor to the east of Harpur’s Downs which is itself north east of St Breward.
From the east, after passing the Jamaica Inn on the left and driving on for a further 4 miles or so, I turned right off the A30 at the St Breward turning opposite the left turn for Temple at the end of the dual carriageway. Over the cattle grid and I wound my way across a typical moorland road. Went past the left-hand turning for Treswigga (opposite this turn is the track to the Trippet stones just seen on the right) and carried straight on following the signs to St Breward. Over the Delford Bridge and passed the branch to East Rose on the right. I came into St Breward at the northern end called Churchtown and passed a pub then the church on the right at the very end of the village. Straight north from here until the road sweeps around to the right then comes to a hairpin bend sharp left. Don’t take it, instead take the road to the right at this point and over a cattle grid which takes you directly to Harpur’s Downs after keeping to the left at a couple of forks in the lane. You will come to a sign indicating a dead-end but with Stannon written across it. You’re nearly there. You will come directly to the entrance to Stannon China Clay works on the left and after that the road becomes a bit iffy for about 300 yards leading up to Stannon circle which you will see on the right on reaching the crown of the rising road. I grounded my car once but mainly because I have lowered suspension which didn’t deal with the potholes too well. Parking on the edge of the track is not a problem, but turning there is if you haven’t got a 4x4 as the grass verge drops away making it difficult to turn. There may be easier turning further up the track but I took a chance and got away with it even though the ground was very soft, but don’t push your luck!
So, I’d arrived, and as always a real buzz at finally arriving at another must see Cornish circle. Out with the camera and then, as if someone had pre-planned it, out went the lights as black clouds gathered overhead. Grrrrrr!!
As the wind also built up I dashed into the centre of the circle and started snapping away methodically around the circumference of the circle before the rain joined in. It quickly became apparent that this circle is not truly circular…well it is in parts, but not others. To the more northerly side the stones are evenly spaced and typical in look to other such circles being either basically rectangular, angled topped or slightly pointed, but after that become unevenly spaced, very mixed in type, some standing, some fallen, some pointy and slim, some partly buried and some out of line altogether. I got the impression (in parts) that some of the stones were not part of the original build and had just been deposited there to fill in some spaces and had became overgrown and sunken into the quite peaty soil. It may be the reason why it is not truly circular possibly having at some stage been partly ruined/destroyed before well-meaning folk ‘replaced’ stones found lying around. That’s pure speculation of course but after seeing a great many circles in my time I just had this feeling that all was not right here.
To the west side of the circle setting is a completely triangular or ‘A’ stone as I call them and typical it would seem of quite a few Cornish circles. This must signify something, but what, as they are not just placed in the same position on the compass, or is it just a random thing? I found the whole site odd to be truthful but may have a change of view when I visit the other local large irregular circles of Louden and Fernacre if I find their make-up similar.
Then, I had a surprise. As the photos will show, ‘offerings’ had been left on and near a centre stone, if indeed it was one, as it is offset and prostrate. A broken painted flat stone, a silver (coloured) chain necklace with charms on it, a small amount of coins and a selection of small stones on and to the side of this prostrate stone had been deposited. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an offering in an open moorland circle before but plenty in tombs, barrows, cairns and the like.
I don’t know if it was the presence of the huge china clay mounds immediately to the north, but I couldn’t get a ‘feel’ for the place once I was actually in the circle. I found the stones too small for such a large circle, almost like it was a token circle rather than one of major importance/significance if that makes sense! Normally if I see offerings it strengthens my own belief in our great ancestors and what they have left for us, but not this time, unless it was for a more recent occurance of course in which case my comments are not appropriate and I apologise for. Rightly or wrongly I felt what the circle must once have had had gone and I left the Stannon stones still feeling that this was a circle built for a different reason to most other circles. I could be completely wrong of course but don’t feel the need to return there which is another first for me! Sorry to be so negative but that’s just how I felt.

Posted by Sanctuary
2nd May 2012ce
Edited 28th September 2013ce

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