|Visit date 8th May 2012.
Every now and again you come across something really special and for me, today, I did...King Arthur's Hall on King Arthur's Downs, an area of Bodmin Moor. We have stone circles coming out of our ears down here in Cornwall but this stone-lined lowered ‘enclosure’ is a one-off and as far as I know the only one of its kind in the UK but I believe there is a similar structure in Brittany. It was only meant to be a stopping-off point for me along the way to the stone circles at Leaze but turned out to be the highlight of my day and probably my year!
What is it? No idea, and neither has anyone else it would seem!
Basically, to the eye, it is a lowered rectangular flat-bottomed 140’ X 60’ bowl formed by digging out the topsoil (down to bedrock I wonder as a 'paved' area in a corner has been noted?), banking it up and being 6m wide, then lining the interior with standing stones on all sides and is today protected by an enclosing fence with a gate and stile access. Very little archaeology seems to have been carried out here and if I had the way, means and authority I'd be out there tomorrow carrying out a full sympathetic survey as this site smacks of great importance to me!
With stones up to around 2 metres in height sticking up, prostrate or angular, it is believed to be Late Neolithic/Early Bronze and has 56 stones showing and many others now buried by the collapsing sides. It is believed there were as many as 140 in total and I was blown away to see this in an area famed for its stone circles and amazed that it has not created so much more interest in comparison. How can this be so overlooked?
As you can imagine the ‘bowl’ created is of course a great collection point for water but there was an outlet point to the south-west corner which, because of the lack of research and archaeology carried out here, undecided if it was part of the original build or more recent.
We’ve had a fair bit of rain recently over the moor in this area but the base was remarkable dry for this time of the year I thought. I had my usual partner Chief the Border Collie with me and showing his total disrespect for the site he was splashing about in the central area which did have a small amount of lying water showing but he was not sinking into it which surprised me somewhat. I stepped onto this central surface a couple of times to negotiate fallen stones and it was just a tad soft but I’m sure gets much worse after prolonged and heavy rain.
Throughout my visit and whilst in the bowl, I had a wonderful feeling of calm and security like I was in a sanctuary and amongst ‘friends’. In look it reminded me of an un-kept churchyard where the headstones had been removed and placed against the perimeter walls but were now tumbling and often lying buried. Without a doubt it personally gave me a feel of the ancestors and a shrine to the dead whose remains may well still be lying here undiscovered. Either way this is without doubt a special place which in my opinion should be sympathetically investigated and equally sympathetically re-instated to its former glory before it succumbs to nature further rather than the moorland animals that it did previously. I would recommend a visit here at your earliest opportunity. A wonderful, wonderful place that I will re-visit over and over.
I came onto King Arthur’s Downs via Candra Hill (enough stones lying around here to build all the stone circles ever discovered) and descended to Casehill over the ford crossing where I parked up on a grassed area to the left on the bend leading up to the farm house. Don’t park on the deeply rutted open moorland to the east as you may well block entry onto it by farm machinery.
From here I walked up the rising open moor to the east which is walled and wire fenced to the left and right of you. I swerved off to the right halfway up as I bumped into these ‘locals’ and wasn’t about to chance my luck :-)
On reaching the top which is a reasonably easy walk, you will see the King Arthur’s Hall enclosure down beneath you to the south-east and beyond that in the distance the area of farmed land where the two stone circles I was also heading off to at Leaze are to be found (separate fieldnotes submitted). Entry into the KAH enclosure is via a stile or a wide gate which on my visit was secured.
At this time of the year, sheep, horses and cattle abound on the moor and as many have lambs, foals or calves at foot, be sensible and give them a wide berth if possible because if you get injured on the moor it can be a very lonely and desolate place!
Posted by Sanctuary
9th May 2012ce
Edited 9th May 2012ce