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A puzzle solved at Carn Brea

Carn Brea Settlement, Rock Formations & Menhirs
Visited Sunday 23rd June 2002, and a few days later!

Carn Brea comprises much of interest a settlement dated to about 3900 BC, a fortified enclosure some 3600 years old, a walled neolithic settlement at the western end, a dozen iron age hut circles between the central and eastern summits (go careful with the mineshafts!), great panoramic views, and amazing natural rock formations.

I love a mystery to solve, and Carn Brea certainly gave me that! Having gone past the hill several times on the A30 its appeal grew on me. When I read in The Romance of the Stones (TROTS) by Robin Payne (illustrated by Rosemarie Lewsey), it became a must-do.

When we first visited, a 5 stone was on the right as illustrated in TROTS; this obviously was not the menhir mentioned, as the illustration clearly depicts a stone smaller and wider than the one in the text. Later on the first visit, I saw a stone peeking over a large embankment, and resolved to make a return visit to further investigate.

TROTS also mentions two menhirs on Rock Farm, below Carn Brea on the south side, and I decided I'd also investigate those. Returning some days later with Craig Weatherill's book Cornovia, I set about finding the stones especially a missing 14 ¾ feet tall menhir!

First, I called on Rock Farm to enquire about permission to look around their land, and any knowledge of the stones. I was greeted by two pit bulls as I approached! Being determined as I was to find the stones, I continued the approach with one dog chained, and the other loose, sniffing around my legs. Thankfully my training and experience as a postman kept me cool when confronted with curious canines. At the house, a young lady, and a builder at the rear, both said OK to my looking around but both said they never had any knowledge of standing stones on the land there. Disappointedly, I retreated, and began going towards the stone I'd spotted at the end of my previous visit.

Immediately the tarmac surface ran out on the lane up from Carnkie, there was a footpath to the left it is very rough, and to the right, a steep embankment and fence most of the way up, meant access to this stone was much more difficult than I'd anticipated. Thankfully the embankment lowered, and chunky rocks enabled access to the field above the intended standing stone revealing another menhir in this field! Both fields were ungrazed, and baby gorse bushes were growing throughout most around ankle height – so I estimate the fields haven't been used in two or three years. Neither stone was 14 ¾ feet tall so I believe these two to be the Rock Farm menhirs mentioned in TROTS, as they are just above that property.

So, how do you lose a 14 ¾ feet tall standing stone? I knew that Cornovia had a picture of it so using that I did some photographic detective work and it showed the menhir in front of a rocky outcrop, in front of the castle that is on the east end of Carn Brea. I made my way to the outcrop, and only then did I spy the stone, with some companions, in the midsummer bracken! Thankfully I had an old pair of trousers on, and indulged my madness by walking through waist height (or more ) bracken and brambles, so I could look and photograph.

Carn Brea is an amazing place without the stones, the views, rock formations and rich archaeology; but the addition of several standing stones make it a good megalithic feast. I'm not convinced the tallest menhir is 14 ¾ feet tall, but nonetheless it is impressive. In addition to the two Rock Farm menhirs and unmentioned 5 foot standing stone, it gave me an enjoyable challenge to work out.

ShropshireTraveller Posted by ShropshireTraveller
13th November 2004ce

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