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

The Hurlers

Stone Circle


Cornish hurling is a bit of a frightening game. It's only played at St Ives and St Columb now. The hurling ball weighs about a pound, and is made of an orange-sized piece of applewood coated with silver. Two teams, the town and the country, battle to get to their goals, which are about two miles apart. The St Ives version takes place in February on Feast Monday (the day after the nearest Sunday to the 3rd) and at St Columb it's on Shrove Tuesday and the next week's Saturda. There would be forty to sixty men a side and as you can imagine things might get pretty rough.

St Cleer spotted a group of people playing the game one Sunday, on his way to prayer. He demanded they should come with him, but they weren't up for it. Rather meanly he decided to turn them into an example for people who insisted on messing about on the Sabbath, and now you can see the players turned into stone.

Like many other circles, these stones have the reputation of being uncountable. Dr James Yonge the Plymouth surgeon, writing in 1675, said 'They are now easily numbered, but the people have a story that they never could, till a man took many penny loaffes, and laying one on each hurler, did compute by the remainder what number they were.' (quoted in J Westwood's 'Albion).

So that's how you do it.

In the village itself is the 15th century-housed St Cleer holy well. Apparently there was also a bowssening pool here (a total immersion pool) which was used to cure the insane.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2002ce
Edited 22nd November 2011ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment