Writing in Meyn Mamvro 84 (Summer 2014), Vivien and Robert Seaney mention a lost standing stone on Peninnis Head referred to by William Borlase in 1756: "The High Stone, fronting ye Rock bason Karn at Peninis 30 ft high".
30ft high? Yep, that's what he said. His depiction of the stone is of a tapering stone with a series of curved indentations down one side. The Seaneys have found a recumbent stone on Peninnis Head, 90 metres east of the lighthouse that certainly looks similar to the shape of Borlase's stone.
So as we're on St Mary's (20 June 2014), it seems too good to miss. After a revisit of the Salakee Down cairns and the possible lost stone circle there, we walk round Old Town Bay and back up to the wonderful Peninnis Head.
The stone is exactly where the Seaneys place it, easy to find as it's somewhat apart from the main outcrops on the headland. It's blooming massive.
However, to me it seems very doubtful that the stone ever stood. It looks like it's always been recumbent and the curved indentations are the edges of a number of rock basins on its upper surface. Is this the High Stone? Was Borlase being fanciful when he showed it upright? Or was there another stone, 30ft high, now vanished?
Whatever the truth, go and see for yourself, the fantastic sculpted granite makes Peninnis Head a wonderful place regardless of whether this is the lost High Stone.
Under the cliffs of Peninnis Head on St Mary's there is a cavern, termed the Piper's Hole, which extends a long distance under ground, and is absurdly said to communicate with another cave of the same title, the entrance to which is in the island of Tresco. This legend would make the length of the cavern at least four miles; and the inhabitants of the locality tell you of dogs let in at the one entrance coming out, after a time, at the other with most of their hair off, so narrow are some parts of the cave. So there is a tradition in Scotland of a man getting through a similar cave, but paying the penalty in the loss of all his skin.
From 'Rambles in Western Cornwall' by J O Halliwell-Phillipps (1861).