At a quarter of a mile from Sennen is the hamlet of Mayon, an insignificant assemblage of a few cottages, only deserving notice as containing a celebrated block of granite, three feet thick, with a flat top measuring about seven feet by six, called Mayon Table. The stone is at the back of a small blacksmith's shop, and the tradition is that seven Saxon kings, about the year 600, paying a visit to Cornwall to see the Land's End, dined at this table. Ethelbert, king of Kent, was one, and the most celebrated of the sovereigns at this the earliest recorded picnic at the Land's End.
According to another version of the tradition, only three kings dined at the Mayon Table on that occasion; and there is a prophecy of Merlin to the effect that a larger number of crowned heads will one day be assembled at dinner around this rock previously to some great catastrophe, or to the destruction of the world itself.
I'm not sure why this stone hasn't been added before. I think I always assumed it had gone long ago. But it's on the MAGIC map when you zoom right in. In fact, on that map, it even calls it a 'cup marked stone'. Someone must seek it out immediately and take a photo! It's in the hamlet of Mayon, more than Sennen itself.
The Saxon Kings' Visit To The Land's End.
At a short distance from Sennen church, and near the end of a cottage, is a block of granite, nearly eight feet long, and about three high. This rock is known as the Table-mên, or Table-main, which appears to signify the stone-table. At Bosavern, in St Just, is a somewhat similar flat stone; and the same story attaches to each.
It is to the effect that some Saxon kings used the stone as a dining-table. The number has been variously stated; some traditions fixing on three kings, others on seven. Hals is far more explicit; for, as he says, on the authority of the chronicle of Samuel Daniell, they were --
Ethelbert, 5th king of Kent;
Cissa, 2d king of the South Saxons;
Kingills, 6th king of the West Saxons;
Sebert, 3d king of the East Saxons;
Ethelfred, 7th king of the Northumbers;
Penda, 5th king of the Mercians;
Sigebert, 5th king of the East Angles, -- who all flourished about the year 600.
At a point where the four parishes of Zennor, Morvah, Gulval, and Madron meet, is a flat stone with a cross cut on it. The Saxon kings are also said to have dined on this.
The only tradition which is known amongst the peasantry of Sennen is, that Prince Arthur and the kings who aided him against the Danes, in the great battle fought near Vellan-Drucher, dined on the Table-mên, after which they defeated the Danes.
A bizarrely specific list from Robert Hunt's 'Popular Romances of the West of England', this edition from 1903. On page 306 he elaborates the battle, and adds the extra local details that King Arthur and the kings 'pledged each other in the holy water from St Sennen's Well, they returned thanks for their victory in St Sennen's Chapel, and dined that day on the Table-men.' Merlin was there too. Oh yes.
Within the memory of many persons now living, there was to be seen, in the town-places of many western villages, an unhewn table-like stone called the Garrack Zans. This stone was the usual meeting place of the villagers, and regarded by them as public property. Old residents in Escols have often told me of one which stood near the middle of that hamlet on an open space where a maypole was also erected. This Garrack Zans they described as nearly round, about three feet high, and nine in diameter, with a level top. A bonfire was made on it and danced around at Midsummer. When petty offences were committed by unknown persons, those who wished to prove their innocence, and to discover the guilty, were accustomed to light a furse-fire on the Garrack Zans; each person who assisted took a stick of fire from the pile, and those who could extinguish the fire in their sticks, by spitting on them, were deemed innocent; if the injured handed a fire-stick to any persons, who failed to do so, they were declared guilty.
Most evenings young persons, linked hand in hand, danced around the Garrack Zans, and many old folks passed round it nine times daily from some notion that it was lucky and good against witchcraft.
The stone now known as Table-mên was called the Garrack Zans by old people of Sennen.
If our traditions may be relied on, there was also in Treen a large one, around which a market was held in days of yore, as mentioned at page 77. There was a Garrack Zans in Sowah only a few years since, and one may still be seen in Roskestal, St. Levan.
Nothing seems to be known respecting their original use; yet the significant name, and a belief - held by old folks at least - that it is unlucky to remove them, denote that they were regarded as sacred objects. Venerated stones, known by the same name, were long preserved in other villages until removed by strange owners and occupiers, who are, for the most part, regardless of our ancient monuments.