I stayed in this area for a week in August 2011. Our landlady and her family have lived in the area for many years. When i mentioned that there was some opinion that the carvings were not genuinely neolithic, she told me that her father a Trethevy and Trevana man, had always believed it was the work of student pranksters. The carvings were unknown to the locals before the late 1940s. Around the same time a large flat rock appeared on top of one of the tall stone stacks along the coastline. Once again her father ascribed this as the work of student pranksters.
The carvings are pretty definitely less than 300 years old: they've been carved onto a quarried rock face by a metal chisel. BUT don't admire them any the less for that. They are delicately carved, obviously by a talented individual, who was not only a craftsman but also literate as well since they most closely resemble carvings on the Hollywood Stone in County Wicklow, Ireland, dating from the Early Bronze Age. It is pretty unlikely that an eighteenth or nineteenth century miller from Bossiney had visited the place himself so he must have seen pictures of these or similar prehistoric Greek carvings. Either that or his imagination was as impressive as his technical skills.
In the tourist season it will be pretty difficult to park in the area; there isn’t anything on the road, only one space at the Rocky valley Gallery (and they presumably want that for customers) and the Trevillett Mill Restaurant (just down the hill by the start of the footpath down to the carvings, and with a huge black pig in the garden) say that the car park is for customers only. Anyway, enough of the boring bit, the carvings are just a few hundred metres down the footpath, and just as Phil said lots of cloth on the trees. Plus a hamburger box and come curry sauce - yum! Most worrying for me was 1) coins shoved into gaps in the rock, many rusted away. The worst are two that are very, very close to the right hand carving - one rusting coin is within 2 cms - surely that could case serious damage!? Elsewhere, someone had even gone to the trouble of bending a coin in two to make it fit into a circular hole. 2) Graffiti on the surrounding rock. This place is obviously becoming a well-known place to hang out and fuck about.
I feel uncomfortable about the authenticity of this place. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic but I wonder how they could have survived being 2 metres away from a mill if they were there before the mill was built. Plus the apparent evidence of them being made with an edged metal tool, that they seem so well preserved for a Bronze Age carving, and that no other similar carvings are found in Cornwall (although Craig Weatherhill, in “Cornovia: Ancient Sites of Cornwall & Scilly” [Cornwall Books - 1985, revised 1997 & 2000] says they are similar to the Galician style designs attributed to the Bronze Age, and are fairly widespread throughout Britain and the Atlantic seaboard of Europe). Cheryl Straffon’s ‘Earth Mysteries Guide to Bodmin Moor and North Cornwall, including Tintagel’ (Meyn Mamvro Publications - 1993, amended 1995 & 2000) believes they are more likely to date from Celtic/Arthurian times but gives no explanation why she believes that nor a more defined date!
Had no trouble finding these. Left the car in layby opposite the "Rocky valley gallery" and followed footpath signs down the valley crossed over a footbridge across a fast running stream. The carving were just behind the ruins of the old mills about 100 metres after the bridge. Also guided by strips of cloths and other rubbish hanging from the trees around the site. This spoilt an otherwise idlic setting.
Hanging of cloth is quite common at certain holy wells in Cornwall but I was surprised to see it here. There is no tradition on of healing wells or trees at this site perhaps visitors were influenced by displays of cloth on trees at the the nearby Witchcraft museum in Boscastle.
The sign at the site claims that the carvings Bronze-age but there is heavy debate that the carvings could have been carved by a "bored miller". Perhaps they are ancient but more that one historian has pointed out the that work seems to have been carried out with a tool similiar to the ones used by millwright.
No other carvings of this type are found in Cornwall.
A site full of a mystery and well worth a visit. (Don't let the miller theory put you off).
These mazes were hard to find. The directions in my book were sparse. This was back in 1989 so the Modern Antiquarian was not published then, but after persevering we found them, small about four inches across. Why has it taken so long for us to rediscover the maze?