Visited 19.6.09. One of those great irregular stones that looks completely different from every angle. If it is genuine, its position is not particularly impressive - apart from Chapel Carn Brea to the NW, there is not much to see from here. Even without the hedges, the natural contour blocks the view eastwards. Perhaps Burnewhall Farm was built on top of something interesting.
Still, at 6ft plus and on a footpath, it's definitely worth a quick look!
This is just off the B3315, where there is a tiny lay-by just to the East of the kink in the road. Otherwise you could park just further up the hill where the road widens a little. A public footpath, which is clearly signposted on the kink of the road, leads from the road (opposite the
entrance to Burnewhall Farm) 30 metres up through a short wood to a stile. From the stile walk straight ahead towards a telephone pole and a gap in the hedge. This is not 2 separate fields as the OS map suggests, and therefore the public footpath is not at the edge of the field, but actually straight across one larger field. The stone is in the next field up. It's a nice curvy stone and measures 180cm (H) x 80 (W) x 50 (D).
Of all the lone stones I visited around Land's End this is the most suspect of them all because it isn't that tall, is in the middle of a field, and is not mentioned in Craig Weatherhill's excellent 1981 book 'Belerion: Ancient Sites of Land's End' (Cornwall Books). However, using Weatherhill's ground rules for what is probably an ancient menhir and what is probably a modern cattle rubbing post this is big enough to be a menhir, and is mentioned as a '"possible menhir...excavated in 1922 but no finds" in Ian McNeil oCoke's 'Standing Stones of the Land's End' (1998 - Men-an-Tol Studio).
Well, this story is about a man who was travelling from St Buryan to the farm of Burnewhall, when he got rather lost. When you look at the map you'll see this standing stone is right next to the path he might have chosen. The story is possibly from Bottrell's 'Fairy Dwellings on Selena Moor' (book 2, p94-102), of which (I think) a version is below. I'm sorry it's so long, but I think the old-fashioned language is always nice:
In the Land's End,about a mile south of St.Buryan,the coast road passes by two farms,Selena and Burnewhall,or Baranhual as it used to be.They lie between the road and the cliffs,in a part of Cornwall which once upon a time was a desolate place of marsh and wild undergrowth,of quaking bog and granite outcrops.In this wilderness,one dark night about two centuries ago,William Noy of Buryan became lost when on his way to Baranhual farm.After three days and nights of fruitless search by his friends,his horse was found and shortly afterwards,William himself.
He lay fast asleep in the shelter of a tumbledown building buried beneath a massive and almost impenetrable thicket of thorns.Awakened,he showed no sense of time or place,although recognising his rescuers and asking plenty of questions as to the whys and wherefores of his plight.Dazed,and as stiff as a stake,he was lifted to his horse and taken home,where,in the passage of time,he was able to reconstruct the strange events of the night he left Buryan for Baranhaul.His great mistake,he then saw,was to have forced his unwilling horse to take a short cut across Selena Moor for,very soon,although he decided to give the animal its head,both he and his mount were quite lost.Undoubtedly they were piskey-led,as William later came to realise.By and by they found themselves in a forest,apparently dark and deserted,and quite unknown to them.Quite suddenly William became aware of a myriad candles glimmering through the trees and the sound of music.At this,the horse showed every sign of terror and,being anxious to go on to ask for help,he was obliged to tether the animal and proceed alone.
William made his way wonderingly through an orchard and came upon a meadow in a clearing in the forest,where there was also an old house.Upon the mounting block before the door stood a girl dressed in white,playing a fiddle.But it was not she who claimed his attention.Upon the forest green hundreds of small people whirled and gyrated at giddy speed to the music she made,while as many more sat at rows of miniature tables,feasting and drinking.So inviting was the scene that William made a move to join the dancers but at once the girl in white threw him a warning glance and,finding another to play the music,drew him quickly into the moonlit orchard.He and she were almost of a height and at once he saw that the girl who looked at him directly was none other than his sweetheart Grace Hutchens of Selena,who had died three years ago.Overjoyed,he made a move to kiss her.
"No,no!My dearest William,you must not touch me,nor the fruit in this orchard,nor any flower or blade of grass,for all this is enchanted. A plum from one of these trees was my own undoing three years ago....This is how it came about.I was looking for one of our goats lost upon Selena Moor at the edge of dusk.Hearing your voice call to the dogs not far away,I struck over the moor to reach you,my beloved William,but I became confused and lost,buried in bracken that was head high,and surrounded by bogs and streams.At last,very tired,I came upon this orchard.Beyond lay a garden filled with roses and the sound of music,surrounded by trees.I know now that I was piskey-led,for once in the garden I could find no way out."
Grace went on to explain how she had eaten a plum,the sweetness of which turned bitter in her mouth and she swooned.On awakening,she found herself surrounded by hundreds of Small People,rejoicing that they now had someone to care for them,as well as to tend their numerous changelings. "In fact",added Grace,"that is what I am,in a way, because during my trance they stole me - as you see me now - leaving behind a changeling body which you and my friends saw buried in Buryan churchyard.The baby changelings are reared on milk from nanny goats lured into the garden by Small People disguised as billy goats.Their own children are very few and much treasured because the Small People are themselves very old,thousands of years old.And of course they are not Christians,because when they were in human form it was long before the days of Christ.Instead they worship the stars."
William suddenly felt he wanted to get away from this rather frightening spot and take Grace with him. He remembered that a garment turned inside out would break a spell of this kind so,quick as a flash,he did exactly that with his glove and flung it into the crowd of Small People.At once everything changed,the house becoming a ruin,the garden a wilderness of moor-withey and water,the orchard a bramble thicket.The Small People vanished from sight and with them his beloved Grace. Felled by a mysterious blow,William fell asleep on the very spot where he was found by his rescuers.From that day on,he pined slowly away,searching upon the moor ceaselessly for Grace until at last he,too,died and was buried alongside her in Buryan churchyard.That is,unless he also had entered faeryland as a changeling.
Online at Cornish Connexions. Who take pains to point out that the stories "are only stuff of myth and legend and do not reflect the views of modern society or those of Connexions." Ok.