Heritage Project for Caradon Hill / Cheesewring Area
A meeting was held on June 8th to talk about the launch of a Heritage Landscape grant application for the above area. This will coincide with the World Heritage bid for Cornwall and West Devons industrial heritage... continues...
We arrived in the village of Minions in cold, misty and very windy conditions. The moors around sported farm animals and ponies, this part of the moor it was the banded white/black cows that were in evidence. Small ponies everywhere, their foals at heel or fast asleep in a hollow of the land whilst their mothers grazed.
Great excitement on my part for eventually arriving in Cornwall, the Cheesewring pub/hotel was very welcoming, room good and the food fairly good as well - pub fare.
How to describe this landscape, dystopia kept coming to mind, the land has been mined for tin and ruined engine houses dot the skyline. Yet of course it is beautiful, the mine workings flow through the land as bumps, ditches and small pits filled with reeds and water, a green and pleasant land, the mist adding to the romantic industrial tone of the place.
The Hurlers Stone Circles, there are three, though one has almost disappeared, is about 5 minutes walk from the road just outside the village and they lie about half a mile from the Cheesewring, upon which of course they are focused. What went through the minds of these stone age people as they looked on the weird shaping of the Cheesewring, honed by time and geology to a 'topple' of stones balanced precariously on top of one another. Did they think their ancestors had built such stone gods? Giants placing each stone carefully, who knows?
On our first visit, the mist came and went so that sometimes the blurred outlines of the Cheesewring was there and then would completely disappear, we had come in the time of the summer solstice, but the sun had decided not to make an appearance. We met at the stone circle someone from the forums, who were also there for the summer solstice.
The two stone circles have a feeling of serenity and you can fall in love with them quite happily, they pull you in, they are not showy circles just part of the landscape and as you glance over to the two Piper Stones in the distance the question asked are they both part of the same equation, or are these two stones something different.
As we spent three days in Minions village, we
visited several times, and also walked to the Cheesewring in blustery weather with Sanctuary and his dog Chief. The front half of this great outcrop of rock (sorry don't do north, south, east and west) has been heavily quarried right up to the strange assemblage of stones before it was finally stopped. There is an early neolithic wall fronting this and several upright stones balanced precariously on the edge of the quarry, this is part of Stowes Pound Neolithic enclosures.
Silly people were doing the 'Titanic' act of standing on the Cheesewring with arms outstretched in a gale force wind, hopefully should they have been blown off there is a helicopter service in Cornwall.
Definitely going back!
A bit of spare quididge and we were off to the zoo, "which one are we going that necessitates a 2.30 am get up call " the kids asked, or words to that effect.
" Nooooooookey ?"
"Its in Cornwall" I replied overlooking the obvious grammar mistake.
Almost five hours later, and Eric, Mia the young Jack Russell and Myself were striking out across the moor, into yet more mist and drizzle, every time I come here the weather is right crap. Upon seeing the whole site emerge out of the nether world Eric muttered something to himself then said to me there's alot of them isn't there ?
That's one of the good things about the Hurlers, ( another is it's proximity to the road) there's so many stones left you can easily see the outline of all three stone circles. The fallen stones are long, some are trying to snuggle there way under the turf, even the broken stumps are not completely devoid of interest, they define some of the more worn out arcs of the circles.
The central circle of the three has a central stone standing in it, there is a long fallen stone between the central and the northern circle, and another possible fallen stone half way between the northern circle and the Cheeswring.
Also not to be forgotten are the Pipers off to the side by the southern circle, and the Minions mound should also be seen by the houses back yard.
But I didn't know about it until I got back, darn now i'll have to go back, darn indeed.
Morning of Friday 20th of February 2009. My two young daughters 6 & 10 and my partner (?) arrived at The Hurlers in the mist, we seemed to be alone as it was really quiet. We had a picnic and the mist cleared a little and we could just make out the Cheesewring in the distance (a large hill with a quarry at the bottom?) We counted the stones and walked on. As we approached more people appeared and everyone seemed intent on walking up the hill. We were taken in by the huge stones at the top performing their fantastic balancing act, two quite enormous ones of which only one was safe for my family to stand on. I got there first and as I climbed the clouds blew away and the whole moor appeared around me. There were horses roaming around in a large 30 plus herd, I think they're trained to go into their stable for the night at a farm we could see a mile or so away, but during the day they have the place to themselves. After climbing down we had a look at some of the many pools of water on the moor, which are quite strange in themselves and my kids were up for exploring their imaginations. Later that day we went to Tintagel, by that time the day had got really warm, the sea was turquoise and the castle was expensive, but as it was just closing a nice lady let us walk to the gate entrance and from there we walked along the cliff to the YHA near the church. It was a great day. Daddy doesn't go for walks that often and needs to be talked into it. He normally ends up enjoying himself though. Had a major fall-out with the missus the day after though. were meant to go to a wedding at a country club and threw a paddy cause my clothes didn't fit anymore and wifey didn't want me wearing camoflaged combats. Fair enough.
I had no such trouble finding the Hurlers, with a great sign heralding its proximity and boasting its own car park. I half expected a neon sign, Vegas style, to guide me, such was the heralding!
It wasthe pity but the rain was coming down in sheets and with the occupants of the other vehicles parked up questioning my sanity, I was drenched within one minute.
I didn't get to appreciate what must be an amazing site when the weather is fairer.
I couldn't even get a feeling for the size or quality of the circle, the rain was so hard and clouds so oblique, it was almost as if I wasn't welcome. I took a few stolen snaps and ran back to the car. I have unfinished business here.
Access: Pretty easy. By road, head for the small village of Minions off the B3254 near Liskeard. The Hurlers and the Pipers are on the NW side of the road at the SW end of the village. There is a car park that might get quite busy peak season (with attached barely recognisable cairn).
The stones are about 200 yards (tops) across relatively flat grassy moor and are not at all overgrown. May be boggy in wet weather.
There is also a roughish track that runs just to the SE of the circles, but this is probably no better for access to the circles. It does lead straight to the Pipers though. (And on towards the Craddock Moor circle etc).
Saturday 6 March 2004
What a place to start off my first Cornwall trip in around 8 years! My memories of the place turned out to be really hazy - I didn't remember it being so impressive!
It came up as a candidate for somewhere to stop on the way to the Land's End peninsula, simply because I really wanted Jane to see Trethevy Quoit. As the Hurlers are so close, it seemed like a viable 'addition', though I wasn't that enthusiastic.
In fact, I was more interested in the neighbouring Rillaton Barrow, just because I hadn't seen it before!
Of course I've read a fair amount about the Hurlers since that first visit and seen the pics on here, so I should've known to expect more. After all, it's not everywhere that you get to see 3 stone circles in a row with a couple of nice 'probable' outliers (see the Pipers and a prominent 'proto-temple'!!!
Actually seeing the Hurlers again though, I saw that my memory it as 'scrappy' and 'wrecked' was far fom the truth. OK, the south circle is largely gone but its presence is clear. And the other 2 are a bit 'knocked-about', but far more complete than I expected. Along with the setting, this all makes for a pretty damn spectacular 'monument'!
With the weather changing constantly as the dark but broken clouds scudded across the sun, the 'atmosphere' of the site seemed to change from moment to moment. Picturesque and welcoming, to bleak and unfriendly in seconds. Considering the proximity of the village, it's amazing how remote the site can feel after a short time there.
It is impossible to overlook the presence of the Cheesewring, though it's far enough away that it doesn't dominate the site, and isn't exactly an integral part of it in the way of say, the Cnoc an Tursa at Callanish, or the Gorsedd at Bryn Celli Ddu. Its significance is surely indisputable, however, and seems clearly to have been part of the overall 'vision' of the place.
We didn't make it to Craddock Moor stone circle and other sites on the moor, as we still had quite a distance to go before journey's end (and Trethevy Quoit was calling). We did stop briefly at the Long Tom christianised menhir though, as we were passing.
It's Not surprising that this site has a strange atmosphere. Iv'e talked to a few people who've visited and most of the seem to have has a fairly depressing time. (no objective statistics availble). Personally, Iv'e had a spectacular argument with my spouse there. Which we both afterwards put down to disruption of the local ambient E.M fields caused by the combined effects of the copper mines and the T>V mast screwing up out central nervous systems. If ever there was a site that can mess with your mind, this one rates highly.
Having said that the next time we went there, it was lovely. No wierdness at all, nice and peaceful.
Sad to see some negative/unhappy memories of this site on here. Have just come back from a week in Cornwall and was totally blown over by this site. Maybe we were lucky - it was windy but bright on Bodmin, very few people around and just a lot of sheep, who didn't seemed in the least bit worried by our intrusion.
What a fantastic landscape - I actually think the abandoned tin mines added to the bleak and desolate feel of the place. We headed over to the Cheesewring and felt like it was never going to get any nearer. Its worth a scrabble up the rocks though, for the views are spectacular and you see the landscape more clearly.
One of my favourite sites; the combination of the cirlces, the natural altar of the Cheeswring and the barrow just make it incredble.
A large car park just South West of Minions leads up to the Hurlers. Lots of walkers and doggy people around, even on 'Christmas Day'. Not only are the circles fascinating, but the whole place is steeped in history, from the Pipers, Rillaton barrow, the Cheesewring, Stowe's
Pound tor enclosure, and the Craddock moor sites, to the plethora of old mining ruins.
I hadn't planned on seeing the stones till I saw them on the map as I was driving past. I nearly missed them too, as it was so misty, visibility down to about thirty feet. Approached from the main path, it was truly a=mazing as they loomed up out of the mist. Everything was grey, but the stones where still awesome.
I ran so fast to see the Hurlers that I almost came a cropper in the hidden marshy pools all around. Not used to there being people all around I had to slow down (also to mellow the sheep). But the circle didn't want to be walked around and admired- it wanted to be belted around to involve you in it's petrified game. I love the moors and it's treasures like this. Three circles together! What great things used to happen here?
More magnificent stones, not "cuddly"like Duloe but impressive, just the same. In the background another big climb, no mist this time just impending dusk. The view from the top of the cheesewing was well worth the climb, this really does feel like the top of the world!!
Well, this site is certainly in a very bleak and desolate location on Bodmin Moor just on the edge of the village of Minions. I couldn't help but find it quite beautiful though. It's certainly pretty unique as well with its three circles. The day I was there it had been raining and there was a wonderful rainbow to brighten the sky. There were quite a few visitors about but the site curiously still felt really lonely. A lonely, desolate but beautiful place.
I visited the Hurlers with the missus for the first time over a year ago. I haven' t been back. Hard to explain really.
A lovely day and high hopes came to naught. The setting is wrong somehow, derelict mines and alien looking telecom masts, a nearby road and dumped agricultural equipment don't help.
The stones look like part of the clutter. Two unseen dirt bikers added a distracting, ever present, angry wasp hummmmm for the hour or so we tried to loiter.
Retreating to the village for some extra cholesterol cornish ice cream I bumped into an old friend. His clothes were two sizes too big for him, his skin was grey, he looked and sounded like shit. You can't exchange the usual pleasantries with someone who can see the shock on your face.
He hadn't come to see the Hurlers, he had never heard of them, he wouldn't tell me why he was in the tiny village. I bought him a post card of the rings from the village shop and left him, the village and the stones to it.
I found out later that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The Hurlers hold no happy memories for me.
A bleak day in Cornwall, was revived as the clouds cleared momentarily as we walked to the stones. The site is well sign-posted from the Minnions and only a short walk. It was getting late and still windy and bleak, more importantly, beer and food were needed so didn't stay long.
The Hurlers has the legend that it was a bunch of guys having a Hurl on the Sabbath, with the inevitable Petrifying Result
- the day we went, it was full of Posh Adolescents playing rounders, using a stone as some kind of primitive backstop, and braying at those peculiar frequencies only P.A.'s can muster - we didn't wait to see if history repeated itself --- has anyone counted the stones recently? :-)
In Saint Cleeres parish in Cornwall, there are upon a plain six or eight Stones, such as are upon Salisbury plain, which like them two will be mistaken in the telling; so that when they are told over again, they will be found over or under the first number. A thing, that happens (no doubt) meerly by their confused standing.
From 'Britania Baconica: or, The natural rarities of England, Scotland, and Wales', written by J Childrey (1662).
I assume this is the right location, it doesn't seem unreasonable?
The sarcastic Davis Gilbert said "With respect to the stones called the 'Hurlers' being once men, I will say.. 'Did that the ball which these Hurlers used when flesh and blood appear directly over them, immovably pendant in the air, one might he apt to credit some little of the tale..'
Hunt, who was quoting him in his 'Popular Romances of the West of England' retorted
May we not address Mr Bond, "O ye of little faith!"- A very small amount of which would have found the ball, fixed as a boulder of granite, not as it passed through the air, but as it rolled along the ground.
Not farre hence, in an open plaine, are to be seene certaine stones, somewhat squared, and fastened about a foote deepe in the ground, of which, some sixe or eight stand vpright in proportionable distance: they are termed, The hurlers.
And alike strange obseruation, taketh place here, as at Stonehenge, to wit, that a redoubled numbring, neuer eueneth with the first. But far stranger is the country peoples report, that once they were men, and for their hurling vpon the Sabboth, so metamorphosed. The like whereof, I remember to haue read, touching some in Germany (as I take it) who for a semblable prophanation, with dauncing, through the Priests accursing, continued it on a whole yere together.
Almost adioyning hereunto, is a heap of rocks, which presse one of a lesse size, fashioned like a cheese, and therethrough termed Wringcheese.
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.
Geographical facts and numbers of stones in the three stone circles, collected whilst following Daniel Gumb's history...
The Hurlers consist of three rings of stones, they stand on the open moor one and a half miles west of Upton Cross, just west of Minions. The stone circles are set on a line north east, south west and if we work north to south the dimensions are as follows diameter 110ft with 13 standing stones, 135 ft with 17 standing stones and 105 ft with 9 standing stones. The rings can be studied carefully and it can be seen that each ring would have had many more stones at one time, probably between twenty five and thirty five each. The group lies on a route way between the rivers Lyhner and Fowey and are aligned with a number of monuments close by, the cairns on Caradon and stone rows on one axis and long toms cross and Rillaton barrow on the opposite axis. It has been confirmed that the stones had been placed in pits with stones packed around them. They had been hammered smooth and the chippings strewn over the interior. Little was found in the stone circles. The central circle contained an upright stone placed off centre and the northern circle had been paved with granite blocks. Between the central and southern circle lay another patch of paving and a small pit. To the south west, 120 metres away are two more standing stones. known as The Pipers, possibly the remains of another circular monument or an alignment running down to the river Fowey. It is highly likely that the circles were built over a lengthy time span and a single site might retain its significance for centuries. Perhaps the central circle was at the nucleus of a monument collection of different dates.
Taken from.... Daniel Gumb's Country Deborah Bennett
Hurling is an ancient Cornish game played by 2 teams with a silver ball. The practise once took place all over Cornwall but now it is only continued at St. Columb Major and St. Ives. Don't confuse Cornish Hurling with Irish Hurling. The Cornish versions are played without the use of sticks.
At St. Columb the game is always played on Shrove Tuesday and 11 days later on a Saturday.
People say the sport originates from some kind of pagan sun worship, the ball is said to represent the rising sun in the early spring and it is a well known as a fertility/ good luck symbol.