It was only recently that I got to hear of Crowpound after it was suggested that it was rather like King Arthur’s Hall on King Arthur’s Down to the north-west of Bodmin Moor. As KAH is a particular favourite of mine a visit was top of my list.
I have to say that on first appearance it disappointed me as other than a rectangular banked earthwork enclosure it bears little other resemblance to it. There is no grandeur to it and no ambiance as there is at KAH and certainly no granite standing stones lining the inner side of the bank.
I approached the site after leaving the A30 taking the St Neot turn-of and passing Colliford Lake on the LHS. At Fair View/Williams Cottage at a four junctioned xroad you continue south for about another ¾ mile sign posted Mount/Ley before reaching a further xroad. To the left takes you to St Neot and the right to Mount. Go straight over and Crowpound is immediately on your right and makes up the south-east corner junction of the xroad.
Basically it is a rectangular banked earthwork of uncertain age and usage, the middle of the site having been extensively mined and left in an appalling state as far as I am concerned. Why disturbed land was never reinstated by the mining companies is beyond me as it remains such a mess. Holes all over the place with the removed earth banked up alongside. To the middle central area of the enclosure is a somewhat crude interrupted circular banked area which is somewhat of a puzzle, but in amongst all the mining holes and earth deposits its identity simply isn’t clear cut although my first thought I have to say was that it could be an open earthen ringed cairn and the real jewel in the crown of this site. The northern end of the central inner area is quite flat and untouched by mine works so my thoughts are that on first build the whole inner area was a flat surface with the possible exception of this central circular earthwork/ringed cairn with the banked enclosure coming later. Only excavation will resolve that possibility however.
Where it mainly differs, other than having no standing stones to the inner sides of the banks like at KAH, is the consistency and height of the banking. Very neat and tidy with perfectly level tops about 4ft high, whereas the banks at KAH are a bit up and down and somewhat irregular in places and much higher and bulkier. My first thoughts again on seeing this (and now wearing my builders hat) was that they were built level to then take a possible fence to form a perfect stockade to keep animals in. The banks themselves ‘seem’ to have been formed by removing earth from the inner surface but could equally have been brought in from elsewhere and deposited there. As the photos will show there is water lying against the inner base of some of the banking suggesting it was from a shallow ditch left behind after the earth was taken to form the banking, but this is a little sketchy to say the least.
What troubled me the most was that the site had no ‘feeling’ to it and left me cold. It was plain, simple, every-dayish if you like with no heart. It simply did nothing for me and it certainly didn’t feel ‘old’. Inside of me I didn’t want it to be like KAH as that is a special place and in that respect it didn’t let me down!
Now, interestingly, about a quarter of a mile away to the south-east on Goonzion Downs, is a tumulus and lo and behold it is held within another enclosure made up of the same type of banking as more photos will show. A very large enclosure this time with the tumulus set almost into its south-east corner. What’s all that about you have to ask? The tumulus itself has been dug into with the centre torn apart and another example no doubt of treasure seeking morons with no respect for our heritage and/or our great ancestors last resting place! Overall though this entire area has been destroyed by mining works and it does make you wonder if in days gone by anyone really cared a stuff for our past or even once considered re-instating the land back to its former beauty. https://picasaweb.google.com/100525707086862773355/Crowpound?authkey=Gv1sRgCNKN6Y_isObUOQ#
Like King Arthur's Hall this earthwork is a bit of a mystery. It stands on high ground to the west of the village of St Neot on the road to Bodmin. Allthough much of the centre of it has been disturbed by shallow mining it's outer walls remain. The whole thing measures 160ft by 120ft in a rough rectangle.
St Neot was a keen evangelist and was trying to convert the unenthusiastic masses of Hamstoke (now, one imagines, the village retitled as 'St Neot').
Local tradition, fondly clung to still, tells how they one and all made excuse, alleging that the crows came down in such flights on their fields as to destroy the prospect of crops, and that accordingly they could not spare the time from watching their fields to attendance on his discourses.
Then Neot summoned the crows to him and empounded them in the old Roman camp on Goonzion Down, and bade them remain there during the time of Divine worship and instruction. And they obeyed.
footnote: The entrenchment is now called 'Crow Pound'. The woman at S. Neot who told the story to the writer said: 'Some people doubt that this was so. But S. Neot was a very holy man. There is Crow Pound, and there on the opposite side of the valley is the Rookery.'
From p7 in 'The Lives of the British Saints' volume 4, by S Baring-Gould and John Fisher (1913).
This is very wordily reported in Impounding Wild Birds
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1. (Jan., 1884), pp. 19-20.
in which he quotes the Parochial History of Saint Neots in Cornwall, by James Michell, 1833, p137-8. The name of the village is given as Guerryer Stoke (now St. Neots).