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Fogou freak-out and other fantastic tales


Ursula and I took a trip down to Lands End between 5th May and 8th May 2003ce, primarily to see the stones in this area which we had until now not explored. Needless to say we both loved it, and have now added it to the list of places we must return to.

For the first two nights we stayed in a B&B in St. Ives (Norfolk House) where, as it turned out, the owners are themselves frequent visitors to the sites. They also did a fantastic cooked veggie breakfast. The last night was spent in Mousehole. So overall we were able to see a broad cross-section of the Land's End sites, with plenty left over for a return visit :-)

This visit has left me with a bit of a fogou obsession, so I've now got another pile of books, on a relatively new subject, to read up on.

Zennor Quoit — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
This was our first site on our Cornish trip, and was an excellent start. The size of this monument is quite something - I'd certainly not imagined it to be so big. Luckily I had re-read the fieldnotes for this site and didn't mistake the posts for anything significant, and so was able to impress Ursula with my knowledge. She was a bit taken aback in fact, as she had also thought the semi-constructed cowshed was part of this ancient monument ;-)

Zennor Quoit — Images

15.05.03ce
<b>Zennor Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Zennor Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan

Lanyon Quoit — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
A wonderful site, worthy of the attention it gets. The re-positioning of the stones is quite obvious, but doesn't in any way spoil it. We sat here for a while as the midday sun burnt away what was left of the cloud cover, and the day took a lighter turn.

Men-An-Tol — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
We approached this site with eager anticipation having seen and read so much about it before. Ironically, this exposure meant that once we arrived at the site we were a little disappointed. Needless to say, it is a great site, and the surrounding landscape wonderful, but it didn't really have any surprises left to offer us. It was exactly as I'd expected it to be, nothing more, nothing less. We hung around for a while, and took the obligatory shots, then left as a dogwalker approached the site.

Nine Stones of Boskednan — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
We walked here from Men-An-Tol and were immediately impressed by the small barrow just above the main circle. Both sites are so obviously in reverence to Carn Galver, it just dominates the landscape.

Nine Stones of Boskednan — Images

10.05.03ce
<b>Nine Stones of Boskednan</b>Posted by IronMan

Mayon Cliff Barrows — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
As we approached this site, on our way walking to Land's End, we were greeted with the site of heavy industrial equipment, hauling salvage from a ship run aground below the cliffs. I took a few shots and had a quick look at the site, before getting away from this ugly scene!

Mayon Cliff Barrows — Images

10.05.03ce
<b>Mayon Cliff Barrows</b>Posted by IronMan

The Merry Maidens — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
The word 'perfect' gets used a lot for this circle, so it was no surprise that Ursula and myself both uttered the word in unison as we approached. An incredible place, which from certain angles achieves total symmetry. I took a few shots trying to frame this perfect symmetry, then we sat on a wall nearby gazing at this wonderful place, before moving on to Tregiffian.

Tregiffian — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
It's a real shame that this site is partially submerged beneath the road, as I reckon it would have been another 'perfect' site had it not been (see the Merry Maidens for a definition of 'perfect'). Like Holy says, not a great place for meditation, though on a very busy day, from within the chamber perhaps the traffic noise above could give the same feeling as listening to Sunn O))), who knows? Traffic meditation, now there's a new idea! :-)

Boleigh — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
Of all the sites we visited on our Cornish trip, this one blew my mind the most. I'd kind of written off fogous prior to this, thinking that the evidence tipped too far in favour of those who claim these sites were intended as stores and/or refuges. All I can say is, if this was supposed to be a food-store, the builders must have had quite a shock when they realised they'd opened up a passage to the underworld - it really is that good. The psychological impact of staring into it's gaping void from a few feet before the entrance is a feeling I'll not forget in a long time.

We'd arrived at the site unannounced, not remembering (must do my research properly) it was necessary to make an appointment before hand. Jo May's daughter was just on her way out as we drove down the track leading to the house, and so she asked if she could help us. We told her we intended to visit the fogou, and she let us know (in the nicest possible way) that we should really have booked in advance. She said it'd be okay this time though, as there was no activity taking place in the Caer centre, and proceeded to lead us to the fogou.

Having visited countless burial chambers prior to this, and thinking this would be a similar experience, neither Ursula nor myself really had any qualms about just strolling on into the passage. I took a few photographs, and not having a torch used my flash to view inside the creep passage.

It was Ursula who first freaked out. As I sat, gazing down the creep, I heard her yelp from outside. I quickly turned round to see what was the matter, and saw she'd whipped off her coat, shaking it before me, thinking a bee was in her hood. Seconds later she flicked off her shoe, thinking something was in that, and I leapt backwards almost losing my footing. The place was really starting to freak us out so we retreated to the safety of the outside.

We took a few minutes to re-gather our composure, and then I set about taking a few more photographs. As I raised my camera to take a shot, I saw something leap from tree above me, a sudden panic made me stop what I was doing, only to find my terror had been caused by one of the trees branches gently swaying in the breeze. I sat down and laughed - the psychology behind this place is really quite something, and had obviously got the better of us. I decided there and then that I'd have to make another visit to this place, with a more prepared mind and proper permission from it's owner. I really felt like I was trespassing!

Sat before the entrance, I fixed my gaze on it's depths and struggled to see far into the passage at all - the darkness has to be seen to be believed. Life teemed all around the mouth of this 'cave', bees and butterflies fluttered round the bluebells growing on it's banks. Up above in the trees was the noisiest display of ravens I've ever heard. It was pretty easy to start to imagine this was all part of the magick of this site.

This is a real class site, and has made me totally reassess not only fogous, but my entire psychological relationship with all sacred sites. Fantastic.

Boleigh — Images

10.05.03ce
<b>Boleigh</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Boleigh</b>Posted by IronMan

Carn Euny Fogou & Village — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
After visiting Boleigh Fogou we decided to come here next, in order to compare the experience. This didn't have quite the same impact, but did have one or two surprises in store for us - the phosphorescent moss on the walls of the corbelled chamber impressed us most. We decided that Boleigh's magic must have a lot to do with it's 'living' nature - this felt much more like the sites I'm used to, and so much less alive. A tour group arrived after 20 minutes or so, thus signalling our departure. On the way back we wandered a few metres down the track marked 'pottery' to visit the little well there.

Brane — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
This place really is tiny! I rather ignorantly decided to consult my copy of The Modern Antiquarian after arriving at the site, and so only realised then that I was actually in danger of being chased off the land, so I hurriedly took a few snaps then beat a retreat. I will do my research more thoroughly in future.

Brane — Images

10.05.03ce
<b>Brane</b>Posted by IronMan

Boscawen-Un — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
Another site which I've been wanting to visit for quite some time, and I'm not in the least bit disappointed by it. We had the place to ourselves, and once we were sat down within the circle, surrounded by the thick gorse, felt completely away from civilisation. Perfect!

Carn Gluze — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
On our way back from staying in Mousehole, we decided to make one last trip round the coastal road and stop off at Cape Cornwall to see this monument and the cliffs, before heading to Chûn Quoit, and then back up to Bristol.

The size of this place is impressive, and the view even more so - taking in Land's End at a distance where the horrible theme park is almost invisible. The waves below these here cliffs are quite something, and must have had quite an impact on the minds of the ancients.

Carn Gluze — Images

10.05.03ce
<b>Carn Gluze</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Carn Gluze</b>Posted by IronMan

Chûn Quoit — Fieldnotes

11.05.03ce
Our last site visit of this trip and not a bit disappointing. This really is a treat - every bit as good as I'd hoped for, and then some. The views from here are tremendous, and the decision to come here last worked out brilliantly, as by now I felt familiar with the surrounding landscape. We arrived in glorious sunshine and lay soaking up the warmth for a good while, before lazily strolling back to civilisation.

Chûn Quoit — Images

15.05.03ce
<b>Chûn Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Chûn Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Chûn Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan

Nine Stones of Boskednan — Images

16.05.03ce
<b>Nine Stones of Boskednan</b>Posted by IronMan

The Merry Maidens — Images

16.05.03ce
<b>The Merry Maidens</b>Posted by IronMan

Men-An-Tol — Images

16.05.03ce
<b>Men-An-Tol</b>Posted by IronMan

Lanyon Quoit — Images

16.05.03ce
<b>Lanyon Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Lanyon Quoit</b>Posted by IronMan

Boleigh — Images

20.05.03ce
<b>Boleigh</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Boleigh</b>Posted by IronMan

Boscawen-Un — Images

20.05.03ce
<b>Boscawen-Un</b>Posted by IronMan

Weblog

A pilgrimage to Cheetham Close


Another journey to Cheetham Close. This time we decided to make it into a real pilgrimage. Our last trip here had been in early January, in the snow, and it was then that we decided the next time we came here would be when Spring was first starting to really show, and we'd do it from our doorstep and make the entire pilgrimage on foot.

So today we set off on this 18 mile round trip. The walk takes in very few ancient monuments, in fact Cheetham Close is the only definite monument, but this kind of thing never stops me from proclaiming wild conjecture about the land around me.

The first landmark we reached was one I see every day, Darwen Tower. The tower is a monument erected to celebrate Victoria's jubilee. This makes it totally unsound, but I can't help but have some feeling for the place as my families history is tied up with it. My great-great grandfather owned a quarry from which stones where taken to build the monument. It's been a constant feature in my life, and I can't remember a time when I haven't lived somewhere with a view of it. Prior to the tower, the hill was used for beacon fires. Darwen is home to it's own barrow at Ashleigh, and I often wonder what was up here, on the site of the tower, before it's erection.

We carried on across the moors, next stop Green Lowe. I had read in an old historic walking guide book, that this was the site of a burial mound but we could see nothing here, so we just carried on. The track led us down to a stretch where it was necessary to walk on the A666 roadside for 15 minutes. The road is an accident hotspot, and it was interesting to see at close hand a few little roadside memorials, tiny shrines to road culture. We left the road near Charters Moss, itself the site of a bronze age settlement. There is little to see here as this is a modern plantation, and doubles up as a lay-by for HGV drivers complete with greasy caff. Trivia fans may be interested to know that this stretch featured in Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights (first series), doubling up as Stranraar.

The walk from Charters Moss to Cheetham Close was pretty straight forward, taking in a path under a series of electricity pylons. Arriving at Cheetham Close was fantastic. There's nothing here to see, in terms of ancient monument, as anyone who's been or seen the photographs will already know, but that's not the point. This is a very special place. Looking at the surrounding hills, my gaze constantly drawn to Winter Hill, it's not difficult to imagine why the circle was built here. Burl's comments on this place are now an irritation to me, as they miss so much of the point. I've been here in awful weather conditions, in very poor visibility, and admittedly at times like that I can think of places I'd rather be, but on a day like today this place is magnificent. There is an air of sadness about the place however - the circle is all but gone, and the fact that the damage was done so recently (19th century) makes it all the worse.

We rested out here for an hour then decided to walk to Entwistle (another important place in my family history) and The Strawbury (sic) Duck, for a few drinks and some food, before making the long trip back. Well worth the effort, and I'll no doubt be doing it again before the year is finished.

Charters Moss — Images

16.03.03ce
<b>Charters Moss</b>Posted by IronMan

Cheetham Close — Images

16.03.03ce
<b>Cheetham Close</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Cheetham Close</b>Posted by IronMan

Weblog

Kilmartin Retreat, October 2002ce


After a terrible summer (a split from my partner and increasing job insecurity) I decided to take myself off to the Kilmartin valley - a reflective time to be spent on my own in a place I'd wanted to visit for some time. It was a fantastic week - I barely spoke to anybody for days at a time, my evenings spent with a few drinks in the Kilmartin Hotel planning my next site visits. Of all the days spent in Kilmartin, the first stands out the most - the sun shone down and I was left alone to walk the length of the valley stopping off at each site on the way.

The Glebe Cairn — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
This site is definitely worth seeing! Okay, like landells says, it is a pile of old stones, at the end of the day - but seen up close and in context with the other sites in this group it completes the picture. This is more like the other sites would have looked in their final stages of development, after all. The cairn looked wonderful in the frost.

The Glebe Cairn — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>The Glebe Cairn</b>Posted by IronMan<b>The Glebe Cairn</b>Posted by IronMan

Nether Largie North — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
A great example of a modern reconstruction of a site, done well. The main feature, the slab cover, is fantastic and once sat down in front of it, studying it's decorated surface, was a real bind to leave. Opening the wooden door and descending into the cairn is quite an experience, too!

Nether Largie North — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Nether Largie North</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Nether Largie North</b>Posted by IronMan

Nether Largie Central — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
This was probably my favourite of the cairns in this group. It's ruined and the cupmarked stone is difficult (to say the least) to see, but the shape and condition of the whole site is wonderful. Again, the frost made this cairn look amazing. I felt so lucky to be here, completely alone and at peace - what a day!

Nether Largie Central — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Nether Largie Central</b>Posted by IronMan

Nether Largie South — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
The sun was just starting to melt the frost making this cairn glisten in the clear, bright morning sunlight. The chamber looks great.

I moved to a safe distance while a group of kids played around the chamber for 10 minute, and just took in my first taste of this incredible sacred landscape. Later on, in the pub, I overheard a group of local kids playing pool, talking about 'the tombs'. A mother of one of the kids, sat chatting with two american tourists, spoke of how 'the kids round here really love their stones!'

Nether Largie South — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Nether Largie South</b>Posted by IronMan

Ri Cruin — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
This place gave me goosebumps as I approached - there is so much more to the place than meets the eye. The setting is difficult to place in relation to the other linear cemetry sites, as unlike the others it is completely surrounded by trees. This does give it a unique feel though - something like Wayland's Smithy. I took a long break here as the sun streamed through the trees.

Ri Cruin — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Ri Cruin</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Ri Cruin</b>Posted by IronMan

The Great X of Kilmartin — Fieldnotes

17.12.02ce
On the way up to Kilmartin I vowed not to get distracted and stop off, just get to the B&B and wait till Sunday to explore the sites... this place stopped me in my tracks! It still had me spellbound the next day - the central stone's carvings in clear definition. I sat waiting for the sun to move and bring new detail to the stone, a totally captivating experience.

The Great X of Kilmartin — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>The Great X of Kilmartin</b>Posted by IronMan<b>The Great X of Kilmartin</b>Posted by IronMan

Baluachraig — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
Arriving here it really struck me that walking from The Glebe Cairn to Ballymeanoch (or vice versa), picking off each site in order you'll always see the last site from the next... The carvings here are great, just a bit more subtle than at some of the other sites in the valley and the setting - wow!

Baluachraig — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Baluachraig</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Baluachraig</b>Posted by IronMan

Dunchraigaig Cairn — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
Yet another great cairn sitting on the plateau above the sites immediately surrounding Kilmartin village. The cist at the N side of the cairn lies open to the side, giving the impression of a low chambered tomb - this would have been closed off with a slab, access being original from the top. I got the usual urge to crawl inside... a few minutes later a family of german tourists struggled to reconcile their urge to do the same with the damage this may cause to their pristine jeans - the teenage daughter eventually gave in, and got down on her belly to peer inside, much to the horror of her mother!

Dunchraigaig Cairn — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Dunchraigaig Cairn</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Dunchraigaig Cairn</b>Posted by IronMan

Ballymeanoch — Fieldnotes

25.10.02ce
A great monument, which along with the Great X forms a centre piece to the sacred landscape of Kilmartin. If you're spending a few days in the area, it's definitely worth coming back here a few times, at different times of day and in different light and weather conditions, this site seems to change more than most sites...

Ballymeanoch — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Ballymeanoch</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Ballymeanoch</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Ballymeanoch</b>Posted by IronMan

Dunamuck — Images

25.10.02ce
<b>Dunamuck</b>Posted by IronMan

Dunamuck S — Images

25.10.02ce
<b>Dunamuck S</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Dunamuck S</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Dunamuck S</b>Posted by IronMan

Achnabreck — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Achnabreck</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Achnabreck</b>Posted by IronMan<b>Achnabreck</b>Posted by IronMan

Dunadd — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Dunadd</b>Posted by IronMan

Kintraw — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Kintraw</b>Posted by IronMan

Carnasserie — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Carnasserie</b>Posted by IronMan

Cairnbaan — Images

24.10.02ce
<b>Cairnbaan</b>Posted by IronMan

Carnasserie — Fieldnotes

02.04.03ce
Very late addition here (it's about six months since my visit), and I don't know why I haven't posted notes yet... here goes then:

The path leading to these stones can be found by following the sign posts up to Carnasserie castle. While here it's a good idea to take a look around the castle - the reason being, it's possible to see the stones from the SW tower, and it'll make the journey much easier than plodding round the fields aimlessly!

When I visited it was raining, not very hard, but enough so I had my hood up. As I explained above, I worked out the direction to these stones by looking from the castle tower. The castle was very atmospheric, and in the rain it's open roof led an eerie atmosphere to the place. Excited by the sight of these two stones, I span round quickly, ready to jog back down the wet spiral staircase steps. A lintel, unseen due to the peak on my hood, blocked the way. Crack! I smashed my head on it and tumbled down a few steps. I landed with a thud and a very sore head. A bit dazed, I shakily proceeded down the steps. Now this castle is in the middle of nowhere really, and I began wondering if I'd been knocked out, or anything more serious had happened, who'd have found me? Once I reached the bottom I sat down, stars spinning before my eyes, rubbing the nasty lump which had by now appeared on my head.

I soon decided to carry on regardless and made my way to the stones - they were wonderful and I soon stopped feeling sorry for myself as I became acquainted with this pair of fine standing stones. Anyone visiting the Kilmartin valley would do well to track these down - it's roughly a 3/4 hour round trip on foot from the car park, just off the main Kilmartin valley road. Carnasserie cairn lies just above the stones, and as a wise Welsh farmer once advised, it's best to follow your nose to find it. Once you do, and if it's clear, you'll be blessed with a stunning view down the valley to the Nether Largie cairns. This cairn is almost in the same line as these, and if you look behind you you'll see the huge cairn Càrn Bàn on the horizon.

I'd definitely recommend this site, just watch for stray lintels would be my only advice.
Holed up in Hebden Bridge, doing things.

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