The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Folklore Posts by Mr Hamhead

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Hillson's House (Cairn(s))

Crossing writes in his Guide to Dartmoor that the cairn got its name after a baby was found on Stall Moor and adopted by local people. He was given the name Hillson and after a while moved up onto the hill and built himself a house amongst the stones of the cairn. Here he made a living making clocks...out of what it doesn't say, but it does say that a Mr Hillson who lived in Cornwood in the mid 1800s had one of these clocks.

Soussons Common Cairn Circle

The strange name of Ephraim's Pinch is attached to a spot a little south east of the circle and is the result of a wager many years ago when a man named Ephraim bet that he could carry a sack of corn from Widecombe to Postbridge without putting it down en route, a distance of some 5 miles. It was at the nearby bend in the road that he finally felt the 'pinch' of his heavy load on his back and had to drop the sack.

Nine Stones of Boskednan (Stone Circle)

We went from this place over very disagreeable heaths to Morva. About the middle of the downs we came to the foot of a hill, where I observed a small oblong enclosure about 15ft by 10ft, made by granite stones set up an end. From this I observed stones set up an end in a winding form, and if I mistake not, extending from the four corners, which I thought might relate to an ancient serpent worship. About 100 yards to the west, and nearer the foot ot the hill, I observed a circle made of stones laid flat and filled with stones.

We ascended the hill and came to a circle called the Nine Maidens, it is about 23 yards in diameter and consists of 20 stones from 2 to 3 ft broard and 4 to 7 ft high, and 3 yards apart, except that there is an opening to the west 8 yards wide.

About 100 near north there is another stone....it may be supposed these were called the Nine Maidens from so many of them being higher than the rest.

'Travels Through England' Dr Richard Pocock 1750

Boscawen-Un (Stone Circle)

' Between this town (penzance)and St Burien, a town midway between it and Land's End, stands a circle of great stones, not unlike those at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, with one bigger than the rest in the middle. They stand about 12 feet asunder, but have no inscription; neithr does tradition offer to leave any of their history upon record, as to whether it was a trophy or a monument of buriel, or an alter for worship, or what else; so that all that can be learned from them is that here they are. The parish where they stand is called Boscawone, from whence the ancient and honorable family of Boscawen derive their name.

D Dafoe ' A Tour through Great Britain' 1724

Bosporthennis 'Beehive Hut' (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

...in half an hour we were hopelessly lost in an impenetrable jungle. Vainly we scanned the hillside for those beehive huts.

In the end I rebelled, and declaimed, with some warmth that, if we wished to see eight prehistoric things before nightfall we must be humble and seek a guide.

At a farmhouse half a mile away on the hill we explained our needs to the farmer. Turning to his wife, whose face was sunburnt the colour of a nut, he said 'You take them to the huts'

As we tramped over the moor I solicited her opinion of Cornish antiquities.

'Bless you, my dear' she said 'people talk a lot about em, but they aint nothing at all, just old stones and things'

from C Lewis Hind 'Days in Cornwall' 1907

Warbstow Bury (Hillfort)

"We saw that an effort had been made to open this barrow at one of the ends; but an old woman, whom we found at a cottage not far off, assured us 'that they that tried it were soon forced to give up thier digging and flee for the thunders came to em and the lightenings also' We endevoured to sound out the local mind of our imformant as to the history of the place and the origin of the grave, but all we could drag out of her, after questions again and again, was ' great warriors, supposing, in old times' Such was the dirge of the mighty dead, and their requiem, at Warbstow Barrow.

Rev Hawker, as quoted in 'Days in Cornwall' by C Lewis Hind 1907

Treninnow Stone Monument (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A large amount of space is given over to this "destroyed" monument in "The Romance of the Stones". In the Broderick Index, which is kept at Plymouth Local History library there is a account from a Mr West (born about 1900) who remembers his mother telling him about how she walked under a large stone supported by three others that leaned inwards. She went on to say that her father later pulled the stones down to make a haedge and covered the site with soil.
The CAU looked into this story in 1978 and confirmed this site after looking at aerial photos and the old tithe map which quoted a Borrow park at this point. A distinct circle, about 25 mters accross could be seen on the photos.

The Plague Market At Merrivale (Multiple Stone Rows / Avenue)

Crossings Guide to Dartmoor tells us that the name Plague Market and also Potato Market came about when the nearby town of Tavistock was ravaged by the plague. The moorland people would travel to this site to leave food for the townsfolk.
He also states that the round stone is infact a millstone carved by a local who then decided it was not fit for the job

The Long Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Mentioned in the CPRE report of 1930 as the "Eddystone" at Musick-water.

Tremenhere Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The coat of arms of the Tremenhere family show three standing stones. The meaning of the name in Cornish being Tre= farm or home and Menhir= stone.
Why they should put three standing stones I am not sure.

Kerris (Standing Stone / Menhir)

"Cornish Feasts and Folklore" 1890

..some Druidical remains called "Kerris roundago". Some stones taken from it to repair penzance pier were fatal to the horseswho drew them, although they were young and healthy..

Treryn Dinas (Cliff Fort)

MA Courtney published a book called "Cornish Feasts and Folklore" in 1890. In it he says of the key of the castle being in a sharp peak on the summit. He then adds that it was knocked down by the men who replaced the logan stone after it was pushed off the rock by Lieutenant Goldsmith in 1824.

Sperris Quoit (Burial Chamber)

With the weather forecasters telling us that the whole country was to be in the grip of an Ice Age by mid week I headed for subtropical St Ives. My partner had a two day conference to go to so I thought I would join her and get in some walking at the same time.

Tuesday 27th Jan 2004

Drove out of St Ives a couple of miles to the hamlet of Towednack. In the porch of the church on the right is a recumbent stone that according to Ian Cooke's guide to the Tinners Way came from Crete in 2000-1500BC.{{1,2,22}}

Left the church and took the footpath heading west to Beagletodn. Just after the house a gate on the right (padlocked) has to be climbed over so a track can be followed.

You will find in these two walks that I have not stuck to legal paths but made my own way over what is essentilly wild moorland. This is possible in mid January as the bracken has died down but even so I would reccomend wearing waterproof trousers and taking a stick.

The track twists its way amongst boulders and water features untill you come to a gate near the Pump House featured on the OS map. Go through the gate and turn right. You will soon find yourself walking up between two walls (not for the last time that you will be following ancient trackways). At the top of this track you come to another gate, once the other side of it it is time to head out over the moors towards Sperris Quoit. {{3,4,5}}Known as one of the most elusive sites in Cornwall I battled my way through the bracken and gorse in a north westerly direction untill I saw the pile of rocks on the skyline. Don't be mistaken by Sperris Croft, a smaller pile but nethertheless named on the OS map.

Reaching the rock piles you will get great views over to the coast and also of Zennor Hill. The quoit lays just to the south of the rocks and can be distinguished by one triangular upright. Even from here it is not easy to reach and requires some scrambling amongst the stones. Keep an eye out for the ancient stone wall that runs off to the SEast, did they use stones from the quoit in its construction?

Leaving the rocks walk towards the ruined mine building. Wheal Sperris was a small mine started in the early 1800's, all around this area are open shafts, water channels and various holes in the ground. If you do leave the path, beware, it's pretty uneven ground.

Zennor Quoit looms on the horizon to the SWest and the path is easy to follow. {{6,7}}Once there I was undecided as to which way to go next, down to Zennor and the Tinners Arms, or onto other sites. The fact that I could see Mulfra Quoit on the horizon weighted my decision and I decided to head south along the old trackway before turning west to the Bishop's Head and Foot boundry marker. This involved trudging through along muddy paths but the sense of space and the fact that the sun was shining made up for it. On the left hand side of the road beside Kerrowe Cottage is a stone with a nice carving on it, I don't believe it tobe very old and judging by the "standing stones" opposit possibly a residents artwork.

Follow the tarmaced track to the road then carry on ahead to the "main" road. Cross the road and find the path that leads up over the northern saddle of Mulfra Hill. Yet again I decided to head out cross open moor and took myself off up the side of the hill. A couple of times I thought I had stuimbled across an unknown stone circle lying hidden in the gorse but decided my imagination was playing tricks. There is so much rock up there and at times you can trace a large arc between them, but never mind.

Eventually I picked up a path and found the quoit.{{10,9}} I could not have asked for a better view, the Lizard stood out clear as a bell, St Michael's Mount sat below me and the sun caught the roofs of Newlyn giving them a silver coating. Time for a cup of coffee and a rest.

I suddenly realised time was getting on and I was far from the car. A footpath supposedly runs east from here down to the road but somewhere along the way I lost it and just plunged down the hillside dwarfed by boulders before reaching a forest of Rhododendrons.

I had thought of visiting the Tyre Menhir but time was getting on so I headed to Tyre Farm and turned left along another muddy footpath. Reaching a large Badger holt the path carries on cross a field to a gate beside a small pond (puddle!). In the next field a new fence has been eracted and the route of the path is not clear. However what is marked on the OS map as a round wall around a shaft interested me, is it just a round wall or is it a hillfort?{{11}}

I climbed over the new fence at the far end of the field having decided there was no way through the hedge and skirted the pond before finding a rusty gate hidden in the undergrowth. It was impossible to open so I climbed over, disturbing a fox in the process. Turn left along the valley and you soon come back out onto the Kerrowe track, turn right.

THe simple way back from here is to follow the bridleway around the south side of Amalveor Downs to Embla Vean then by road to Towednack. I chose a slightly longer route heading more to the south but this did not include any sites of TMA interest except for a couple of tumuli sat overgrown in fields.

The walk took me about 5 hours including stops and it's not just a trudge between quoits it's a walk that offers lots more, space, views, and if like me you don't meet anyone all day, solitude.

28th January 2004

Started day 2 at the carpark beside the engine houses of Carn Galver mine (on the B3306). It was here that my love affair with Penwith began. On a blustery day in Feb 1987 a friend gave me my introduction to rock climbing, if you want to get close to this landscape try hanging on to it by your fingers whilst the waves crash 200ft below you.

Today I head away from the sea, up the footpath/stream that runs along the west side of Carn Galver.{{12,13}} I have been up amongst the rocks before so today I carry on to the crest of the hill untill I come to a crossroads of paths. Turning right brings me to the field in which the Maen Scryfa stands.{{14}} Sadly the sun is right behind the stone so reading the inscription is not easy and photgraphing it impossible. I am struck by the contrast between lush green fields, stone walls and barren moorland. The dead bracken has turned much of the landscape a dull brown colour, only turning gold when the sun hits it at the right angle.

From the maen Scryffa it is a short walk to the men-an-tol, all is good there and after a short rest I carry on in the direction of Greenburrow Engine House (commonly known as Ding Dong).

Just after passing the little stream I noticed a pile of boulders on the right hand side. Amongst these and just beside the path is a square pit. Gorse and hawthorn grow out of it and it is full of water. I plunged my stick it and found it had a bottom, not far down. Like the "Hillfort" yesterday could this be an undiscovered cairn? or is it a mining relic, I will do some research and see what i can find out.

Ding Dong reached and explored (I wont bore you with mining details) I headed back towards Boskedndan circle.{{15,16}} The footpath is thin and runs through gorse and bracken but by following the wall I found my way to a cairn on the south end of the ridge. This lays buried amongst gorse, but with most of the other bracken etc dead it was possible to make out the stones that form the cairn.

The ridge runs north towards Carn Galvers mighty south peak and the stone circle is soon reached. It is rather a wet area in winter and a couple of times I was glad of my stick and high sides of my boots. I missed the standing stone but did explore the tumuli at the north end of the ridge before charging out across the moor to Little Galver, the rocky luump to the east. This was hard going! I wouldn't reccomend it but I had decided I wanted to visit the quoit at Bosporthennis.

After a lot of hard work I reahed the walls that surround the quoit. Wow! this is a stoney landscape but imagine how many stones were used to build these walls? Up to 4ft thick inplaces and about 5ft tall we marvel at what it took to build the monuments but think how much work went into building these. And how old are they? who knows, some say the field patterns down here date back to the bronze age.{17,18,19,20}}

Having visited the quoit I head back to the road down another vague footpath before following the road back to the car. Looks like I am in time for a pint and a bowl of fish soup at the Gurnards Head{{21}}.

Crowpound (Enclosure)

The legend says that the pound got it's name because St Neot sent all the crows in the parish here during sermons. Because of this the farmers in the region had no excuse to miss services.
Mr Hamhead started as a doodle on a scrap of paper many years ago.....then he became a submariner in a series of poems that I am writing. When I needed a name for this site he just sort of popped up.
In the real world I go under the far less interesting title of Mark Camp, keen walker, historian and tourist guide.
I am lucky enough to live in Cornwall, a mile from the south coast and within half an hours drive of Bodmin Moor. Hence the sites I have contributed.
My first love up on the moors (and Cornwall in general) is industrial history, but you are never far from a lump of granite and through research for walks I have become interested in all things ancient.
It has helped that I have been listening to Mr Cope since buying Reward as a young student and have followed his career from the far west where musicians seldom come to play.
As I have said before on the site, if any TMA contributors are in the area and fancy a walk on the moor, get in touch, I will be happy to share my knowledge of everything the moor has to offer.

oh yes ..my website is at http://www.walkaboutwest.co.uk

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