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Miscellaneous Posts by Mr Hamhead

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Starapark Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Kelly's Directory of Cornwall 1926

Davidstow

......On the Bodmin Moors, near the village is a group of barrows surrounded by well defined moat filled with water, and also a genuine long barrow measuring 170 ft long and 60 feet wide; the burial chamber is at the east end and there are the remains of a fine chromlech. The capstone is huge, 18ft by 7ft, and is composed of igneous rock not found nearer than a mile, so that prehistoric man must have dragged it at least that distance. There are 18 cup markings, a very rare feature, as there is only one other example in Cornwall, in the parish of St Keverne.

The two stones pictured can now be found in North Cornwall Museum at Camelford. They were taken there in 2008 after spending time at a locals school. They had originally been excavated at Starapark in the 1950s where they made up part of the kerb of the barrow. It is thought there were more than the two stones originally but the others have been lost or destroyed.
The two stones are rare examples of cup marked stones in Cornwall and do not have any recognisable pattern.

Tarry Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Cookham appears to have had civilization for the last 4,000 years. There is a little Bronze Age site, set in the northern bend between Marlow and Cookham. At Cockmarsh there are 3 barrows still visible, one just as a crop mark. The biggest is about 3m high, with a bit of a ditch left on the north side.

Cookham has its roots in prehistory you will find two megaliths, the Cookham Stone and the Tarry Stone

from www.cookham.com

Dozmary Pool (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Dozmare Pool is, next to Loe Pool, the largest
sheet of sweet water in Cornwall. It abounds in
fish, and was formerly a great resort of the worker
in flint, as innumerable traces of the industry testify.
Arrow- and spear-heads, scrapers, and an almost
unlimited amount of chips and flakes may be found
near it. In the lake is a cranogue, or subaqueous
cairn, on which was formerly a palafite dwelling.
The bottom of the pool is certain to richly repay
exploration.
(S Baring Gould, Book of Cornwall 1899)

Caer Dane (Enclosure)

"In the commons belonging to the town of Lambourn, is a Barrow, called Creeg Mear, the Great Burrow, which one Christopher Michell digging into some years since, whilst I lived at Lambrigan, in hopes to find stones for an
adjoining hedge of his, came to an hollow place (as usual in such), and found nine urns full of ashes ; which, being disappointed of what he sought for, for the barrow was all of earth, except three or four rough stones which formed
the hollow, he brutally broke immediately to pieces ; and when I expostulated with him about it, and told him I would have paid him his charges, his reply was, that whenever he met with any more, he would bring them to me,
but these were a parcel of old pitchers good for nothing.
That these were Danish, I believe there is no doubt. [They were British, as appears at once, from the Kist Vaen discovered within, and from the hinted badness of the pottery. But they were] I suppose, the ashes of some chief commanders slain in battle, (for which the place is very fit, it being a large open down) from the great number of them. [One barrow cannot mark a battle.] And on a small hill just under this barrow, [and, as under the barrow, bearing probably no relation to it], is a Danish encampment, called Castle Caer Dane, vulgo Castle Caer Don, i. e. the Danes' Camp, consisting of three intrenchments finished, and another begun with an intent to surround
the inner three, but not completed."

CS Gilbert 'Parochial History of Cornwall'Vol III 1838


Not quite sure where the barrow was/is, hence putting this under Caer Dane.

Duloe (Stone Circle)

"My head was not so full with fancies as the head of Mr. McLauchlan, who went across to Duloe, called the fallen stones of the circle the results of the overthrow of Baal's altar, reflected on the prevalence near-by of oak and vervein, and convinced himself that Duloe was Dru-los or the Hill of the Druids".

from "Freedom of the Parish" by G Grigson 1954

Now available again through Westcountry Books

Pelynt Round Barrow Cemetery (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

"A hundred and forty years ago, or thereabouts, labourers found a kist, or stone burial-box, an urn and some ashes when they were repairing the road which borders the field. Then in the eighteen thirties someone made a cut through one of the barrows and found a bronze axe (which has disappeared). In 1834 the farmer's plough hit a large stone as it crossed a barrow. Under it his men found fragments of human bone and bits of charcoal and near-by a bronze dagger with rivets of a common type. The barrows were a nuisance -'The farmer proceeded to cart away for manure the largest barrow, nearest to the south hedge, but after uncovering it to the depth of nearly three feet, he found that he had laid bare a huge bed of stones, and desisted from his work.' Dr. Couch heard of this on his rounds and decided eventually to investigate for himself. He dug, or had others to dig for him, through the stones to ground level, and discovered ashes, a battle-axe and a scrap of bronze, which was another fragment-the hilt end-of a dagger. Hilt and battle-axe went to the museum at Truro, where you can still see them. No one thought much of the scrap of bronze, though of all objects found in Pelynt it proved to be the one most exciting for the speculative mind, as we shall see."

From "Freedom of the Parish" by Geoffrey Grigson published 1954. There is a whole chapter on antiquities in the parish including the Giants Hedge, various barrows and Bake and Hall rings. Now available again through Westcountry Books.

Carn Euny Fogou & Village

A Guidebook for Carn Euny can be bought at Chysauster. You do not have to pay to go into Chysauster just to buy the guidebook.

Trippet Stones (Stone Circle)

..just visible, the circle known as the Trippet Stones, 105 ft in diameter with nine stones in situ and the rare adition of a central stone.
"Is there not some ancient lettering on the central stone?" I asked " a C or a G?"
The farmer smailed. " I mind the time" he said, "when that C was put there by Mrs Collins, the landlady"

C Lewis-Hind: Days in Cornwall. Methuen 1907

Isle of Portland

Very little remains of ancient settlements on the Isle of Portland. And yet this large lump of rock sticking out into the English Channel must have seen plenty of ocupation before the Romans arrived.
The only real evidence still to be seen is at Culver Well, very near the southernmost part of the island at Portland Bill. This is supposed to date back nearly 7,000 years.
Evidence of the Bronze Age can be found in field names etc. Row barrow, Brans Barrow, Round Barrow and Kings Barrow are just some that can be found. Kings Barrow is now a nature reserve in a stone quarry behind The Verne prison. The barrow is said to have existed up until 1870.
The stone that has made Portland famous is possibly the main reason that very little remains on the island. As well as destroying barrows it is thought a stone circle was destroyed in 1847 when The Grove prison was built. The name of the prison could be a clue but it is also mentioned that it was known as the Druids Temple.
The Frolic was said to have been a standing stone near Easton. Again it was gone by the turn of the 20th century.
Another standing stone is thought to have stood near Southwell, giving its name to Long Stone Ope.
During the Iron Age chambers were cut down into the rock. These later became known as Dene Holes, or beehive chambers. They were conical in shape and up to 10ft deep. It is thought they were used to store grain. Several were discovered around King Barrow when quarrying started. I am not sure if any remain.

These are just some quick notes I took from a book on the history of the Island by Stuart Morris. I only had half a day to explore and with all the later industrial history around plus some fantastic coastline I did not have much chance to seek out anymore info. There is a museum on the island but it was closed in late Februrary.

Arthur's Bed (Natural Rock Feature)

King Arthur's Bed is on private land and access is subject to certain restrictions, which from the end of August 2005 can viewed on http://www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk or in person at Trewortha Farm."

Please make sure you adhere to these restrictions when in force.

Castle Dore (Hillfort)

I have just written this up in preparation for a tour I have got to give to 40 americans to the site... thought it might be of some use to somebody:
Castle Dore supposedly means earth castle.

It is an Iron Age Fort consisting of an inner circle and outer circle. Both have an entrance in the eastern side, away from the prevailing winds. It is thought to have been built originally about 200BC.

Views from the fort are extensive, surrounded on both sides by valleys that would have been flooded in Iron Age times. The Fowey Valley to the east, and St Austell Bay and Tywardreath to the west. It is only in the last 300 or so years that the valley to the west has dried up and become farmland. This is a result of mining activities on the higher ground of central Cornwall.

The ridge that the hillfort is built on has always been an important trade route from coast to coast. At the time the site was inhabited the climate of Britain was cooling down. People had moved off the high moors to settle closer to the sea. They had started trading with other countries, Ireland and the Brittany area of France being just two examples. The people of these "kingdoms" would rather travel overland than risk the seas around Lands End, something that would continue well into the middle ages. The trade route, and the traders, needed protecting. By sticking to higher ground they had a good view of the surrounding countryside that most probably would have been heavily forested at the time. All across Cornwall hillforts sprang up, apart from the high desolate moors. Many still remain, others have been ploughed back into the landscape, only appearing on the occasional aerial photo.

It is thought that a small village existed outside the eastern gate of the hillfort in its early days. There is also evidence from aerial photos that a circular site of some sort stood a short distance to the south west of the hillfort. This could have been a henge, a Bronze Age ritual site, consisting of an earth bank and ditch. Was this where the Tristan Stone originated?

After the fort had been in use for 100 years or so it is thought that the defences were strengthened. This could have been as a result of the advent of the sling into Iron Age weaponery or it may have been because of the threat of a Roman Invasion. Whatever the reason, the walls were built up, probably topped off with wooden fencing, and a covered gateway erected over the entrance.

Experts believe the site was abandoned shortly after the Romans invasion of Britain. No evidence of a great battle has ever been found at Castle Dore and it is not thought that the Romans ever "invaded" Cornwall. The general thinking is that they traded along the coast and very rarely travelled in land, in fact there are only thought to be a few Roman sites in Cornwall, and they are only basic camps, possibly set up to shelter the odd legion.

The Romans called Cornwall the "Cassiterites", a name deriving from the fact that there was tin here. This was the main reason for them coming to the county to trade.

So what happened after the Romans?

Experts differ… An excavation carried out in the mid 20th century found evidence of postholes inside the central circle. It was decided these were supports for a large hall or palace, a separate kitchen and another slightly smaller hall. Other buildings were also thought to have been included in this grouping including a chapel and stables. At the time it was said that these holes dated to the 5th or 6th century and tied in nicely with the story of King Mark. He is said to have lived in the Fowey/Lostwithiel area and through his association with the story of Tristan and Isult the argument for Castle Dore being the centre of his "Kingdom" was strong.

Sadly, for those romantics amongst us, we cannot stop there. Research done in the mid 1980's failed to find any evidence that the site was occupied after the Iron Age. That is not to say King Mark did not exist. He could have easily lived at Lantyan, a nearby manor mentioned in the Domesday Book, and possibly the Lancien of the Tristan story. Chances are that wherever he lived it was a wooden structure, now long gone and we will never know exactly where it was.

In my view the name also holds clues to the fact King Mark never settled here. Castle Dore is said to be translated from middle Cornish and means "earth castle". Middle Cornish dates from the 13th to 16th century, whereas many of the Iron Age hillforts in the area are prefixed with the word Bury or Berry, a word more associated with the Saxons or Britains. Did Castle Dore not get a British name because it was not occupied at the time?

In fact the Castle lay abandoned and forgotten until the English Civil War of the mid 1600's. In 1644, with Fowey surrounded, the Parliamentarians commanded by the Earl of Essex, used the site as a camp. Eventually in August, King Charles I and his men surrounded the area, by which time Essex and Lord Robartes of Lanhydrock had slipped away and sailed to Plymouth in a fishing boat. The Parliamentarians, under Major General Philip Skipton, surrendered and the army consisting of 6000 men were disarmed and sent on their way. Unfortunately for them, many paid for the poor treatment they had inflicted on the local people during their occupation. It seems only 1000 survived.

Nowadays the site is supposedly under the protection of the national conservation body for ancient monuments – English Heritage. I am a bit concerned about the erosion being caused by the cattle that are put onto the site, but at least they keep the vegetation down.

Eylesbarrow (Cairn(s))

In 1240 a perambulation of the Bounds of the forest of Dartmoor was undertaken by 12 knights summoned by the Sheriff of Devon, under the orders of Henry III. Included in that perambulation was Elysburgh.

Roche Rock (Natural Rock Feature)

Archeological recording done in Jan 2004 on fields to the north of the rock uncovered 10 hearth pits. These were found to contain neolithic pottery, a quern. flints and burnt hazelnuts.

It is thought that the hearths were possibly constructed for seasonal ritual gatherings rather than a permanent settlement.

Paderbury Top (Enclosure)

Five other enclosures have been discovered in the adjoining fields around Padderbury with the aid of aerial photography in the last 20 years. Have only driven past but the views from the fort must be fantastic.

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

I have had it suggested today (by someone who I believe knows what he is talking about) that if you look west along the main stone row at Merrivale, it lines up with the Rillaton Barrow at Minions.

Stripple Stones (Henge)

In Macleans guide to the "Deanery of Trigg Minor" published in 1876 he states that the Stipple Stones were first mentioned in the time of Queen Elizabeth the First.

Bowda Stone Circle

The site has now been cleared of all stone to make a field. It is thought by Cornwall Arch Grp that it was most probably a hut circle.

Stonehenge (Stone Circle)

Extract from the Cornish Times 12th January 1901:

It has been reported in the national press that during the recent storms one of the upright stones at Stonehenge toppled over. This in turn brought down one of the cross stones. The upright which has gone down is in the centre of the three standing on the North West side, the cross stone has broken in two and in the words of the Daily Mail "looks to be made of some sort of composition"
It is more than a century (1798) since the last fall of sandstone (?)

It was reported later in the year that the damage done at Stonehenge was due to tourists! They erode the ground around the stones causing a build up of water. This softens the soil and when storms of the magnitude that hit Britain over the New Year 1901 occur, can cause structures to fall.

This is not word for word but taken from notes, Mr H

High Moor Fogou

I recently purchased a couple of old maps of Bodmin Moor, one is a military map from 1946 the other is from 1961. Both mark a fogou on at this grid ref just north of Brown Willy. It is still marked on Os maps as late as 1970 but is not on the modern Explorer.

This is one area of the moor I am not too familiar with and it is also an area best not ventured into in deepest winter.

I will keep you all posted if I find out anything.
Showing 1-20 of 30 miscellaneous posts. Most recent first | Next 20
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

My TMA Content: