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


Holed Stone


In the Tenement of Lanyon stand three Stones-erect on a triangular Plan. The shape, size, distance and bearing, will best be discerned from the plan and elevation of them (Plate XIV. Fig. I. and II.) The middle Stone (A) is thin and flat, fixed in the ground, on its edge, and in the middle has a large hole one foot two inches diameter, whence it is called the Men an Tol (in Cornish the holed Stone); on each side is a rude Pillar, about four foot high; and one of these Pillars (B) has a long Stone lying without it (C), like a cushion, or pillow, as if to kneel upon. This Monument as is plain from its structure, could be of no use, but to superstition. But to what particular superstitious Rite it was appropriated is uncertain, though not unworthy of a short enquiry.

[...] It is not improbable, but this holed Stone (consecrated, as by its structure and present uses it seems to have been) might have served several delusive purposes. I apprehend that it served for Libations, served to initiate, and dedicate Children to the Offices of Rock-Worship, by drawin gthem through this hole, and also to purify the Victim before it was sacrificed; and considering the many lucrative juggles of the Druids (which are confirmed by their Monuments) it is not wholly improbable, that some miraculous Restoration of health, might be promised to the people for themselves and children, upon proper pecuniary gratifications, provided that, at a certain season of the Moon, and whilst a Priest officiated at one of the Stones adjoining, with prayers adapted to the occasion, they would draw their infirm children through this hole.

It is not improbable, but this Stone might be also fo the oracular kind; all which may, in some measure, be confirmed by the present, though very simple, uses, to which it is applied by the common people.

When I was last at this Monument, in the year 1749, a very intelligent farmer of the neighbourhood assured me, that he had known many persons who had crept through this holed Stone for pains in their back and limbs; and that fanciful parents, at certain times of the year, do customarily draw their young Children through, in order to cure them of Rickets. He shewed me also two brass pins, carefully layed a-cross each other, on the top-edge of the holed Stone. This is the way of the Over-curious, even at this time; and by recurring to these Pins, and observing their direction to be the same, or different from what they left them in, or by their being lost or gone, they are informed of some material incident of Love or Fortune, which they could not know soon enough in a natural way, and immediately take such resolutions as their informations from these prophetical Stones suggest.
From the alternately imaginative and sceptical sounding William Borlase's 1769 Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th August 2013ce
Edited 6th August 2013ce

Comments (1)

"... the alternately imaginative and sceptical sounding William Borlase"

Sounds like he would have fitted in well on the TMA forum.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
6th August 2013ce
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