Historic Megalithic Monuments – Cornwall, England

Adventure in Cornwall, England ~
Visiting Historic Megalithic Monuments

Photograph of Land's End in Cornwall EnglandEarly in 2012, Ranney Moss, owner of Adventures Unlimited Books and Gifts, visited the beautiful and historic countryside in Cornwall with her son David Hatcher Childress and daughter-in-law, Jennifer.

Photograph of Land’s End and the beginning of the Cornwall adventure. >>

The area has many Stone Age megalithic monuments including stone circles, standing stones and barrows, some of the ancient sites dating back as many as twenty thousand years old; most however, have been dated from 10,000 to 2,500 BCE.

These dates are actually older than Ranney initially thought, which makes it even more astonishing that the stones were so well shaped.  Following are photos of the places they visited.

The Merry Maidens of Boleigh,  (stone circle) late Stone Age,
2500 – 1500 BCE

Photo of the Merry Maidens of BoleighLocated in a softly sloping field near the Tregiffian barrow and several other ancient sites, this remarkable stone circle is known for both its beauty and associated folklore.

<< Notice the road running through the circle of stones.

As seen here, the 19 stones are spaced to a regular formed circle, which is considered unusual in Cornwall.

The stones were chosen for both their size and shape. It is believed the diminishing size from the southwest to the northeast mirrors the cycle of the moon. The stone tops have been leveled, with the flattest side facing the inside of the circle.

TMerry Maidens Of Boleigh Close Up Of Squared Shaped Angles On Stone Age Monumenthis close up of one stone from the Merry Maidens of Boleigh circle shows how well these 3500 year old stones were shaped. >>

The stone circle’s origins may mean dancing stone (Dans Meyn) or sacred stone (Zans Meyn), but by the Victorian era folklore told of local girls who hadn’t observed Sabbath proprieties and were turned to stone for dancing.

For more information visit www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/merry_maidens.htm.

Chun Quoit with original cap stone, 3500 BCE (over 5000 years old).

This dolmen (a single chamber megalithic tomb also known as a quoit) is considered to be remarkable in that it still has its capstone and the supporting stones forming the squared shape of the grave. Photo of Chun QuoitThe circular, domed shape is also considered distinctive from other Penwith quoits.

Chun Quoit is located on the north coast of Cornwall, the name is considered a corruption of “Chy-an-Woone” or House on the Downs. Because there is no evidence of burial, Chun Quoit may have used for tribal rituals.

Built below the crest of the hill, Chun Quoit still retains evidence of the mound that once surrounded it.

For more information visit www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/chun_quoit.htm.

Photo of Men-An-TolMen-An-Tol  (circular stone with a hole), Bronze Age, 1500 – 2000 BCE.

The site is thought to be 3,500 years old, the round stone with the hole in the middle the most distinctive of the four stones. Three of the stones are granite pillars frequently used in stone circles.

Men-An-Tol, or holed stone in Cornish, is alleged to have many healing and magical powers, aiding in back pain and rickets or tuberculosis, by passing through the hole.

Direction, number of times around or through the holed stone, and the lunar cycle have all been considered important to the process.

Photo of Jennifer Childress at Men-An-TolA local folk story arose during the middle ages where women were instructed to run around the site nine times before passing through Men-An-Tol to ensure a successful pregnancy as well an easy childbirth.

<< This picture of Jennifer shows how easy it is to pass through the hole in the stone.


For more information visit www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/men_an_tol.htm.

Carn Euny Fogou & Village, Iron Age. (Fogou means cave.) 

Considered one of the best-preserved Iron Age villages in southwest Cornwall, Photo of David Hatcher Childress At Carn Euny FogouCarn Euny Village includes nine hut foundations and the amazing sixty-five foot stone structure called a fogou.

David Hatcher Childress photographing an area of the Carn Euny Village during a trip to Cornwall in January, 2012. >>

Excavations reveal the site was active from the Neolithic period up through the late Roman period, when the village was abandoned.

Carn Euny Fogou Carved Out Circular RoomThe carved out circular room at this site is situated just below ground, covered with massive stone slabs.

For more information visit www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/carn_euny.htm.



Lanyon Quoit, Neolithic,
3500 to 2000 BCE

Photo of Lanyon QuoitA Cornish dolmen that dates back to the Neolithic period that was constructed — remarkably — before the Egyptian pyramids and the invention of metal tools. No one is quite sure what the site was used for; possibly a burial chamber, mausoleum, or ritual ceremonies.

Some believed it was once aligned with the cardinal points. Stone burial chambers have been located nearby and there is some evidence of barrows in this location.

Photo of Lanyon QuoitLanyon Quoit is considered one of the more important megalithic sites in Cornwall, the capstone weighing over 13 tons!

Again, note the carving of these ancient stones which have stood the test of over 5000 years against the rain and weathering condition across the milleniums.


For more information  visit www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/lanyon_quoit.htm.

Information for this article courtesy of the Cornwall Guide. 

Photographs by Ranney Moss.
Posted August 6, 2012.