Tag Archives: Cornwall

Boscastle YHA

Boscastle YHA
* http://www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/south-west-england/hostels/boscastle-harbour/index.aspx?hostelid=000026 * Palace Stables * Boscastle * Cornwall, United Kingdom * PL35 0HD *
Tel: 0845 371 9006 * Fax no: 01840 250977 * Email: boscastle@yha.org.uk *

A nice little YHA is the Boscastle Harbour, nestled right in the fishing village central of the heart of North Cornwall’s amazing coastline. Its a break from technology as it has no internet accessibility within the hostel and is a warm family-atmosphere retreat. Located right next to the Museum of Witchcraft, this is the place to stay for any researchers of the odd and unknown. It is also a great stop-off for hikers and Cornwall coastline footpath walkers. The hostel was quite affordable (at 10.00 per person/day (2011)) and you’re left on your own much of the time visiting. Great self-catering kitchen and cozy recreation room/lounge. The hostel operates from April through November. Reception is open from 8 am until 10 am, 5 pm until 10 pm daily. No onsite parking available. I strongly enjoyed my visit and hope to visit again. Rating : 4 stars out of 5. Review by Tom Baurley 7/18/2010.

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06.21.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 17 – The Summer Solstice, Cornwall Cyber Pirates, Stonehenge, and Bristol …


Summer Solstice at the Woodhenge

Utter darkness being borne into light. This is how this leg of the journey on my exit from Faerie Land after an amazing Sunrise at Colliford Lake’s Woodhenge, and as we attempted to race to Stonehenge, only to be intercepted by Cornish Cyber Pirates and a track-back to the port of Bristol to lodge for the night above a bowling alley … Rock n’ Bowl. What a whirlwind of a day ….

It was about 3:30 am when I heard the drums and rustled out of my sleeping bag and into the field … stumbling over dried sheep patties and on into the Woodhenge where I saw some lights of people slowly gathering. Apparently the lead Druid decided not to do the rite within the Woodhenge, and processed us off to a further field with clearer view of the lake and the hills upon which the sun would rise. The drumming continued for a very long time as everyone awoke really too early for the sun for s/he had quite some time before rolling out of bed. As the drumming beat onwards, slowly a large crowd formed and gathered in our ever re-sizing circle as the hoarse lead Druid tried to get participants to take over leading the chanting – no one stepped up and he obviously had a tough time getting others to follow along with the chanting. Eventually some of the entertainers from the festival appeared and took on the lead … and the power was generated as musical cries went out for Awen, Ra, and other Sun named Deities. As the sun came up, along the horizon I saw a black creature walking along a stone wall – couldn’t be a sheep, and oddly it had a cougar-like appearance. But alas, it was way too far away to figure out what it really was. Could it be the Bodmin Beast? A man in Indian chief garb also joined the Druid circle … between Indians, Faeries, and drowsy eyed ravers … it was an interesting sight before my eyes as the sun rose. I said sweet welcomes to the sun and farewells to my new Faerie friends as I set off after ceremony to break down my camp and meet up with Zoe. Blessed by being able to take a running water shower at Zoe’s room, we soon hit the road.

We dropped for a bite in Devon – and as we were just getting our food I spied Zoe’s car rolling backwards. At first I thought it was being stolen, but then we saw no one was in the car … we rushed out just as the car was about to roll into the middle of a busy roadway … and luckily it got caught in the ditch before crossing too deeply into the road so cars could go around. We luckily got it out of the rut and back into the parking lot. Seems we picked up a hitchhiking gremlin or two …. As we approached the Stonehenge Festival, we realized the time listed on the site was 12:40 am, not 12:40 pm. Stonehenge was closed and being cleared out. Roadways closed and re-routing traffic away from the sacred monument. So no ritual with the Druids at Stonehenge. Zoe blessedly dropped me off at Andover rail where I was able to adjust my travel ticket back from Andover to Salisbury without much additional expense, and then onwards to the Port of Bristol. I was exhausted – there was no way I was gonna hike with my heavy bags and backpack to the Rock n’ Bowl hostel from there. So I grabbed a cab. He didn’t seem to know where the Rock n’ Bowl was. But we figured it out. Pretty cool and hip hostel. I wandered down the shopping strip in search of a new phone since mine had deceased. Tomorrow was automatic deposit payday – and just in the nick of time as my funds were down to the minimum. I purchased a 30 GBP global pay-as-you-go phone which came with a 10 GBP credit. This way I could contact Lady Vanessa and Sir Sven when I arrive in Dublin tomorrow. Just as I was nestling off to sleep, I decided to log in and check my bank balance – much to my shock – someone in Cornwall had hacked my debit card/bank account and was charging online purchases – they tried Amazon.com (but I already had an account), some Ebay-like Auction house (debited $2 and credited it back), and Charged up over $600 worth of charges at various online shopping places. My new pay-as-you-go phone wouldn’t be accepted for a call out of the UK to the toll free Wells Fargo line … so I had to get dressed and race out of the hostel to a pay phone. The Wells Fargo representative said there was nothing she could do except cancel my card and ship me a new one in a couple of weeks (I’d be back in America by then and that would leave me with no access to my direct deposit funds tomorrow) … so I’d be stranded. I bit my lip. chewing out of stress. I didn’t know what to do … frustration … concern … worry …. Would I become stranded in England? I checked my bank balance on the hour, every hour while sipping on vodka-n-tonics at the bar in the bowl. How did these Cornish Cyber pirates hack my account? I had to keep it uncomfortably open and active until my paycheck went thru in the morning – my bank balance already several hundred negative … what to do? Luckily the pirates went to sleep after 11 pm and there were no more charges … I still woke up every hour to check. It was a restless night ….

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06.19.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 15 – Three Wishes Faerie Festival


Three Wishes Faerie Festival: Day 2 –

Feeling the bittersweet chill of the English Moor, and the meadow dew as I awoke, popping my head out at Colliford Lake with hopes to catch the Lady of the Lake or the Bodmin Beast roaming about … but alas, no such sightings. I wandered down to check out the possibilities for a swim – no way. Way too cold. Additionally my eyes and ears caught glimmers and movement in the lake of some creature – bigger than fish or a large turtle that was playing around the far shore by the sheep at the edge. Hmmmm …. large enough to be like a small gator, but this is not the terrain or the environment for such a beast. I got into a new outfit and Shazzah braided my hair (thank you!). Wandered on over to the main area and helped Woodland with setup and carrying the harp. Zoe introduced me to “Pimm’s PM” …. quite a tasty drink. I’m not sure why I’ve never tried that before especially since I used to be a pretty crazy bartender and had attended Bartending College back in the day. Explored around the festival making new friends, hanging with Zoe, being glamoured by wonderful faerie art and beautiful faerie women. Met an extroadinary Pagan Archaeologist from Scotland. Read tarot cards for Shazzah and a couple of other friends. Great Faerie Fashion show. I felt sooo at home. Wandered around the crowds selling CDs for Woodland while they played. Unfortunately right when I started to wander about hawking CDs … the Monster Energy Drink in my sachel burst – soaking my Blackberry phone and camera in a pool of fizz. Toasted. No amount of drying it out worked. Lisa was kind enough to watch over the drying parts while I was hawking. Woodland, Priscilla Hernandez, and the Dolmen had fantastic shows. That evening we wandered over to the Techno-Camp for a little “Burner-style” party … good tunes, a wishing tree, a wishing well, delicious treats, good wine, dancing, and a fire. What more could a Technogypsie ask for? Oh and very nice flirtations. Did I mention “I’m home”? That’s how it really felt. I stayed up until almost dawn. Pranced around the sacred lake. When I did lay down, the light was coming up and out … outside of the electronic damages, I was having a great time. Unfortunately this meant no more photographing for this festival … :: sigh :: I live for picture taking ….

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Bodmin and Bodmin Moor

BODMIN & THE BODMIN MOORCornwall, United Kingdom

One of Cornwall’s oldest towns … Bodmin has just over 13,000 citizens which stands as a civil parish in Cornwall, England located just southwest of the Bodmin Moor. It was formerly the county town of Cornwall until the Crown Courts moved to Truro. The name is believed to have come from an archaic word in the Cornish “bod” (meaning dwelling) and a contraction of “menegh” (or “Monks”) and may have referred to a early monastic settlement that was in the area that was instituted by St. Guron (St. Petroc) in the 6th century. The Black Death killed half of the town’s population in the mid 14th century. The town was the center of three Cornish uprisings – (1) 1497 when a Cornish army led by Michael An Gof marched to Blackheath in London where they were defeated by 10,000 men of the King’s army under Baron Daubeny. (2) Autumn of 1497 when a man named Perkin Warbeck tried to usurp the throne from Henry VII. (3) 1549 when Cornishmen rose once again in rebellion against Edward VI’s new Prayer book since the Cornish were very attached to Catholicism. This was called the Prayer Book Rebellion. The Bodmin Moor is a rough toor of granite moorland in northeastern Cornwall that is approximately 208 sq. kilometers in size. The geology dats from the Carboniferous period and is one of five granite batholiths in Cornwall. The landscape is eery and gives great background to the mythology, murders, and mysteries attributed to the area. There are approximately 500 holdings in the Moor with an estimated 10,000 cows; 55,000 breeding ewes; and 1,000 horses/ponies. The area is deemed a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Moor is also the source of several of Cornwall’s rivers such as the River FOwey, the Rivery Tiddy, the River Inny, River Lynher, River Camel, De Lank River, River Warleggan, and the River Tamar. The Moor is also home to the legendary Dozmary Pool where the Lady of the Lake theoretically gave King Arthur Excalibur. This is Cornwall’s only natural inland lake and is glacial in origin. By the 20th century, three reservoirs were constructed on the Moor – Colliford Lake, Siblyback Lake, and Crowdy Reservoir. These support much of the county’s population with fresh water. 10,000 years ago, on the Kilmar Tor, hunter-gatherers wandered the Moor and left incredible remains of flint scatters all across the region. During the Neolithic (4,500-2,300 BC) – the Moor began to be cleared and farmed. Megalithic monuments were constructed across the Moor consisting of long cairns and stone circles. By the Bronze Age, monuments increased with over 300 cairns and more stone circles, rows, and over 200 Bronze Age settlements with enclosures and field patterns. The Moor is also the legendary place for “King Arthur’s Hall” which is believed to have been a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age ceremonial site to the east of St. Breward. Quarrying and mining in the Moor took place during the Medieval period. The Moor is filled with legends … such as “The Wild Horse on Bodmin Moor”; “Dozmary Pool”; “Lady of the Lake”; “Jan Tregeagle”; and “The Beast of Bodmin“.

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The Bodmin Beast

The Bodmin Beast
The Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, United Kingdom

There is a legend in Cornwall – and it really is not unique to the Bodmin Moor. Giant cats and panthers are believed to wander and roam all over Cornwall. But these legendary beasts get their infamous label of “The Bodmin Beast” for the most popular sightings take place on the Bodmin Moor, which is of course a creepy landscape full of faerie lore and horror tales. The legends abound on this moor with its wild and rugged landscape full of mysteries. I remembered momentarily visualizing camping on the moor and a chanceful glance at the panther. The authorities will tell you though … there are no giant cats in England. However, the locals will tell you a different story … sightings all over no different than the Mountain Lions in Colorado or the Panthers in Florida – which certifiably exist. Some locals say they are pet panthers and cougars that were let go in the wild. The Bodmin Beast consists of over 60 sightings a a large black panther-like cat that is 3-5′ long with white-yellow eyes that supposedly prey on local livestock. The evidence was strong enough that the government ordered an official investigation in 1995 but resulted inconclusive (no evidence against it, no evidence to prove it). After the governmental report, a small boy found a leopard skull lying on the banks of the Fowey River, but was later determined to be a part of a disposed leapardskin rug. More sightings continued until someone caught video footage of a black animal about 3 1/2 feet long in 1998.

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Colliford Lake

Colliford Lake
Bodmin Moor, Bodmin, Cornwall, United Kingdom

I had the pleasure of visiting legendary Colliford Lake this summer as it was the mystical location of the Three Wishes Faerie Festival. Colliford Lake is a popular reservoir on the Bodmin Moor in mystical Cornwall. It covers over 900 acres of land and is the second largest lake in Cornwall. Right off the A30 trunk by Bolventor it is also close to Bodmin. A 50 acre adventure and nature park called “Colliford Lake Park” is along its shores featuring hiking and themed trails, footpaths, play areas, mazes, miniature golf course, wetlands, picnic and camping areas. THere is also lodging, a restaurant, bar, and a cafe. Colliford Lake is home to the mythological headwaters of “Dozmary Pool” where the Lady of the Lake is believed to have bestowed King Arthur with Excalibur. The pool is located south the A30 a mile or so down a twisty lane that begins across from the infamous Jamaica Inn at Bolventor winding its way into the Bodmin Moor where the legendary Beast is believed to roam. The legend states that King Arthur’s sword “Excalibur” was hurled into the pool only to reappear held up by a ghostly arm of the “Lady of the Lake” before disappearing beneath the dark surface. While the pool has dried completely up during very hot summers, the locals claim it is bottomless.

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Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Newquay, Cornwall, England
One of Cornwall’s vacation hotspots, Newquay is known for its partying, beaches, surfing, and tourism. A small town and seaside resort that is also a civil parish and a fishing port, Newquay attracts visitors from all over England and the world – especially for its surfing and beach events. With a small population of approximately 19,500+ citizens, the town thrives on fishing, surfing, and tourist income that can boost its temporary season populace to 100,000 in no time at all. Newquay is located on the north Atlantic side of Cornwall roughly 20 miles east of Bodmin and 12 miles north of Truro. Surrounded by a marsh and the River Gannel on the west with Porth Valley to its east. Historically rich, Newquay has prehistoric burial mounds and an embankment that is known as “The Barrowfields” 400 meters from Trevelque. Excavations of the few remaining barrows (once upwards of 15) uncovered charred cooking pots, coarse pottery burial urn containing the remains of a Bronze Age Chieftain (3,500 B.P.). The first settlement of the area appears to be a late Iron Age hillfort that was attracted to the area for its natural defensive position, abundant resources, and climate. This occupation is believed to have continued from 300 B.C. to approximately 500 C.E. The area was active during the Medieval period again for its resources and natural protection from foul weather which evolved into a small fishing village. By the 15th century C.E. the village was named “Towan Blystra” after its natural sand dune features. In 1439 a local burgesses applied for leave and funds to build a “New quay” here, after which event, the town took on the name “Newquay”. By 1801, Newquay had about a population of 1,300 and was formed as a parish by 1882. A Catholic mansion, castellated tower and private tower was built for the Molesworth family in 1835 which later became a golf club house through time. Once the railway came into town in 1876, the village took a growth spurt seeing construction of major hotels including the Victoria, the Atlantic, and the Headland. By 1901 several churches were constructed. Hotels, hostels, and bed & breakfasts started taking over as tourism prospered in the area. 1903 the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity was built that saw much traffic from Bodmin monks. 1911 saw construction of Newquay St. Michael’s – a large Anglican Church designed by Sir Ninian Comper. Newquay then became the “Blackpool of the West Country” as it became a thriving party center for tourists and surfers based on attraction to its coastline and nine long and accessible sandy beaches. Newquay has become the surf capital of the UK and is well known for its Boardmasters Tournament and festivals. Newquay is also notorious for its nightlife ranging from bars, pubs, to clubs with organized party pub crawls. Stag and Hen parties are notorious in the area. While I enjoyed the beaches, the scenery, and the town – it was too much of a party-town for my tastes in a mainstream sense. It was like a Fort Lauderdale for Brits. But I’ll be back I’m sure.

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St. Christopher Inn (Newquay)

St. Christopher Inn
* http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/newquay-hostels/location-in-newquay * Telephone: +44 (0)163 785 9111 * 35 Fore Street * Newquay, Cornwall * United Kingdom * TR7 1HR *
Very affordable lodging nestled right above the cliff walls of Newquay overlooking the bay onto Towan Beach. A popular hotspot for surfers near and far, this hostel is the right place for festivities and parties. Perfect location for foot and backpacker travel, its just down the road from nearby Tintagel Castle – the legendary home of Merlin the Magician, Uther Pendragon, King Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table. The hostel is located in and above the Belushi’s bar – a bustling place that might confuse you as if you’re in a pirate pub or a sports bar. Secured access and separation from the bar upstairs to the lodging, the place has free internet, and a couple of internet kiosks. No kitchen or facilities for the backpackers, the food is discounted below in the bar. No extra storage for your bags is a downer, but the rooms are safe electronic key access. The dorm room I had overlooked the bay with spectacular views. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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06.16.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 12 – Saveok Tour, Goddess Quest, Swan Pits, Excavations, Vertigo


Another very pleasant night at the Polgwedhen B & B and awakening to an amazing breakfast that Vanda cooked. Full Cornish/English breakfast. Beans, Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, Tea, Juice, homemade bread with jam, yogurt, and granola – I was stuffed! I had some time to spare as I read some of Jacqui Wood’s “Cliff Dreamers” book – fabulous! I was also lured away to the lake at Polgweden for a quick stroll through the gardens and the lake. Then on to the Saveok Site, where Jacqui had a slide show presentation set up for me. After the show and some more touring of the site, Me and Jacqui excavated in the Open Swan Pits. We estimated that there were three pits in the units we were opening and right we were – we came upon the clay pit covering that is all too familiar for these kind of pits. We pedestaled it and worked our way down and around it. I’m hoping that we’ll get to its contents before I depart. In the afternoon, Jacqui’s brother-in-law Kif came by with the “Goddess Quest” award – a fine golden and bejeweled statue of the Goddess that was the prize given for a fundraiser Quest that Jacqui had set up in the past to promote her fantasy novel Cliff Dreamers“. The winners of this treasure had temporarily lent the trophy back to Kif and Jacqui for safekeeping. Turns out Kif creates custom hand-made guitars, and is the maker of guitars used by Johnny Depp and Antonio Esterban. [ www.kifguitars.com ] We had some very pleasant and educating chats, once again distracted from excavating. After excavations, I headed back to Polgwedhen. No one was around so decided to head off to Truro for dinner. Found a unique little club’esque bar called the “Vertigo“. Interesting and hip decor, live Indie band, and decent priced pub food (very small portions though). I had Shrimp, coos-coos, and a burger. By the time I headed home it was already dark … long walk down the 1/2 densely wooded driveway … kinda creepy. Retired pretty much as soon as I got home. It’s been a long day …

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Vertigo (Truro, Cornwall)

Vertigo
* 15 St Marys Street, Truro, TR1 2AF * Cornwall, England * T: 01872 276555 E: info@vertigotruro.com * http://www.vertigo-truro.co.uk/
A great little hole-in-the-wall art-deco upmarket Cafe Bar in Truro, Cornwall. The place is very stylish and comfortable with couches, tables, and lounging environment. The bar offers delicious cocktails, tapas, teas, and coffess. Great food and snacks available. Now dwelling in the former old court house, this three story building has a garden, conservatory, dining area, and bar. It is also a place where you can get married as they hold a wedding license. The place has four different themed rooms. The establishment is owned and operated by hotelier Carolien Davidson, Jodie Phillips, and Neil Barku. I found the place very artsy, hospitable, and friendly. I enjoyed the fare, even though it was very small portions, it was well priced. Rating : 4 stars out of 5.

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6/15/10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 11 – Excavations, B&B, Roundhouse, and Sheep

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Early to rise with one of the best rested nights I’ve had on this journey as of yet. I awoke to go downstairs and find Vanda had made a Full English Breakfast with an assortment of continental offerings as well. A hearty breakfast well needed. I devoured the granola, yogurt, juice, fresh baked toast with homemade jam, beans, bacon, sausage, eggs, and tea. I wandered about the garden a bit and explored the pond area. Jacqui met me at Vanda’s as she was retrieving her sheep. I had never seen sheep run so fast when she jangled the bucket of feed. We walked the sheep back to Saveok. These were a special breed of sheep she was raising that she could utilize the wool for various future Experimental Archaeology projects. In the afternoon we worked on the roundhouse as the local team was back on site for a few hours. We did some excavating as well in the Offering pits. After a good day of excavating, I headed back to the Bed and Breakfast having tea with Vanda and Paul. Then onwards for a jolt into Truro for some wifi n’ vodka. I had dinner at the William’s Pub for their infamous Curry Night. The Chicken Curry was quite delicious and affordable with free internet while I feasted on the curry and imbibed in my usual vodka n’ tonics. This time I made sure I was home before dark (9:30’ish bus) so that I wouldn’t get lost finding the driveway and bus stop, unlike last night. Had tea with Vanda and Paul and then retired to my room to sleep.

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William IV Pub (Truro, Cornwall, England)

William IV Pub
Kenwyn Street, Truro, Cornwall, England * TR1 3DJ * Telephone: 01872273334 *
During mid-week, William IV Pub is one of the few pubs/restaurants opening and serving food after 6 pm in downtown Truro. Located in the busy city center of Truro, the pub boasts a vibrant atmosphere and a fantastic selection of beer and wines. During my visit on 6/15/10 – it was a bit low key, quiet, and excellent speedy service. Since I don’t drink beer, I can’t comment on the selections as I stuck with my usual vodka and tonic. This tuesday was “Curry night” and had some pretty tasty chicken curry presented. I was pleased. The bar runs from 10 am every morning and closes at 11 pm for Sundays through Wednesdays, and closes at 12 am on Thursdays, and 1 am for fridays and saturdays. Food is served noon until 10 pm every day. The pub has its own onsite car park so parking is usually not a problem. William IV is part the the St. Austell Brewery Company. The pub is pretty elaborate, having Sky TV, pool tables, fruit machines, quiz machines, food served, real ale, outside seating in a patio, etc. Overall though, the pub is not any more distinct or different than dime a dozen pubs. Rating 3 stars out of 5.

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Polgwedhen Farm B & B (Chacewater/Truro/Greenbottom)

Polgwedhen Farm Bed & Breakfast
Greenbottom/Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall, England * TR4 8QL * 01872 561566 * 07798 737196 * office@chateaux-du-monde.com *

Polgwedhen is a remote ‘elegant manor’ homestyle Bed and Breakfast existing as a hidden secret in the Greenbottom area of Truro and Chacewater. Down a 1/2 mile long private lane off the highway from Greenbottom, west of Truro, is a 10 acre farm with serene gardens, lake, and pastures … a writer’s haven of peace, quiet, and inspiration. Vanda and Paul are friendly and attentive hosts who were former hoteliers that ran a Country House Hotel for 20+ years. They have one double bedroom and one twin bedroom available for guests with an adjacent guest bathroom. The rooms have a TV, radio, and tea/coffee making facilities. Both bedrooms have great views of the garden and the lake. From occasional teas to a fabulous full English and Continental Breakfast in the mornings that are served in the Sun Lounge overlooking the gardens and lake. The Breakfasts are hearty and will not let you leave hungry. 10 acres of gardens and pasture, Lakeside gardens, and plenty of parking. The Bed and Breakfast is a short drive from the beaches, Truro, and local Cornwall attractions. For those attending field school at Saveok, it is a mere walk across a field with a passage cut through the stone wall to get on site.
My 4 nights of lodging with Polygwedhen were relaxing, restful, inspirational, and definitely well worth it. I’ll definitely be back many times in the future. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Yak and Yeti (Truro, Cornwall, England)

Yak and Yeti
* 10 Kenwyn St * Truro TR1 3DJ * Cornwall, England * 01872 272363 858085 * yakandyetitruro.co.uk *
It was my first night wandering around Truro, during my first vacation in Cornwall. Truro was a quiet town and unfortunately, many of the restaurants closed by 6/6:30 pm … and just as I was about to settle for some more English standard pub fare, I spied this little gem. Himalayan\Nepalese\Indian Cuisine – and they were open – much later than most restaurants in Truro. According to the web site, it apparently stays open until 11:30 pm. (23:30) While the staff didn’t seem to be that great with their English, the service was great, prompt, friendly, and efficient. The food was quite tasty and a welcoming break from the English meals I had been dining on pretty solid since this trip to Europe. I feasted on the lamb tikka masala … it was quite excellent. Definitely a pleasing dining experience. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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The Ritual Offering Pits at Saveok

Offering Pits at Saveok Water Archaeology Site:
Saveok Mill, Greenbottom, Cornwall, England

Within the last 10 years, one of the world’s best archaeological examples of Ritual Witchcraft has been exposed in Cornwall, England. This site, Saveok Water Archaeology, has several site features suggesting ritual offerings, purification pools, and spellcraft dating as early as the mesolithic upwards to offering pits from the 1500’s to early 1900’s. Some of the practices on the site took place during conservative religious periods that outlawed the practice of Witchcraft, killing of swans, or Pagan faith and ritual. This didn’t seem to affect the religious patrons to this site as offerings and practice appears very abundant on these grounds. Prior to these finds, some of the only remains of witchcraft in England were witch bottles. Located on the small local farm of Saveok Mill called “Saveok Water Archaeological Site”, resident Jacqui Wood discovered very curious archaeological features in her backyard when clearing the ground for a metal-work furnace on her land as one of her experimental archaeology projects. One of the phases of the site, discovered in 2003, in areas EF and Area L appears to have had ritualistic use by means of offering pits (upward of 35) primarily swan-feather lined with imported pebbles or additional elements in them that date from the late 1500’s to the 1640’s onward. Use of such offering pits during a period of turmoil in England when Cromwellian Puritans destroyed much of pre-Christian Pagan England along the countryside would not only have been extremely dangerous to practice, but simply unheard of for the time period as the practice of witchcraft often led to a death sentence. These offering pits are believed to be evidence of Cornwall Witchcraft practice throughout the ages. While lineage or written evidence for the site is lacking, the remains are vast and tie into much of the lore, practices, and belief systems utilized by Paganism in the area – standing as the most common-sense theory at this point in the investigations. These practices may or may not have been done by the former 17th century residents who built the dwellings that currently exist on the site. But some of the offering pits were certainly dug during their occupation. Ethnographic discussions with locals suggests that some of the land’s residents, the Burnett’s, were reputedly witches. Since anti-witchcraft laws were in place since 1541, their participation in these activities would have definitely remained hidden, for at this time the King James version of the Bible at the time declared into law that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live“. [Exodus 22:17] The death penalty for the practice of Witchcraft officially ended in 1735 and by that time, evidence of this ritual site was covered over, and later residents of the site would have not been aware of what lie beneath.

The presumed ritualistic “offering pits” are generally 40 cm sq. x 17 cm depth earthen dug pits that were primarily carefully lined with the intact pelts of a swan and other bird remains such as claws and beaks from different species. Some of the pits had other animal elements including pigs, dogs, and cats. One was lined with the skin of a black cat and contained 22 eggs – all with chicks close to hatching, as well as cat claws, teeth, and whiskers. Another had a dog skin, dog teeth, and a baked pig jaw. Another pit had a mysterious 7 inch iron disk with a swan skin on one side and animal fur on the other. Based on ritualistic comparisons from Celtic Paganism, Witchcraft, Santeria, and Voodoo – such offering pits are common practice for fertility spells, sacrifice, and magical intentions. The abundant use of swan feathers, suggest fertility in this case, and based on local folklore could have been offering pits to the Goddess Brigid (now the Catholic St. Brigid) as per interviews with local witches and folklorists determined due to Brigid’s association with swans and fertility magic. According to local folklore and beliefs – the swan feathers associated with fertility were possibly offered her to promote conception. If conception took place – then 9 months later the person would return to empty the pit. This is the current explanation for some of the empty pits that were found. Some of the pits also contained leaf parcels of imported stones that have been traced to Swanpool Beach which is approximately 15 miles away from the site – a area famous for its population of swans. Not only were these practices at this time dangerous because of Cromwell, but the act of killing a swan would have been risky throughout English history as swans belong directly to the Crown. In addition within these feather pits were found over 57 unhatched eggs ranging in size from bantams to ducks that were flanked by the bodies of two magpies. Magpies are birds very tied to Cornish folklore and also seen as taboo to be utilized in such a way. These organic remains had incredible preservation on this site due to the Spring’s water-logged ground and mineral content. Radiocarbon dates of some of the swan feather fits date to 1640. The cat pit dates to the 18th century and the dog pit dates to the 1950’s. The combination of the holy well/spring, remains of the cauldron, ritual offerings to the well, swan feather lined offering pits, and other ritualistic evidence strongly suggested that this site was a ritual place for Cornish Witches. If this is the case, then Saveok Mill serves as one of the world’s best examples of sites of this kind since much of Witchcraft practice through the ages prior existed only in witches bottles and remains found in Salem, Massachussetts in the New World. Much of this fabled history, ressurrected by modern day Witches or continued by family tradition witches in the local area, has been buried in secrecy and buried underneath intentional cloaks of mystery. Until the modern era of the practice, written records of this religious movement and/or practice was next to non-existent.

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06.13.10 – Chronicles: WPP: Day 9 – Cornwall Country – Taxicabs, Trains, and Iron Age Roundhouses …



Iron Age Roundhouses at Saveok Mill

Early to rise with a train to catch at 8 am, I realized last night I would have a dilemma with getting to the Train Station in time because of the remote nature of Castle Horneck. The bus system on a Sunday in Penzance was not running as early as I needed, not to mention that the Castle was over a mile from the nearest bus stop and I was overburdened with a 17 kilo large frame backpack on my back with a 22 kilo napsack at my side. So I broke down on my ‘tight’ budget to arrange a cab for the morning. The cost wasn’t too bad and well worth every pound (GBP). As the cabbie dropped me off at the Penzance Rail Station, I oddly noticed that the station had yet to open. No stress though for within 5 minutes the gates to the tracks were opened by an agent. A pleasant rail ride to Truro viewing over the beautiful Cornish countryside. Once in Truro, I hopped bus 26 to backtrack through Three Milestone and on to Green Bottom. It was a good thing I had Google Earth’d the entire journey in case I had to walk from Truro and observed the photo shots along the route because the bus driver was unfamiliar with the stop I needed to get off on. I pointed it out to him and started to follow the route down the road, off a side track, through the bush, and across the tracks. Before crossing the tracks on foot there was a phone in which to call the conductor to make sure it was safe to cross. It was, but nonetheless, I hurried across the tracks. Following the overgrown path on up to the fieldhouse, I met one of the other crew members who guided me to Jacqui the Director of Saveok Mill Archaeological Site.

I came to discover this remarkable site as I had become intriqued by the article published by Archaeology Magazine on the Excavation of the Cornwall Witches. Since my Master’s Thesis and dissertation was on Modern Day Witchcraft, and I was very interested in the subject archaeologically, the opportunity to see actual Archaeological Evidence of Cornish Witchcraft was a very exciting thought. I made arrangements with Jacqui to come visit. I Originally intended on going in April, I wound up postponing and re-scheduling it for June as I was unsure what the funding situation would be with the archaeological lab I work for as we were threatened with layoff cutbacks. What I read about Jacqui was fascinating as well. I was very excited about this chance to meet her. Jacqui was an amazingly knowledgeable experimental archaeologist that radiated everything I read about her … It wouldn’t be hard to believe if she was currently the world’s foremost authority on Prehistoric Cooking, one of the lead’s for the world in Experimental Archaeology, and the creator of the first replica of the Orkney Hood in Britain and the Grass cloak for the Ice Man museum in Bolzano Italy. I was extremely excited for this opportunity to learn from her and see first hand her discoveries in her own backyard. Since my dissertion and thesis in graduate school was on modern day Witchcraft, I knew this site would give me some historical substance for my own independent research. Little did I know that I would also be learning how to make a Iron Age round house. Her local crew consisted of local students and Cornwall residents who were obviously very interested in her research and methodology. They all had great things to add and a pretty knowledgable assortment of folk. We spent the day building the round house by putting up the rafters and posts. In the afternoon we were disrupted by a bit of rain, the first I’ve seen of moisture in the skies since I arrived in England a few days ago. We moved our embracing discussions into the lab where we all got to know each other better. At the end of the field day, it was time to go check into my temporary lodging at the King’s Head Pub in Chacewater as the Bed and Breakfast I would be staying at for the rest of the week did not have a room ready for me until tomorrow eve. The walk wasn’t bad, within 20 minutes I was down in the neighboring village to Greenbottom called Chacewater. The room was nice and the staff friendly. The pub was filled with enthusiasts for the World Cup. Since watching sports on television absolutely bores me, as I’d be more entertained watching paint dry, I took a walk-about through the village in search of an ATM. Little did I know that my American VISA (debit) card did not have a ‘CHIP’ in it, so was completely useless at all other establishments I wandered into except for the pub where I was staying. There was also no business open with an ATM. So I couldn’t get any food from the grocery store. Breaking the budget once again, I retired to the Pub for a Shrimp dish and a vodka tonic to cut the edge. I retired pretty early to my room as there was no internet or wireless to be found in Chacewater that I could connect to. I had a feeling I would not have internet access during my field session here.


The railroad tracks

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The King’s Head (Chacewater, UK)

The Kings Head Hotel
* 0843-208-6749 * http://www.thekingshead-chacewater.co.uk * Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall, England, TR4 8PY *

Chacewater has only three pubs – and the King’s Head Pub and Motel is not only one of its most famous establishments, but one of its more popular lodging stays. It is a Traditional English Pub with accomodation upstairs. The King’s Head is located in the small village of Chacewater located outside of Truro, Cornwall, England. The pub has origins to the 17th century but stands strong with modern renovation and service. The pub consists of a modern yet traditional public house that was built originally in the 17th century and operating as a pub since 1826. Located 4 miles from Redruth and 6 miles from Truro. The bar serves traditional pub food including jacket potatoes, sandwiches, steaks, and fare. There are also vegetarian options. THe rooms are doubles that come with a TV, alarm clock, tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board, and a choice of en-suite or shared facilities. Rooms range from 20-25 a person and comes with breakfast. My dining and lodging experience at the Kings’ Head was comfortable and pleasant. Rooms were clean, food was good, service was pleasant. I had the Prawn Cocktail and the Sunday Lunch which came with fresh succulent meats served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, a selection of seasonal vegetables and condiments. Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 for the food, 4 stars out of 5 for the lodging.

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Chacewater, Cornwall, England

Chacewater
www.chacewater.net * Cornwall, England *

Chacewater is a small village in Cornwall, England that is also a civil parish. It is located 3 miles east of Redruth. This small village sites within a valley between the hills that separate it from Threemilestone, Scorrier, and Saint Day. It only has three pubs and a club, “Twelveheads Press” (independent publishing company), a health center, two Nurseries, a primary school, a Literary Institute, a village hall, and a collection of shops. Once the home to a popular Railway, it was also home to the Chacewater Railway Station which is no longer. The town has an Anglican Church that is dedicated to St. Paul that was built in 1828. Chacewater was once a very popular settlement for mining. Chacewater is not far from Truro or Redruth.

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Cornish Witchcraft

Cornish Witches
Cornwall is notorious for its fabled land of pixies, elves, faeries, witches, and magical folk. The entire area of England is just absorbed in magic and folklore … and most people … even if not magically connected will state that very fact … especially with Cornwall being the tromping grounds of King Arthur, Excalibur, and Merlin. My first visit to Cornwall I experienced none-other than sheer enchantment. From magical megalithic sites, mesmerizing coastlines, enchanted wells, to frolicking with Faeries on Lake Colliford my adventure was beyond magical. Cornwall also hosts a plethera of brightness and darkness … as it is entwined by leylines and magical practitioners such as Shamans, Witches, and Druids. Lore about mischievious faeries wreaking havoc on those who have crossed faerie paths or disturbed faerie mounds. The entire landscape is littered with evidence of Pagan beliefs, Paganism, Ritual, and Religion. No other place however has provided as much archaeological evidence of some of the macabre practices as was found in recent years at Saveok Mill in Greenbottom. This site involves purification pools, a possible sacred well or spring, and macabre rituals involving swans, magpies, and other birds in what could only be described as ‘offering pits’. Some of these ‘offering pits’ were still in practice even during the 17th century when the law of the Bible dictated that one should not suffer a witch to live and during a time when Cromwell’s army would surely have condemned anyone practicing such rites. Cornwall has appeared to have escaped the Roman vanquishing of Celtic Paganism as ‘Magic’ stayed alive and well there. However, throughout England it became illegal to practice magic and witchcraft. Even with the official bans, there is evidence of practice throughout the land. The first Witchcraft Act was passed in 1541 which propelled the Witch hunts, the Inquisition, the Witches’ hammer, and suffering for those accused of witchcraft which ended in 1735. Witches however, especially in Cornwall, and throughout the British Isles, have taken care of their neighbours by curing toothaches and aches, weaving love spells, telling fortunes, and blighting crops. This wasn’t exclusive to Cornwall nor England – it was pretty common throughout the world. Whether by the art of magic or through the course of an actual religion, Witchcraft was alive and well throughout the ages even to this very day back in an age where it can be practiced openly in broad daylight with minimal reaction from the mainstream bystanders. Witchcraft offered its participants the ability to bend, twist, and shape reality – to create change; to control the world by means of magic, ritual, and spellcraft. It all began quite secretive as an oral tradition – often passed on through family lines – changing through time – and varying today in the modern age where it is now written about, practiced throughout the world heavily, and embranced through an assortment of religions, traditions, and sects. Oddly enough, you can even get a “Witchcraft for Dummies” book from Barnes and Nobles. Depending on the scholar you talk to, there are roughly 9-13 different “types” of Witchcraft each with potentially hundreds of different traditions encompassed within those ‘types’.

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Truro Rail Station

Truro Rail Station
Truro, Cornwall, England

In the heart of Truro is the Truro Rail Station that is Truro’s bloodstream to the rest of Cornwall. It is situated at the junction of the Cornish Main Line and the Maritime Line to Falmouth and is operated by First Great Western. The Station first opened with the Cornwall Railway in 1859 starting at first only as a train shed roofed over the space between two platforms and a 130′ long stone building. The good shed was rebuilt to handle larger traffic by 1897 with new buildings, a new engine shed, tunnel improvements, and a level crossing removed to the east end, as well as the installation of a third footbridge. By 1905 it was used as the terminus of the branch to Perranporth and Newquay which actually junctioned at the nearby Chacewater station. The Great Western Railway was nationalized into British Railways in 1948 and then privatized in the 1990’s. The station now has a long-stay car park behind the eastbound platform. It is now the busiest train station in all of Cornwall.

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Land’s End (Cornwall, England)

Land’s End
Cornwall, England

Land’s End is Cornwall’s big family destination and amusement park. The area is filled with props, costumes, and monsters from “Doctor Who” and is home to the multi-sensory theater show “Return to the Last Labyrinth” that covers the myths and legends of the area. There is shopping and dining in the area. It is a headland and small settlement in western Cornwall based on Tourism. It is 8 miles from Penzance. It is the most westerly point of the England’s mainland. Its known for its cliffs and panorama views of the coastline including such notable points as “The Longships”, “The Isles of Scilly”, and the mythical lost land of Lyonesse. The settlement was purchased in 1987 by Peter de Savary to create his theme park. This was sold to Graham Ferguson Lacey in 1991. It is also home to a small airport.

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Sennen Cove (Cornwall, England)

Sennen Cove:
Cornwall, England

Approximately one mile northeast of Land’s End is the small coastal community of Sennen Cove. It is a scenic paradise for beach-goers and its beaches are more popular to the locals than Land’s End. In 2000, its population was a heaping 180 inhabitants. While not a cove in a geological sense, it fits more under the descriptor of being a Bay. Many old granite mining cottages can be found in the area that have been converted to vacation stays. Many of these cottages are arranged in terraces. It is also a base station ofr several submarine telecommunications cables. It is a hotspot to the surfing enthuasiasts because of its great surfing conditions as it is protected from winds and swell. The village has a very laid back and friendly atmosphere. Sennen Cove is also home to the first UK canine lifeguard named “Bilbo” who started his job in 2005 raising awareness to tourists about the dangers of swimming outside the designated zones via campaign called “Bilbo Says”. Sennen Cove is also home to a RNLI lifeboat station run by volunteers since 1953.

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Pendeen (Cornwall, England)

Pendeen, Cornwall, England
Pendeen is a very panoramic and scenic coastal village on the Penwith peninsula in Cornwall, England. It is located 3 miles north of St. Just and 7 miles west of Penzance. Its a small village consisting of a community center, shop, post office, primary school, and few small businesses. The town is named after the Pendeen Lighthouse which is a mile away from the village on the coast (called the Pendeen Watch). “Pendeen” is also supposed to mean “headland of a fort”. The area was historically known for being a center for smuggling activities and mining. It was once a thriving tin and copper mining town. The town and its area is riddled with underground tunnels and passages. One of the most famous mining incidents in history occured in this area at the Levant Mine which in 1919 trapped over 30 miners. Tourists also come to Pendeen for its engine houses as it holds the oldest working beam engine in the UK. The hill that overlooks Pendeen is known as “The Carn” which is a site of a granite quarry that build the village church. This Church is the Church of St. John and was designed by parson Robert Aitken in 1851. Pendeen is also known for the Chun Castle, Chun Quoit, and its Geevor Tin Mine. It is believed Mining occured in this area for over 3,000 years. 2,000 years ago there is evidence of the Romans bringing Jews to Pendeen to work the mines. It is the beaches of Pendeen where the “Liberty” wreck can be found (or what is left of her).

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Men scryfa

Men Scryfa Standing Stone:
Near Madron, Cornwall, England

The Men Scryfa Standing Stone is a standing engrave stone sitting in the middle of a field not far from the infamous Men-an-Tol holey stone monument and the Nine Maidens stone circle. Its early origins is unknown just like with all the other standing stones. “Men Scryfa” translates to “Stone with Writing” as the stone bears early Christian inscription “RIALOBRANI CUNOVALI FILI” which translates to “Rialobran, son of Cunoval” according to some translators and “Royal Raven Son of the Glorious Prince” by others. This is a commemoration of the death in battle of a royal warrior or gravestone epitaph. Rialobran is thought to be a local king or warrior. The raven is a bird of carrion that is linked with death and the battlefield, assessed with the magical power of such things for those that worshipped it; also representative of the Irish Goddess Morrigan, the Goddess of War and Death. Celtic legends links the name Bran (as in RialoBRANi) to the ancient British warrior king, the keeper of the cauldron of immortality, whose decapitated head continues to have powers of speech. The story of RIALOBRANI is about an invader who attacked the Glorious Prince, seized his lands and occupied the Lescudjack hillfort at Penzance, sending the defeated royalty fleeing the area around Carn Euny or the hillfort of Caer Bran (the Raven Castle). The Royal Raven then supposedly tried to reclaim his territory and a great battle took place in result – killing Rialobrani / Ryalvran and burying him by this stone that was supposedly the same height as the deceased. There was legends of gold buried beneath it as well – though some farmer dreaming of a crock of gold dug a pit around the stone causing it to collapse and not finding any gold. The monument was re-erected at a recent date. The Latin dates to about 500 CE and it was found that the stone marks a grave. Whether the stone itself was erected earlier than that, we don’t know but is presumed to have been reused by the inscribers. It stands 2 meters high and probably dates from the Bronze Age for the stone carving/shaping/erection itself.

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Ding Dong Mine and the Moor …

Ding Dong Mine and the Bogs
Near Madron, Cornwall, England

As I was searching for the Nine Maidens Stone Circle i soon found myself in a bog and a mine field. Not exactly the mine field one would think when one states such a thing, but rather fields of pit mines that were no longer in use or drained. This is known locally as the Ding Dong Mining Area. The Ding Dong mine at the center of all the semi-roped off shafts and pits that looked alot like sunken depressions or sinkholes. This enormous shaft mine is a historic landmark of the area. After stumbling off the proven footpath, I realized I was wandering around animal paths and trails until they vanished in the bog and I rather found myself waist deep in prickly bog plants and no stone monuments in sight. The Ding Dong Mine in this area is a landmark often used to find Men-at-Tol and Nine Maidens Circle in Cornwall as its massive tower can be seen on the horizon. It is an old mining area in the Lands End granite mass located approximately 2 miles south of St. Just to Penzance roadway. No one for sure knows why it is called “Ding Dong”, but one suggestion is reference to it as such in Cannon Jennings book on the history of Madron, Morvah, and Penzance that refers to the “head of the lode” outcrop of tin on this hill. In Madron there is a “Ding Dong” bell that was rung to mark the end of the last shift for the miners each day. In 1714, the Ding Dong Mines consisted of actually three separate mines – “the Good Fortune”, “Wheal Malkin”, and “Hard Shafts Bounds”. By the 18th century there were at least seven mines and it is believed the name “Ding Dong” was not used until the turn of the 18th century. By 1782 there were 16 working mines in the area. Ding Dong made the headlines in 1796 for copyright infringement as a 28 inch cylinder inverted engine designed by Edward Bull was put into Ding Dong as he utilized their methodology to create his own engines and claimed as his own. The one erected at Ding Dong during this year was with a conventional Boulton and Watt engine inverted by Richard Trevithick and William West. The Ding Dong mine was in its final form by 1820 as they erected a new ‘fire engine’ and by 1834 had two pumping engines and two winding engines. By 1850 the mine was exhausted with mining moving around the area tapping what was left. With 206 in employ, the Ding Dong mine survived the depression in tin prices that was caused by the American Civil War although manpower decreased to a crew of 121 from the 206. The mine stopped production by 1877. It was briefly re-opened in 1911 when tin prices rose and the dumps were explored for any remains. This lasted from 1912-1915 as they found 51 tons of tin concentrate left, but when metal prices dropped again – they closed. Since that time, three other attempts were unsuccessfully made to re-open the mines.

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Men-At-Tol

Men-At-Tol
Near Madron and Lanyon Farm, Penwith, Cornwall, England

The infamous holey-stone known as “Men-an-tol” is located in tip of Cornwall near Madron and Lanyon Farm. This is one of England’s most highly photographed megalithic sites. The name “Men-An-Tol” means “holed stone”. Its purpose is unknown, but theorized to be a Druid ritual site, A Faerie Portal, A calendar, A gateway to the Otherworlds, A burial site, A ritual site, as well as a half a dozen other suggestions … but the truth is, its purpose still remains a mystery. There are only four stones remaining that are known parts of the monument – two upright stones with the holed stone inbetween them, and a fallen stone at the foot of the western upright. It is believed, especially from antiquarian illustrations, that through the ages, these stones have been moved around and re-arranged at various times. In the 18th century, William Borlase describes the layout as triangular. During the 19th century, JT Blight proposed that the site is the remains of a stone circle. If this was the case, the holed stone would probably be aligned along the circumference of the circle and have a special ritual significance by providing a lens through which to view other sites or features, or as some propose, a window into other worlds. Archaeological theory proposes it as a component of a burial chamber or cist dating from the Bronze Age but lacks but since no extensive excavations have been conducted. WC Borlase in 1885 discovered a single flaked flint. Holed stones are rare in Cornwall, and outside of this site – there is only the Tolvan Stone near Gweek. All the others are much smaller with holes less than 15 cm in diameter, too small for a human (adult or infant) to pass through. There is much folklore surrounding the ‘men-at-tol’ as well as traditions. The site is known for curing many ailments, especially rickets in children, by passing the sufferer through the hole. It is also utilized in rituals and rites to travel between various worlds. There is believed to be a faerie or piskie guardian who lives here that makes the miraculous cures. It is believed that changeling babies were brought here and passed through the stone in order for the mother to get the real child back. Local legends state that if at full moon a woman passes through the holed stone seven times backwards she would soon become pregnant. For centuries children with rickets were passed naked through the hole to heal them. The circular stones line up exactly with the center stone at Boscawen-Un. It has been known as a alternative cure for ‘scrofulous taint” or the “Kings Evil”. Men-At-Tol was also legendary for fixing back problems. This mere fact gave it the name “Crick stone”. Some saw the site as a protection against witchcraft and ill-wishes, while others feel it can be utilized for augury or fortune telling. With the three upright granite stones – the round stone in the middle holed out with two small standing to each side in front and behind the holey stone, form a three-dimensional “101”.

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