follow us on

   

 

The Standing Stones of Cornwall

Cornish Legends and Myths

By:

On:

Topic:

Social:

Cornish Links

21 June 2010

Cornish Legends

45 Shares

 Return To Menu

 Cornish History

 Home

 

 

   

The Hurlers of St Cleer

 

The Hurlers are a line of three stone circles on the edge of Bodmin Moor not far from Liskeard, the diameter ranges from 108 feet to 140 feet. The Hurlers date from about 1500 BC. Their original purpose was probably something to do with the druids or religious ceremonies, but today nobody can find any records of this. However legend tells of St Cleer himself being responsible for their creation. Local men playing hurling on a Sunday, refused St Cleer's demands that they stop playing hurling and go to church. St Cleer was angered by their refusal, and he turned them to stone to play hurling forever on the Moor.

 

 

The Hurlers of St Cleer

 

 

The Hurlers with the

'Cheesewring' in the distance

 

The Pipers at the Hurlers

 

 

Men Scryfa

 

The name 'Men Scryfa' literally means inscribed stone, and it is one of several standing stones along the Tinners Way (a modern long distance footpath) which includes the Men-an-Tol. There is an inscription on the stone in Latin "Rialobrani Cunovali Filii" which translates to "Rialobran, son of Cunoval". It is thought to be the tombstone of a king killed in the 6th century Battle of Gendhal Moor. The stone is approximately nine feet high, and the legend states that the king was as tall as that. He is said to be buried under the stone, complete with his treasures and weapons.

 

 

Men Scryfa

 

 

King Doniert's Stone

 

These two granite cross bases are decorated in late 9th century style and probably date from that time. The Shorter stone carries a latin inscription "Doniert Progavit Pro Anima" translated "Doniert ordered (this cross) for (the good of) his soul". Doniert was probably Durngarth, King of Cornwall who was drowned in AD 875 in the river Fowey.

 

 

 
   
 

King Doniert's Stone

 

The Cheesewring

Natural, rather than man made, the Cheesewring near Minions on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor, is a series of giant flat boulders, some over 30 feet in circumference, with the largest ones sitting on the smaller ones. Although formed by natural erosion, the Cornish folklore blames Giants for them being there.

The tale is that the Giants were annoyed that the Saints were getting a better deal than they were. St Tue, a particularly small saint, heard the Giants arguing about the best way to rid Cornwall of Saints. He decided to challenge the leader of the Giants, Uther, a particularly large and strong giant, to a trial of strength. The deal was that if the giants won, then the saints would leave Cornwall forever, but if the saints won the giants would convert to Christianity.

Twelve large rocks were gathered for the contest. Uther picked up the smallest rock and hurled it onto the summit of Stowes Hill. St Tue, getting heavenly help, picked up a larger rock, and managed to throw it exactly the same distance, landing on the smaller first rock. The contest continued with larger rocks piling on smaller ones, until Uther failed with the last rock, and it rolled back down the hill where St Tue picked it up and hurled it (with the help of the angels) onto the top of the heap.

The saints won, and the giants under Uther abandoned their sinful ways. And the Cheesewring remains to this day as a reminder of the struggle between the Giants and the Saints in Cornwall.

 

 

 

The Cheesewring

    

 

Men-An-Tol

Near Madron, on the Lands End peninsula, the men-an-Tol is an upright circular stone with a hole in the middle. On either side it is flanked by two upright stones. It is now thought that this was an early astronomical observatory. It is also known as the Devil's Eye.

 

It is known locally as the Crick Stone, and is believed to have healing powers for a crick in the back. Legend said that if someone with a health problem crawled through the hole nine times, then they would be cured. Children suffering from rickets were passed naked through the hole three times. It has also for obvious reasons been considered to be a fertility symbol.

 

 

Men-An-Tol

 

 

Duloe Stone Circle

 

Duloe is a small village north of Looe. The stone circle consists of 8 stones, that unusually have been made of quartz.

 

 

Duloe Stone Circle

 

Trethevy Quoit

Near Liskeard, a very impressive Quoit. Quoits were megalithic chamber tombs, and are about 4000 years old. Trevethy Quoit is particularly well preserved (many of these burial chambers have been destroyed over the years by farming, and by the effects of the weather). Burial chambers like this would have held twenty or thirty corpses, who would have been buried with their treasures and weapons

 

Trethevy Quoit

 

Zennor Quoit

Zennor Quoit was once a very fine example of a quoit surrounded by a stone barrow 14 yards in diameter. Regrettably the stone was conveniently sized for building, as such was robbed of it, little evidence of the barrow remains today. Over the years the quoit has suffered. The capstone has slipped, while a supporting stone was removed by a local farmer for use in his cart shed. It is only by good luck that Zennor Quoit was not been completely removed by the farmer for its stone. The local vicar heard of the destruction in progress and paid the farmer to desist..

Zennor is a portal quoit, it had a small porch at its entrance, seeming to have been built for the purpose of entering the chamber. More interesting is that there was an antechamber with an even smaller entrance.

Over the years excavations of the quoit have found ancient remains such as pottery.

 

 

A diagram representation of Zennor Quoit before

it's collapse. From Dr. Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall.

  Zennor Quoit

 

 

Chun Quoit

 

Chun Quoit is the best preserved quoit in Penwith. Its structure is still true and has not changed since its construction. It is located on high ground just below Chun Castle. The capstone is supported by four standing stones. Together these standing stones form a good example of a closed box quoit. The internal chamber can be entered, but it is a squeeze. Chun Quoit has been excavated, but there have been no finds of any consequence.

 

 

Chun Quoit

 

 

Lanyon Quoit

Between Penzance and lands End, King Arthur is said to have used the stone top as a dining table just before his last battle. This burial chamber is well preserved, and the impressive top stone measures 15 feet by 10 feet. Maneuvering such massive slabs from a quarry to their final resting place would have been a huge undertaking for Bronze Age man.

 

Lanyon Quoit is a very impressive structure, but it is not a true historical representation. Originally it was taller, of sufficient height for a horseman to sit under. Its capstone had an original circumference of 47 feet, however a piece has since been broken off. This size together with an average thickness of 20 inches made the capstone extremely heavy. Unfortunately its capstone and one of its supporting stones collapsed in 1815. These were re-erected in 1824 but were not put back in their original position.

 

In the mid eighteenth century, the landowner had a dream which led him to have the quoit excavated. A six foot deep pit was dug and a grave was found of which no recordings survive. The quoit was further disturbed more than once. All these disturbances together with the extreme weight of the capstone was probably the reason why it collapsed after standing for thousands of years, rather than the accepted explanation of a severe storm.

 

 

 

A diagram representation of Lanyon Quoit

before it's collapse.

From Dr. Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall.

Lanyon Quoit

 

 

Mulfra Quoit

 

Mulfra is a closed box quoit. The capstone has collapsed and currently leans on the supporting stones. There are three supporting stones but appears that originally there were four. The Quoit was initially surrounded by a two foot high stone barrow of 120 feet in circumference. The barrow suffered from stone robbing and now only vestiges of a round barrow exist. Mulfra Quoit has been excavated, but there are no finds of any consequence.

 

 

Mulfra Quoit

 

 

West Lanyon Quoit

 

 

West Lanyon Quoit

 

The Merry Maidens and the Pipers

At Boleigh near Lands End, the Merry Maidens are a group of 19 stones in a large circle 70 feet in diameter. Legends says that 19 maidens on their way to church on a Sunday were distracted by the Pipers playing a dance. They started to dance, but a thunderbolt came to punish them for dancing and piping on the Sabbath. the Maidens are in one field, and the two tall standing stones called the Pipers are a few hundred yards away.

 

 

The Merry Maidens

    

The Pipers - The male companions of the Merry Maidens.

 

 

The Stone Cross at St. Buryan

 

This stone cross is found at a road junction near St Buryan, Cornwall. It is believed that these crosses are pre-Christian and the carving were added later. A close look at this one shows what looks to be a crucified figure.

 

 

The Stone Cross at St. Buryan

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Information

 

About Us

Contact Us

Site Map

 

 

All Things Cornish

    

Cornish Shop