A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Unless otherwise stated text and images © Roy Goutté

The bowl depressions in the granite stones to the highest point on Stowe’s Hill. The famous Cheesewring formation is seen in the background looking back toward the Hurlers Stone Circles. Note the groove cut into the lip allowing the water out. Are it and the bowls natural?

Image
©
The Heritage Trust

Following on from the Trust’s Outreach Event 2013 report, I would like to make a few personal observations with regard to the bowl depressions on Stowe’s Hill (Stowe’s Pound) as reported. The jury is still out, but in the main the opinion is that they are natural, but can that really be proven or did we play a far greater role in their manufacture than is generally believed? We have seen what Neolithic man was capable of when it comes to working with stone so maybe they did in fact ‘finish them off’ as a matter of need, because they are far more complex than is generally thought and worth looking at again… along with another water source in the same rock formation. Firstly though, information on Stowe’s Hill Tor itself here.

The highest natural rock formation on Stowes Hill Tor. The top stone tips onto the bowled stone to its right where much of its rainwater runs onto

Another view of the bowls

Note the more natural looking (smoother and rounder) depression to top right. I’m wondering if all three depressions were once very much like this and just shallow as presumably they are equally aged? There is no water supply on the hill which was once occupied so any source of water would have been most welcome rather than wondering off onto the moor to a more regular supply. The upper sections and edges of both lower bowls are very fragmented, unlike their base sections which are far more rounded. Why should that be when the third bowl’s appearance is much more rounded and smooth all over with no ‘working’ to the top rim like the others? It leads me to believe that those lower bowls were indeed deepened and widened by hand to hold more water and as the photos show, there is a channel formed between these two bowls linking them up and another to allow the water to run out in a controlled fashion into containers placed below. It may be then that nature took a hold again and smoothed the deepened bowls to the condition we see them in today. Take a look now at a further water-gathering point immediately beneath the stone with the triple bowls.

The stone on the left is the stone with the three bowls in it and the one above, the capping stone that the water runs off and into the bowls and dished out area beneath. This dished area is more tear-drop shaped and shallow, yet has a comparatively wide run-off channel attached to it.

The same channel as seen from the dispersal end. It seems very wide and deep to have been formed naturally from such a small body of water. Could this be another man-made channel leading to a collection container beneath the rock? We see huge slabs of stone lying all over the place on Bodmin Moor, some having bowl depressions in, either natural or otherwise, yet you don’t see channels like this in them formed by the overspill of water. The only thing to conclude is that they are man-made.

What would be the opinion of other readers of these pages?