A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Text and images © Roy Goutté

An elevated view of the Trippet Stones taken in 2012 with Hawkstor farm in the background

After visiting King Arthur’s Hall the banked enclosure of uncertain age on King Arthur’s Down near St Breward, Cornwall, on the 12 June 2014 with fellow enthusiast Peter Castle, we decided on the way back to make a fleeting visit to the Trippet Stones stone circle on Manor Common. I’m very glad we did now otherwise we could have missed out on something quite interesting!

After wandering around the circle for a few minutes we came across two smaller stones that on first impression had that look that suggests that one part was the remaining stump of an upright, and the other, a broken section off it! In this instance however, on closer inspection, they were both found to be just lying on the surface or embedded just beneath, but neither seriously earth-fast! Where they came from I don’t know but the likelihood is that they are nothing to do with the circle at all and ‘just stones’ placed there at some stage.

However, on looking more closely at them, we noticed that one, the more secure of the two, had what appeared to be a form of horizontal and vertical crisscross carving on its stepped top. Some may even call it rock-art, something I’ll admit to knowing very little about, but maybe a follower of The Heritage Trust will.

It can be seen in the photo that both ‘steps’ in the stone appear to have been carved or ‘decorated’, but a more interesting point to me at the moment is the fact that the bottom and top halves of the stone have a fracture or fault running between them threatening to split the stone into two separate halves. If it did, it may well provide us with the answer as to whether the lower section of ‘grid-lines’ are natural or man-made. Obviously if the grid did run completely through the stone then the carving would be a natural feature, but if not…?

There must be many ways in which a stone can become ‘marked’ accidentally, one being when dragged out of the earth by a tractor when ploughing, but in this case I would have thought it unlikely, as the crisscrossed markings on the lower step go right up to the rising side of that step. 

The fracture or fault line clearly seen running through the stone between top and bottom. If separated, would it reveal more of the ‘carving’ or just a plain surface? One action could solve an archaeological mystery, the other, damage it irrevocably!

Do the ‘grid-lines’ continue through the fracture or stop against the face of the upper section as seen from above? If it is just a random stone and not part of the setting, should it be split as one would when fossil hunting to prove it one way or another or left well alone?