A Trip Back In Time: The re-exposure of the buried ring stones at Louden Stone Circle. Part II. Text and images © Roy Goutté.

Stones 11, 12 & 13 showing 12 to the outside of the ring setting, something to be replicated further around the circle creating food for thought
 
Stones 14 and 15 are both partly covered and as the next photo shows, Stone 16 is another somewhat out of line, as is Stone 19 in the following photo. Without a doubt a pattern had formed and we began to consider either concentric circles, or, the possibility of a former or earlier circle?
 
 
Stones 14, 15 & 16
  
 
Clearly another straight section extending from Stones 17 to 21 (buried)
 
 
Two more straight sections, Stones 21 – 23 and 23 – 25 and although not exposed, three more outlying stones were discovered and recorded between and outside of Stones 22 & 23 (see ground plan)
 
 
White bollards mark out the three unexposed outlying stones between ring stones 22 & 23
 
 
 
 
Stone 26 introduced us to what was to become known affectionately as ‘Louden Man’ and along with ‘Crow Stone’ (Stone 44) found later, were to become popular with walkers passing by that looked in to see what we were up to. Lying buried for many years, Louden Man was to reveal this wonderful image once the light was in a favourable position.
 
 
Crow Stone…tail feathers and all
 
Stones 27, 28 and 29 were all visible and just required cleaning up and trimming back, but 30 and 31 were hidden just beneath the surface and appeared to be on that outer line again. That then brought us to a cluster of four stones in a group…32, 33, 34 and 35. Stone 34 looks to be a remaining ring stone but 32 and 33 had us guessing. They formed what looked like a small burial area and may have originally been a small open cist.
 
Stone 35 appeared to be another outer stone, but a very long one as far as we could tell. It was 16” wide with a well rounded end at ground level and by spiking the ground away from this point, it sloped away deeply very quickly and as best I could tell, it measured some 8ft long/tall. Although I could only calculate its length and width underground very roughly due to its ever increasing depth, I got the impression it was more like a pillar than a typical ring stone. If indeed it was a pillar and there is in fact a genuine outer circle, then it would have been a significant stone within that setting!
 
The thought then crossed my mind that if Stone 4, the stone we thought may be a capstone to a cist, had in fact been a standing stone and fallen, then it would have fallen from the exact area those outer stones are positioned in that run parallel with the main circle. Could Louden be a concentric circle we had to ask ourselves? It if is, then I believe it would be the first to be discovered in Cornwall.
 
Stone 36, although buried, was a ring stone, but Stone 37 that was also buried was another outer stone. Stone 38 we completely exposed but partly re-covered on completion because much of it was too deep to leave exposed. Stone 39 is another just partly showing and Stone 40 another outer stone. By now it had become quite obvious that the outer stones were not all there by chance!
 
Stone 39 was 3ft wide and at least 4ft long and Stone 40 also 3ft wide. The fact that it was placed immediately to the outside of Stone 39 the main ring stone, showed that it was very unlikely to have simply fallen out of place and was a totally independent stone used for another purpose. Stone 41 was re-exposed and shown to be 4ft long x 2ft wide. There is a small earth-fast stone a short distance into the circle from it (shown on plan) and this is replicated directly across the centre-line of the ring and near Stone 17. Intriguing!
Stones 42 to 46 are, like others before, in a straight line.
 
 
Yet another straight section from Stone 42 (not shown) to Stone 46
 
After Stone 46 there is a clear ‘three stone’ gap before Stone 47 and Stone 48 is yet another outer stone so in total there are 14 of them. As we were only really supposed to be determining how many main ring stones there were, the outer stones detected were in the main obvious to the eye or found when looking for the main ones, with no great effort made to search for more, so I firmly believe there are others yet to be discovered and much more to this circle than first appears.
 
 
After Stone 46 (a broken stone) we could not detect another stone until Stone 47 even though we made an extensive search with the basic tools at our disposal to spike the area. If they were there then they must have been very deep, but if they weren’t, then that only leaves two other explanations. Either they had been removed at some stage in their history, or it was in fact a deliberate ‘entrance’.
 
 
Stones 47, 48 and 49 only required a moderate clean up due to their size
 
As they had never been recorded before, we were surprised, but delighted, to be the first to expose two stones at the slightly raised centre of the circle. Stone 50 is 2ft x 2ft and Stone 51 12”x12”.
 
 
Stones 50 & 51
 
 
The iconic Tri-Stone as seen due south of the centre stones. A further mile and a quarter into the distance is the remarkable and mysterious King Arthur’s Hall on King Arthur’s Down. Was there a connection I have to ask?
 

 

King Arthur’s Hall as seen through a telephoto lens from Louden Circle
 
SUMMARY
 
Firstly I must thank Ann Preston-Jones for pointing me in the right direction with regard to obtaining the necessary permissions and advising us every step of the way and to Richard Glasson of Natural England for his willing cooperation which was greatly appreciated. Thanks of course must also go to Nancy Hall the landowner and to Steve Nankivell, Chairman of the Hamatethy Commoners. Thank you all.
 
Our small team are all members of TimeSeekers, a group of amateur archaeologist who live mainly in Devon and Cornwall. We visit many megalithic sites both as individuals and as a group and often run into sites that are looking the worse for wear and tear and are always prepared to help out as and when. This is our heritage and we are quick to inform the ‘right people’ if we see damage being done to it whether it be caused by man, beast or nature itself. Louden stone circle was one such site.
 
The work involved no technical equipment as a spade, trowel, brush, wheelbarrow and a couple of trusty spiking rods did a perfectly good job for us. All overgrown turf/plant life removed was re-allocated in other areas lacking in good grass cover or where stock had dug out those shallow pits behind other stones on the surrounding area. Nothing was wasted or left the area it was removed from.
 
We were rather surprised that no more stones other than those previously recorded had been found as the majority were just an inch or two under the surface. The peaty soil, on the whole, was very easy to remove, but after just a little rain the holes left behind filled with water almost immediately. As it was used to clean off the surfaces exposed that balanced things up very nicely!
 
A big surprise were the regular stones we were finding just outside of the ring setting and running parallel with it. We began to think concentric circles and got quite excited about the possibility, but that side of things will have to be left to far more experienced people to form an opinion on. The large ‘fallen’ stone (4) is interesting. Our first thought on seeing the small tri stone (3) at the head of it was that it was a capstone. Small tri markers are displayed at the large cairn just across the track to the north and I always associate them with burials.
 
Equally it could just be a fallen stone, but not from the main setting, but outside of it and in line with those other outer stones found. It would be nice to re-visit with a qualified archaeologist another time to discuss this possibility further.
 
We were delighted to find a couple of centre stones which I believe is a first for this circle. The two earth-fast small stones inside of stones 17 and 41 are interesting as they are on a line running through the circle centre. There is another midway between the centre and stone 31. You have to question why they are there because they could have been in the way of any activity that took place within the circle…unless of course they were an essential part of that activity or markers for possibly alignments?
 
Giving an accurate measurement for the circle is difficult as it is not truly circular and appears to be made up of nine straight sections forming a nonagon rather than being laid out with a central peg and line to create the perfect circle. However, broadly speaking, north to south it is 45.0m x 42.5m east to west.
 
In total the amount of stones recorded are as follows:
 
Assumed main ring stones 36, possibly 37 (stone 9).
Assumed outer ring stones exposed 11.
Further outer stones detected 3.
 
Assumed marker stone? 1 (stone 3).
Centre stones 2.
Other internal stones 3.
 
I can’t finish these field-notes without mentioning and thanking my fellow co-workers, Susan Hockey and Peter Castle. We made an excellent start on day 1 as it was the most beautiful day weather-wise, but it didn’t last. We had persistent rain and wind and toward the end, snow! None of it helped the regular continuance of work and because of where we all lived, not always possible to be together at the same time. But the work was carried out in an excellent frame of mind and good humour, so I must personally thank both Susan and Peter for their efforts and look forward to working with them again on other projects.
 
Roy Goutté
North Hill
Cornwall
 
February 2015
 
 
Susan and Peter, ably assisted by Susan’s Mystery and Magic, clear one stone and rediscover another
 
 
From the smallest tip, showing a buried stone, another reveals itself 
   
 
Yours truly and Mystery show how overseeing should really be done
 
GROUND PLANS
 
 
Details:
 
Hatched areas: Buried and part-buried stones.
Unfilled outlines: Surface stones recumbent or standing.
+: Detected but not exposed stones.
 
 
Part I of this article can be found here. To read the Official Field Report by Roy Goutté, with added photographs etc, click here (pdf).