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Trevethy Quoit, Cornwall, early 20th century

Today marks our fifth anniversary. So, a very big thank you to all who have contributed articles and photos to The Heritage Trust, commented on them, or just read them and hit the ‘like’ button. It’s all very much appreciated. Thank you.

 

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Lanyon Quoit by William Pascoe (active as an artist from 1905-1912)
Illustration from the frontispiece to Days in Cornwall (Methuen & Co)
 
To A Fallen Cromlech
 
And Thou at last art fall’n; Thou, who hast seen
The storms and calms of twice ten hundred years.
The naked Briton here has paused to gaze
Upon thy pond’rous mass, ere bells were chimed,
Or the throng’d hamlet smok’d with social fires.
Whilst thou hast here repos’d, what numerous
tribes,
That breath’d the breath of life, have pass’d away.
What wond’rous changes in th’affairs of men!
Their proudest cities lowly ruins made;
Battles, and sieges, empires lost and won;
Whilst thou hast stood upon the silent hill
A lonely monument of times that were.
Lie, where thou art. Let no rude hand remove,
Or spoil thee; for the spot is consecrate
To thee, and Thou to it; and as the heart
Aching with thoughts of human littleness
Asks, without hope of knowing, whose the strength
That poised thee here; so ages yet unborn
(O! humbling, humbling thought !)may vainly seek,
What were the race of men, that saw thee fall.
 
 
Poetry would normally be considered out of place in this Journal, but the lines printed above seem worthy of record here. Their author was the Rev. Charles Valentine Le Grice (1773-1858), who lived at Trereife, Madron, and was curate of St. Mary’s Chapel, Penzance,  from 1806 to 1831. He was a prolific writer and lists of his many published works may be found in Bibliotheca Comubiensis (/, 311; ///, 1266). The poem was written in 1816 and printed in the Appendix to the second (1823) edition of The Petition of an Old Uninhabited House in Penzance (p.37). Lanyon Quoit, Madron, “perhaps the noblest specimen of the kind”; the date of the fall is given by Le Grice as 19th October 1816, but this is evidently a mistake for 1815. For a drawing and account of the quoit in its fallen state see Proc. W.C.F.C. 1.4 (1956), 167; it was later re-erected at less than the original height.
 
From Cornish Archaeology: No 5, 1996. Page 16. For another poem on Lanyon Quoit click here.
 

Well, this is our 600th post since we got going two and a half years ago. First off, many many thanks to all who have contributed, or drawn our attention to, features and photos since we started (and thanks too to our readers who have commented or indicated that they liked what we’ve published).

So, we wondered how we might celebrate our 600th post…

Cornwall’s been in the news recently: Earlier in the year it took a severe storm battering (along with other areas in Britain) and its only rail link to and from the rest of the country was dramatically severed due to high seas at Dawlish in Devon. Now, after for some two months, the line has been repaired and trains are running again. Then, last week, came the exciting news that the Cornish are to be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities (we ran a short feature about it here) which hopefully will herald a greater awareness and appreciation of Cornwall’s proud heritage. Also, last week, BBC television ran an adaptation (not an entirely successful one) of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn; a dark and violent story of ship-wrecking, smuggling and murder centred around an old inn on Bodmin Moor.

So, with all this happening, it seems appropriate to mark Cornwall’s current place in the spotlight, alongside our own 600th post celebration, with a poem dedicated to Cornwall and the Cornish and news of an exciting archaeological/conservation event happening in Cornwall next month. We hope you find both of interest.

Pitted mining landscape adjacent to the Hurlers Stone Circle on Bodmin Moor
©
The Heritage Trust

***

Cornwall: The gold of a nation

Pitiful pitted land
Plundered for its wealth and identity
Its language lost
Earth dug and destroyed for silver, tin and China clay
Brought close to a nothingness at the tip of Britain.

And yet…
Cornwall has become itself again
Its tors and towers never really lost
Its words never really withered
All just buried deep…
Like the Rillaton treasure at its barrow-fast heart
The gold of a nation gathers again the light against it.

***

The Standing of the Stones
A Sustainable Trust event brought to you by: Giant’s Quoit

 

 
Trethevy Quoit shrouded in mist
©
Littlestone
 
Access to Trethevy Quoit (if travelling by car) is from a nearby off-road parking area, through a farm gate, followed by a two minute walk across a privately owned field. The parking area is big enough for four or five cars. The cromlech is poorly cared for and deliberate ground disturbance has occurred very close to it in the past (see video here). There are information boards close to the parking area but not by the monument itself, and there are no warning signs that it may be unsafe and not to climb on it.
 
Administrative authority: English Heritage. Managed by the Cornwall Heritage Trust.
 
The Heritage Trust Cared for Rating  *  (out of 5).
 
Suggested improvements: Extend the no ploughing area to at least five metres round the monument. Create and maintain a pathway from farm gate to monument. Install clear signs instructing visitors not to climb the monument. One or two benches where people could pause and reflect on the monument and its setting.
 
For more on Trethevy Quoit see Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece by Roy Goutté.
 
 
There will be a talk by lead archaeologist Jacky Nowkoski at Helston Folk Museum, Cornwall on Thursday, 19 December from 1pm. The talk will compliment an exhibition on Carwynnen Quoit at the Museum which will run from 16 – 20 December.
 
Pip Richard’s (of The Sustainable Trust) newsletter and attached posters are as follows –
 
At Samhain we restored the first stone at Carwynnen Quoit on the old Pendarves Estate. After 10 days of archaeological investigations in the field, the socket was uncovered and stone no 4 was put up.
 
 
We would have liked to lift it by manpower, but the weather and the uncertain state of the newly excavated socket dictated that we needed to plan for mechanical means. The newly standing orthostat is a statement that we now have the funding to complete the project, and we were pleased to see a sizeable audience on what was otherwise a dreary and muddy day. A newly formed team of Engineer, contractor, machine operator and field archaeologist worked efficiently and swiftly together, and the new standing stone received a blessing and anointment with Cornish cider by Andy Norfolk.
 
During the dig some large stones were investigated, showing the promise of manmade markings. More Neolithic pottery and flints were discovered on this historic site.
 
Pip Richards
www.sustrust.co.uk  www.giantsquoit.org
See The Sustainable Trust or Carwynnen Quoit on Facebook.
 
 
 
Update on Carwynnen Quoit from Pip Richards and The Sustainable Trust (thanks to Roy Goutté for the info).
 
Dear Friends and Supporters,
 

The dig started today with great camaraderie amidst heavy showers. You are welcome to call in if you are passing. We are trying to preserve the grass in the field for as long as possible, so it would be appreciated if you would park in the campsite next door.

We have an official open day on Sunday 27th October where you can engage in a free guided tour, and see an exhibition of the work so far. There will be demonstrations of ancient technology and experimental archaeology with Sally Herriett. She looks forward to introducing you to her unusual world, and sharing her passion for all things Prehistoric, reproducing artefacts and perfecting her Flint Knapping. At 2pm she will be presenting her work especially to children.
 
If you remember Carwynnen Quoit before or after it fell in 1966, come and share your memories with us. The film on our giantsquoit homepage made use of some recordings we made during the last phase of the project.  Another film is in production and we welcome your contribution to our collection of local memories.
 
On 31st, at around 10.30, at Samhain or All Hallows Eve, we intend to restore the first upright stone and you are welcome to come and watch.
 
Thanks to everyone for their help and support,
Pip and the trustees of the Sustainable Trust.
 
Pip Richards
See The Sustainable Trust or Carwynnen Quoit on Facebook
 
 
 
Carwynnen Quoit by J T Blight
From Ancient Crosses, and other Antiquities in the West of Cornwall (third edition 1872)
 
The following from James Gossip, Archaeologist, Historic Environment Projects, Cornwall Council, Cornwall may be of interest –
 
Dear Carwynnen Team and other interested folk,
 
Some of you may have heard that The Sustainable Trust have been successful in securing funds for the final stages of the Carwynnen Quoit Project. We are now ready to start work and as always would value your help. Sorry it’s such short notice, but we’ve been kept on tenterhooks by the funding bodies. Attached are the details regarding the day to day practicalities (much the same as last year for those of you who took part then) which you can ignore if you’re not intending to take part; below is a brief word explaining what we’re hoping to achieve this time.
 
The project will take place Monday 21st – Thursday 31st October 2013. If you are interested in taking part please contact me ASAP and let me know when you are available. I will do my best to accommodate everyone as best I can!
 
Welcome back Carwynneners!
 
And a big welcome too – to our new archaeologists! Although a little late in the season we are so pleased to be back on track to work together to restore this special Cornish monument. While it may seem as though things have been a bit quiet we can report that over the past 12 months since the 2012 Big Dig a lot has happened – writing, drawing, studying the finds, a measured survey of the stones as well as a laser scan,  talks and walks about the project and a travelling exhibition to boot. Some of you have helped with these mini projects and a big thanks to your continuing interest and support. But one of the major achievements has been Pip’s hard work at fund raising for the final push to restore the monument. What a mega success! Some of you will see that the stones have also moved as well and they are now in place to be moved into gear when we fully restore the monument next spring. Now as for our work over the next 10 days the plan is to complete some work on the main site and explore further the rear end of the pavement as well as fully excavate the socket hole for Stone 4. In the final few days we will place Stone 4 back in its original location as a test run for the full restoration next year. We will also be exploring another area of the field where Keith and his merry team dug a few test pits in April and found some interesting stone arrangements (and flint)! Please welcome too our colleagues Richard and Laura who will be joining the team and helping us move this project along to a successful outcome.
 
Keep diggin’
James and Jacky 
 
13 October 2013
 
James Gossip MIFA
Archaeologist
Historic Environment Projects
Cornwall Council
 
 
Website here. See also the article here
 
 

Lanyon Quoit, Cornwall
©
The Heritage Trust
 
 
Look not softly,
 
Stranger, upon this Stone Age scene,
Nor let remoteness
Disguise where living men have been
In grief and laughter.
Though all’s now hushed and gaunt and harsh,
You are standing where humanity once stood.
These stones seal a sepulchre
For your own flesh and blood.
 
Here lie our forebears,
Though their memorials have no name.
How should we know them,
If from the grave these tribesmen came?
What was their language?
No echo in the southwest wind
Recalls one word one single warrior said.
Ravaged granite stays to mark
The lost unlettered dead.
 
Here lie their women,
Short-lived mothers of chance-reared young.
The artless lullabies
This Cornish hillside once heard sung,
Their mourners’ dirges,
Are as soundless to this world’s ears
As to the deaf that skylark’s note above.
Cold silence grips their converse
And all their songs of love.
 
Arthur Caddick (1911-1987)
 
 

The Hurlers Stone Circle. The Cheesewring formation is just visible on the skyline
©
The Heritage Trust

Our 2013 Outreach Event began on Friday, 21 June with a misty, early morning visit to the Hurlers Stone Circle, just a short walk from our base at the Cheesewring Hotel at Minions. The mist lent an eerie feel to the circle (actually three separate circles although little now remains of one) the stones standing clear one moment and then shrouded the next. Ditto the Cheesewring outcrop in the distance, which we were to visit later in the day. Close by to the Hurlers are the two solitary Pipers Stones which we visited before heading back to the hotel to meet our friend and guide, Mr Roy Goutté.

The two solitary Pipers Stones
©
The Heritage Trust

Roy arrived at 11:30 with his dog Chief and, after introductions, we set off to Trethevy Quoit. Roy has researched Trethevy Quoit extensively and written about it in his book Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece. It was a delight to stand in front of this megalithic masterpiece and listen to Roy explaining how it might have originally looked.

Trethevy Quoit
©
The Heritage Trust

Lunch at the Crows Nest pub and then back to the Minions for the hike up to the Cheesewring outcrop, stopping off on the way to inspect the Rillaton Barrow and the strange effervescent lichen that inhabits its interior.

Rillaton Barrow
©
The Heritage Trust

The natural rock formations of the Cheesewring are something to behold, and it’s astonishing that they were nearly totally destroyed by quarrying during the 19th century. As it is the quarrying stopped just short of the Cheesewring formations (and associated earthworks) and have now become well-known both nationally and internationally. The Cheesewring itself was well worth the visit but if it hadn’t been for Roy we would probably have missed the Neolithic cups (natural?) and man-made channels carved out of one of the upper stones.

Two of the natural Cheesewring outcrops (the rubble in the foreground is a manmade Neolithic defence work)
©
The Heritage Trust

Neolithic cups and channels carved out of one of the upper stones of the Cheesewring
©
The Heritage Trust

Day two of our Event started with a visit to the small but beautiful Duloe Stone Circle. The circle (the smallest in Cornwall) was first recorded in 1329. It consists of eight stones of white quartz, the largest weighing up to nine tons.

The Duloe Stone Circle
©
The Heritage Trust

Day three of our Event involved travelling further south to West Penwith and Lanyon Quoit. The quoit is tucked behind a hedge and the small layby is easily missed as it is not clearly signposted.

Lanyon Quoit
©
The Heritage Trust

On the fourth and last day of our Event we met up with Roy again who kindly guided us to the enigmatic King Arthur’s Hall on Bodmin Moor. Roy has researched and filmed King Arthur’s Hall extensively (see his King Arthur’s Hall and King Arthur’s Hall: A new discovery? features) and both he and others present on the day all agreed that it is something much more than a pound or watering hole for animals. There were some interesting suggestions on what it might be but until more archaeological work is done there the place remains a mystery.

From left to right. Moss, Geoff, Sue and Roy at King Arthur’s Hall
©
The Heritage Trust

The Event finished with a picnic (kindly provided by Roy) at the Trippett Stone Circle (see report below) where some of the sites we had seen over the last few days were discussed and promises made for another visit to Cornwall as soon as possible. We hope those who were unable to join us this year will be able to do so on our next visit to Cornwall, or on our 2014 Outreach Event next summer or autumn.

Just a note.
 
This is our 400th post since we first got going in November 2011. We’ve had 32,382 hits since then and are attracting a steadily increasing number of followers from around the world. So, a really big thank you to all who have contributed features, photos etc, or have left comments, done background research or ‘just’ typed things up for publication.
 
Hoping that, together, we can continue to raise awareness of our precious heritage and the on-going need for its care and protection.
 
 
trevethy-stone-by-charles-knight-circa-1845-31
 
Trevethy Stone, Cornwall, by Charles Knight (circa 1845)
Also known as King Arthur’s Quoit, The Giant’s House and Trethevy Quoit
Private collection, Great Britain
 
The Heritage Trust will be holding its Outreach Event in Cornwall this year. The event will begin with lunch (for those wanting one) at the Cheesewring Hotel in Minions, Liskeard on Friday, 21 June. We’ll meet at the hotel around 11:30am, leaving there around 1pm for a visit to Trethevy Quoit, then back to base at Minions for visits to The Hurlers, Pipers, Rillaton Barrow and Stowe’s.
 
There’s no charge to attend (and lunch, transportation etc is not included in the Event) just an opportunity to share ideas and socialise with likeminded people. Mr Roy Goutté, author of Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece, will be our guide at Trethevy (and the other sites) and will be pleased to discuss his findings of the quoit while there (look out for a table with Roy’s book on it if you’re not sure who we are).
 
 
 

Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece
by
Roy Goutté

This excellent and thoughtful book gives a somewhat different explanation of the construction and subsequent history of the prehistoric Trethevy Quoit burial chamber in Cornwall. The author, Roy Goutté, has spent many hours studying the chamber first hand and has come to his own fascinating conclusion as to how the cromlech arrived in its present form. The reader is introduced, step-by-step, to the author’s observations and theories through historical references, photographs, diagrams and several model reconstructions of this Cornish ‘Jewel in the Crown’ structure from the Neolithic (and how it may have originally looked). His findings are thorough and convincing with certain aspects truly ground-breaking; it would take an even more thorough investigation to successfully argue against the possibilities he advances.

Roy Goutté has gone very much against popular belief which considers that the fallen stone was the backstone to the burial chamber and has an alternative use/place for it. He believes that four of the current eight stones are out of position and supplies convincing evidence to support his observations.

There is also a dire warning at the end of the book regarding the present threat to the monument. Such threats to our scheduled monuments should not be ignored and the author’s analysis of how the chamber now stands shows not only its inherent vulnerability but also the ever-present threat it faces from the agricultural machinery and livestock encroaching upon it; this threat is most vividly shown in the accumulative erosion of the Quoit’s protecting and supporting bank.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and a theory to set the mind working. Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece is a thoughtful, well-analysed and down-to-earth exploration into one of the most stunning structures from our prehistoric past.

Paperback, 50 pages with over 30 photographs and diagrams.
Available from www.trethevyquoit.co.uk for £8.70 (which includes postage and packing within the UK). Australia: £11.40 inc p&p. Europe: £10.43 inc p&p. USA: £11.36 inc p&p.

Update:
 
In the June edition of the Cornish Archaeological Society’s News Letter, Adrian Rodda of the Society reviews the book as follows –
 
This is a well illustrated book which challenges accepted wisdom about the building of Trethevy Quoit. Roy takes it apart like a jigsaw and suggests that it was originally put together differently, fell, and was rebuilt. It is a thoughtful book and I am looking forward to taking it to the site and looking for myself. In the final section he highlights the damage to its surrounding mound from animals and humans, advocating the erection of a protecting fence. Now that should start some debate among our members!

 

 
 
Trethevy Quoit from the north-east
Image and © Roy Goutté
 
Following on from Mr Roy Goutté’s video Is time running out for Trethevy Quoit and other such unprotected Scheduled Monuments? we have recently received new photos from Mr Goutté’s of Trethevy Quoit showing that some attempt to ‘tidy up’ the site has been made. Trethevy Quoit is still at risk however, both from the misuse of land around it and the delicate condition it now finds itself in.
 
 
Trethevy Quoit from the south-west
Image and © Roy Goutté

 

Ground damage and disruption at Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall
Narration and video by Roy Goutté
©
Roy Goutté

Earlier this month we ran a feature by Mr Roy Goutté on the disruption (and potential damage) caused by horses/ponies and vehicles to the ground immediately surrounding Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall. The video above shows startling and dramatic new evidence of that recent damage.

 

  

Carn Wnda Cromlech in 1848
From Archaeologia cambrensis by the Cambrian Archaeological Association
 
 
 
 
Carn Wnda Cromlech today
©
The Heritage Trust
 
 
 
Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire, South Wales by Rod Williams ATC, ATD (Manchester)
 
Pentre Ifan is the best known and, because of its height, the most impressive megalithic monument in Wales. It is the remains of a chambered tomb for the communal burial of the dead which would have been used for some period before being finally sealed. The tomb was erected in the Neolithic Age, perhaps as early as 3,500 years B.C.
 
Source CADW.
 

Access to Pentre Ifan is along a short footpath from the road; there is parking space by the road for four or five cars. The cromlech is in a well-cared for, fenced off area at the end of the footpath and has a good information board showing, among other things, an artist’s impression of how the structure may have originally looked.

Pentre Ifan
©
The Heritage Trust
 

Administrative authority: CADW.

The Heritage Trust Cared for Rating  **** (out of 5).

Suggested improvements: Better off-road parking facilities. Wheelchair access from road to site. Clear signs instructing visitors not to climb on the stones. One or two benches where people could pause and reflect on the monument and its setting.

See also moss’ feature on Three Cromlechs in Pembrokeshire.

 

 

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