Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bodmin Moor

Today was a wet and windy day and we set off in search of the moors standing stones. We first went looking for King Arthur's Hall and a farmer came along just in time to direct us up his farm to the stones. These stones are not marked with any sign posts to guide anyone to there locations so it is only due to the research we have done and the sat nav that we were able to find the stones today.

This is an obscure rectangular stone enclosure measuring twenty meters wide and forty seven meters long, located near the village of St Breward on Bodmin Moor. The stones, of which fifty six out of a possible one hundred and forty are still visible, are arranged like the backs of chairs, facing inwards from a steep-sided rectangular bank. Many of the stones have fallen and still more may have been concealed due to the bank slumping. In the centre of the south side one stone has been deliberately set at right angles to the bank, although the reason for this is unclear. The middle of the enclosure is slightly hollow, with traces of rough paving in the north west corner and a tendency to flood during periods of heavy rain. The age and purpose of King Arthur's Hall remains shrouded in mystery, although most archaeologists agree that it probably dates from Neolithic times and had some sort of ceremonial purpose. The association with King Arthur stems from a document dated 1954, which contains the first written reference to the monument and suggests that King Arthur frequented the site. The surrounding area contains numerous stone circles, hut circles, cairns and cists. 

These stones seemed to form an avenue which seemed to point towards the stones

These stones were very close by marking the entrance towards a stone circle it appeared

Another avenue of stones larger in size again pointing up the hill

Another definite stone circle again very close to King Arthur's Hall 

This appears to be a burial chamber
Bodmin Moor is Cornwall's designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a remote, bleak heather covered upland granite moorland still grazed by moorland ponies and bisected by the main A30 road. First farmed over 4000 years ago by bronze age settlers. Bodmin Moor is of one the last great unspoilt areas in the South West and much of its prehistoric and medieval past remains untouched by the passing of the centuries. The Moor is dominated by dramatic granite tors which tower over the sweeping expanses of open moorland. Marshes and bogs on the high moor drain into shallow moorland valleys before the rivers cross onto softer shales around the Moor and carve themselves deep river valleys, providing shelter for rich, damp oak woodland. 

Yet the Moor is surprisingly small, extending just ten miles by ten miles. The sweeping expanses of moorland and the lack of features give the impression that the upland covers a much larger area. Equally, the wealth of archaeological remains and the relatively few signs of the twentieth century create the illusion of timelessness. Historically, Bodmin Moor was a landscape which engendered fear and awe, but which has also provided inspiration for writers, poets and sculptors. It has generated folklore and legend, with fact and fiction at times blending into one another as tales were passed down over the generations. 

The grain of the Bodmin Moor landscape reflects the granite dominance. Standing stones, burial chambers, Cornish hedges, clapper bridges, cottages and farms are all built from the boulders which have, over the centuries, been cleared from the surface of the moor. A wild and rugged area steeped in history, Bodmin Moor has more than its fair share of myths and legends - from its strong connections to the stories of King Arthur right up to present day reports of farmers livestock being hunted down by the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Since 1983 there have been over 60 reported sightings of a big cat on Bodmin Moor. Despite an inconclusive enquiry by the government many locals remain convinced that there is one or more big cats at large on the moors. In November 1999 a squadron of Cornish RAF reserves spent a night on the moors trying to track the beast with the lastest hi-tech military night-vision equipment. Unfortunately bad weather hampered their operation, but they will be back again the hunt continues.

The connection with King Arthur may be a bit more tenuous but nevertheless the possibilty of Camelot being in Cornwall remains a strong one. The high windswept aspect of Dozmary Pool may not fit easily with popular romantised vision of the lake into which the dying Arthur instructed Sir Bedivere to cast Excalibur. However little is actually known of the Dark Ages certainly the legendary King and his knights would have not have been clad in chain mail roaming about the country on heavy horses. But in the sixth century Arthur certainly maintained a fierce struggle against the Anglo-Saxon invaders and the many stories of the deeds of the knights of the round table remain as popular today as they ever were. Now we come to one of Cornwalls most famous ghost. On Sunday 14th April 1844 Charlotte Dymond was found murdered on the slopes of Roughtor. Her lover, a crippled farmhand called Matthew Weeks was later hanged at Bodmin Gaol for the crime. Since that time, and especially on the anniversary of her death, Charlotte has been seen walking in the area, clad in a gown and a silk bonnet. 

We then went once again in search as there are no sign posts etc for the Stripple Stones aboout 1 mile from the Trippett Stones unfortunately we were only able to find the Trippett Stones. Both the Stripple Stones and The Trippet Stones were erected around four thousand years ago when the moor was densely populated and would have served as part of a ritual landscape that also included large settlements. Situated on common ground on Bodmin Moor the Trippet Stones stone circle has a diameter of around 33 metres. Only 11 of its original 26 stones remain, and of these only eight are still erect; however in its heyday it would have been majestic with its tall stones and also one of the few perfectly round stone circles in Cornwall. The stones are all of a similar height (between 1.2 and 1.6m), except for a central smaller stone which is in fact a more modern boundary marker. The name Trippet is another folklore allusion to dancing, an activity commonly connected to groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age stones and allegedly deemed punishable by an angry God. As with the Merry Maidens and the Nine Maidens, moral-laden cautionary tales warn us that these stones were once young girls dancing on the Sabbath instead of attending to their religious duties. Recent restoration work on the site unearthed a flint blade which had been sitting underneath one of the stones thus corroborating the Neolithic dating of the site.


Further up the moor was this stone structure however we are not aware of what it is however it is far too large to have just been placed there by the farmer or tourists

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