by Alex Langstone, Heritage Action’s Cornwall correspondent.

Stannon 001Above: The largest stone still standing, with Rough Tor beyond.

Stannon stone circle (SX125801) lies on the western side of Bodmin Moor, on the wild slopes of Dinnever Hill. It is reputed to be one of the earliest stone circles constructed in the district and it has a diameter of 42 metres. The circle would have had commanding views to Rough Tor, a very prominent notched hill, and one of the highest points upon the wild, desolate and sometimes compellingly beautiful moor. Unfortunately the view is somewhat obscured these days, by the china clay spoil heaps running along the opposite side of the valley.

The tallest of the remaining upright stones aligns very nicely with the twin peaks of Rough Tor, and there is a Beltane/Lughnasadh sunrise viewable from the circle, where the sun rises from Rough Tor’s summit notch. The circle is easily accessed by the road leading to the China Clay works, and there is limited roadside parking. Other stones nearby may be linked to the circle, and the site also boasts an equinox sunrise alignment, where the sun can be seen rising, due east over Cornwall’s highest hill, Brown Willy, whose craggy dark peak is just visible on the horizon. The hills strange name is a corruption from the Cornish Bron Wennyly, which translates as Swallow’s Hill, a lovely poetic sounding name for a truly wild and beautiful place!

Numerous cairns are sited on the wide rolling expanse of Dinnever Hill, mostly in clusters, and there are four small upright stones to the north-west of the circle that appear to be part of an alignment through Stannon towards the Louden circle. A number of straight alignments have been identified between circles and other monuments in this area; a line from Stannon circle via Fernacre circle passes close to the large cairn on the northern summit of Brown Willy for example. A line from Rough Tor’s northern summit, runs through Fernacre circle and passes through the cairn cemeteries towards the stony outcrop on the summit of Garrow Tor.

Because of this sites accessibility it seems to be well visited, and during my visit today I discovered that two fires had recently been lit, one in the centre of the circle, and another towards the stream, in the centre of five small standing stones, which may possibly be linked to the stone circle.

There were also various small painted stones left in the centre of the circle,  along with old bits of pottery making the site look particularly untidy, plus lots of litter, which took a while to clear away. Sheep, ponies and cattle all roam freely on this part of the moor, and leaving litter/offerings is completely irresponsible.

Stannon 009

Above: Fire damage and rubbish at Stannon Stone Circle

This stone circle is an amazing treasure from our Bronze Age past, and we should all treat it with the respect it deserves.

From this circle, the two other stone circles mentioned above are accessible on foot. Fernacre (SX144799) and Louden Hill (SX132794). The three stone circles may have been part of a Bronze Age ritual landscape, which looked towards the two high peaks of Rough Tor and Brown Willy.

When visiting ancient sites, please enjoy them, learn from them and above all let these special ancient places inspire you. But please only leave footprints and  only take photographs.


The Earth Mysteries Guide to Bodmin Moor and North Cornwall by Cheryl Straffon. Meyn Mamvro Publications. 1993

Cornovia by Craig Weatherhill.  Cornwall Books. 2000