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Known as the Nine Maidens of Boskednan, this circle has been featured previously on the Journal – see parts 1 and 2 of West Penwith Wanderings for details of how to access the circle – and is included here in this series for completeness.

Boskednan circle looking NE. © AlanS

The circle at Boskednan today is not as it originally was. WC Borlase recorded 19 stones here in the early 18th century. Of the current 11 stones, six were fully standing, two were leaning precariously and three had fallen. In 2004 some restoration work was done – the stones at risk being re-erected and stabilised. The even spacing between the surviving stones suggests that the site was originally laid out as a near-perfect circle, about 24 yards in diameter, comprising 22 or 23 stones. Two of the taller remaining stones stand to the northwest of the circle, providing a possible gateway to Carn Galver, easily visible between the stones from within the circle.

Boskednan looking toward Carn Galver. © AlanS

The origin of the name Nine Maidens is not entirely clear! Some ascribe a mystical background to the number, rather than a count of the stones. There are several other references to Nine Maidens elsewhere in Cornwall, referring to the repeated legend where a group of maidens were caught dancing on the Sabbath and immediately turned to stone. In such cases, the outlying standing stones are usually named for the musicians (Pipers, Blind Fiddler etc.) providing the music for the dance but that does not seem to be the case here.

The circle at Boskednan is part of a much wider landscape, with the stump of an outlying standing stone (the musician?) some 75 yards downhill to the west, cairns to the north and east and a southern banked cairn also close by. Other monuments, including the possible circle of Men an Tol, the two quiots at Lanyon Farm, and various barrows and hut circles lay further afield.

Boskednan as captured by Borlase in 1872.

In the late 19th Century, a Trevisker Ware urn (from the type site north of Newquay) covered with typical chevron designs was discovered in a barrow to the SE of the circle. This style of pottery can be dated to the Early Bronze Age, thus providing a date for the barrow, if not the circle itself. Sadly, mining activity in the area, particularly to the south of the circle has made some features difficult to distinguish today.

Boskednan circle looking SE. © AlanS

Carn Galver to the northwest is the predominant natural feature of the Boskednan Downs, demanding the attention of visitors to the area and clearly visible from all directions. Boskednan stone circle lies in open ground on a NNW/SSE ridge pointing towards the carn, with access via trackways from the Bodrifty settlement to the east, Ding Dong engine house and Lanyon Farm to the south, Men-an-Tol to the west and via Carn Galver itself in the northwest. The open area on the Downs is often very boggy and care should be exercised, particularly around the mine workings.


November 2011

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