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A feature in yesterday’s Salisbury Journal reports that –
ENTHUSIASTS are being offered a brief chance to view a major hoard of Bronze Age artefacts unearthed at Tisbury. From [today] November 16 until Saturday, November 26 more than half the 114 items, which were found by a metal detector enthusiast, will be displayed at Salisbury & South Wilts Museum in Cathedral Close before leaving the city for expert evaluation [at the British Museum].
Archaeologists are already puzzling over how the objects, centuries apart in origin, came to be buried together. The museum’s collections manager Jane Ellis-Schön said: “It’s really quite strange, because some of these items are 1,000 years older than others, yet we believe someone buried them together at the same time, about 2,700 years ago, for a purpose.”

See also here.

The Dans Maen circle (or in English, Stone Dance) is better known as the Merry Maidens. It is one of the easiest accessible circles in Penwith, being very close to the B3315 road just west of Lamorna. A bus stop is situated just outside the field entrance.

Dans Maen ©AlanS

As the name suggests, this is yet another circle created by the transformation of girls dancing on the sabbath, into stone. Two much larger uprights stand a couple of fields away, known as the Pipers – the musicians at the dance.

Wikipedia  states:

A more detailed story explains why the Pipers are so far from the Maidens – apparently the two pipers heard the church clock in St Buryan strike midnight, realised they were breaking the sabbath, and started to run up the hill away from the maidens who carried on dancing without accompaniment. These petrifaction legends are often associated with stone circles, and is reflected in the folk names of some of the nearby sites, for example, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones, the Nine Maidens of Boskednan, as well as the more distant Hurlers and Pipers on Bodmin Moor. It is likely that these tales were encouraged by the early Christian Church to prevent old pagan habits continuing at the sites.

The Merry Maidens at Lamorna. ©AlanS

The circle as it currently stands is near perfect in shape, consisting of 19 upright stones in a 70 feet diameter ring, the largest stone is less than 5 feet tall. The site was renovated in the mid 19th century, and this resulted in some of the stones being incorrectly placed, which affected the original even spacing between the uprights. The individual stones were carefully chosen for their shape and size. The flat inner faces are arranged along the circumference of the circle, their tops are flat and level, and they are graded in size, with the tallest stones lying in the south-west quadrant of the circle.

As with the other circles in West Penwith, the Merry Maidens is but one site in a much wider ancient landscape. There is some documentary evidence for a second circle a short distanCe to the ESE, but nothing remains there today except a couple of suspiciously large stones incorporated into a field boundary. To the W is the remains of the Tregiffian burial chamber, cut into by the main B3315 road. A cupmarked stone discovered here is now in the Royal Cornwall Museum at Truro (the stone in situ is a replica). Also to the W, and easily visible across the road from the circle is the menhir of Gun Rith. This stone toppled a few years ago, and the base is now set in concrete for stability. To the NE are the aforementioned Pipers, two large (15 and 13 feet tall) standing stones in adjoining fields. The NE stone is the tallest in cornwall. And to the SW are the two stones of Boscawen-Ros, although only one is now easily visible – the other having been relegated to a stump in a field boundary.

Merry Maidens ©AlanS


November 2011

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