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Seven swans a-swimming

This image of swans swimming gracefully through the air at Carahunge is by Nadya Johnson

Six geese a-laying. And here are their ‘eggs’.

Porth Nanven beach, at the base of Cot Valley near St Just in West Penwith is also known as ‘Dinosaur Egg Beach’ in the media because of a remarkable deposit of ovoid boulders covering the beach and foreshore. These boulders come in all sizes, from hen’s egg to a metre or more in length, and have proved so tempting as souvenirs that they are now legally protected by the National Trust which owns the beach.

Five Gold Rings. Ok, so it’s only four, who’s counting?

Yellowmead stone circle near Sheepstor in Devon, England, is a Bronze Age concentric stone circle consisting of four rings of stones set within one another. The largest is 20 metres wide and the smallest, 6 metres. It is located on Yellowmead Down.

There is a description and history of the monument on the excellent Legendary Dartmoor website.

Who’s surveying whom?

Four ‘colly’ birds. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word’s use as an adjective to describe something covered in coal dust, or the colour of coal. I’m fairly sure the rooks(?) in the picture fit that description. A full explanation of the origin of the ‘colly birds’ line can be found here.

Three French Hens. Or rather, a couple of Romano-British mosaics along with a lovely ceramic example.

An unusual image, this was created via AI algorithms, using the prompt ‘two megalithic doves’. To create your own megalithic AI art, visit the website at

No partridges in sight, nor a pear tree, but a lovely lonely thorn at Goldherring Settlement in Cornwall.

Goldherring is an iron age courtyard house settlement near the Boscawen-Un stone circle complex. You can read about the settlement in our 2013 visit report.

This magnificent image of winter solstice 2021 from English Heritage encapsulates the very purpose of Stonehenge. It also illustrates something that ought to be expressed far and wide: the existence of the road has a minute effect on the spectacle and the purpose. Why then pretend otherwise?


We are grateful to Myghal Map Serpren for the following article, the first of an occasional series looking at sites and locations from prehistoric and early medieval Cornwall.

The Tolvan holed stone is a large triangular-shaped standing stone, and is the largest holed stone in Cornwall. Holed stones are rare Neolithic monuments.

The stone measures seven and a half feet high, seven and a half feet wide at the base and is just under a foot thick whilst the circular hole is around 17 inches in diameter.

The standing stone is located about half a mile north of the village of Gweek behind the farmhouse at Tolvan Cross.

 It has been suggested that the large standing stones were part of megalithic structures, used as entrance passages to the burial chambers of portal dolmens. These standing stones are believed to have been constructed in the Early and Middle Neolithic period (3500 – 2600 BC).

At least 20 portal dolmens exist in Britain, and the majority of these burial monuments are found in West Cornwall.

‘Tolvan’ originates  from the Cornish language ‘toll-ven’ meaning ‘hole stone’.

The Tolvan holed stone is mentioned in historical records in Cornwall in 1649, and is referred to as the ‘Main-toll great stone’.

The megalith is not in its original location, but was moved to its current position in 1847. At the time, the stone was modified to fit through gateposts when it was transported. A cottage was later built at the site.

At the stone’s original location, a stone-lined circular pit nearly five feet diameter and covered with a large slab was discovered before 1864. The pit was lined with slabs and held quartz stone and pottery fragments. Historians at the time determined that the pit was a grave, and the holed stone was part of an ancient dolmen.

Next to the circular pit was a trough-shaped stone called the ‘Cradle’ which was subsequently destroyed.

As we wrote 10 years ago:

In 1862, JT Blight in a journal for the Royal Institute of Cornwall described it thus:  “formerly a conspicuous object by the way-side. In the past 12 or 14 years a house has been built betwixt it and the road. It now forms part of a garden hedge“. Blight also wrote of a low barrow about 20 yards in diameter in a field adjoining the stone. Beside this was a cist which he referred to as a cradle used to place children in after they had been passed through the Tolvan. The site of the barrow is also Scheduled, and can just be made out as a slight rise in ground level in the field to the NE of the crossroads.

In 1885, it was recorded that one of the local traditions concerning the stone involved passing sick children through the hole in the Tolvan stone in hopes of curing their illness.


December 2021

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