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The Pipers are two stones in adjoining fields, just south of Boleigh Farm in West Penwith, Cornwall.

The Pipers, © Tim Clark

They are considered as ‘outliers’ for the Merry Maidens circle, associated by the ‘standard’ legend of dancers and musicians petrified for dancing on the Sabbath.

Extract from Cornwall Sheet LXXVIII.NE & SE, Surveyed: 1876, Published: 1887


First recorded by William Hals (1655-1737) as “two admirable great stones in perpendicular manner”, the northeastern stone developed a dramatic lean at some unknown period prior to 1865. The stone measures just over five metres high from base to tip.

The southwestern stone, 80 metres away in the next field is more upright, and at 4.7 metres tall is noted as ‘the tallest surviving menhir in Cornwall’ in the HER. This discrepancy is due to the slant of the northeastern stone, which while at over 5 metres is the longer, it is shorter from ground to tip.

Use of stones to commemorate Iron Age tribal leaders and kings (such as the Men Scryfa), and their connection with personified divinities in earlier times, strengthened beliefs that the stones themselves were the petrified remains of human beings – beliefs later used by Christian preachers to frighten their rural flock from attending, or organising, ceremonies at megalithic monuments.

As well as the ‘petrified musicians’ tale, another local story recounts how there was a great and bloody battle at Boleigh. The dead from the battle were subsequently buried in a long trench close by, the two massive long stones representing the two chieftains in front of their armies – the Cornish King Howel and the victorious Anglo-Saxon King Aethelstan.

No associated burials have yet been found.

St Breock Downs Monolith is under the thoughtful guardianship of the Cornwall Heritage Trust. This menhir or prehistoric longstone, which was originally about 16 feet high, is known as Men Gurta.

Weighing about 16.5 tons it is the heaviest standing stone in Cornwall.

The word menhir is a combination of two words found in the Cornish language, ‘men’ or ‘maen’ meaning ‘stone’ and ‘hir’ meaning  ‘long’.

A menhir is a large upright standing stone and they are found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top.

Menhirs are widely distributed across Europe, Africa, and Asia, but are most numerous in Western Europe, in particular in Ireland, Great Britain and Brittany. They date from the late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, roughly from 3000 to 1200 BC.

The purpose of menhirs remains unclear.

Over the centuries there have been many conflicting theories about why they were erected and how they were used.

Most archaeologists today accept that they had a wide range of functions: marking the boundaries of territory; meeting points; grave markers or fulfilling a religious and ceremonial role.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

About ‘hulls’……

‘Hulls’ have been used mostly as storage places for potatoes, root crops, dairy products such as milk, eggs and cream both for domestic use, and in farmyards for storage prior to taking the products to local markets.

‘Hull’ is not a mispronunciation of ‘hole’. It is derived from the Cornish word ‘huth’ meaning ‘cover’ or ‘shade’ in Cornish.

The photograph below illustrates a ‘hull’ with this example being situated in Four Lanes, near Redruth.

The ‘hull’ at Four Lanes, near Redruth

A listed building, much of the structure is located underground and it extends westwards for approximately 28 feet from the entrance steps. The side chambers, which are at right angles to the central passage, extend for some 15 feet to both the north and south of the passage.

Interestingly, Cornish dialect – not Cornish language, but dialect – describes a hole in the rocks or a shellfish store as a ‘hully’.

Existing across Cornwall and into Devon, the Cornish exported this method of storage, kept at an even temperature, to North America and very possibly, Australia.

There is some suggestion that the earliest ‘hulls’ date from medieval times and they were still being constructed and used in and up to the 19th century.

Local historian Michael Tangye has researched and written extensively about these unique features. See ‘“Hulls” in Cornwall: a survey and discussion’ in the Journal of Cornish Archaeology.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

The ‘crows’ at Rosemergy

‘crow’ is Cornish and translates as ‘hut’.

Post-medieval ‘crows’, which rhymes with ‘cows’, were used to house geese or pigs. Some were used as cold stores, too.

The Rosemergy ‘crows’ taken by John Ralph

These openings are joined together and measure about three feet by two feet.

There are a good many of them around the Carnyorth – Trewellard – Pendeen – Lower Boscaswell area of West Penwith, and some are big enough for human use as shelters.

Edith Nicholas compiled a catalogue list of crows, with descriptions of each, in an early edition of ‘Cornish Archaeology’.

The two pictured are Grade II Listed Buildings.

Local production of milk and cheese in this area goes right back to the Middle Bronze Age.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

‘Fogou’ is derived from a Cornish word meaning a cave, and Cornish fogous are prehistoric underground passages constructed by excavating a trench and lining its sides with either large stone blocks or drystone walling, then roofing it over with large flat slabs. Fogous are all associated with habitation: usually a small farmstead surrounded by a bank, or a group of courtyard houses. Their purpose is unclear. 

Halliggye (plan shown below) is the largest and best-preserved of the Cornish fogous. It is now home to horseshoe bats and is closed during the winter. A torch is essential when visiting many of the extant fogous.

Plan of Halligye Fogou, from the on-site information board

There are at least twelve known surviving fogous in Cornwall, but many more may have been ‘lost’ over the centuries and new examples are revealed from time to time.

They were constructed from the 5th Century BC to the first two centuries AD, placing them in the late Iron Age and early Roman periods.

Their function remains a mystery; the most plausible explanations see them as places for storage, refuge, or as the setting for religious or ritual activities.

Similar sites are also found in Brittany, Ireland and Scotland where they are known as souterrains, but their architecture, date range, and possibly also their function, differ from the Cornish sites. In Ireland, for example, they may be constructed or continue in use into the medieval period.

The definitive guide to Cornish fogous is considered to be ‘Mother and Sun’ by Ian Mcneil Cooke (1993) – originally published as a limited edition of 1000 copies, and prices can therefore be high when copies do become available on the secondhand market. Earlier, Evelyn Clark had written ‘Cornish Fogous’ (1961) which is equally scarce these days, but also worth seeking out.

More recently, Lucas Nott has compiled a series of Youtube videos of his visits to many of the remaining fogous, which are well worth watching.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

All this week we have shown various sites around the world that are thought to have possibly been associated with Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka; the three stars that make up the belt in the constellation of Orion. What have we learned from this exercise?

Whilst we suspect that we have only skimmed the surface of sites that could be included in such a list, very few of them can conclusively be proved to have such an association.

  • The most probable alignment is that of the Giza pyramids – the angle and direction of one of the shafts is strong evidence of an Orion association.
  • Not everything is as it first appears. Carolyn Kennett’s work shows a possible association at the Hurlers with the Milky Way. There is also a Milky Way association at Giza, but in this case, with the River Nile.
  • The Hopi Nation creation legends that mention the Orion constellation are interesting, but the spread and layout of the (natural) mesas and the surrounding villages covering an area of over 1000 square miles can be nothing but coincidental.
  • There is an element of ‘geographical paredolia’ when looking at potential alignments; people tend to see what they want to see. As an example, close to the Chinese Xi’an pyramid sites is an airport. Looking further afield, there are two other airports within 50 miles, aligned to Orion as well as any of the ancient sites could be. Furthermore, the runways of the three airports are all within 3 degrees of the same compass heading! Spooky, huh? 🥴
  • There are far too many strange rabbit holes on the Internet, down which it’s possible to get lost!

For those that wish to further investigate the sites we listed, there is a Google Earth file showing their locations available for download, in either KML or KMZ format.

We now look at some possible alignment sites around the world.

The Hopi Tribelands, Arizona

In NE Arizona, the ancestral home of the Hopi tribe, are three mesas that are said to mimic the positions of the Orion’s belt stars. Furthermore, Ancient Aliens proponents suggest that several villages around the mesas can be shown to mark other stars of the constellation.

This suggestion has been comprehensively debunked on Jason Colavito’s website and is worth a read.

The Hurlers, Cornwall

A short distance from the village of Minions on Bodmin Moor, the Hurlers complex consists of three stone circles on sloping moorland. The circles are close together, making the shortest potential alignment mentioned in this series. The circles are oriented NE-SW 194 degrees over just 0.1 miles.

The Hurlers appear in this list due to the numerical association with Orion’s Belt and the fact that they look ‘right’, but sterling work done by Caroline Kennett has found no definitive association with Orion. There is, however, a potential association and alignment here with the Milky Way, and Caroline has created a video discussing the archaeological and astronomical links at the site.

Tregeseal, Cornwall

An alleged 3-circle complex, of which only the eastern circle is extant. Although the position of the second circle is known, there are no remains of the third – which may have been a burial cairn rather than a stone circle. This means that it is very difficult to ascertain any potential alignments and comparisons with Orion’s Belt.

The extant circle can be seen on the right of the old aerial shot of the site. The assumed positions of the other circles are also shown.

The site is thought to have been roughly aligned E-W on a heading of 265 degrees over around half a mile at most.

Many outrageous alignments and claims concerning connections between Orion’s Belt and worldwide ancient sites (Nazca Lines as Orion? Alien adrenochrome harvesting?, Lizard people and Nazis??) can be found via a simple Google search. The connection seems to be a favourite of the conspiracy theorists. One such example is the OrionLines website. Caution, severe suspension of belief is required as demonstrated by the following quote from OrionLines:

The reality is, Orion rules this world. They have been coming here for thousands of years using us for slaves, food and drug, ADRENOCHROME. The Orion Group is a SATANIC FORCE who takes over star systems. The Elite of The World have been secretly worshipping them and working for them, FEEDING them people as food in secret. It’s all truth.

Nearly every ancient site has three things in common.
1) They All Align to ORION
2) Human Sacrifice (Adrenochrome Harvesting) and Mass Graves
3) Mass Extinction of Entire Human Society

Meanwhile, back here in the real world, we’ll sum up our conclusions tomorrow!

Today we highlight a couple of sites in the British Isles which appear to be connected to the stars of Orion’s Belt.

Thornborough Henges

The Thornborough Henges complex in North Yorkshire comprises three henges almost identical in size and composition, each having a diameter of approximately 240 meters with an earth ring 3 meters high. A 12 meter berm separates the banks from the internal ditches which were originally each about 20 meters wide and 3 meters deep while all three henges have twin entrances to the northwest and the southeast. The henges are located around 550m apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment, though like Orion’s Belt, not exactly in a straight line.

Altogether, the monument extends NW-SE on a heading of 144 degrees for about a mile. There is a left-hand kink of approximately 7 degrees.

Orkney Henges

Three stone circles form the axis mundi of Neolithic Orkney. The first, Stenness, is perhaps the most impressive despite only three-and-a-half of its eleven original monoliths remaining.

Along the narrow isthmus to the northwest of Stenness stands the more intact Ring of Brodgar, twenty-seven of its original fifty-six sandstones are still upright.

Further along the ridge, there’s a third circle, the Ring of Bookan, occupying the high ground from where it is possible to see the other two sites. All that remains of Bookan is a central mound with a collapsed chamber and a circular ditch filled with soil.

The axis of Bookan, Brodgar and Stenness follows a general NW-SE trajectory of 129 degrees, for just under two miles. But the three sites are not in perfect alignment. From Bookan, the line kinks roughly 9 degrees left at Brodgar to meet the Stenness circle.

Next, we’ll look at some other possible alignment sites in different locations around the world.

We begin our brief look at Orion-related sites with three sites in different parts of the globe, each separated by at least 1200 miles, if not more. This shows the spread of the ‘phenomenon’, known as the ‘Orion Correlation Theory‘.

Giza, Egypt

The three great pyramids on the Giza Plateau bear a close similarity to the alignment of the three belt stars, and an air shaft inside the Great Pyramid is said to point directly toward Alnitak at the time of the pyramid’s construction. The shafts are believed to be there to project the dead Pharaoh’s soul toward notable stars.

While this theory remains just a theory, the correspondence between the stars and the pyramids is quite remarkable.

The pyramidal alignment at Giza is oriented NE-SW at approximately 216 degrees for just over half a mile, with a roughly 14 degree ‘kink’ to the left.

Teotihuacán, Mexico

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a similar correspondence has been identified in the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacán, some 35 miles NE of Mexico City. Two large pyramids and a temple, believed to have been built in the 2nd century, mimic the three stars of Orion’s Belt. The construction of the ancient city has been attributed to a race of giants, the Quinametzin Giants, who were believed to have populated the world in an earlier era. The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán is exactly half as tall as the Great Pyramid at Giza.

There is also a link to the Maya culture and calendar at Teotihuacán, which is perceived to be the place where a god placed the three stones of creation and that the three pyramids are symbolic of these three stones. The Pyramid of the Sun faces the sunset on an auspicious date in the Mayan calendar. Many other such connections can be made at Teotihuacán, and a Google search will reveal many of the New Age sites that detail these connections, such as those proposed by authors such as Graham Hancock.

Oriented NE-SW at 186 degrees for around 1.25 miles, at this site, the ‘kink’ is to the right, at approximately 15 degrees.

Xi’an, China

A large complex of some 16 pyramids outside the city of Xi’an, famed for the ‘Terracotta Warrior’ tomb, includes 3 pyramids (or trapezoidal burial mounds) which are placed in a line similar to that of Orion’s Belt, and some researchers have equated this site to be another displaying the Orion Correlation.

A good account of these Chinese pyramids can be read here.

Tomorrow, we’ll list some of the sites a bit closer to home…

All this week, we’ll be looking at something a little different for the Heritage Journal as we dabble into the worlds of archaeo-astronomy, what some would call ‘bad (or false) archaeology’, and some downright odd alien conspiracy theories! Please bear with us…

The constellation of Orion is one of the most prominent and recognisable constellations in the night sky. Its location on the celestial equator allows it to be seen all over the planet.

As such, it may well have been of importance to many ancient cultures as alignment with the position of the stars is said to be marked/mirrored by many ancient monuments.

The most outstanding feature of the constellation is the three stars of “Orion’s Belt”. From left to right these are:

Alnitak
a triple star system that is situated in the eastern end of Orion’s belt. The star is 1.260 light-years away from Earth.
Alnilam
a supergiant at around 2.000 light-years away from Earth, located in the middle of the belt.
Mintaka
a multiple star system at around 1.200 light-years away from Earth. It is 190.000 times more luminous than the Sun. It is located at the western end of Orion’s belt.

Throughout this week we’ll be taking a brief look at some of the ancient sites with connections to Orion to see if there is any ‘ground truth’ in the stories. Stay tuned…

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