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By Alan S.

Moving on, the iconic Lanyon Quoit is an ‘Image of Cornwall’ that many people outside of the Duchy will immediately recognise.

The quoit fell in the early 1800’s and was restored in 1824. Before the restoration, it was said a man on horseback could ride beneath the capstone. This is no longer the case, as you can see.

Look for more videos in this series in the coming weeks.

By Alan S.

For our next look at the ancient sites of West Penwith we visit the (reconstructed) Merry Maidens circle, near Lamorna.

Other sites nearby include the Pipers, Gun Rith and Boscawen Ros standing stones.

Look for more videos in this series in the coming weeks.

By Alan S.

Our next video visit is to a couple of sites close to both the Men an Tol and Bosiliack Barrow previously shown. Boskednan Downs is the site of a restored stone circle with outlier, and several cairns as well as being an area of intense tin mining since prehistoric times.

If there’s a specific site you’d like to see covered in this series, please leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

by Alan S.

In another of our series of video tours of a selection of the ancient sites of West Cornwall, this time we take a look at the Bosiliack Barrow, a small Neolithic (3000-2500 B.C.) Scillonian entrance grave consisting of a 16 foot (5m) diameter circular mound of stones. The kerb of larger slabs is pierced by a passageway that faces the rising of the midwinter sun.

The barrow can be found situated to the north-east of Lanyon Farm, a short walk north from Lanyon Quoit.

If there’s a specific site you’d like to see covered in this series, please leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Firstly, the bad. We’ve previously covered the plans to create a new bridge at Tintagel.

In our view (and that of many others), it will be completely out of keeping with the look and feel of this important area of Cornish Heritage, and will create a health and safety nightmare. The Kernow Matters To Us (KMTU) group posted the following on Facebook after a recent Council Meeting to discuss the planning application:

Tintagel Castle Theme Park to Proceed

A sad day as Cornwall Council has approved plans to build a huge new bridge between the mainland and the historic site of Tintagel Castle.

The vote was 13 for and 2 against.

There has been massive & widespread objection to the expensive scheme including from ‘Kernow Matters’ who were joined by senior Councillors and countless archaeologists in stating that this adds to the ‘Disneyfication’ of one of Cornwall’s treasured archaeological sites.

Critics of the £4m project say it will damage an area of outstanding natural beauty.

But English Heritage says it will help protect the ancient site in the long run and will allow safer and easier access.

In truth, it’s all about money and English Heritage who administer the site on behalf of the Duke of Cornwall view Tintagel as a tourist cash cow.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid MP is believed to be calling the decision in to examine it further following a request made by Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit.

Read more from Cornwall’s increasingly popular news source, ‘Cornish Stuff’

In better news, although the monument at Trethevy Quoit owned by English Heritage has been included in the 2017 Heritage at Risk Register, the 3 acre field in which the monument stands was acquired by the Cornwall Heritage Trust earlier this year, in a bid to preserve the monument setting. As mentioned in the Trust’s Annual Review 2016/17 recently released to members, a full geophysical survey is now planned for the field, along with targeted excavations to further understand and enhance the quoit and it’s position in the landscape.

 

A Personal post by Alan S.

Regular readers will know of my love for all things Cornish – in particular the prehistoric heritage of the Duchy area, which has been covered here from time to time.

I am pleased to say that, although it took much longer than originally anticipated after my first visit to the area in 2002, I am finally moving from the smoke of London to reside in Cornwall!

My nearest major monument upon arrival at my destination will be a major tor enclosure, occupied between 3700 and 3400 BC. The tor is visible from miles around and is a major landmark in the area, partly due to a 90ft Celtic Cross, erected on the summit of the tor as a memorial to Francis_Basset, 1st Baron de Dunstanville and Basset.

I’m talking of course, of Carn Brea, situated between Redruth and Camborne.

Valentine’s Series, Souvenir Post Card

The site was excavated in the early 1970’s by Roger Mercer, when traces of platforms for Neolithic long houses were found within the ramparts. In fact, the excavations coined the use of a new site type, ‘tor enclosure’, of which several further examples have since been identified within Cornwall.

Over 700 leaf-shaped flint arrowheads found clustered around the main entrance to the enclosure have been interpreted as one of the earliest indications of ‘warfare’, evidence that the site was attacked by warriors armed with bows and there were also suggestions that the houses had been burned down.

©Cornwall Historic Environment Service.

The hilltop has been the site of human activity through many periods since, with finds of Bronze Age tools, Iron Age (and much later) mining activity, and even a small number of Roman period finds.

There is a well on the northern slopes which is related to a folk tale of a Giant, who picked a fight with another nearby Giant, ‘Bolster’ who lived on St Agnes Beacon. This story is duplicated throughout Cornwall – the Giants of Trencrom and St Michael’s Mount for instance having a similar tale of combat.

To say I’m excited to be moving to the area would be an understatement, and I look forward to bringing  more news and stories of the Cornish prehistoric period to the Heritage Journal in future months.

 

We’ve spoken many times on the Journal about the lack of sensitivity when it comes to local opinion at heritage sites – Stonehenge being the prime example. And last year we highlighted several issues at Tintagel in Cornwall where the heritage of the site seemed to be taking a back seat to the need for cash generation for English Heritage’s (EH) coffers, and to hell with the history.

Sadly, once again it seems that EH’s need for finance is over-riding any consideration for the actual history and heritage of the site at Tintagel, which was the seat for several kings of Dumnonia in the early medieval period – a fact apparently of no interest to the site’s guardians. Read the rest of this entry »

By Dr Sandy Gerrard

A recent press report in the Express & Echo should concern everyone with an interest in the archaeology of the South West English uplands.  Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and Exmoor are particularly rich and important archaeological landscapes where the impact of the past can be easily appreciated.

On Dartmoor alone around 5,000 Bronze Age houses together with hundreds of hectares of field systems and enclosures survive in close proximity to thousands of cairns, hundreds of cists and the largest concentration of stone rows anywhere in Britain. Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor together provide a unique insight into the character of life and death in prehistoric times. Nowhere else in Britain is it possible to explore and appreciate the true impact of prehistoric people on the landscape. In recent years this incredible resource has been slowly disappearing beneath a sea of gorse, bracken and purple moor grass as farming practices have been adjusted in response to subsidy changes.

According to the Express & Echo article fresh plans are being drawn up to accelerate this process by returning parts of the moor “to the wild”. It is not clear which parts the bureaucrats have in mind, but we can be sure that given the extraordinary wide distribution of archaeology that important archaeology that we have all taken for granted could soon no longer be visible. Hopefully Historic England will fight this proposal and prevail – any other outcome would be disastrous.  Any attempt to deliberately conceal our heritage from us all should be opposed with the utmost vigour. Inevitably once the archaeology was out of sight it would soon be out of mind.

If this plan goes ahead much of Dartmoor’s amazing archaeology will be lost from sight. The fate of the largely invisible stone row at Spurrell’s Cross could await many cherished archaeological sites in South West England.

If this plan goes ahead much of Dartmoor’s amazing archaeology will be lost from sight. The fate of the largely invisible stone row at Spurrell’s Cross could await many cherished archaeological sites in South West England.

 

We wrote a piece a few months ago about the heavy-handed management and ‘brandalism’ occurring in the name of ‘visitor engagement’ at Tintagel in Cornwall. Now, following recent archaeological excavations at the site, the BBC web site is proclaiming ‘The royal residence of 6th Century rulers is believed to have been discovered at the legendary birthplace of King Arthur.’

So, a known cliff castle site has uncovered evidence that it was used as a castle. Oh, and a medieval storyteller used the location as the setting for a story about the birth of a  mythical figure. Knock me sideways! Is there nothing English Heritage/Historic England (which name do we use these days?) won’t do to increase the cash flow at what is undoubtedly already one of Cornwall’s major cultural attractions? At what cost to the integrity of the site?

TintagelStatue

Thankfully, we’re not the only people thinking along those lines. Dr Tehmina Goskar, a consultant curator and heritage interpreter with over 16 years experience (we featured her partner Thomas in an Inside the Mind article a few years ago)  visited the Tintagel area earlier this year. Her critique of the experience makes for some interesting reading and raises some very pertinent points.

The key issues … are apposite not just to the situation at Tintagel but more widely concern methods of interpretation of Cornish history, medieval history, and the ways in which sites with multiple protective designations are treated by heritage agencies.

It’s a long piece, but for those of the TL;DR generation, there is a useful 10-point summary of the main points included at the start. We heartily recommend that anyone with any interest in site interpretation, Cornwall or tourism in general read the piece, and take home some of the lessons learned.

It’s always fascinating to see new entrants to the blogosphere, particularly those which focus upon heritage matters in geographical areas which interest me personally. The CornishBirdBlog appears to have been started earlier this year, and the About page tells us a little of the impetus behind the site:

After visiting 50 countries in 9 years I came home and realised that some of the best sunsets are found right on my doorstep. I want to share my walks around Cornwall and my thoughts with you. (And a little bit of local history too, the fun stuff I promise!) I should just add that I am not a professional historian, all the research is my own and I have formed my own opinions and stories from it – nothing should be taken as 100% fact.

CBBHdr

In the few months since starting, there have been many interesting stories published on the site, from tales of shipwrecks, local folklore, treasure (the latest story tells of the Rillaton gold cup), lost Cornish kings, Roman roads and other ancient trackways, Cornish crosses, standing stones and other ancient sites, and some interesting historical Cornish characters. Yes, some of the stories are well known, but others are more obscure, and deserve a wider audience.

So if you’re interested in Cornwall’s history and heritage, why not pay the Cornish Bird Blog a visit, take a look around the archives, and leave a comment or two. Don’t forget to say we sent you!

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