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TRAVEL & STUFF

Stones new and renewed

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted December 05, 2017
Stones new and renewed
Welcome to Cornwall: The new stone circle at Pentillie. © Pentillie Castle & Estate

A new stone circle has just been unveiled at Pentillie Castle in Cornwall but it's certainly not the first megalithic structure to be built in the Duchy since Neolithic times.



With Christmas just around the corner, youngsters up and down Cornwall are no doubt rapt with excitement as to what they'll find when Santa empties his sack in in their stockings.

Will they get a new megalithic-themed T-shirt from the Rake & Herald's very own Rake Clag online shop?

Or will they just get one of them dumbphones everyone keeps staring at while ignoring everything else around them?

The former if they've been good, obviously.

Either way, they'll just have to hang on a bit longer to find out what's been laid under the Christmas tree for them.

Unlike the Coryton family, who own Pentillie Castle and Estate – an "award-winning wedding and events venue with five-star accommodation set in the centre of a 2,000-acre [809-ha] estate on the Cornish bank of the River Tamar" – and for whom Christmas has clearly come early in the form of a brand-new stone circle.


PUZZLEMENT AND CONJECTURE
Although, according to a press release sent the Rake & Herald, the "stunning new stone circle" is less the work of Santa and his elves than it is "the folly of Pentillie's owner, Ted Coryton".

What's more, you can watch the 14-stone monument being built in a short time-lapse video here if you want.

Whatever you chose to do, though, the circle sits atop a hill within the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and boasts commanding views across to Dartmoor and Plymouth Sound.

But why build a new stone circle, especially when Cornwall is positively dripping with ancient stone structures anyway?

Well, Coryton, so the press release states, "has always been fascinated by the history of the many standing stones [or menhirs], stone circles and other ancient monuments on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor and wondered at their spiritual or religious meaning".

"They obviously must have had great significance to the people who built them because of the time and effort required to erect them at a time when survival must have been the primary concern and occupation of most people," he says.

"We can only guess at the original reason for these ancient monuments, which adds to their attraction and mystery."

"Here [at Pentillie] each stone represents a person or people to me but who they are will be a source of puzzlement and conjecture for years to come."


pentillie views
I can see for miles and miles: The Pentillie panorama. © Pentillie Castle & Estate


A MAD IDEA
The position of the Pentillie circle, the press release notes, "follows the tradition of being in line of sight with important local features, in this instance Kit Hill, Brentor Church, North Hessary Tor at Princetown and the Mew Stone off Plymouth".

However, despite the "amazing views", few of Pentillie's guests had ever checked out the setting where the new stones now stand "because there was no 'actual' reason" to go there.

This, though, has all now changed.

"It started as a mad idea," Coryton says, "but then we thought it would actually be worthwhile – an opportunity to build something really simple out of natural unworked local material that would last for centuries."

The castle's management is now hoping that the new circle, which the press release describes as being complete with "an outlying stone to record the winter solstice, the beginning of longer days and the growing season", will provide "an interesting and unusual new location for wedding ceremonies or celebrations, as well as a venue for those wanting an outdoor event with a difference or just for quiet contemplation".


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GOD BLESS ED PRYNN
While Pentillie's stone circle, the press release states, is "thought to be the first to be built in South East Cornwall for at least 2,000 years", it is certainly not the only new stone circle erected in the land of Mark, Geraint and Dungarth in archeologically recent years.

As any Druid of St Merryn could tell you, Arch Druid of Cornwall Ed Prynn has had a circle of eight stones in his garden in St Merryn, near Padstow, ever since he constructed it over a period of eight hours back in 1983.

Moreover, since then in the same garden he has also erected several menhirs, a rocking stone and even his own dolmen, or quoit, with an 18-tonne capstone.

Better still, he has also constructed his own fogou beneath it all.

I know this because I was initiated into the Order there just over far too many years ago to mention, thanks.

Seriously, Ed Prynn is a legend, as you should be able to quickly ascertain for yourself if you have a read of this 2001 write-up in the Torygraph.


carn grey st austell bay
More stones with a view: St Austell Bay from up Carn Grey. © DJ NRG Raver


CARN GREY UP CLAY, MIND
Meanwhile, another new circle is that which sits next to Carn Grey, a granite tor above the Rake & Herald's home town of St Austell that is also home to a temple reputedly built by Phoenician tin traders.

Sadly, I can't really tell you too much about this particular monument because I've never actually been there and at press time pertinent info is scant, although it is possible that it was built to replace a nearby Neolithic circle destroyed by the open-cast clay mining that has greatly shaped the St Austell area both economically and physically since the 18th century.

Indeed, one of the circle's crowning glories in addition to its stunning views of St Austell Bay is its proximity to the last remaining 'white pyramid' clay tip and which recently provided an iconic backdrop to the 2017 Eden UFO hoax on which the Rake & Herald proudly blew the lid.

Yeah, we did that.

I know.

Cool, huh?

Anyway, from the photos above and below, the circle may appear old but Rake & Herald culture editor and experienced stone hunter DJ NRG Raver, who took the pics, reports that when up close they quickly reveal construction features that show them to have only been standing in place for a few years at most.


carn grey white pyramid
The white pyramid: That some greedy bugger wants to build crappy houses on. © DJ NRG Raver


QUOITS RECONSTRUCTED
While not new per se, there are nevertheless a number of notable rebuilt megalithic structures dotted around the Cornish homeland as well.

Arguably the most well-known of these is Lanyon Quoit, located down west between Madron (named after local madman Mad Ronboy Tregunna) and Morvah (named after fifth-century Celtic saint St Morvah Shoethanahat).

Originally a four-legged structure tall enough for a man on horseback to ride under its capstone without ducking, this excellent quoit sadly collapsed during a storm in 1815.

Given that it had been standing for so long, it must've been some 'eller storm to fell it.

Or perhaps its collapse was more to do with the removal of soil by treasure hunters?

Who can say?

Either way, it was subsequently re-erected in 1824, losing a leg and a horse's worth of height in the process.

That said, this very easy-to-get-to quoit (it's right by the road) is well worth paying tribute at.

Indeed, its ease of access and beautifully rugged surroundings make it the ideal first staging post on any Penwith leg of a Cornish stoning safari.


Lanyon Quoit
A bit shorter than it was: Lanyon Quoit. Public domain


RECENT RECONSTRUCTION
Staying down west, another recently redone dolmen is the three-legged Carwynnen Quoit, near Camborne.

Or should I say recently re-redone dolmen because it first collapsed in 1842 before being re-erected by Lady Pendarves only to fall over again in 1967 (according to the site's info board and not 1966 as it says on Wikipedia).

It was then re-re-erected in 2014.

However, what you see today has been tweaked a tad, as the most recent reconstruction work, the shills at the BBC report, "saw two support stones replaced in their original Neolithic footings but the third stone had to be adjusted to comply with health and safety regulations".

Read those last four words again.

Yep, we're definitely living in the end days, Mr Littlejohn.

Anyway, whether they gave the stones a thorough scrubbing down first, I can't honestly say, but when I visited it a month or two after its second reconstruction, I have to say it did feel a bit new, if you know what I mean.

Although that said, it's still a perfectly fine structure within a lovely setting for a tramp.

And I don't mean a vagrant.

In fact, I'd like to stress my gratitude to the team who rebuilt it as the structure looks far better standing as it now does than it no doubt would have done had it been left to lie sprawled on the floor like a drunk.

Which is what often happens if you go on a proper big tramp.

And no, I don't mean a vagrant.


UPDATE 6/12/17

It appears that once again the BBC were talking out of their propagandist posteriors.

Carwynnen's third leg was altered not for reasons of health and safety, but because a 19th century treasure hunter had wrecked the socket.

Hat tip: Andy Norfolk, who was part of the team that reconstructed the quoit and who informs us that the capstone weighs 10 tonnes and not nine as also erroneously reported by the BBC.

More info on the quoit and its resurrection can be found here.

Cheers muchly, sir!


Carwynnen Quoit
Risen from the rubble: Carwynnen Quoit. © Ignatius Rake


SECRETS OF THE HENGE
The thing is, when I paid tribute at Carwynnen with DJ NRG Raver, Rake & Herald executive editor Wolfgang Bang, Rake & Herald researcher and all-terrain driver Pee-Pee Radjel and that Rake bloke who edits the whole thing, I was under no illusion that it hadn't just been re-erected.

In fact, part of the reason we were there was because it had been very recently re-erected.

However, I have a sneaky feeling that many of the thousands of visitors who flock to Stonehenge up country in England, or Pow Saws as our Saxon neighbour is called in Cornish, or Kernowek, are far from aware of that particular site's many, many recent tinkerings.

I mention this because about six weeks prior to us receiving the Pentillie press release, Rake & Herald guest editor Richard Caldwell sent that Rake bloke a link to the following video.

While it's a tad sensational (if not downright confrontational) in tone (any moment you think he's going to tell you it was made out of fibre-glass in the 1970s), it's definitely worth a watch as the sheer extent to which Stonehenge has been silently reconstructed over the years might well come as a shock to many not majorly familiar with the matter.

Moreover, as Richard writes:

"The grotesqueness of a concrete foundation aside, what if it was not age that took it down, but what if it was disassembled on purpose? What if the New Age weirdos were right and it was always a focal point for Briton magick? But eventually, struggles for possession of the site led to its builders or descendants of its builders to take it down, to prevent the wrong sorts from accessing the mysteries and powers on the other side to be reached therein?

And centuries with it deconstructed, we allowed ourselves to forget that Gloriana was real and the like. The wrong people did take over, but without magics leading the way they had to force their own, so that the uncouth wackiness of the East India Company and the British Empire went about with their assorted dick-measuring and (to quote Kurt Cobain, of all people) territorial pissings. And now, with its reconstruction, the portal or whatever is screwy has been allowing the wrong mysteries and powers from the other side to break loose to our world in a bizarre and shocking turnabout of fate."


Personally, I think Richard could be on to something.

Here's the video...




See also Top tips for a top tramp, posted 8/2/14.


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Sandi Toxic was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.


Engage with the Rake & Herald on FaceBook here and Twitter here. Better still, buy a T-shirt here.


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