Map in hand I tried to pinpoint some sort of marker that would identify where exactly in the vast semi-moorland landscape this pile of stones might be. But the roads all tend to look fairly similar around this part – high sided hedges opening out to gorse-covered fields and glimpses of sea. Luckily Adam had been here before and knew of the little layby with barely-visible wooden signpost pointing the way (see our little map at the bottom). There’s only room for one, maybe two cars squeezed on the roadside and the stile was overgrown – this really was ‘off-the-beaten track’.
Grateful for the strength of denim on my legs, we parted the brambles and were swallowed into the greenery. Flip-flops were a poor choice in the morning dew with nettles and grass snakes threatening, but melodrama was short lived as we emerged into a more open area.
Left or right. The faint path had no clues as to its destination so we peeked to the right and discovered, not what we were looking for, but an area of intrigue nonetheless. On first glance, it was a few large lumps of stone acting as convenient sitting/standing places to breathe in the view, but look before you sit. This wasn’t a well-worn sitting stone, dipped in the middle by years of wandering bottoms, but something more ritualistic in nature. Perhaps it was once filled with water, but certainly an offering had been made, with a coin purse and celtic carvings scattered in a purposeful manner..
Down below, near hidden by the undergrowth, a child-size stone circle had been laid out. But with no clear way to get a lawn mower down there, how did the plants know not to encroach? Evidently the ancient art of stone circle worship is still in practice today…
Back on track and we head further down the hillside and appear to hit a high-sided dead end, until we spot the plaque buried in the bushes.
‘Boscawen-un Stone Circle’ (the pasture of the farmstead at the old tree)
And we duck into what feels like a secret garden through the looking glass to be presented with exactly what one expects when seeking a stone circle. What was most unsettling was the eerie silence. The road couldn’t have been more than 300m away but with the muffling flora between us, the clearing could’ve been 300 miles from anything.
So what does one do at a stone circle? A quick online search offers up some interesting reading about this Bronze Age relic, including the customary story of its (like many other stone circles) nickname, ‘Nine Maidens’. A solitary stone not far away acts as ‘The Blind Fiddler’ who the lovely ladies danced to on the Sabbath, before being turned to stone. However, one of the stones is singled out in Quartz, bringing rise to the explanation of phallic symbolism and female ‘powers of the ring’.
Whatever the original intention for rituals and worship, it wasn’t immediately apparent to us, so we set about making our own use of this sacred space. For the very English ritual of a cup of tea.
In amongst all the spiritual reasoning, we transformed a suitable stone directly opposite the Quartz stone in the circle, to site our tea worship. We then dressed this stone in the appropriate ceremonial robe – a picnic blanket, before commencing the indoctrination of local fauna in the art of stewed tea.
It was a tea stop of contemplation, with the occasional feeling of being out-of-place. Our conclusion? Not the best spot for a cup of tea. But you live and learn so we sought another modern day activity suited to an ancient stone circle. With what happened next, it is true that a picture paints a thousand words:
It might be purely paranoia, but there is a certain haunted atmosphere to this place and whether you experience it as a positive vibe or just feel uncomfortable is going to be down to your own personal beliefs. Still, it was a lovely place of intrigue to visit on a sunny day.
Have your own mystical adventure and stay in a cottage in far west Cornwall
View Boscawen-un Stone Circle location in a larger map