As above, so below.
To celebrate my love’s twenty fourth summer, we journeyed to the wild and windswept moors in search of myth and magic. Following the meandering tarmac road that passed worn out urban landscapes, china clay waste tips, quaint rivers and the beautiful looming forest of Cardinham we entered the frontier of Arthurian legend.
Observations along the way :
A country lane on higher ground overlooking a private wooded valley
Picturesque hamlets with churches and old fashioned inns
Farms with ‘honey for sale’
The ravenous cry of a buzzard
Reservoirs and lakes (fathomless and eerily silent)
Wild animals eating grass on the thoroughfare
Dozmary Pool (glacial in origin and home to many a tale)
Arriving in the village of Minions, we found a spot to park the car and began our quest for ancient history. The expanse views of moor land were breathtaking, elements felt heightened and the earth underfoot drummed with energy (or at least you could envisage this happening on pagan sabbats).
The Hurlers is a unique Bronze Age monument consisting of a set of three standing stone circles. Legend has it that the stone circles at Minions are made up of men who were turned to stone by a humourless priest. Instead of attending church on the Sabbath, the local villagers were found playing a game known as ‘hurling’. Just away from The Hurlers stand The Pipers, two more standing stones believed to be the remains of musicians who played whilst the villagers hurled.
Everything felt natural and sacred; animals left free to roam with human beings, a patch of foxgloves where the cattle grazed, horses with their foals, rook perched on an outcrop of granite, skylarks, jackdaw nest, moss and lichen, marshes, mires and disused mine shafts where greater horseshoe bats roost.
After stumbling upon sheep bones, fur and feathers we observed the majestic granite quarry and tower of stones in the distance.
The Cheesewring is a natural tower of balanced granite stones that have been eroded over the centuries. The stones are precariously balanced on top of one another, some of which are over thirty feet in circumference. The name derives from its resemblance to stack of ‘cheeses’ - pulped apples in cloth bags that are used to press cider.
There are several fables regarding the stones; it was thought by many that these natural rock formations had originally been built by druids or formed in the time of giants and saints.
Legend tells of a dramatic fight between the giants (Uther) and saints (St. Tue). Fed up with the saints claiming ownership of land which had been theirs for centuries, the giants challenged them to a stone-throwing contest. St. Tue vowed that if the Giants won, all the Saints would leave these shores forever, but if he won the Giants must mend their errant ways, and hereafter follow the sign of the cross. In spite of the fact that the giants were superior in size, the saints managed to throw larger rocks onto the giant’s smaller ones with help from the angels. The saints won the contest and the giant Uther promised to abandon his sinful ways.
The wild moors and ancient stones of Bodmin are spoken of in many tales and legends. Wayfarers now think of the moor as the haunt of smugglers; an untamed, windy and desolate wilderness. Many creatures inhabit the land; piskies, the little people, giants and beasts. The oldest stories have been passed down for centuries, transforming with each retelling. There are tales of giants who lived on Cornish hilltops, changelings, witchcraft, ghosts and the devil.