It has taken me far too long to get around to writing this article and it is only the thought of getting back out on the moor again in a few days time that forced my thoughts to turn once again to this unwritten story.
It actually began with this blog. A piece I wrote many months ago led me to meet a group of strangers with whom I would spend many a happy hour in the vast emptiness of Bodmin Moor.
Since I left home aged 20 and flew to Germany on a complete whim my long suffering parents have been used to my often rather impulsive behaviour but even I questioned whether I was thinking straight on that first morning. We had never met before, not even spoken on the phone but when Roy, Stuart and Colin arrived in a beat up old truck full of tools I, with no hesitation climbed aboard, and set out across the moor with 3 total strangers!
When I try to explain to people what we did this summer they usually fall into two camps: the intrigued and the confused. In short we were uncovering large pieces of granite on a wild and windswept moor.
But of course these were no ordinary rocks (that would have just been silly and not a constructive use of our time) these are rocks that were very specifically selected, chosen for their purpose and placed in the calculated and measured location. These rocks were honoured and marvellous in their time and in some ways they should be now.
The two stone circles and the stone row on the moor below Leskernick hill have been known about in modern terms for many years but they were gradually disappearing both in a physical sense beneath the turf but also from our social memory. Their location on the OS map is woefully vague as I learnt to my cost the first time I tried to find them 10 or so years ago and ended up wandering around the moor for a couple of hours before giving up and going home!
The stone row in particular had never been properly surveyed so our little team uncovered every single stone that we could, freed it from the mossy turf and measured it and recorded its location.
For me the time spent out on that isolated stretch of moor was precious. We saw very few people – a man walking to John-a-groats, 2 Dutch tourists and 2 lost walkers – in all the days we were there. The weather was comfortingly unpredictable and when you stood up to stretch your back from digging in the dirt all around was just emptiness, the skylarks and the wild ponies, it really was magical!
Our team leader, Roy, has produced a wonderfully detailed report on the work we have done for those interested in finding out more. You can read the full text here.
I have to say, despite the funny looks when I tell people what I’ve been up to, it was one of the most fulfilling ways to spend my days and in all sincerity I look forward to the next project and getting back out on those moors very soon.
Never underestimate the potential joy of new experiences and new friendships!