Men Gurta or the St Breock Longstone stands high on the St Breock Downs within sight of a modern windfarm. Although the view from the hill is as good reason as any to visit this particular stone well worth looking for, it is a giant. In fact it is the largest and heaviest in standing stone in Cornwall- which, you might well think, should make it easy to find. Which it is, once you know where to look but more if that later!
Men Gurta is huge, it is 4.9m tall (3m of that above ground) and weighs a whooping 16.5 tons but there is also something very striking about this stone, it’s beautiful zebra strips!
The stone is made of local shale but the wonderful white veins are deposits of feldspar. Like so many of Cornwall’s ancient menhirs this stone has stood on this spot for around 4500 years and the people who planted it in the ground all those moons ago formed a little bed of white quartz pebbles for it to stand in.
We can assume that Men Gurta had some kind of ritual purpose, the Downs have a number of other ancient sites, including a near-by standing stone and a number of barrows. Surprisingly (perhaps not surprisingly) this stone was still being used as a community meeting place in the medieval era, some 4000 years after it was originally raised.
So how to find this marvellous menhir. Driving to the monolith you take a back road from Rosenannon heading in the direction of Wadebridge, conveniently there is a figure signpost pointing into a field at a junction on this road. Do not be deceived (as I was) this is not the stone you want, although it is the junction. Take this small lane, sharp left turn, and within less than half a mile you will reach your destination. You can’t miss it! Honest! No climbing over gates into fields is necessary, as one website suggests, the Men Gurta stands on common ground – not in a field!
PL27 7LG should help if you have a satnav, or SW986883 if you are old school like myself!