The vast majority of our ancient monuments in Cornwall are quite plain. They may be dramatic in their setting, their age or their size but they often demonstrate to us the effects of the elements more than the mark of the hands that built them. There are, however, a few exceptions to this. Places in Cornwall which put us in direct contact with our ancestors, such as the Tregiffian Cup-marked Stone, the Rocky Valley Mazes and the various Roman milestones that are dotted around the countryside.
But near the village of Gulval, at Barlowena Bottom, there is one more.
The Bleu Bridge stone.
The Blue Bridge stone bears an early Christian inscription that has been dated to around the sixth century AD. Latin is carved vertically into the length of the stone and it apparently reads:
QVENATAVCI IC DINVI FILIVS
Quenataucus (lies) here, the son of Dinus
The two names are said to be Irish in origin.
There is another interesting earlier (and entirely different) translation of the inscription, given by Henry Hawkins in his 1910 book – Through West Cornwall with a Camera. His translation reads – Cnegumi – Fil – Enans. Interestingly he also goes on to claim that the name Enans refers to one of the first kings of Armorica in Brittany.
Up until around 1900 the stone served as a post on the footbridge. It supported a metal handrail and the hole for the rail is still visible in one side of the stone beneath the moss. The Bleu Bridge stone was later moved to the hedge beside the footpath for its own protection and preservation.
You can see a photograph of the stone taken in 1880, before it was moved from the bridge, in the Penlee House collections HERE. And of course that too was not it’s first position, there is no way of knowing where it was originally erected.
The footbridge, which is constructed of large granite pieces, remains and has a new set of railings. It crosses a small stream called Ponsandane Brook which runs down beside where the stone now stands. Standing there, looking at the ancient track that fords the stream beside the bridge struck me to be an absolutely timeless scene.
On my visit I was also delighted to see that the Cornish tradition of tying bright ribbons in special places, as often seen on cloutie trees, such as the one near Madron Holy Well, was being continued here also.
To find the Bleu Bridge stone, go to the village of Gulval. From the Penzance direction follow Trevarrack Road up through the village (for a section it is part of the B3311). When you get to the sharp right hand bend follow Trevarrack Road off and down to the left. In a couple of hundred metres the road comes to a right hand bend. Up to your right is Helnoweth Hill and on the left is a narrow dead end lane. Park and walk from here. Follow this lane down hill and you will meet the little river. The stone is across the bridge against the hedge. TR18 3BX