This incredible menhir is pretty isolated. Roughly a mile from some of Cornwall’s most beautiful coastal scenery, this old stone stands alone on a hillside.
The Treburrick standing stone is a huge piece of bright white quartz. Covered in lichen, it is 6 feet 6 inches high and sits in a circular depression, probably caused by animals. On the day I visited the knee-high spring grass made it seem shorter than it is.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these solitary standing stones all across Britain. Many of them are thought to have been erected in the early Bronze Age. However, this type of monument is notoriously difficult to date. It appears that these stones were ‘in use’ from the early Neolithic right through the Bronze Age. But their exact function has always been unclear.
Timothy Darvill in his book Prehistoric Britain writes that many of these stones seem to occur along the principal routeways leading to, from or over uplands. It is possible that the stones relate to prehistoric ‘transhumance’. Transhamance is the ancient practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle. Typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer.
It’s thought that these solitary standing stones could have acted as waymarkers for an ancient route system from one important place to another. They acted as points of navigation.
Very few solitary standing stones have been properly excavated, but one at Ros – y – Clegyr, Dyfed on a coastal plain in south-west Wales was found to be surrounded by the remains of rough structures. It is perhaps possible to interpret these remains as some sort of transitory camp, with the standing stone marking the spot.
Having said that this particular menhir, between the hamlets of Tregona and Treburrick, is so beautiful it seems like it must have had a more important function than just acting as a waymarker. In fact, there is no reason not to suppose that many solitary standing stones had a ceremonial purpose all of their own.
Perhaps they somehow tapped into energy lines or marked a particular celestial event. The time taken in finding such a distinctive stone, then the enormous effort needed to move it and erect it in this location seems to speak of more than just a directional signpost.
I have a confession . . .
I have a habit of leaning my forehead against standing stones.
So I was relieved to learn in The Old Stones, a book by The Megalithic Portal that I am not alone in this. Many people have reported, to the Portal’s online website, doing similar and also having various strange experiences at ancient sites. These phenomena included getting feelings of warmth, tingles and even ‘electric shocks’ from the stones. I have never experienced any of these sensations. Apart from the natural heat that these stones absorb during the summer, which can keep them warm well into the evening.
Having said that I do, however, like to take that moment. A moment to absorb where I am and to take in the atmosphere of the place. I would strongly suggest that anyone visiting these stones does the same.
Visiting the Treburrick Standing Stone.
It is certainly possible to get close to the stone by car. Head for Tregona via Engollan, some of the other roads are gated. You can park beside the road and you will see a Public Footpath sign by the gateway on the bend, close to Tregona Carthouse. Head down hill across the field.
Alternatively make a longer more scenic walk of it and do the beautiful route (link below) by iWalk Cornwall. It takes you on a circular route along the stunning coastline between Bedruthan and Porthcothan, and then through a wooded river valley and across fields to Tregona.