Monoliths, quoits, cairns and circles of stone, Cornwall is home to more megalithic sites per square mile than anywhere else in Britain. Of the 20 or so stone circles that remain today many more have been lost or destroyed.
Cornwall’s stone circles may not be as large or dramatic as those found in other parts of the country but often their beauty and isolation makes them wonderful, enigmatic monuments to visit. And they are just as mysterious as their much larger counterparts.
Boskednan circle, a ring similar to those of the Dawns Myin (Merry Maidens) and Boscawen Un and very interesting from its wild and commanding position. It is east-north-east of Lanyon, about 2 miles distant and plainly seen from the road and the Men an tol. The diameter is 66 feet, 8 stones stand erect, and one is nearly 8 feet in height. The eye ranges over a vast extent of uncultivated country and to the blue expanse of ocean. Directly north rise the magnificent rocks of Carn Galva. To the south is the mine of Ding Dong, to the east is seen Mulfra Quoit on the crown of a barren height some 2 miles away.
Boskednan stone circle is one of Cornwall’s lesser well known circles. It stands on isolated moorland on West Penwith. Walkers can find the stone circle on a lonely ridge not far from the Men Scryfa stone and Men an tol. At the foot of this hill you will also find the Venton Bebilbell well. The stones of this circle are an average of 1.2m (4ft) high, with the tallest stone reaching 2m.
Borlase excavated at the site in 1872. He uncovered a cist burial just outside the circle. The burial contained an urn and shards of pottery. The urn had small handles and a twisted cord decoration, according to Albury Burl in his book The Stone Circles of the British Isles. This pottery was of a type known as Cornish Trevisker Ware dating from the early Bronze Age.
Reconstruction of Trevisker Ware by English Heritage
Boskednan stone circle like several other stone circles in Cornwall is also known as The Nine Maidens. But this stone circle does not have nine stones, it never has done. In fact, there are thought to have been nineteen here (only eleven now standing).
In Cornwall, especially in Penwith, nineteen seems to be a significant number. The Merry Maidens, Boscawen-un and Tregeseal all have nineteen stones.
It is thought that the number 19 is in someway connected to astronomy. Specifically to the Metonic Cycle. This is a period very close to 19 years (235 lunar months) after which the new and full moons return to the same dates of the year. Basically the lunar and solar cycles coincide every 19 years. It seems possible that our ancestors used these circles to mark the passage of time, amongst other things. One stone for each of the years before the ‘clock’ reset.
What is safe to say is that each precious monument that remains gives us a small window into the world that our ancestors lived in. These structures are our oldest connections to the past and their first messages to us. It is down to us to decipher them.
I provide all the content on this blog completely free, there’s no subscription fee. If however you enjoy my work and would like to contribute something towards helping me keep researching Cornwall’s amazing history and then sharing it with you then you can donate below. Thank you!
Cornwall’s Prehistoric Holed Stones
Goodaver Stone Circle – Bodmin Moor
The Stone circles of The Gambia, West Africa
8 thoughts on “Boskednan Stone Circle”
Love this. I’ll be visiting in August.
It’s a lovely site isn’t it, stunning views and wonderful feeling!
Erm… AUBREY Burl isn’t female!
Yea, whoops, not sure what happened there! Brain burp!
The West Penwith circles all had related Cornish names. Both the Merry Maidens and Boscawen-ûn were: Dons Meyn (dance of stones), according to Nicholas Boson in the 1680s; Tregeseal was Meyn an Dons (stones of the dance), according to 18th century mining bounds; and Edward Lhuyd in 1700 recorded the Boskedan Nine Maidens as: Meyn yn Dons (stones in a dance). The strange embanked circle on Treen Common, though, was: Lowarth a’n Dyji, “the smallholding’s garden”, recorded by Borlase in the 1750s, and this name gives away what it almost certainly was: the remains of a circular wall enclosing an early farmstead, maybe AD1 – AD 400.
Really useful information, thank you! I may need to pick your brains about Treen circle in the not too distant future, if that would be ok!?
There’s much more to the Metonic cycle – it’s really elegant and remarkable. Try this: