The names spin by outside the car, Buryas Bridge, Drift, Catchall and then I see the tiny turning that I need and swing the car in, on to the dirt road. This is the track to Boscawen-un, one of the first ancient places on the Penwith that I ever came to. That was probably 20 years ago and it was very different then, all overgrown with bracken and with the silent peace of a place rarely visited. Whenever I came here I was alone with the skylarks.
Since then this Bronze age monument has had some maintenance and the site has been cleared revealing this special place a little more. And it is special for several reasons, for a start this stone circle is not a circle – its an oval! The placement of the 19 upright stones apparently follows the course that the moon takes across the night sky.
There is a central stone which leans at quite a dramatic angle and to the south side the largest stone is a beautiful solid piece of bright white quartz, reminiscent of the stones at Duloe I recently wrote about. There are so many stories about this circle which I don’t need to repeat here but the idea that always sticks for me is that places like Boscawen-un were multi-purpose. Stone circles were meeting places and market places as much as a focus for worship and ceremony. If you look at a map of this area, because of the lack of development, you can easily trace the old routes through the countryside. There are tracks that weave naturally through the landscape from village to standing stone to quiot to circle to village to harbour and so on. These ancient ways fascinate me and I love walking along them. Its strange sometimes to think that many of our modern roads follow those old routes. The A30, which is the main road connecting our peninsula county with the rest of the country, is believed to follow the original Roman road west. And no doubt the Romans were following a much older route themselves. Layers of history beneath our feet.
To visit Boscawen-un is pretty easy, although in winter the track to the stones can be VERY muddy (wellies on!) and parking is limited but in all likelihood you’ll be alone anyway.
From the A30 you follow the track which winds a short distance towards a farm, you can park your car where the track widens out and there is a large triangular stone sticking up out of the hedge. From here go the rest of the way is about 20 mins on foot, keep the farm and barns on your left and follow until you reach a split in the track with a wooden signpost, take the right branch.
Just keep following this leafy lane, sometimes it can get a bit wild and overgrown, until you see a small wooden gate on your left, there is a small sign here too. You have arrived. Breath deep and enjoy the quiet.
For more another stroll to one of Cornwall’s ancient places try:
Zennor Quoit: Take a walk with me or Tregiffian Barrow & the Cup-marked Stone