History, Heritage & Arts

A rich cultural experience…

Written across the rugged, resistant landscape of West Cornwall is the history of truly remarkable people. It is all in the stonework and the style of everything, from prehistoric burial sites to Victorian mine stacks, Iron Age promontory forts to Tudor castles, Georgian terraces to ancient fishing harbours.

On the moors of the Land’s End Peninsula you rub shoulders with the atmospheric remains of Neolithic burial chambers of 5,000 years ago. Later Bronze Age ceremonial sites survive in stone circles and rows.

Along the coastline lie the visible remains of Iron Age promontory enclosures, or ‘cliff castles’, guarded from the sea by savage cliffs and from the land by great mounds of earth and rough stone. The stone circles, chamber graves, and ‘menhirs’, or standing stones, of West Cornwall had fanciful nicknames imposed on them by later Christian societies in reaction to their perceived ‘pagan’ significance. Stone circles known popularly as the ‘Merry Maidens’ have been enshrined in folklore as being the trapped souls of young girls, who dared to dance on a Sunday. Other sites have similar names.

The romance of it all is potent, the myth and legends associated with these sites is a rich part of our culture, though the true purpose of these remarkable sites and their significance to our distant ancestors is often far more fascinating. Were the stone circles ceremonial sites? Did they have significance in terms of early astronomy and time-keeping? In these fascinating puzzles lie the real excitement and pleasure of ancient West Cornwall, for expert and visitor alike.