Thursday, 7 September 2017

St Senara's Church,The Zennor Mermaid and Crosses .. Cornwall pt 5

When we arrived in Treen on Saturday afternoon, we carefully parked the car close to the garden wall ensuring that there was not an enticing gap left between it and the wall. The gap needed to be suitably small to deter any passing cow - on its way to the local milking-shed - from squeezing between the car and the wall, damaging the vehicle or worse itself.

Cottage and Car, Treen

We had envisaged a week of mainly walking, and the cottage's location gave easy access to the local network of footpaths incl. the coastal path for the majority of our explorations.

As such it wasn't until the Thursday that we finally ventured out under petrol power and in doing so - headed across the headland to Zennor.

St Senara's Church and Graveyard Cross

The Zennor Parish Council has an excellent website which describes all things local and of interest to both tourists and those chasing nearby stones and legends: Zennor Parish Council

St Senara's Church at Zennor stands within a pre-Christian footprint - it's circular graveyard over lies Iron Age boundaries, which in turn straddle even more ancient boundaries dating back to the Neolithic (ibid). The current Norman church is thought to probably stand on the site of a 6th Century chapel (MacNeil Cooke, 1996; Cornwall Guide 2018) .. the founding of Christianity in Cornwall being eloquently styled on the Zennor Parish Council website as: "Christianity came to Zennor when the Age of Saints followed the fall of the Roman Empire."

In the Churchyard stand at least three ancient Crosses, the first of which greets the visitor as they step through the main entrance to the church, the other two adorn the grave of the Cornish Antiquarian, William Borlase. There are also other interesting Celtic style crosses within it's confines.

Cross

Crosses - William Borlase's Grave

The Church is famous for it's association with the story of the Mermaid of Zennor, and the chair within comprising of two carved wooden medieval pew ends - one of which contains the image of the Zennor Mermaid herself.


The Mermaid of Zennor

The second wooden pew end appears to the untrained eye to be decorative rather than symbolic in meaning. I suspect it gets far less attention than it's more glamorous counterpart? I have included it below for the purpose of completion.


For a fuller description of the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor I will return again to the excellent Zennor Parish Council website: The Mermaid of Zennor

It was probably the local Church guidebook that drew our attention to the lone stone craving of a head which adorns the external south eastern corner of the Chapel entrance. If I remember correctly it is the only carving on the whole of the outside of the building? I can find no reference to it otherwise - and simply wish that I had purchased a copy of the guidebook - it would have been more than useful in the writing of this Blog entry!



Bibliography

MacNeil Cooke, I. (1996) 2nd Edition Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones Cornwall Litho Redruth

Cornwall Guide (2018) ONLINE Zennor Available at: https://www.cornwalls.co.uk/Zennor Retrieved 7th Jan 2018

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Of walks and Crosses .. Porthgwarra, Treryn Dinas and Logan Rock .. Cornwall pt 4

The weather in vast improvement to the preceding days, saw the sun shining and a striking blue but not quite cloudless sky. We decided a walk to Porthgwarra was indicated - with hopefully some migrant birds along the way?

Taking an inland route we headed across the fields passing Rospletha Cross and St Levan Church then taking the footpath towards Roskestral. At the junction of this path with the footpath to Ardenswah is a stile containing a Cross head in a field called "Churchway Downs" (Macneil Cooke 1996).


Churchway Field Cross

Our next stop was a small pool to the south west of the Porthgwarra road, scrub lined it looked promising for any skulking migrants. Only a single calling chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) was of note. However, our attention was still held for sometime by three golden-ringed dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii), in fierce aerial pursuit of each other.

On the cliffs to the immediate west of Porthgwarra, the heathers were in full bloom. An occasional wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) flushed ahead of us, but other than that birds on land were very scarce. Along the coast path a number of flighty grayling (Hipparchia Semele) tempted me to chase them for a photograph. With only the iPhone camera to hand I had to rely heavily on my meagre wildlife stalking skills, hampered as they were by the cast of a long shadow!


Grayling (Record Shot)

Whilst, head down chasing the grayling, a chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) called as it flew overhead.

No trip to Porthgwarra is complete without taking refreshment at the: Porthgwarra Cove Café The traditional Cornish Pasty served at this Café - is our most favourite pasty in all of our Cornish travels! The traditional pasty from Kynance Café comes a very close second, and on a good day it's very difficult to make the call between them both?

The best Cornish Pasty in the County? Probably!

With a very enjoyable lunch break over, we took a slow walk past the Cottage gardens following the coast path east out of the cove. The birds if any were hiding! We passed St Levan's Holy Well, Porthcurno and carried on towards Treryn Dinas.

All along the coastal path we kept stopping at the frequent clumps of ivy (Hedera helix) which grow within the hedgerows and scrub layer. No ivy was complete without an adornment of butterflies - red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) being the most common, with painted lady (V. cardui) and small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) also present in significant numbers. Between the hedgerows speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) defiantly held on to their territories, even so late in the season.

Red admiral(s) on coastal Ivy

Towards Treryn Dinas and the Logan Rock

Treryn Dinas is an Iron Age promontory hillfort dating somewhere between 300BC -100BC (MacNeil Cooke 1996). Historic England (2017) describes such monuments as: "a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land".

The "naturally defended" aspect of Treyrn Dinas can be clearly seen in the photograph below - where a bank and ditch runs down to the cliff edge below it. In total the defences at Treryn Dinas comprise three banks and ditches and a causeway which is defended by a low stone wall (Historic England 2017).

Treryn Dinas - rampart detail

Treryn Dinas - Outer wall and ditch

Beyond the causeway lie towering rocky outcrops, one of which contains the famous "Logan Rock". Deriving it's name from the massive stones ability to be rocked - or logged - it is the local celebrity, and the public house at nearby Treen is named after it. The 19th Century account of its deliberate dislodgement by a Captain and crew of a cutter, is the stuff of legend. The eponymous Logan Rock Inn contains many an account of the cost born in returning the stone to its rightful resting place, after the act of deliberate vandalism.

It is not hard to see why the dramatic cliff top setting of this windswept hillfort has evoked other more mystical & magickal legends - of a site inhabited by witches, little people; and of a Giant who held the fort and hurled rocks at passing ships (MacNeil Cooke 1996).

Logan Rock

Logan Rock and windswept "selfie"

A description of some of the local legends associated with Porthcurno and its surroundings incl. Treryn Dinas can be found at: https://www.cornwalls.co.uk/myths-legends/porthcurno.htm

Bibliography

MacNeil Cooke, I. (1996) 2nd Edition Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones Cornwall Litho Redruth

Historic England (2017) ONLINE Promontory fort known as Treryn Dinas Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1006733 Retrieved 2nd Jan 2018

Monday, 4 September 2017

St Buryan Church and Crosses .. Cornwall pt 3

St Buryan Church

Central aisle


A full account of the history and origins of St Buryan Church can be found at: St Buryan Church



St Buryan Churchyard Cross

The churchyard Cross head is considered to be 10th Century, contemporary with King Athelstan. The steps upon which it stands of much later period(s). The original Cross would have likely resembled the similar Cross at Sancreed Church (See Reference / Link above).

The Sancreed churchyard crosses have been documented elsewhere in this Blog at: http://awalkamongstthestones.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/stones-circles-crosses-quoits-and-holy.html

Sancreed Church Cross
(Author 2008)

St Buryan War Memorial

St Buryan Market Cross

Of Walks and Crosses .. Cornwall pt 2

Our intention was to follow in the footsteps of MacNeil Cooke's (1996) "Walk Eight". A circular perambulation which takes in St Loy Valley, St Buryan and Lamorna Cove. Passing Ancient Crosses, Tregiffian Barrow, the Merry Maidens and environs. We would pick the walk up at St Loy Valley, having first walked in from Treen via Penberth and the coastal path.

Penberth sans mist



As we approached St Loy's Cove it became apparent that we were not going to be able to find the chapel remains of either St Loy's or St Dellan's; the coastal path taking us between fence-lines and private access only. Taking the northern route we passed through St Loy Valley a beautiful wooded valley with tree ferns, bamboo, gunnera and hydrangeas adding an exotic twist to the local flora.


St Loy Valley

At the road we turned east and after a short while crossed a stile in the northern hedge, finding Boskenna Stile Cross on the opposite side of the field. This cross and the nearby Boskenna Gate Cross - comprise two way markers along the church way for St Buryan to the north. These types of ancient crosses date from anywhere between the 9th and 15th Centuries (Historic England (1) 2017).

It is clear from the Historic England Scheduled Ancient Monument listing that the Boskenna Gate Cross - which sits roadside on the B3315 - has seen better days even within the time span of the scheduling. What remains is a broken rectangular shaft - the cross head absent.

Boskenna Stile Cross

Boskenna Gate Cross (Rems.)

Following the B3315 towards Penzance the Boskenna Cross can be found on the corner of a road junction. The Latin cross head was re-found in a ditch during road works having been probably broken and discarded during the Reformation. It now stands on what has been described as a shaft and roller from a cider press. Since it's resetting - it has also become the victim of two car crashes (Cornwall Guide 2017).

Boskenna Cross

Between Boskenna Cross and the Merry Maidens lies Tregiffian Barrow - a Neolithic or Early Bronze Age entrance grave (Cornwall Heritage Trust, no date). This chambered cairn has been partially compromised by road builders in the 19th Century. Excavated a number of times, firstly in 1871 and then twice between 1967 and 1972 the archaeological evidence suggests it was built in two distinct phases between the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age (Historic England (2) 2017).

One of the striking features of the cairn is a cup-marked stone at the eastern side of the passage entrance bearing 25 cup marks consisting 13 circular cups and 12 oval cups (Historic England (3) 2017, MacNeil Cooke 1996). MacNeil Cooke (1996) suggests that the cup marks may represent the number of moon phases in a year - twelve full moons and 13 new moons - 13 also being a significant - perhaps magical? number - passed down through the ages - manifesting itself with respect to witches and their covens; Christ and his Apostles; the legend of the Round Table; a judge and jury e.g. think Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men.

This cup marked stone is a replica - the original being in the Royal Institution of Cornwall Museum, Truro - this information was helpfully described by the on site interpretation - and thus prevented a repeat of the Tarxian temple stone incident - to which I have referred elsewhere in this Blog:

http://awalkamongstthestones.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/stanydale-temple-shetland-mainland.html

At Tregiffian an additional cup marked stone can also be found on the upside of the chamber's roof - MacNeil Cooke (1996) refers to this particular stone as being reset as a capstone from where it was found collapsed in a previous excavation.


Tregiffian Barrow

"Lunar" Cup marked entrance stone

Cup marked capstone

The Merry Maidens are just down the road from the burial chamber. This Bronze Age stone circle comprising of nineteen stones is dated to Ca 2400BC (MacNeil Cooke 1996). Historic England (4) (2017) interestingly refers to the site as AKA "Dawns Men", although it's current entry has no other content other than the basic scheduling information. Historic-cornwall.org.uk (2007) explains that "Dans Maen" is Cornish for dancing stones, and refers to a local legend of wayward merrymakers.

Towards the Merry Maidens

A Victorian account of the stone circle describes the legend of maidens carelessly dancing on the Sabbath - having been tempted by two spirits in the guise of Pipers who appeared to them playing dance tunes. As the dancing became more excitable - a bolt of punishing lightening turned them and both "The Pipers" to stone for their sins (MacNeil Cooke 1996).

Cope (1998) describes the legend slightly differently - that the dancing party was originally convened on the Saturday evening - but getting carried away with themselves the revellers did not notice the changing of the hour at midnight and the start of the Sabbath day! Only the Pipers heard the strike of the St Buryan clock at midnight, and tried to flea in shame. Being caught themselves and turned to stone whilst running away across the neighbouring fields.

Historic-cornwall.org.uk (2007) suggests that the tale of the Merry Maidens and The Pipers may be a folk memory of historic rituals at the site Or a Christian morality tale warning against local pagan practices? Or perhaps a combination of both?

Dans Maen

The Pipers themselves are two large standing stones set within fields close-by to the stone circle - both of which stand at over 4m high. Historic England (5) (2017) also refers to a second tradition regarding these monoliths "[that] the two stones were set up following a battle against the Danes in the 9th century to commemorate the two slain leaders Howel and Athelstane".

This latter tradition may be as fanciful as the Sabbath day story? However, as with many traditions, there may be some real history behind the telling. There was a battle close by between Danes and the English and there was a leader called Athelstan - King Athelstan who reigned England between 925AD - 939AD. He passed through Cornwall in 930AD on his way to defeat the Danes on the Isles of Scilly. Following his victory he founded St Buryan Church at the site of St Buriana's Oratory (St Buryan Parish Council No Date; Athelstan.org.uk 2017)

Traditions aside, the Historic England scheduling of The Pipers recognises them as dating to Late Neolithic / Bronze Age and forming part of the wider ritual landscape (Historic England (5) 2017).

I've viewed these two standing stones several times over the years, from the adjacent road; whilst never venturing into the fields to stand beneath / beside them. Consequently my photographs have always failed to do justice to their stature. The photos from this visit were erroneously deleted because I did not recognise the image on a hasty editorial sweep of the iPhone.

We decided to finish our day's walking at The Merry Maidens, a decision helped enormously by the very thoughtful placement of a bus stop immediately next to the site.

Breaking the journey at St Buryan, we stocked up on supplies at the local shop & Post Office, then spent a while exploring St Buryan Church and it's Crosses. A quick visit to the St Buryan Inn was to prove disappointing - the only ale on draft was Doom Bar - and it was an old flat pint - which to be fair suitably matched the tiredness of the bar itself.


Addendum


Our Cornish pasties were purchased at Treen Café. The pasties were fresh and tasty: Treen Cafe - Facebook Page

Bibliography

Athelstan.org.uk (2017) ONLINE Who was King Athelstan? Available at: http://www.athelstan.org.uk/about-the-order/history/who-was-king-athelstan Retrieved 28th Dec 2017

Cope, J. (1998) The Modern Antiquarian Thorsons, Hammersmith London

Cornwall Guide (2017) ONLINE Boskenna Cross - St Buryan Available at: https://www.cornwalls.co.uk/photos/boskenna-cross-st-buryan.htm Retrieved 3rd Dec 2017

Cornwall Heritage Trust (no date) Cruk Tregiffian Tregiffian Burial Chamber On site interpretation panel

Historic Cornwall (2007) ONLINE Merry Maidens stone circle St Buryan Available at: http://www.historic-cornwall.org.uk/a2m/bronze_age/stone_circle/merry_maidens/merry_maidens.htm Retrieved 21st Dec 2017

Historic England (1) (2017) ONLINE Boskenna Gate Cross Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1010918 Retrieved 29th Nov 2017

Historic England (2) (2017) ONLINE Tregiffian Burial Chamber, St Buryan, Cornwall Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/educational-images/tregiffian-burial-chamber-st-buryan-9423Retrieved 3rd Dec 2017

Historic England (3) (2017) ONLINE Prehistoric entrance grave 900m north west of Tregiffian Farm Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1013665 Retrieved 3rd Dec 2017

Historic England (4) (2017) ONLINE The Merry Maidens (or Dawns Men) stone circle Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1006731Retrieved 21st Dec 2017

Historic England (5) (2017) ONLINE Two standing stones known as 'The Pipers', 130m and 230m south west of Boleigh Farm Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1006732 Retrieved 21st Dec 2017

MacNeil Cooke, I. (1996) 2nd Edition Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones Cornwall Litho Redruth

St Buryan Parish Council (no date) ONLINE St Buryan Church Land's End Benefice Church History Available at: http://www.stburyanchurch.org.uk/historical-church/church-history/ Retrieved 28th Dec 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Of Walks and Crosses .. Cornwall pt 1

Our guide to the stones


I have a distinctly faulty memory of the book that is Ian MacNeil Cooke's "Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones" (1996). If prompted I would have said that it has informed and engaged our walks and exploration for as long as I can remember we have travelled to Cornwall together? For as long as I can remember us taking an active interest in the archaeology and sacred sites of the Cornish peninsula? It is the go-to book and always travels West with us. I say always - I think I may have forgotten it once and felt bereft?

That my copy is the 2nd Edition (1996) 2000 Reprint - gives a certain lie to that memory - but the strength of the falsehood attests to the power of the book and it's hold on my attention over the intervening years. I now cannot tell you when I purchased it - it may have been on our honeymoon? Or before .. but surely not after? As the blog flies it could even be as late as 2008 - although I am sure it was much earlier?

This book provides a gazeteer of key Land's End antiquities, presented alongside a series of nine walks linking these often sacred places - with a description of sites, relevant maps, survey diagrams, author drawings; and interpretation both archaeological and spiritual in content. Reproduced within it's covers are some of the stunningly original artworks by Ian inspired by the spirituality of the landscape he has so singularly described. I can only find the briefest of author details on the internet to share:

Ian MacNeil Cooke - biography

This particular week in early Sept we arrived in Treen, placing ourselves just a footstep away from the coast, whereupon sits Treryn Dinas Cliff Castle and the Logan Rock. Penberth is a short walk east and in the opposite direction Porthcurno, St Levan and Porthgwarra.

The local pub is the Logan Rock Inn which serves the mighty double act that is the St Austell Brewery's "Tribute" Cornish Pale Ale; and "Proper Job" IPA. The pub food isn't bad either - and even at this point in the season, most of the tables were reserved for one if not two sittings each per night.

The Logan Rock Inn, Treen

Our first walk out on the Sunday was based upon "Walk Seven" in MacNeil Cooke (1996) - with only a minor detour added to the east - taking us out of the village, across the fields and down through the sunken wooded track leading to Penberth. The day was grey and heavy mist hung - obscuring the views and making us dress up against the wet air. However it was so mild that we were to find ourselves - steamed up and somewhat over-heated as the day progressed.

Penberth - as we were to find out from a local fisherman on a later walk - is a cultural hotspot at the time of writing - due to the regular location filming of the latest BBC Poldark series.

I "pished" for migrants in the garden bushes and scrubby woodland of the valley bottom, with scant reward of a single chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) soft-calling "sooee" in response along with an inquisitive goldcrest (Regulus regulus) appearing from within a passing tit flock.

On the harbour-side rocks I noticed a couple of grey bush crickets (Platycleis albopunctata). I hadn't seen this species before - but instantly recognised that it was different from the similar dark bush cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) due to its long wings - the wings are short on the dark bush cricket. The grey bush cricket is described as a "coastal species" according to the "iRecord Grasshoppers and Related Insects" mobile App - through which I was able to submit the biological record there and then!

hollow-way to Penberth

Penberth harbour in the gloam

Platycleis albopunctata

We turned west and followed the coastal path - to meet up with the line of the original MacNeil Cooke's walk, soon passing the great outer wall of Treryn Dinas, and squinting beyond its entrance for a hopeless glimpse of the mist-hidden Logan Rock. We would have to wait to see the Logan another day.

At Porthcurno the coastal path passes between two WWII pill boxes before a spur takes you down to Percella Point where a third defence directly overlooks Porthcurno beach. An open chamber at the back of this pill-box would have contained an anti-aircraft gun. In total there are six of theses boxes still standing at Porthcurno - remnants of the heavy defence of the Transatlantic Cable STN - which provided a vital communications link between Britain and America at the time of our greatest need (archaeologydataservice.ac.uk, no date).

WWII pill-box, Percella Point


We left Porthcurno by the seemingly near vertical ladder, of the stone steps up to and immediately beside the Minack Theatre, from there we crossed the theatre's Car Park and reconnected with the coastal path.

Our next stop would be St Levan's Holy Well AKA Porth Chapel Holy Well - this three sided structure atop a granite slab, part covers the opening to a natural spring beneath. On appearance the water looked dark, still and uninviting. I did not venture a taste despite being at this point both hot and thirsty from the prolonged walk in such warm and damp weather.

Hoyle (2007) suggests that the structure is difficult to date due to its history of restoration, and by being only first mentioned by the Cornish Antiquarian W. Borlase in the 18th Century. Historic England (1) 2017) goes further to suggest that the structure of the Holy Well is presumed to be 18th Century - although overlying an earlier site / well. MacNeil Cooke (1996) describes the Holy Well's water as having been previously, deemed a good remedy for eye and tooth problems, perhaps due to a level of naturally occurring minerals including fluorine?

St Levan's Holy Well

Between the Holy Well and the beach of Porth Chapel lies possibly "the oldest Christian building in Cornwall" (Hoyle S. 2007). St Levan's Chapel is the remains of two small buildings. Probably a hermitage and chapel dating to the 7th or 8th Century which are now associated with St Levan (Historic England (2) 2017).

Out of interest Hoyle (2007) gives an etymological description for the origins of the Saint's name which is first recorded as Selevan AKA Salamun i.e. Solomon - spelt Selevan within a Vatican text from 900AD - and thereafter probably corrupting to St Levan in the Anglo-Saxon tongue?

The path to the early chapel is eroded and a local sign requests the walker stop to save the path from further decay or falling onto the beach below. Stopping in compliance with this request I tried hard to make out the relevant archaeological features - and failed. Taking photos I hoped it might make sense later against a reference plan, but I am still unsure even now when reviewing the photographs as to what is natural stone setting or that of a stone placed by a hermit?

Part of St Levan's Chapel? I could go no further to investigate

Leaving the coast, we walked inland a short way to The Church of St Levan. Whereby, we were greeted with the warmth & welcome of this place - tangible, serene, spiritual and pragmatic.


The Church of St Leven

Shortly after entering the building I was directed by A to the southern aisle of the church - wherein a simple sign welcomed you to the "Walkers' Chapel" and offered - physical succour - small bottles of still or sparkling water along with a choice of "Gluten Free" cereal bars. A small donation being welcomed in return.

I felt a little overwhelmed by the timeliness of this thoughtful provision for our well-being. I had been thirsty for a while on this walk, and was bordering on the over-wrought having ill-supplied myself with provisions for the day. By the grace of this Church I was able to restore myself to equilibrium; and concentrate on exploring the church and its environs without physical distraction.

Walkers' Chapel, The Church of St Levan

My Christian upbringing was characterised by a noticeable lack of iconography - worshipping in a multitude of austere functional spaces dedicated to God - or alternatively in public assembly rooms or sports stadiums requisitioned by the day or weekend for wider fellowship. I was 17 years old before I stepped inside a consecrated building which held the ostentatious symbols of Christianity.

That place was Chichester Cathedral, and whilst I retain little recollection of the building itself - I do vividly remember the Piper Tapestry - depicting the Holy Trinity flanked by the Four Gospel Writers. Having never really experienced religious iconography let alone of a scale so intense - I was stunned by it. I felt compelled to buy a postcard of the tapestry. The postcard would subsequently travel with me throughout both my college and university years where it could be found hanging alongside the eclectic mix of rock band and protest posters which adorned my numerous bedroom walls.

The Piper Tapestry, Chichester Cathedral

At University, I would occasionally stride north on the Beverley Road / Hull Road to Beverley Minster. I could sit for hours in silent contemplation or as often in a desperate kind of prayer. I can still recall the sense of place and peace within its walls.

Beverley Minster

More recently I found myself entranced by St Nonna's of Alternun - to which I would return several times over a week spent chasing stones on Bodmin Moor.

St Nonna's of Altarnun

St Levan's Church is steeped in a Millennium and a half of history. The chapel being founded in the 6th Century by St Levan. The original church of simple construct was later replaced by a pre-Norman Church, then rebuilt again in the 12th Century in cruciform. The building was then expanded in the 15th Century to its (almost) current form (Burr J.C. 2003).

The church contains some beautifully carved pew ends varying in date from the 16th to the 20th Century and a rood screen consisting a Victorian restoration of an earlier Tudor screen (Hoyle S. 2007). I will return to the pew ends in a later blog entry; and have only a slight confession that the rood screen did not attract my attention during the course of these visits.

Unlike the rood screen, the Celtic style crosses did not fail to grab my attention! Beside the southern porch is a large Anglo-Saxon cross (Hoyle S. 2007) standing tall at approx. 7 feet. This cross is thought to be older than the church itself and may be the earliest marker of the Christian site (MacNeil Cooke I. 1996). That it stands so close to the split rock known as "The St Levan's Stone" (Burr J.C. 2003) is not a coincidence? But perhaps a deliberate attempt by the Christian Church to neutralise the power of a pre-existing pagan site of female fertility worship (Hoyle S. 2007)? Credence can be given to this theory of blatant appropriation and subjugation, MacNeil Cooke (1996) refers to a letter from Pope Gregory to an Abbot Mellitus in the first year of the 7th Century. The Pope instructs the Abbot that on his travels to Britain he should preach from the pagan places of worship having first destroyed their idols - and by doing so maintain a strong connection of worship amongst the locals. At St Levan - the Cross overshadowing the Split Stone stands as a less than subtle metaphor for Christian Patriarchy's triumph over the Pagan Goddess.

Early Churchyard Cross & its proximity
to The St Levan's Stone


The St Levan's Stone
or pre-Christian fertility stone?

The Christian re-cycling of an earlier pagan site may also explain the motive behind the legend that St Levan himself split the rock with his bare hands (or staff) before exclaiming:

"When with panniers astride
A pack-horse can ride
Through St Levan's Stone
The world be done"

(McNeil Cooke I. 1996; Hoyle S. 2007)

Another churchyard cross of note stands beside the coffin rest stile on the eastern side of the churchyard - whereby the path heads out to / from Rospletha. Hoyle (2007) indicates that this cross has broken off its original shaft and later remounted on a square plinth. A second coffin rest stile is set in the northern boundary - but, somehow lacking the grandeur of its eastern cohort?

The coffin rest stile

Cross looking west

Further information about the Church can be found at: St Levan Church

Having explored St Levan's we turned back east - through the coffin rest stile and headed back to Treen - passing our final Cross of the day - situated just outside Rospletha in a field called "Churchway" (MacNeil Cooke I. 1996).

The path to Rospletha

Rospletha Cross (South face)
Bibliography

archaeologydataservice.ac.uk (no date) ONLINE Defence Area 28 - Porthcurno Available at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/catalogue//adsdata/arch-455-1/dissemination/pdf/Text_Reports/DA28_TEXT_-_PORTHCURNO.pdf Retrieved 16th Nov 2017

Biological Records Centre (no date) iRecord Grasshoppers and Related Insects App V 2.1.4 (215) Available to Download at: iRecord Grasshoppers and Related Insects Retrieved 16th Nov 2017

Burr J. C. (2003) St Levan Church church pamphlet

Historic England (1) (2017) ONLINE Holy Well of St Levan Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1143839 Retrieved 16th Nov 2017

Historic England (2) (2017) ONLINE Medieval chapel and hermitage called St Levan's Chapel Available at: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1007285 Retrieved 16th Nov 2017

Hoyle S. (2007) The Church of St Levan A Guide and History Hypatia Publications Penzance Cornwall

MacNeil Cooke, I. (1996) 2nd Edition Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones Cornwall Litho Redruth