top of page

April 2023 - Fernacre Circle

Fernacre Circle, Alex Tor

and Treswallock Downs

A Tamar Dowsers field trip on Bodmin Moor

with Neve Heartwood

After two decades of TDs outings and adventures, it is always surprising, and exciting, to be presented with yet more virtually unexplored dowsing sites in this area. Had we come across these venues in the early days of the group, I doubt if we would have approached them in quite the same way - so maybe there really is a time for all places.

Fernacre Stone Circle is on open moorland and is freely accessible. However, its location well away from easily drivable trackways renders it that bit less trammelled and that bit more amenable to the questors of subtle energies. Uninviting in the midwinter weather, and submerged by the vegetation in high summer, this was probably the optimum time for an initial dowsing visit.

Recent rain had us wondering about the wisdom of investigating this moorland site in April, but in the end the weather gods were with us - and, on a thankfully cool dry day, it was a perfect place to explore at leisure. The site guardian seemed quite happy for us to be there, and that bode well for our visit.

Following the recent talk by Carolyn Kennett to the TDs, we were keen to look for both astronomical alignments in the stones of the circle, and also their connections to other known features in the area. One triangular outlier, in particular, had a distinct significance in this context. In fact, outliers and their relationship to the larger stone placements were a recurring theme of the day. As in most circles of this type, leys and other straight lines can be found in abundance, often addressing the tips and troughs of surrounding tors as they appear on the skyline.

Stuart and Neve flagged up a substantial pair of interwoven energy lines - one ‘male’ and one ‘female’ - snaking across the Fernacre disc. The circle exudes a predominantly female energy, but the presence of a wide solar grid line, running straight through the middle, helps to maintain a feeling of balance. As ever, underground water plays its part in determining the form and location of the circle - and while indicating the presence of a water spiral to a new member, I found I had been led into a particularly soft patch.

There is a huge amount of information on many levels to find and consider here, and lunchtime arrived - and almost passed - while we were engrossed in our dowsing activities.

Neve had arranged with the local landowner for us to park as close as was practical to the circle itself, and this also formed a suitable base for the second leg of our outing. Alex Tor hosts a number of stone features, which may appear to be less significant archaeologically, but are ideal for unprimed dowsing activity. We worked around several hitherto ignored smaller stones, some of which displayed some interesting alignments.

We also investigated a collection of material that our dowsing indicated might have been the degraded remains of a ‘passage grave’ or ‘fogou’-type structure. If so, this would be an unusual type of feature to be found in this part of Cornwall. The presence of just one dislodged capstone seems to have been taken as evidence of a cist - but if other roofing slabs have been removed over the centuries for reuse in the walls nearby . . .

To the west of Alex Tor, we ventured out onto Treswallock Downs, where we encountered two structures described as cairns (well, you have to call them something for mapping purposes). Both were clearly not marker or burial cairns as such, but some form of ancient circular communal space, neither used for permanent habitation nor husbandry. One was significantly older than the other, but both indicated that their structures once incorporated a scaffolding of large wooden stakes, augmented by leafy branches or other vegetation.

The more westerly round, in particular, is still in sufficiently good order to facilitate dowsing for purpose, form and function. Sighting alignments were found to surrounding high points (one including an outlier). This was a really important, and quite unexpected, dowsing opportunity - especially as it has not been overly confused by remaindered modern human thought forms!

There was some debate around the siting, or otherwise, of various standing stones nearby, which might be naturally occurring uprights or alternatively carefully placed pointed menhirs. Sight lines and energy features were tantalizing, if not conclusive. Several of us took the opportunity to lie back on one dramatically leaning stone, which has the potential for astronomical significance. Such was the group sense of relaxation there that dinner might well have passed us by too. The idea of admiring and/or interacting with a starlit night sky from such a special spot in a semi-prone position actually chimed rather well with Carolyn Kennett’s observations on the potential for a partial archaeo-astronomical interpretation for the original function of the nearby King Arthur’s Hall.

As if all of this information and experience wasn’t enough for one day’s dowsing, the foray had one last trick of the tail. Just beyond the parking place, in an innocuous corner of open ground, a quantity of standing stones are arranged in rectangles - marked on the OS map as ‘field system’. Fields of some sort they may well have been from the Iron Age right up almost to the present day. However, the size of the blocks and their inability to do anything more than indicate a boundary, implies that the boulders were placed for other reasons that pre-dated their use as overstated agricultural artifacts.

Our dowsing led us to the conclusion that Neve had come across an important archeological site, disguised (and indeed preserved) as part of a matrix of ancient field enclosures. There is a precise east-west alignment to one row (see above), which is indicative of solstice significance. Parallel to this row, is a modest double stone series, initially noted by Jan, which is very reminiscent of the longer stone rows at Merrivale on Dartmoor, complete with (fallen) blocking stones and dowsable energy braiding. If this finding were to be confirmed by further dowsing, it would be a highly significant discovery - a pivotal site for Bodmin Moor, hidden in plain sight for millennia.

Even at the end of the end of the visit, there was still a last twist. Yet another outlier - probably only ignored by the stonecutters because of its small size and jagged shape - appeared to mimic the outline of the tor-ridge it faced on the horizon. Rosie showed that we had to lie in the grass to see the full impression of the duplicated image.

It is a remarkable and an intriguing match - and arguably better explained by synchronicity and/or stone-masonry than by raw co-incidence or prompted imagination.

As with all such outings, it was only possible to scratch the surface of the available dowsing material. However, not only was there plenty here for the less experienced to sense at first hand, but also any amount of exciting opportunities for those of us who have plied their craft for many years.

Many thanks to Neve Heartwood, and to Stuart Dow, for setting up and organising this really enjoyable field trip, which was brimful of unexpected cameos.

Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers

April 2023


bottom of page