Where the River Tamar reaches the great expanse of the English Channel lies the Rame peninsula. There is so much natural, social and spiritual history here that we could not do it justice in just one day last year, so we went back to take a look at some different sites – with some different people.
A dozen TDs turned out in the middle of the peak holiday season to be greeted by the brisk sou’westerly of a Cornish August Sunday. Our first stop was the ancient ruined chapel of St Michael on Rame Head.
This is a site that has seen the passage of human history from the earliest of times. The current structure dates back 500 years, but dowsing took us back way beyond that - through various stone structures on a similar floorplan, to a wooden building and then to an open sacred site. The wooden structure appears to have been destroyed in a storm, but why the stone structure was enlarged by a modest amount is less clear – especially as one corner of it now stands in the middle of a strong energy spiral, which would normally be designed out or brought into an old church layout. Perhaps the architect understood the importance of earth energy and felt the extra few feet would help to energise his structure by neatly describing the pattern of energies and leys – as it does.
For anyone to build here, on this seriously exposed headland, required considerable determination and enthusiasm. But no wonder - the tiny chapel, barely big enough to house a dozen curious dowsers from a passing scurry, encloses in its compact footprint three crossing leys, at least two strong earth energy lines, plus water markers. As a microcosm of earth energies, it is a veritable demonstration piece.
This location, with its magnificent views across Plymouth Sound and out to the Eddystone lighthouse and beyond has also been a beacon site and defensive lookout for millennia. The presence of the nearby coastguard station and the concrete platform of the WWII gun emplacement, built into the side of this ancient structure, demonstrate this very clearly. We found the sites of beacons and the former lodgings of a person who lived in the chapel building, though whether he was a hermit or a mediaeval coastguard was less clear - maybe both.
A little closer still to the sea was the crossing point of other energies, previously revered, but now unhelpfully absorbed by gorse – and yet another, even further south, which displayed a peculiar dowsing pattern. At first I thought the wind was blowing my rods around, except that the wind had dropped in this more sheltered spot. The spiral had a serrated edge, just like the one in our dining room acquires when you put a certain crystal in the middle of it. I concluded that the underlying composition of the rock was causing this – and, if so, this was the first time it had been shown to me on a field trip.
The location of graves of shipwrecked sailors, possibly Spaniards, was dowsed nearby – souls too foreign to be brought to the main churchyard at Rame, but too Christian to be left to rot in unconsecrated ground. The spiritual, former pagan, Rame Chapel site might have seemed a reasonable compromise to the outlook of the age.
The wind dropped, the drizzle disappeared and the sandwiches came out. We mulled over our findings, discussed the meaning of life - as you do - and our little convoy moved on.
Passing the fascinating Rame church, which we visited last year, we made our way to the refurbished church of Maker, on the edge of the Mount Edgecumbe Country Park.
This remarkable green lung is just a couple of miles and a short ferry ride
from central Plymouth – yet only a tiny proportion of its 250,000 population ever find it. For those in search of a brief
break from the pressure of City life, maybe that’s a good thing
The Edgecumbe family have lived in this area for several generations, although the park is now owned and managed jointly by Plymouth City and Cornwall County Councils. The Edgecumbes took on Maker Church as part of their acquisition and set about doing it up in true Victorian style. Consequently, most of the soft architecture has disappeared, leaving the stonework and the energy lines to tell the real story.
The church has a long history, perhaps dating back to the 11th Century, but the contemporary font has no water lines, as it was brought from St Merryn. What the inhabitants of St Merryn thought about losing such a priceless artefact is not recorded!
Despite the presence of most of the ‘usual’ energies, the church has rather dull feel, with one section to the eastern side, quite unpleasant to be in for any time. What the occupants of these pews feel about it is also not known. This part of the church is over a vault, which may help to explain the discomfort. There are a series of crossing energies - under the bell-tower and at least twice in the nave. There are also crossing leys in the nave, echoing those at Rame Church and Rame Chapel – a string of pearls across the high ground of this formerly remote and windswept promontory.
The general feeling was that from a dowsing perspective, the 19th century makeover had done this potentially spiritual site no favours. It was interesting for all that, especially as a comparator for the vibrant Rame Church, a couple of miles away, but we were keen to move on.
We fitted in an impromptu visit to a barrow in the country park. We must have been a bit scrambled, however, and a mixture of mis-dowsing and poor map reading led us to an unlikely spot, which may have been a former sacred site, but was certainly not the barrow on the map. After a pleasant walk through the park, we eventually found the Barrow Car Park and Toilets, which sounded promising. Suddenly, there it was - a distinctive grassy mound behind the cricket pavilion.
Riddled with a rabbit warren (which may have saved it from the landscape designers!) and sited next to the boundary of the cricket pitch, you would be excused for thinking this was a not-very-ancient pile of builders’ rubble - but the dowsing proved otherwise. It may be on a flat area, with nothing much of prominence in line of sight, but this dowsed as being another important part of the history of Rame – crossing energies, a massive spiral even prior to activation, a ley, water. Hardly undiscovered, but certainly not revered – let’s hope the fielders and the field life don’t knock it about too much.
Many thanks to John & Ruth for their local knowledge, to Alan Neal for joining us again and to the vicar of Maker for leaving his church open for us.