July 2008 - Illand

Nursing the Good Land

Drawing back the veil in deepest East Cornwall

Travelling down the moss-covered single track road to Illand, you could be forgiven for assuming that this hamlet is about as far from the highway as it’s possible to get in southern England. However, this seemingly somnambulant settlement is every bit as much a part of the subtle-energy superhighway as any celebrated city.

We were the guests of Ken and Ethnie Roberts, who run the village’s only current claim to fame – the wondrously rambling complex of polytunnels and undergrowth known as Illand Nurseries. As a self-taught dowser, Ken was aware that there were some interesting energy features on their land. Our role was to interpret some of these, and look for others in what is virtually virgin dowsing territory.

Following several days of persistent heavy showers, we were very grateful for an interlude of a few precious hours of comparative climatic calm to explore this fascinating place – albeit in our Wellingtons and walking boots.

The first surprise was found on the lawn, where a substantial earth energy spiral described an unusual serration to its design. I had only found this twice before – once in our house, in response to the placing of a quartz crystal in the centre of a spiral and once at Rame Chapel, where a quantity of quartz in the ground seemed to have a similar effect. The Illand example seemed to have nothing to do with crystals, so we were a bit flummoxed. It was possible that it was a former location of a standing stone or a Druidic grove. However, Alan Neal was able to discern the path of a geological fault right underneath the spiral and we were drawn to the conclusion that the interference pattern of the crossing energy lines was subject to further interference from the fault. Despite the unconventional pattern, the centre of the spiral was felt by many to be both uplifting and decidedly warm!

Ken and Ethnie’s house is crossed by no fewer than three ley lines, at least one of which also passes through another site the TDs have visited recently - Trecarrell Manor. An adjacent row of houses sits completely within the ambit of a particularly wide band of earth energy - doubtless the result of some form of vernacular divination in times past. Coupled with the ley lines that also traverse these buildings, we were left thinking that there would be more than mundane domesticity to found therein.

Several people noted not only the particularly positive nature of the nurseries, but the distinct difference in feeling of a neighbour’s property, which appeared to be the result of a natural line of stress crossing the latter. The difference was further emphasised by the presence of protection around the edge of the nurseries. We were able to stand on one side of the hedge, and then the other, to sense the comparison. Dating the line of protection was difficult, but it lay deep in antiquity. No doubt the local shaman set this shield in place at the request of the then owners, perhaps back in the Iron Age, and it has remained there right up to the present day - currently effectively minimising the horticultural damage caused by straying cattle and hungry rabbits.

As we followed this line of detection, we found that the north eastern boundary of the site was strangely curved – more like the arcane footprint of a Celtic llan than the rectangular shape of a post-enclosure field. Dating the earth and stone bank and its crown of ancient trees took us back several thousand years. This place has been in human occupation way back into the history of these islands.

More surprises were in store. Some members found that a cowshed at the bend of the road had once been the site of a Christian chapel, of sorts, in Norman times. The energy lines and huge spiral were seemingly at odds with its current use, but doubtless the cattle it houses suffer less stress with their lowly lot than many of their colleagues.

With so many energy lines of various types, the presence of a large number of spirals was inevitable. Within the nurseries, all of these seemed positive. This doubtless largely accounted for the upbeat ambience of the site. Many of these spirals contained sturdy trees and flourishing shrubs.

There are wells in abundance in this vicinity, which is likely to have been one of the original reasons for its prominent settlement in earlier times. The current well near the Roberts’ house was found to have quite a low flow, but to have an excellent quality of water - exceptionally so for an agricultural area, usually subject to problems with mineral run-off. Another well was detected, half-hidden by brambles and shrouded from view by a rusting metal grid, in the opposite bank of the road. Other former well locations were found nearby.

This site became Illand Nurseries as far back as 1820, right at the very start of the concept of growing and using plants for domestic fruit and vegetable production and for ornamentation. In the 1860’s, it was known for the quality of its apple trees. Clearly, this makes it a site of serious historical interest in its own right. But long before that date, people were building and rebuilding at Illand. We traced the form of a building that used to stand on the land that is now the road - and we traced the former route taken by the road, closer to the current house. All around the village, telltale traces of former building lines were evident both above and below the ground - with some stone buildings dating back to at least the 13th century.

This tranquil corner of deepest east Cornwall may seem an unlikely place to uncover such striking and interesting features, but just beyond the veil this hamlet is clearly a very significant node on the arteries of the invisible networks. On the old Ordinance Survey map of the area, its is shown by its former name of Yelland (possibly Helland?), which may well indicate its status as a former sacred site.

Many thanks indeed to the Roberts family for their kindness and hospitality. We were left feeling that they are ideal people to be nursing this important location - and, as so often happens with our site visits, we went away to digest our findings, with a view to taking up Ken’s invitation of returning another day.

Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers

August 2008