Any sentence containing the words balmy, Bodmin Moor and March is highly suspect. Yet there we were - a dozen of us, enjoying the re-arranged outing to investigate the antiquities of the moor on a warm, still spring Sunday. It was almost spooky.
At our last indoor meeting of the season, local archaeological expert, Dave Hooley, had flagged up an alignment that linked the Pipers standing stones on the edge of the Hurlers complex, a much-ruined stone circle on Craddock Moor and a couple of enigmatic low embankments. The TDs went to investigate them.
The Pipers are two tall menhirs that mark, or focus, energy to the west of the Hurlers circles. They dowse as being part of the wider Hurlers matrix, and they have quite distinct energy patterns of their own. However, they also appear to have other functions as well, one of which is to mark a point on Dave Hooley’s alignment. We were clearly on the designated spot as a ley runs through these stones and off across the seemingly empty expanse of Craddock Moor to the north west - and to the reconstructed apex of Caradon Hill to the south east.
Our next stop was the flattened remains of a stone circle. On my recce, I had struggled to find this site with a map and a compass, as even the modest growth of tussock grass renders it all but invisible until you are actually standing in it. However, using our rods, we walked straight to it. No problem.
The stones may all be prone, but the energy they used, or once contained, was still very evident. This is not a place that gets too much attention, other than from the sheep and the ponies, so the site felt more alive, less thumbed than its more prominent neighbour. It was interesting that while we were there the energy lines evidently widened, as if acknowledging our presence.
We traced various of them around the remaining fallers, but more importantly for the day’s research, we found Dave’s alignment striding through the circle a dozen paces wide and dead in line with the massive Caradon TV mast. When the mast was first built, apparently the top of Caradon Hill was levelled off. It is such an obvious natural high-point on this part of the moor, that its summit is very likely to have been emphasised by a barrow or a cairn. Whether this was recorded or removed by the developers is unknown - but it is certainly part of the ley now.
Our other target was a pair of long, low embankments, elongated mounds, further down the hill to the north west from the stone circle. Without Dave’s prompting, even the most experienced dowser would have missed these altogether. They look for all the world like another of the many scars left by the ravages of mining that still litter this area, both on the surface and beneath it. On a calm March day, ambling in the hazy sunshine after lunch, it is easy to forget that this part of Cornwall was comprehensively trashed for more than a couple of centuries. Every stone worth using was taken away for recycling in walls or buildings. In hindsight, it is surprising that anything of the Hurlers and their environs remained to tell the tale. But, improbably, a few beleaguered survivors still hint at what was once an extensive matrix of menhirs and mounds .
The banks themselves are now little more than a couple of feet above ground level, and look for all the world to be the debris of mineral mining. They are so insignificant that they would probably even be ignored by a youth in a BMX park.
However, having been flagged up for investigation, they dowsed as being at least 3,000 years old, deliberately placed and smack on the Caradon mast alignment. Interestingly, from the banks, which are well down the eastern slope of Craddock Moor, none of the eastern parts of the line can be seen.
We checked for a ley, and found it running straight down the middle of the two mounds, again around 12 paces wide, but unusually with no obvious marker on the exposed eastern horizon. Additionally, we found strings of earth energy running along the banks, very much in line with the ley. We didn’t exactly agree on the form of the energy display, but we were agreed it was there.
Part of the way down the northeastern bank is a hole in the ground. It resembles a cairn, several of which lie in the vicinity - and again, all or any of these could be dismissed as mining rubble or spoil. The significance of this hole is that it dowses to be the place where a sizeable stone (perhaps about 5ft high) once stood.
Three energy lines still run through it, and spiral around it. They are quite definite strands, the sort that have been there for millennia, rather than the weaker ones that tend to be attracted to more recently erected structures.
Pete followed the line onwards down the hill, while the rest of us mulled over this insignificant, yet enigmatic spot. It did not seem to have been a processional way; it may well have been used as some form of stock enclosure for a while - but was unlikely to have been constructed for that purpose. At an original height of about four to five feet above the original ground level, it was no defensive structure, yet it was definitely associated with the invisible alignment.
The construction date is contemporary with at least one phase of the Hurlers, and the cairn-type building material indicates it was built about the same time as other mounds and tumuli in the vicinity. The ley itself dated as being put in place at least 5,000 - 6,000 years ago, well before the banks - and the earth energy in the ground goes back before the dawn of human time.
Pete returned with the fascinating news that the line we had been following disappeared into the ground in a very energetic spiral at the bottom of the hill. This indicated that there is indeed earth energy in the line - as well as a visual alignment. It might also imply that the ley (as a thought-form) may terminate there too, as it does not appear to be marked on the visual horizon.
As ever, more questions than answers. This site demands much more attention. Can we disentangle the archaeological remains from the industrial leftovers? Were there more significant stones in the area, now removed?
I love Bodmin in the Springtime - or was that a song about somewhere else?