Dozmary Pool and Temple Church
A field trip by the Tamar Dowsers to Bodmin Moor
with Helen Fox and Stuart Dow
Having lived in this area for all-but 50 years it never fails to amaze me that there are still places (and sometimes quite big places) that I have never visited. Dozmary Pool (which Stuart Dow describes as the hub of Bodmin Moor) isn’t really on the way to anywhere, at least not on the physical plane. However, being led to it by some of my colleagues was a surprising and very pleasant revelation.
About twenty of us gathered to investigate this truly ancient geological site, and to examine some of the dowsable features and feelings to be found there. It was the first real outdoor event for the TDs since the lifting of the social-mixing shroud. There was an evident outpouring of joy just to be able to get together again without the need for electronic intervention. The location seemed almost incidental to this regrouping, but it added greatly to the experience.
Bodmin Moor can be dark and foreboding on a dank winter’s day, but in fine weather and in good company it can be somewhere else entirely. The Pool is actually a substantial lake, dating back to the last ice age, and is one of the few really old natural features in Cornwall not to have been significantly modified by man. It is fed from below by springs and even though it now has a modern culvert linking it to nearby Colliford Reservoir, it retains its ability to maintain a near-constant surface level. Despite only being three metres deep at the maximum, and much shallower than that across most of the lake, it only drops into marshiness in the most extreme of drought conditions. The quality of the water dowsed at around 7/10, with the deficit due, much as ever, to agricultural run-off.
I dowsed some hut circles on the eastern shoreline, which in most circumstances would seem too close to the floodline to be wise, but here the stasis of the environment in historical times seems to have made it possible to live comfortably close to fresh water, and possibly also to fish and fowl for food.
This finding was compounded by the discovery of a series of pictograms associated with ‘gathering’ or ‘family’, co-incident with both the Bronze Age dwellings and some of the nearby archaeology. However, there was also a blunt equal-armed cross pictogram, which dated from the (pre-Christian) Iron Age, indicating a continuity of habitation across the millennia.
Some of us picked up wide, strong energy leys by the shore, with several bands, which crossed somewhere out in the middle of the water body - and would certainly have given the whole terroir an ambience of otherworldliness for those with senses appropriately attuned. Dozmary is associated with the Arthurian stories and hosts the Cornish take on the Excalibur incident. Whether or not a sixth century royal Briton passed this way is not so easy to confirm by dowsing, but the environmental energies are certainly commensurate with what we might typically consider to be a revered and sacred space.
Much to enjoy - and to experience at greater length another day. Helen Fox is co-ordinating a summary of the findings of the group, and this may be circulated dreckly - or perhaps a bit later.
In the afternoon, we decamped to the modest, but enigmatic church in the village of Temple, a few miles down the road. The clue is in the name, but this is widely considered to have been a stopover on the Templar route across Kernow, with the knights and/or their camp followers departing from Mevagissey on the south coast, onwards to mainland Europe.
The older part of the building is surprisingly small for such substantial masonry, and its location half way down a slope affords no intervisibility with the local high points or nearby archaeological remains. Consequently, the reasons for its specific location would be unfathomable to the mainstream historian. However, for the dowser, the energy patterns and features are clear. Water, earth energy and informational dowsing indicate that this was a trademark sacred site long before the ‘itinerant guardians of the true path’ put down roots here in the 12th Century.
The strong energies in the church, though on a reasonably standard Christian template, are not for everyone. Some people picked up presences, who had no particular desire to move on - and maybe that gives rise to a certain type of ambience. The interior is quite small today, and that’s after a considerable makeover and expansion in late Victorian times. Prior to that, it must have seemed more like a substantial wayside shrine and a place to recharge the batteries (spiritually, you understand).
In the churchyard outside stands an incongruously-placed and over-engineered granite garden shed, in the sidewalls of which are embedded a number of religious stone artefacts, seemingly from a previous incarnation of the church and dowsing as having been found buried in the surrounding land.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the church had devolved into ruin and it was officially closed in 1882. However, it was rescued and rebuilt by the wonderfully named Silvanus Trevail and it is largely his efforts, including the acquisition of stained glass dating from 1883, that we see today.
The ‘shed’ itself is locked, but its tiny floorplan dowses as being crossed by lines of several types, including at least one ley. It would be fascinating to know what else it encapsulates amidst the strimmers and the lawnmowers.
Quite apart from the church, this time we were able to gain access to the field next door, courtesy of enquiries made by TDs Rosie and Neve. Rosie was on gate duty, which enabled the rest of us to look for Templar - and any other - remains within a few metres of the graveyard.
The combined efforts of several of the group revealed a barn-sized building layout, with a number of potential rooms around a cloistered courtyard. In the middle of this construction was the former location of a hexagonal flat stone, which still had radial energy fanning out into the surrounding environment.
This residence might well have been some of the accommodation provided by and to the Templars for those on the pilgrim route, which was part of the original stated purpose of the order.
The structure dowsed as being originally built in stone with the courtyard open to the sky. Only one small pillar remains in place above ground. Although this is also sited plum on the ley coursing through the church altar, and is also on a crossing node of the Benker grid, our investigations implied that it had originally been intended to be the centre point of the building, before the multi-faceted flat stone was placed there. Some of our flags hit what seemed to be sunken masonry, which was tantalising. However, without a JCB to hand, we had to go with the dowsing results and pronounce it (probably) to have been a Hospilator’s hostelry. Our dowsing also indicated that only men were housed here.
A field trip, which included a visit to Temple Church, was one of the earlier outings made by the fledgeling TDs in 2004, and it is interesting to note how far our dowsing has come in the intervening couple of decades.
Many thanks to Stuart and Helen for such a well-organised, informative and enjoyable outing - and to Rosie and Neve for getting us access to the field.
We even managed to wedge in a group cup of tea in the beer-garden of the nearby Jamaica Inn - normally a tourist honeypot, but strangely quiet on a sunny summer Saturday, despite a full car park.