Walking the Trelew Line

On May 29th as part of the CASPN’s annual day of walks and talks I led a walk from Boscawen-ûn following the Trelew line visiting a number of standing stones on route.

The Trelew line was first identified by Sir Norman Lockyer who was considering astronomical alignments from Boscawen-ûn to local features. He suggested the Trelew standing stone was in a November setting position when stood at the circle. Since then John Michel identified an intervening menhir, called Chyangwens, this is found in a local farm hedge. Visible from miles around, it is an impressive piece of granite. Another stone Toldavas extends the line further on from Trelew towards the Lamorna gap on the south coast of Penwith.

When I considered the Trelew line in my work at Boscawen-ûn I felt that it was less likely that it was used as an accurate marker of a solar position. Instead I consider that the stones radiating out from the circle were positioned to lead people either to or from the circle and the Lamorna gap, used as a route for people to travel between the two sites. A similar set of stones also radiate out from the Lamorna gap to the Merry Maidens!!

Why would people want to go to so much effort to mark a way between these two locations? If you are standing at Boscawen-ûn on the winter solstice the sun would rise out of the sea, from a cut in the horizon which the Lamorna gap makes. It is a nice idea to think that people would walk between these locations, maybe in and around the solstice itself. I don’t believe they stopped there, I think they could have continued their journey to Tregeseal to watch the winter solstice sunset in another sea gap. This time one that frames the Isles of Scilly. But that’s a longer story and for another time!!!

Anyway here are some pictures of the Trelew stone and Chyangwens.

Please follow CASPN on facebook or look at their website to find out more https://cornishancientsites.com/

Wolf Moon – Supermoon over Cornwall

 

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Men-an-Tol – Supermoon

 

Yesterday the evening had a break in the clouds from the run of stormy weather we have been having in West Cornwall. This gave me the opportunity to get out and try and image the supermoon over an ancient monument. The intention was to image the supermoon at a stone circle so the picture can be used for my forthcoming book on archaeoastronomy and the stone circles in West Cornwall. I knew that Boskednan would give a great horizon for the supermoon to rise above so that became my destination of choice. I knew the moor would be muddy, so I decided to park closer to Men-an-Tol rather than walk in from Ding Dong mine. Although this was a longer walk it would mean that I could also image Men-an-Tol if needed. Wow, I hadn’t expected the whole Moor to be a quagmire – it was virtually impassable in places and perhaps the wettest I had ever seen it.

 

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Boskednan

 

The picture of Boskednan shows how wet the ground is. The Sun is setting in among the cloud – low in the Southwest. This is near to the position that the sun would set at the winter solstice, over the clearly placed Boswens Menhir.  At Boskednan it was obvious that the cloud to the east of the site was pretty thick but above this bank of cloud, there were clear skies forming. As Men-an-Tol is down the hill from Boskednan I decided that this lower altitude may give the sky clearance from the cloud bank. Setting off back down the hill my walking boots decided to give up with the sole coming away from the boot at the toe -(RIP boots you have served me well – travelling mile upon mile over this landscape!!). So, making a decidedly flapping noise in the wet I gingerly set about getting down the hill to Men-an-Tol. By the time I reached this lower circle the Sun had set and the Moon had begun to rise. The Moon closest to the winter solstice sunset rises and sets in its most northerly position it also rises to its highest altitude. As a supermoon (the Moon is at one of its closest position to Earth) it makes it one of the most impressive celestial sites you can see.  Unfortunately, the cloud didn’t play ball and I only managed to get glimpses of the Moon rising there is a second image below.

 

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Men-an-Tol – Supermoon

 

Local Astronomy History Leaflets

Bright Stars Dark Skies - Leaflet
Self guided tours for John Couch Adams and The Hurlers in Cornwall

Newly released and in Cornwall you will find two self guided tours. The first looks at local astronomy hero John Couch Adams and takes you on a self guided trip around his home area based in Laneast and Launceston. There is lots of information about the man and his achievements and sites to be seen along the way.

The second leaflet is a tour of the Hurlers. Once again self guided, it takes you around the immediate sites. It looks at the recent archaeoastronomy developments for the sites.

These leaflets have been produced as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project by Bright Stars Dark Skies. Grab one while they last!!

Singing the Stones at The Hurlers

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Equinox brought experiments, fun and antics. Sunday was spent at The Hurlers on Bodmin Moor. We were there to celebrate the equinox weekend and the project Dark Skies Bright Stars – organised by Mayes creative. On arrival the site was shrouded with mist which added to the whole atmospherics of the event. At 2pm the event started with dancing and singing in the stones, it was wonderful to see the site used in such a creative way. The dancers were very expressive using the whole of the central circle. A choir accompanied the moves with melody, lyrics and tuneful notes. Once the mood had been set the crowd were invited to participate in an experiment. This experiment was to test the resonance of the stones. The stones themselves have flat sides and could have been used to reflect sound back to groups of people singing or making noise within them. Sound testing equipment was set up and a number of tests were undertaken. First of all the crowd was asked to line up with the stones and the sound test equipment was placed in the center of the circle. A number of notes were sung straight and in  staccato. Then the crowd were asked to clap together and then one at a time. Amazingly an echo could be heard with the claps and the sound testing equipment picked up a resonance. With this early success we repeated the experiment but this time had the crowd stood in the center of the circle and the test equipment on the edge. This did not give us the same results, it in fact increased the resonance.

Bring on the drums!!

A number of drummers had been invited along to attend. It was time to check the resonance with a larger sound. The drums first of all stood with the stones and it was amazing to hear the noise echo and reverberate around the circle. But when a snare drum was brought into the circle the effect was very noticeable. The resonance of the snare drum was particularly effected when the drummer reached the center of the circle. This experiment was a huge success and shows what can be achieved by just trying out ideas and having a go!

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Boskednan circle and Carn Galver

 

Boskednan circle is located on a ridge near New Mill north of Penzance. Here is an image looking towards Carn Galver a local easily recognisable outcrop. The summer solstice sunset imaged falls to the south of this outcrop onto an area known as watch croft. But what is interesting is that a Lunar Major Northern setting point would be directly on the Carn itself, as it measures 318 degrees. Could this have been built as a lunar observatory? rather than a solar one?IMG_5733

Other circles in the area have links to the lunar cycle, The Merry Maidens also has a local outcrop in the lunar major setting position and Boscawen-un has lunar links with its quartz stone and positioning of a menhir (standing stone) in the lunar northern rising position. All these discoveries and much more are being compiled and will be released in a book dedicated to wonderful circles found here in West Penwith, within the new year.  I will keep you all posted.

Summer Solstice approach at the Merry Maidens

As the summer solstice draws close. I thought it would be nice to image the position of the setting sun at the Merry Maidens stone circle in West Cornwall. Currently, the sun is setting to the north (right) of the locally important hill, Chapel Carn Brea. The sun will move only one solar width between now and the solstice (or about 0.5 a degree), as the daily displacement of the sun at this time is at its smallest.  If we to wind back time to the late Neolithic or early Bronze age the sunset would be another degree to the north or to the left in the images.  So the setting sun in the bronze age would be 3 solar widths to the north (right) in the images. So the solstice sun would be setting on the lower ridge between Chapel Carn Brea and the next hill in the photo which is called Bartinney.

Anyhow here are the images – enjoy.sundown Merry Maidens