The photo above is of the stone circle at Boscawen Un on the way to Land’s End. It’s four thousand years old and for me a holy place. The interpretation of these sites is in a continual state of flux, because no one knows for certainty what actually happened here. They were most likely ceremonial centres connected with the winter and summer solstices, the seasons, as well as with birth and death. Here where I live in Cornwall, I’ve been surrounded by these ancient sites for as long as I remember. There’s little doubt that they have left a profound influence on my life both as a lad and subsequently. Most of our Cornish Churches are built on old pagan sites where the ancient gods such as the Earth Mother were worshipped. Cornwall has many links with Ancient India.
Seen against the sky the effect is impressive. The Celtic Tribes who erected these monoliths might have been pagan, but God is not without witness in any age. There are more stone circles and ancient sites in Cornwall than anywhere else in the British Isles, and that includes Wales and Ireland.
Standing stones are another feature of our prehistoric past. Possibly these were to anchor the souls of the dead and stop them from bothering the living. There are large numbers of them around here. There is one just behind my bungalow.
I visit Boscawen Un two or three times a year, and such visits always refresh and spiritually recharge me. Boscawen Un, (pronounced noon), in common with other stone circles in Cornwall are “thin places,” where heaven and earth meet. That they may be pagan sites in no way diminishes their sacred nature. God, however he may be named, transcends all the concepts and ideas that we associate with the deity. It’s enlightening to realize that our Bronze Age ancestors buried their dead in Barrow Graves with articles such as pottery, implements and weapons for a future life. They certainly rejected the idea that death was the end.
Barrow Grave near St Buryan. (Penzance)
The photo below at Chun Quoit near Land’s End, has had the earth removed from around it. The cremated remains of several people would have been buried in these tombs.
One of the major festivals of the Celtic year was Samhain, celebrated on 31st October and extending into the first week of November. All Hallows, Hallowe’en and All Saints are familiar to us because the Church in her wisdom baptized all the old pagan feasts and gave them new meaning as Christian Feasts. The rituals of Samhain were concerned with the dead and the spirits of the ancestors. All Saints and All Souls have ancient origins in our Pagan past.
St Buryan Stone Circle and one of the easiest to find. Its just off the main road to Porthcurno and the Minack Theatre.
It was up this estuary of the River Hayle that the Saints came with the Gospel to West Cornwall. The little Church in the far distance is St Uny who came here from Ireland.
All the photos are my own taken at various times over the years.
The descendants of the Ancient Pagans who originally constructed the Circles gladly received the Gospel when the Monks from Asia Minor came to these shores with the GOOD News.