men an tol penwith cornwallmen an tol cornwall penwith

Sunday was a surreally calm and sunny winter’s day in west Cornwall, so ideal for my first outing to Men-an-Tol – the iconic stone monument half a mile off the drop-dead-gorgeous Madron to Morvah road.

In the presqu’île of West Penwith, we tend to all get a bit blase about prehistoric sites – they are everywhere, in the shape of quoits, remains of Iron Age villages, standing stones and stone circles. Save for a few – like Chycauster village, which is National Heritage – they form a natural, integral part of the landscape. There’s no entrance fee or brochure or fence and sometimes not even a sign, which is just the way I like them!

Among these granite antiquities, Men an Tol is unique for its polo-like circular form with a hole in the middle (beloved of many an artist, including Barbara Hepworth, as James Fox was telling us in his recent docu).

Historians don’t seem to have an especially firm grip of its original purpose – it might have marked a burial or it may have been part of a stone circle. Either way, it’s a weird and wonderfully timeless spot.

I didn’t make it through the hole. Look, what can I say.. it’s actually really small and low, and it was muddy!

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