One of the many amazing things about Cornwall is the sheer number of really ancient stones and monuments that are literally just lying in fields, waiting for people to notice them. Once you’ve visited a few, you find yourself peering past every hedge looking for more. Every year we revisit a few favourites, and I always find them fascinating and inscrutable. The legends which often surround them are also fascinating. Probably my favourite is the Merry Maidens (left), near to Trewoofe and Porthcurno, which is the most complete stone circle in Cornwall – 19 granite stones, of similar sizes and perfectly evenly spaced. Legend has it that they were girls who danced on a Sunday, and were turned to stone for not observing the day of rest (this legend was probably put about by the early church to discourage pagan practices in Cornwall). Their pipers, who provided the music they danced to, are represented too, by two stones at either end of the field.
There are loads more places – you could spend weeks wandering from one to another (and getting quite lost in the process – we were helped greatly by a recently purchased ordnance survey map). One of the places I haven’t yet been, but am keen to go, is Chysauster, an ancient village just outside Penzance now managed by English Heritage. You get a wonderful sense of how truly ancient Cornwall is, looking at these places and imagining what might have gone on there in the past. There’s plenty more information on Cornwall’s Archaeological Heritage site, which is very helpful.