We had intended to visit this and another site on our way to Hayle the previous afternoon, but the map that has thus far led us without fail across Britain had refused to cooperate. It had been a long and eventful day… we had driven far and were feeling the effects of visiting so many sacred and historic sites… and so we had accepted that the land was steering us in a different direction. This time, though, as we prepared to head home, we were determined to find Mên-an-Tol, one of Cornwall’s most iconic yet enigmatic sites… and this time, we were equipped with a much more detailed map.
Turning up a road we had both passed and debated the day before, we found a parking spot by the gated track that leads to the stones. It is a fair walk, but we were now so high that the mists had finally lifted and we could see for miles over the Cornish hills. Had we done our research before the trip, we might have known of the other local sites… the barrows and standing stones… and in particular, Men Scryfa… a ‘raven stone’ we would have had to see and Boskednan stone circle, which we would have had to visit too.
Time, though, not being on our side, it was probably just as well that we were unaware of what we were missing. We still had one last site to see after this one…or so we thought… before a long drive to our next hotel.
The track climbs gently to the top of the hills, sheltered between old farm walls and banks of wildflowers. Once again, we were accompanied by birds, butterflies and the small, silent creatures that give life to the land.
An old spring and an ancient stone stile marked our progress as we climbed. The promised half a mile seemed a long, long way… a ‘country mile’ no doubt… but, just below the crest of the hill… and therefore exactly where you would expect it to be… there is a break in the wall and a path leading out into the moor.
The stones are small and barely visible, yet you can feel their presence from a considerable distance. We approached the site, which had just emptied itself of people, with a fair amount of excitement. No-one who has an interest in the ancient sites of old Albion can fail to recognise the stones of Mên-an-Tol, which simply means, ‘the holed stone’
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