A Mysterious Four-Thousand-Year-Old Circle


This is Cornwall’s smallest stone circle, captured here on a dreary December afternoon in the village of Duloe. It dates from around 2,000 B.C.  a relic of the British Bronze Age.


In fact the 8 large stones that comprise the monument are set out in more of an ovoid than a circle, the diameter varying between 10 and 11 metres. But they are also roughly aligned with the compass points, which instantly has everyone thinking all sorts of things about the possible purpose of the structure.

The first historical, if indirect, reference to the circle, occurred in 1329 A.D. in a record that mentions the farm of Stonetown on whose land the stones stand. Its official antiquarian discovery, however, was in 1801, at which time the stones were prone, and the circle bisected by a hedge.

During restoration work in 1861, and the removal of the hedge, workmen stumbled on a Bronze Age funerary urn in the centre of the circle. Unfortunately the urn and the cremated human contents have since been lost, but it thus seems likely, given its small size, that the monument was intended only as an elaborate grave, rather than constructed for any other ritual purposes.

All the same, the enterprise involved some considerable labour. It’s been estimated that thirty or more people would have been needed to move stones up to 12 tons in weight. They are quartzite-rich with elements of ankerite, and the nearest source of such rock is at least a mile from the site.


And so there it stands, a domestic-scale stone circle complete with neighbouring cottages, sheep and power lines. Families out with dogs and infants wander briefly round the stones before continuing their walk. They look bemused, as if expecting more. But the stones give nothing away. They have no stories to impart. They simply are.


copyright 2016 Tish Farrell




28 thoughts on “A Mysterious Four-Thousand-Year-Old Circle

  1. And the more we find out the more enigmatic they become. Like the Stonehenge sarsen stones now look to be a recycled stone circle from South Wales where the stone originated. Used stone circle anyone?

  2. One thing I love about many of your posts is that I don’t know they are responses to a challenge until I see a reference at the end. I love that last photo particularly and the account of the circle amongst its surroundings. Information travels easily in your conversational prose.

    1. I think it would have been good to have spent more time just sitting amongst them, and being quiet. I had a strange sense of determined silence on their part – that we’re too far away to understand their purpose.

  3. I’m always fascinated by stone circles. I only saw Stonehenge in UK, then one in Corsica, and two in Portugal. Mysterious and mind-boggling.

  4. The mystery of the ancient stone circles. Those gigantic things. I read about the ones in the Great Zimbabwe which were at first dismissed as cattle shelters, but later on, after some study, became a mystery, not known who built them and for what purpose. I don’t know why they keep saying “who built them” since there were kingdoms there once. Also, a certain man on You-Tube showed that there is a very straight line inclined at 30 deg to the equator which joins the Great Pyramid to other ancient structures. But the ones in Zimbabwe are at 90 deg to the equator and still in line with the Giza pyramid. It’s awesome. There is an argument that there is no time in this world when people were primitive and illiterate. People have always been aware of mathematics, cosmology, and energy. And more deeper knowledge of earth than we have now. Else, how did they draw a straight line at exactly 30 deg to the equator between Eastern Islands and the Great Pyramid?

    1. I agree, Peter, that people of the past had great knowledge. Even people like forest Mbuti hunters of the Congo who had little material culture, had a highly complex creative life, and of course intimate knowledge of the forest eco-system and all its species. And yes the kingdoms of southern Africa were not the only great kingdoms and empires that once existed across the African continent.It’s dreadful the way western ‘civilization’ has judged other cultures uncivilized when there is much we might learn from them.

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