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MEN-AN-TOL LEY, Cornwall

This is just one of the number of alignments noted by John Michell in The Old Stones of Land's End. We have already mentioned Michell's Boscawen-un ley (p.46) as an alignment of such precision that it takes the question of the existence of leys clear outside the realm of statistical probability. This one, from Men-an-tol, runs fractionally N of E for 3 3/4 miles.

Men-an-tol (42643493) - the Stone of the Hole - is the subject of many traditions. Above all it is a healing stone. Scrofulous children (i.e. those with a disease causing swollen glands, bone disorders and a tendency to consumption) were supposedly aided to recovery by being passed naked 3 times through Men-an-tol's 2-foot diameter hole and then dragged 3 times around the stone in an anti-clockwise direction (widdershins, or against the sun). Similar treatment was said to cure rickets and cricks in the neck as well. The stone was also consulted as an oracle: if two brass pins were laid across each other on top of the stone, any question would be answered by an inexplicable, peculiar motion displayed by the pins. There are two upright stones either side of the wheel-shaped Men-an-tol; at least one of these has been moved from its original position. All the stones are thought by some archaeologists to have once formed part of the inner chamber of a burial mound, but this is by no means certain. Access to the site is via a signposted and well-worn track off the Morvah-Madron road.

Continuing on the ley from Men-an-tol, one can see a ridge from where the ley descends to Tredinneck. A 3-foot stone stands beside the road opposite the farm here. This is considered as a boundary stone and is not marked on the 1:25,000 map.

The stone stands at the edge of a field below Try Farm - ask permission here. Access to the stone is along the road N from Newmill for half a mile. It is on the E side of the lane, visible beyond two gates. Excavation has revealed a cist alongside the monolith.

The ley continues across Carnequidden Farm. A curious stone chamber or entrance to some unknown subterranean feature can be seen here set into the farmyard wall. The farmer informed us that archaeologists apparently think it may be contemporaneous with Chysauster settlement, the next ley marker. Incidentally the farmer at Carnequidden provides a friendly welcome and light refreshments.

Chysauster settlement (47503499) is known to have been occupied from about 150 BC up until the 3rd century. The site has been thoroughly excavated and is well preserved. There are 4 pairs of circular houses on either side of a connecting 'street'. These houses had rooms and hearths; they were roofed, and the courtyards were open. Floors were paved and there is evidence of well-built drainage systems, indicating that basic materials were used with considerable sophistication: a lesson for those who still hold the obsolescent archaeological opinions which deny an informed technical ability behind the basic materials. In the settlement there is a ruined fogou, a subterranean chamber for which there is no known purpose. Some archaeologists speculate that such structures may have been for grain storage, but Earth Mysteries researchers suspect that there may have been a religious and magical intention. Michell has suggested that the whole village may have been a specialized settlement for those involved in religious and scientific activities. Looking back along the ley, the Mulfra settlement is visible and, using binoculars, so is the intervening standing stone.

To the E, the ley appears to terminate at Castle-an-Dinas(48503500), an undated hilltop enclosure presumed to be of the Iron Age. Excavations have revealed only the slightest traces of occupation. The site occupies about 6 acres and is enclosed by 4 stone ramparts and ditches. The ley passes through the centre of the enclosure roughly where a well is situated. Magnificent views in all directions are to be had from the earthwork.

Archives

Length 5.65km

Bearing 86.35°/266.35°.

Men-an-TolLine