Sunday was a day of blustery winds and rain, so we were pleased the August Bank Holiday Monday brought calmer and drier weather for our walk.
Two energetic and enthusiastic young men had travelled to Cornwall from Chicago U.S. to spend a week in Cornwall. They had already been to Glastonbury before continuing their journey here. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic fascinated them and they enjoyed St Nectan’s Waterfall at Rocky Valley Tintagel.
Jason had previously purchased Cassandra’s book and said he was ‘beyond excited’ to meet her and experience one of our walks.
We usually invite clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss the locations they wish to visit. Jason showed particular interest in the Logan Stone and Cassandra then decided that Zennor Hill would be a site they would enjoy. The climb to Zennor Hill is not easy but Jason and Archy were in their 20s and extremely energetic and were prepared for a challenge.
As we walked towards the hill Cassandra asked them if they would like to visit Zennor Quoit first. The vegetation on the moorland had grown considerably and in some areas it was chest height for smaller women like us. We warned Jason and Archy about the possibility of being ‘Piskie led’ and as the path to the Quoit was complicated due to the overgrowth, it was no surprise that on this occasion it happened. They were both delighted to have experienced this.
We eventually arrived at Zennor Quoit, Jason and Archy were intrigued by the formation of the stones and how one can climb between them to sit in the centre for meditation and ritual purposes.
Here is some information on the site:
The remains of this hillside Neolithic chambered portal tomb are quite difficult to find, but can be reached via a footpath from the B3306. The capstone which is over 5 metres long and weighs over 10 tons has collapsed and all traces of the mound which would have covered the tomb has disappeared although much surrounding cairn material was recorded by William Borlase the vicar of Zennor in 1769. It is Borlase we have to thank for the continuing existence of Zennor Quoit as he once paid off a local farmer the sum of 5 shillings to stop him dismantling the tomb to build a cow shed. It is unclear whether it was the farmers attempt at remodeling or the ‘excavation’ of the tomb with explosives in the 19th century that caused the capstone to fall. At various times cremated bones, a whetstone, flints and Neolithic pottery have been found within the chamber, while the 5 small upright stones just beyond the tomb are thought to be part of the aborted cowshed.
The site may look to be in a sad state of disrepair, especially on a wet, windy day, but this could be said to add to its beauty and melancholy, and it is still well worth a visit. Like many other sites legend says it was built by a giant, hence its other name of Giants Quoit and also that the stones are unmovable, or if they are moved they will return to the hillside on their own. Nearby, the church at Zennor contains a 15th century bench-end carved into the shape of a mermaid that is claimed to have visited the village and fallen in love with the churchwarden’s son. The two of them are then said to have returned to the sea, where the unfortunate lad can still be heard singing beneath the waves. stone-circles.org
Cassandra and I sat with Jason and Archy by the stones and spoke about the history of the site. We also discussed the variety of Fae folk and their roles within Cornish folklore. They were well prepared with notepads and wrote down all the information.
After a while, we continued our walk to Zennor Hill. Jason and Archy were fascinated by the house nearby where some say Alastair Crowley spent some time working there. Zennor HiIl is a powerful place so it would be an ideal venue.
At the top of Zennor Hill we reached the Logan Stone. Cassandra instructed Jason where to place his feet and how to move to rock the stone.
Here is some information on the site:
This extraordinary set of stone outcrops holds many unusual features, from rock basins to zoomorphic forms – deep fissures, runnels, voids, chamber-like enclosures and holed stones, that it would be difficult not to believe that it would have held an important place in pre-historic cosmologies. Some rock formations are uncannily like the quoits that occupy the flat land between zennor hill, carn zennor and sperris croft.
Tilley observes in an archaeology of supernatural places. ‘slabs that have toppled from the top of the rock stacks… rest horizontally or vertically against their sides, creating slanting roofed chambers large enough to enter and walk through.’ the proximity of Zennor and Sperris quoits raises the possibility that these dramatic rock formations were deliberately mimicked by the builders of these early monuments.
Tllley again ‘The tors were not only their source of inspiration, but they were constructed in the form of tors. In elevating large stones, these people were emulating the work of a super-ancestral past. Furthermore, the stones from which they were built were taken from the tors. The dolmens, in effect, were the tors dismantled and put back together again to resemble their original form. Once constructed, they could themselves be tors, something emphasized by the landscape setting of some of them on hills that lacked tors.’ Megalithic Sites
After their exploration of the site, we drove down to Zennor village to visit the church and explained to them the legend of the Zennor Mermaid.
Here is some information about the church:
The church of St Senara in the small Cornish village of Zennor is one of the historic delights of the St Ives area. The present church dates to the 12th century, but it is thought to stand on the site of a cell founded by the 6th century saint, Senara, whose name has been altered over the centuries to become ‘Zennor’.
Senara may have been a Breton princess named Asenora, a devout Christian, who was married to a king named Goello. When Senara became pregnant the king’s mother falsely accused here of infidelity, and the king cast into the sea. According to the tale, she was put in a barrel, which was then nailed shut and allowed to drift on the waves. The barrel drifted to Ireland, and she was rescued by an angel. after her son, Budoc, had grown, they both set out to convert the natives to Christianity.
Alternative versions of the story say that she was washed up at Zennor, where she founded a church, before continuing on to Ireland, or that she came ashore in Ireland, and only later visited Cornwall and founded a church here. In either event, her husband heard of her good work and invited her to return to Brittany as his queen, and named her son as his heir.
Alternatively, the church may have been founded by Irish or Breton missionaries and simply dedicated to Senara. The churchyard follows the oval outline of an Iron Age enclosure, which itself is built atop earlier Stone Age and Bronze Age field boundaries. Britain Express
Read about The Mermaid of Zennor
We then called in at the Tinners Arms for a well deserved drink.
It was indeed a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Jason and Archy, their energy, enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge of the Old Ways is heartening to see in younger folk. We are pleased they have enjoyed their time in Cornwall and are sure that our paths will meet again.
Feedback: “Thank you so much! We had a blast!”