Category Archives: History

Cornwall has a rich history, both ancient and modern. With the countryside littered with megalithic monuments and a host of historic towns and villages there is plenty to see

Roche Rock Chapel

Roche Rock

This photo shows the rather dramatic remains of the 15th century Chapel of St Michael on Roche Rock in Mid Cornwall.

The surrounds are about as mundane as you could imagine. There is a new housing estate a couple of hundred metres one way and a school field the other way. Then suddenly, from nowhere up just this massive rocky outcrop with a chapel built into the side!

The site is steeped in myth and legend, without doubt many will say it is haunted too. Best known of these legends is from the story of Jan Tregeagle. This is where he sought sanctuary from the demons that were hunting him down for his wicked ways. The story goes that Tregeagle got his head stuck in one of the windows here during his ordeal!

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Snow on Lanyon Quoit

Snow on Lanyon Quoit

It’s supposed to be getting cold over the next day or 2 so I thought I’d dig out a photo of when it was really cold a few years back. Whilst it might look like a light sprinkling of snow to some of you this is West Cornwall where it snows about as often as in Jamaica. Well, OK maybe a little more, but not very often.

I had a fantastic time this day. Whilst the whole of Cornwall was paralysed I took the opportunity to jump in the car and take some photos. I was driving up lanes where the snow was fresh. It was amazing just being able to park the car in the middle of the road and get out!

Anyway, this is Lanyon Quoit near Penzance. It’s one of the region’s best known megalithic sites and is highly photogenic. In the background is the engine house at Bosilicack – I’m sure there’s some juxtaposition of ancient and, erm, quite old going on here…

St Michael's Mount at dusk

St Michael’s Mount – again…

Yes, I know it isn’t the most original subject in the world, and yes, I know there are many better photos of St Michael’s Mount out there. Unfortunately I didn’t take them so we’ll be making do wit this one!

Whilst St Michael’s Mount has been photographed to death over the years being the obvious target that it is. Sitting about half a mile off Maarzion in Mount’s Bay it’s an island with a castle on – how can anyone not want to take a photo of that?!

Over the years I have actually realised it is a difficult place to photograph. Its worst side is from the beach at Marazion – so that’s about 95% of all the photos ever taken of it! There are a good few shots to be had from this side including a few with the cobbled causeway in the foreground.
The best angle to photograph the mount from is to the east of Marazion, high up on a sunny, high tide or down at sea level. There may be good angles from the sea, but as I don’t have a boat I’ll ignore them!

I took this photo the first day I had a new camera so was feeling a bit keener about lugging around a tripod and taking photos at what should have been tea time.
Anyway, I think I got a half decent photograph of the Mount and one that hasn’t been replicated too many 100s of times.

Godolphin House

Godolphin House in Black and White

On a recent visit to the National Trust’s Godolphin House in Cornwall the weather was very grey, there were lots of other people around and I had 2 kids under the age of 7 in my sole charge – ideal for taking photos then! I decided to try and pick out some nice details from this lovely old house and as the weather was so poor I thought I’d do them in black and white.

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Zennor Carn

Up Zennor Carn

The weird and wonderful rocks that one finds up Zennor Carn. I think I stumbled across this wonderous collection of strangely formed rocks whilst in search of Zennor Quoit, which I found some years later (not on the same walk you understand!). There are many ancient sites in this vicinity but this is all natural; from the stacked rocks to the granite rock basin. I read somewhere that there are ‘zoomporphic forms’ here to. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that these are rocks that look a little like animals, probably not animals with rock-like appearances.

This is a great spot though. Overlooking the village of Zennor below and with sweeping views in all directions. Most of the time you’ll have the place to yourself and even though it’s usually windy up top you can find a nook out of the wind on a sunny early summer’s afternoon. I recall another time thinking I had the place to myself only to find a friend of mine’s brother eating his sandwiches in a little rock cranny round the other side.

Men-an-Tol

Men-an-Tol

Men-an-Tol translates rather unimaginatively as holed stone. There is no doubt that it is a stone and that it does have a hole in it. What is in doubt is the arrangement of the three stones. It is believed, by experts, that this is not the original arrangement which is unfortunate as I think it looks pretty good the way it is!

As you’d expect there are a few myths and legends attached to this place. I particularly like the healing properties attributed to the stones. The one I remember is crawling through the hole is an effective cure for ‘scroffulous taint’! I’m imagining the reason I have never heard of this ailment is because it has been all but eradicated by the restorative powers of Men-an-Tol!

I like this photo largely because of the sky the aircraft con trail is going just the right direction. It appears lots of other people do too, hence the watermark. This shot crops up in lots of places it isn’t supposed too.

The stone is located on the West Cornwall Moors just above Madron, near Penzance and I would highly recommend crawling through the hole.

Trethevy Quoit

Trethevy Quoit – The Giant’s House

Located on the southern side of Bodmin Moor is the biggest, and best preserved of all of Cornwall’s quoits – Trethevy Quoit.In this photo you can clearly see the hole cut into the capstone letting the sunlight through. The purpose of this hole is not certain, although it is suggested to have had some astronomical use. Whatever the use it must have taken significant effort in the days before power tools and tungsten carbide drill bits!

Quoits of this kind are also known as portal dolmens, portal refers to the entrances and a dolmen is a burial chamber. This dolmen dates back to the Stone Age and must have been built for someone of great importance. What we see today is would have been buried under a mound of earth when it was constructed, leaving just a stone chamber.

Trethevy Quoit is an unimaginable feat of engineering. The enormous capstone alone weighs several tons and placing it on top of the other stones would have taken considerable manpower.

At the time of writing there are concerns over the site as horses have been allowed to graze the field. This has not only churned up the field and grass around the monument but could eventually, if left unchecked cause structural damage.