Arthurian England Part 9: Lesser Known Stone Circles

Lanyon Quoit as the mists rolled in.

Britain is famous for its standing stones, partly because no one knows exactly what they were for. Were they ritual sites? Giant calendars? Something to do with aliens or Atlantis? All of these theories and more have been posed. One that is certain is they marked places that were somehow special to the ancient inhabitants of the land.

I’ll get to Stonehenge and Avebury next week, but this week I wanted to introduce you to some smaller stones and circles you may not have heard about. I didn’t know them before going on the trip, but I am sure glad I had a chance to visit. In many ways, these are even cooler than their more famous counterparts, partly because they still have an air of authenticity to them that’s been worn away by the tourist traffic at the more popular sites.

Lanyon Quoit

Linda and me under Laynon Quoit.

Linda and me under Lanyon Quoit.

Not far outside of Madron is the dolmen of Lanyon Quoit.  It is three vertical stones supporting a horizontal capstone. It’s a little over five feet tall, which I know because I was able to stand under it. Its purpose is unknown, but it was thought to be a burial site. It was destroyed in a storm in the 1800s, but rebuilt, minus one of its vertical stones. Local lore says each of the original stones was aligned with a cardinal direction, leading some to speculate it was a ritual site. Rumor also has it that it was once tall enough for a horse and rider to stand underneath.

The mists were just rolling in when we were there, so it was very picturesque (and cold). I was fascinated by this structure for some reason and my photos of it make me want to go back and spend more time there (we were chased away by a school group). If you want a cool 360 degree view, check out this site.

Random Stone

I wonder what this stone marked or if it was once part of a circle?

I wonder if this lonely stone was once part of a circle?

Near Lands End, we were driving along when Jamie suddenly pulled over and got out, proclaiming, “I think I just saw a standing stone!” Sure enough, there it was, all by itself in the middle of a field. Only in Europe would you find such a thing. It makes me wonder what the ancients were marking with it.

Boscawen-Un

Boscowen-Un

Boscawen-Un

This was my favorite stone circle. It’s about 3,000 years old and is still used by the Druids today. It’s a circle of 19 stones unique in several aspects: 1) One of its stones, the Healer’s Stone, is made of pure quartz. 2) The center stone has always been set at an angle (as opposed to other circles where stones have fallen that way) and 3) its center stone lines up with the Beltane (May 1) sunrise and several other nearby standing stones, which are all on a ley line.

The Healer’s Stone, made of pure quartz.

When we got to the circle, we all held hands and silently wove in and out between the stones, which was very powerful, especially when you think we were tracing the footsteps of worshipers who came several thousand years before us. For me, the tip of the center stone is very powerful. When I stood in front of it, it felt like a beam of golden light was passing into my solar plexus and heart chakras. I also sat and meditated beneath it and had some very powerful experiences. When we left, I felt like I had the ancient “fire in the head” – my head was very hot, to the touch and felt that way from the inside, too. I have no doubt it was some kind of inspiration.

If I lived in the area, I’d go to this circle every chance I had.

The Merry Maidens

Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens is one of the more well-known smaller stone circles in England. Legend says that a group of 19 women were caught dancing on the Sabbath. As punishment, they were all turned to stone, along with their two pipers, which are two outlying stones not far from the circle. It’s a smaller, quieter, place with a very peaceful energy.

Have you been to any of these stone circles? What were your experiences? What do you think the purpose of stones like these are?