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Site details

Type of site: Stone Circle
Nearest town: Penzance
Map reference: SW 4260 3490 (SW4335)
Coordinates: 50.1581, -5.60511

Nearby sites

Bodrifty Ancient Village / Settlement (2km)
Boscawen Un Stone Circle (7.7km)
Zennor Quoit Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (5.3km)
The Merry Maidens of Boleigh Stone Circle (10.4km)
Men-An-Tol Stone Circle (0km)
Pendeen Fogou / Pendeen Vau Fogou (4.5km)
Sancreed Well Holy Well (5.7km)
Madron Well Holy Well (2.9km)
Chysauster Ancient Village / Settlement (4.6km)
Lanyon Quoit Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (1.3km)
Tregeseal East Stone Circle (4.7km)
Chun Castle Hillfort (2.3km)
Kenidjack Cliff Castle Promontory Fort / Cliff Castle (7.4km)
Bosigran Castle Promontory Fort / Cliff Castle (2.2km)
The Blind Fiddler Standing Stone / Menhir (6.9km)
Boleigh Fogou Fogou (9.8km)
Bosiliack Barrow Barrow (1km)
Boswens Menhir Standing Stone / Menhir (2.3km)
Brane - Entrance Grave Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (7.2km)
Carn Euny Fogou & Village Ancient Village / Settlement (6.5km)
Carfury Standing Stone / Menhir (1.8km)
Ballowall Barrow (Carn Gloose) Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (7.9km)
Chapel Carn Brea Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (8.1km)
Chun Quoit Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (2.6km)
The Drift Stones Standing Stone / Menhir (6.8km)
Gun Rith Standing Stone / Menhir (10.5km)
Gurnard's Head Promontory Fort / Cliff Castle (3.6km)
Porthmeor Stone Standing Stone / Menhir (2.3km)
Sancreed Beacon Ancient Village / Settlement (5.6km)
The Selus Stone Standing Stone / Menhir (6.5km)
Tregiffian Barrow Burial Chamber (Dolmen) (10.5km)

An unusual and attractive Cornish site, the Mên-an-Tol is believed to belong to the Bronze Age, thereby making it around 3,500 years old, though little evidence has been found. It consists of four stones, the most memorable being the circular and pierced upright stone. Only one other example of a holed stone exists in the county: the Tolvan Stone near Gweek.

The other three stones are more regular granite pillars commonly used in stone circles, with one dressed flat side. There is speculation that these were simply four of the stones of an ancient circle, further large stones having been discovered lying just below the ground nearby. Another theory is that these stones once formed a chamber tomb, a hole of some form apparently being quite commonly used in fertility rituals involving the passing out of exhumed bones from the tomb

Men-an-Tol sunset
Measuring approximately 1.3metres across with a large hole at its centre, the Mên-an-Tol (meaning 'holed stone' in Cornish) has had many a curative and magical power attributed to it, certainly in terms of more recent folklore. The local moniker the 'Crick Stone' alludes to its alleged ability to aid those with back pain and children suffering from rickets and tuberculosis were also taken to this stretch of moorland near Madron in past years.

In all cases, passing through the hole was central to the healing process with importance being attached to the direction, the number of times (commonly 3 or 9) and the point on the lunar cycle. With its obvious feminine symbolism, the holed stone was also believed to aid fertility and its powers were sought by barren women, pregnant women seeking easy childbirth and famers seeking bountiful crops.


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