Friday, 4 July 2014

Standing stones

On with the holiday! After Chester I moved to Anglesey, that large island off the north coast of North Wales. A mysterious place indeed. On the very first evening, with a glorious sunset brewing, I came across this pair of tall stones in a field at Penrhosfeilw (pronounced, very roughly, Pen-ross-file-oo) on Holyhead Island, Anglesey's own offshore repository of strange things. Here's a few pix:

They are like fangs, aren't they? And they were still sharp:

I love standing stones. Apart from being a wonderful photographic subject, there is the mystery of the prehistoric culture that erected them, and their unknowable real purpose. And the sense of past time, lots of it, the gulf of several milennia, that only intensifies when stones like this, or any ancient stones really, are seen in mist or gathering twilight. It's easy to believe that they might have an inner life of their own, and be magical.

I have already covered the famous stones at Avebury in Wiltshire, and the folklore associated with them, which made them the bloodthirsty judge and jury of truthful testimony, so that woe betide any man found to have been false in their presence. A pitchfork death for sure. (See my post Avebury and other stones on 27 January 2013) Then there are the stones on Dartmoor in Devon, set in a desolate open landscape; half welcome waymark for the traveller, half creatures of another world, who might come to life and destroy with a cold heart. (See my post Standing Stones on Dartmoor on 24 April 2014)

I've been seeking out standing stones for a very long time, ever since the early 1970s, although the chances for me to do it properly were few and far between before 2009.

What a variety of stones, too! Some stand alone, such as these stones: the very tall stone (with its own lightning-conductor) in a churchyard at Rudston in Yorkshire; the Longstone at Minions on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall; Maen Llia near Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales; the tall pointed slab set in a field near East Linton in Scotland; and the stone hidden inside an ancient burial chamber at Le Dehus on Guernsey:

Some are in circles or rows. Such as these stones. The Merry Maidens near Lamorna Cove in Cornwall; and The Hurlers, also at Minions on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall:

Some are part of a design for a tomb or ritual site. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, of course; but Trethevy Quoit and Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall; and Men-an-Tol, also in Cornwall:

Not every monolith has to be old to make a good picture. I am quite happy to shoot modern stones, if the settings are evocative, despite the sense of ancient mystery being quite absent. For instance, these commemorative stones at Woolacombe in Devon, and at Kyle of Durness in the top north-west corner of Scotland:

Well, that was quite a stonefest! I hope I didn't bore anybody.


  1. No, you didn't bore me; just made me feel a little homesick. The Men-an-Tol is a mysterious place, oft visited by Sue and me on one of our favourite walks from Carn Galver. Did you see the Nine Maidens, nearby? On our last visit we felt sure there were at least eleven, though some were clearly fallen maidens.

  2. I know a few 'fallen maidens' Angela!

    Shirley Anne x


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