Nov 25, 2009

"What Is...?" Wednesday


The name Mên-an-Tol means simply "holed stone" and despite having been considered a significant and popular monument from a very early date, its true purpose remains a mystery.

The monument today is made up of four stones, two upright stones with the holed stone between them and a fallen stone at the foot of the western upright. Expert opinions differ in major details and it is possible that the positioning of the stones have been rearranged on several occasions. William Borlase described the monument in the 18th Century as having a triangular layout, and it has been suggested that the holed stone was moved from its earlier position to stand in a direct alignment between the two standing stones. 

In the mid 19th Century, a local antiques collector JT Blight proposed that the site was in fact the remains of a stone circle. This idea gained support when a site survey located a number of recumbent stones (stones that are lying down or in a position of "rest") lying just beneath the modern turf which were arranged along the circumference of a circle of approximately twenty two yards in diameter. The recumbent stones are somewhat irregularly spaced but the three existing upright stones have smooth inward facing surfaces and are  similar height to other stone circles found at Penwith, in Southwestern England.

There is a wealth of folklore and tradition  about Men-an-Tol and is said to cure many ailments... particularly rickets in children... by passing the afflicted child through the hole. It was also said to provide an alternative cure “scrofulous taint” ( a form of tuberculosis which affects the lymph nodes of the neck also known as the “Kings Evil”) which was otherwise only curable by the touch of the reigning monarch. The site’s reputation for curing back problems earned it the name of “Crick Stone”. 

In the middle ages, the stones were seen as a charm against witchcraft or ill-wishing and could also be used as a tool for telling the future...legend has it that if two brass pins are placed crosswise on each other, on the top of  the round stone, they would move independently in accordance with the question asked.  The Men-an-Tol still sits in open moorland and has been designated as being historically valuable as well as being a naturally beautiful site.


greekwitch said...

Stone monuments are always so powerful and mystical. I think it is sad that we have lost that wisdom over time.
Brightest blessings and have a great Wednesday!

Debra She Who Seeks said...


Angie said...

I appreciate that they protect these sites. Now I have something to add to my dream of visiting Stonehenge.