Men Scryfa

Men Scryfa

Mên Scryfa or Screfys (written stone) stands on high ground not far from Mên-an-Tol. Although the stone itself may have been a much earlier menhir, there's an early Christian inscription on it which of course is of too late a date (about AD 500) to qualify it as a prehistoric site. However, Mên Scryfa is a successor to the Bronze Age standing stones in that it marks a grave, but differs from them in that it bears the name of the people buried there. On the granite pillar is inscribed RIALOBRANI CUNOVALI FILI. This signifies that the stone is of the Royal Raven, son of the Glorious Prince.

The raven, a bird of carrion linked with death and the battlefield, was believed to have magical power for those who worshipped it; the bird was venerated over much of northern Europe, being an important symbol in an aggressive warrior society.

The story of Rialobran is very ancient: it seems that an invader attacked the Glorious Prince, seized his lands and occupied his hillfort. The defeated royalty was forced to flee, possibly to the area around Carn Euny. The Royal Raven tried to regain his father's territory and a great battle was fought on the moors where Mên Scryfa now stands. Rialobran was killed and his body buried by the stone which was said to correspond to the height of the dead warrior. That such a monument could be erected suggests that the battle was won and that his tribal lands were retaken.

The inscription on the stone is contemporary with the re-occupation and new defensive works carried out at the nearby fortification of Chûn Castle. This was the period between the departure of Romans and the coming of the English, when Cornwall was again ruled by its native princes. Rialobran is one of the first Cornish names we know: here is the transition between prehistory and history.

Location

Madron

Penzance

TR20 8NX