Boscawen-un Stone Circle

Boscawen-un stone circle

Boscawen-Un is a Bronze age stone circle close to St Buryan in Cornwall, UK. It consists of 19 upright stones in an ellipse with diameters 24.9m and 21.9m, with another, leaning, stone just south of the centre. There is a west-facing gap in the circle, which may have formed an entrance.

The Gorseth Kernow was inaugurated here in 1928. An old Welsh triad mentions one of the three principal gorseddau of the Island of Britain as "Beisgawen yn Nyfnwal" (Boscawen in Dumnonia), which was taken to refer to Boscawen-Un by the Gorseth's founders.

Location

Boscawen-Un is in southwest Cornwall in the Penwith district north of St Buryan by the road from Penzance to Land's End. Both the Merry Maidens stone circle and the two Pipers standing stones can be seen as can the sea.

Boscawen-Un is a Cornish name, from the words bos (farmstead) and scawen (elder or elderberry tree). The suffix Un denotes an adjacent pasture. Therefore, the name translates as the pasture of the farmstead at the elderberry tree.

Construction

The stone circle consists of a central standing stone encircled by 19 other stones, including 18 made of grey granite and one of bright quartz, which describe an ellipse with axes of 24.9 m and 21.9 m. The position of the quartz stone in the southwest may indicate the likely direction of the full moon during the solstice. At the northeastern edge of the stone circle are two stones in the ground, one of which has an axe petroglyph. These engravings are unusual in the United Kingdom, though they can also be observed on some of the stones at Stonehenge.

There is a wide gap in the west of the circle, which suggests the loss of stones. However this gap may represent, as with the nearby Merry Maidens, an entrance. The central stone is 2.7 m long, but because of its strong inclination to the north-east, the tip is only 2.0 m above the ground. It is thought by some researchers that the central stone embodies the phallic male principle and the quartz stone represents the female powers of the ring.

History

The stone circle at Boscawen-Un, was erected in the Bronze Age. A Bardic group (Cornish: Gorsedd) may have existed in this area, because in the Welsh Triads from the 6th century AD, a Gorsedd of Beisgawen of Dumnonia is called one of the big three Gorsedds of Poetry of the Island of Britain. Dumnonia was a kingdom in post-Roman Britain, which probably included Cornwall. In 1928 Henry Jenner founded here at Boscawen-Un, in the course of the revival of the Cornish language and culture, the Cornish Bard Association and called it the Gorseth Kernow (Gorsedd of Cornwall).