Boscawen-Ûn (grid reference ) is a Bronze Age stone circle close to St Buryan in Cornwall, UK. It consists of 19 upright stones in an ellipse with another, leaning, middle stone just south of the centre. There is a west-facing gap in the circle, which may have formed an entrance. The elliptical circle has diameters 24.9 and 21.9 metres (82 and 72 ft). It is located at grid reference .
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-Ûn by the Gorseth's founders. That Welsh triad dates to only the 18th century when it was made up by Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams.
|Boscawen-Ûn stone circle|
The stone circle in 2011
Shown within Southwest Cornwall
|Periods||Neolithic / Bronze Age|
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.
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 sun as it moves south after Samhain. At the northeastern edge of the stone circle are two stones in the ground, one of which has a feet or axe petroglyph. These engravings are unusual in the United Kingdom, though they can also be observed on some of the stones at Stonehenge. The rock art is only fully illuminated around the summer solstice sunrise, although there is some illumination around the summer sunset. The circle has been aligned with the winter solstice sun rises from the Lamorna Gap.
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.
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 named as 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 at Boscawen-Un, in the course of the revival of the Cornish language and culture, Henry Jenner founded the Cornish Bard Association and called it the Gorseth Kernow (Gorsedd of Cornwall).
William Camden described the stone circle in his Britannia thus: "... in a place called Biscaw Woune are nineteen stones in a circle, twelve feet from each other, and in the circle stands one much larger than the rest." Camden does not mention the central stone leaning at an angle but in 1749 William Stukeley thought it may have been disturbed by someone looking for treasure. William Borlase mapped the circle in 1754 showing eighteen stones standing and one fallen, and at some time in the next hundred years a Cornish hedge was constructed through the circle. The hedge was first mentioned in 1850, by Richard Edmonds, and around 1862 the owner of the land, Miss Elizabeth Carne, had it removed and a new hedge built surrounding the stones. This is, thus, an early example of the preservation of an archaeological monument. In 1864 the area around the stone circle was first studied scientifically. The excavation reports show that the central stone already had its remarkable inclination. A burial mound was discovered near the stone circle, in which urns were located. From this time originates one of the first illustrations of the stone circle, which John Thomas Blight made, when he wrote a book concerning the churches of Cornwall with notes concerning ancient monuments. He also drew a plan of the burial mound and sketched one of the excavated urns.
Other prehistoric stone circles in the former Penwith district
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Bedd Taliesin is the legendary grave (bedd) of the poet Taliesin, located in Ceredigion, Wales. The Bronze Age round cairn is a listed Historic Monument (map ref: SN671912). It is a round-kerb cairn with a cist about 2m long. The capstone has fallen; the side stone slabs are more or less in their original positions.
The cairn has no proven connection with the historical Taliesin, a 6th-century poet esteemed by the poets of medieval Wales as the founder of the Welsh poetic tradition whose surviving work includes praise poems to the rulers of the early Welsh kingdom of Powys and Rheged, in the Hen Ogledd (modern northern England/southern Scotland). He became a figure of legend in medieval Wales and his association with Elffin ap Gwyddno, son of the king of the fabled Cantre'r Gwaelod, off the coast of Ceredigion, may account for the monument's name.
Local folklore has it that if you spend a night there you will awake a poet or a madman.Boskednan stone circle
Boskednan stone circle (grid reference SW434351) is a partially restored prehistoric stone circle near Boskednan, around 4 miles (6 kilometres) northwest of the town of Penzance in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The megalithic monument is traditionally known as the Nine Maidens or Nine Stones of Boskednan, although the original structure may have contained as many as 22 upright stones around its 69-metre perimeter.Callanish X
The Callanish X stone circle (or "Na Dromannan", "Druim Nan Eun") is one of many megalithic structures around the more well-known and larger Calanais I on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.Colmeallie stone circle
The Colmeallie stone circle is a recumbent stone circle in Glen Esk, Angus, Scotland. It is located 8 km north of Edzell at Colmeallie Farm, adjacent to the unclassified road leading from the B966 to Tarfside and Loch Lee (grid reference NO565780).Antiquarian Andrew Jervise recorded in 1853 that elderly locals could remember the circle being more complete, but that it had been recently plundered for building materials.Creevykeel Court Tomb
Creevykeel Court Tomb is one of the better examples of a court tomb in Ireland. The monument is located on the foothills of Tievebaun Mountain close to the sea near Mullaghmore in County Sligo.Gardom's Edge
Gardom's Edge is a rocky outcrop near Baslow in Derbyshire, England.
The shelf between Gardom's Edge and Birchen Edge is now moorland used for grazing sheep, but was inhabited and arably farmed during
the Bronze Age.Gaulstown Portal Tomb
The Gaulstown Portal Tomb or Gaulstown Dolmen is a megalithic portal tomb situated in Gaulstown, Butlerstown in County Waterford in the Republic of Ireland. It lies about 7 km south west of Waterford City.Gorsedh Kernow
Gorsedh Kernow (Cornish Gorsedd) is a non-political Cornish organisation, based in Cornwall, United Kingdom, which exists to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall. It is based on the Welsh-based Gorsedd, which was founded by Iolo Morganwg in 1792.Grange stone circle
Grange stone circle (Lios na Gráinsí or Fort of the Grange) 300m west of Lough Gur in County Limerick, Ireland, is situated beside the Limerick-Kilmallock road, 4 km north of Bruff.Grey Wethers
Grey Wethers consists of a pair of prehistoric stone circles, situated on grassy plateau to the north of Postbridge, Dartmoor, in the United Kingdom.Harrespil
Harrespil is the Basque name, that can be translated by "stone circle", given to small megalithic monuments which abounds on mountains of the Basque Country in particular. They are also called baratz, a basque word meaning "garden" and traditionally applied to the prehistoric necropoles.
Gathered in necropoles of 5 to 20 monuments, they appeared during the late bronze age (from approximately -1200) but remained used during the iron age.
These burials are distinguished from the preceding ones by the recourse to cremation, like in the urnfield culture.
More spectacular by its fitting than by the size of the stones, the harrespil is formed of a rectangular cist made of flat stones containing ashes of the dead, and of a stone circle.
The circle measures about 5 to 6 m in diameter and is made of a great number of medium stones.
The cist, of approximately a meter by 60 cm, consists of 4 side flagstones and a flagstone of cover.
These burials coexisted with tumuli, a little earlier, also sheltering a cist for ashes, but surrounded of stones in bulk. These architectures are sometimes combined, as in Zaho II where the harrespil is buried under a mound, delimited by a second stone circle.Kerzerho
Kerzerho lies approximately 8 km northwest of Carnac in the Erdeven commune and in the region of Brittany, France.Knocknakilla
Knocknakilla is the site of a megalithic complex (Grid Ref: W297843) situated between Macroom and Millstreet, in County Cork, Ireland. It is set in blanket peatland on the north-west upper slopes of Musherabeg mountain and is thought to be 3500 years old.Mane Braz
Mane Braz is a Megalithic tomb located 2 km southeast of Erdeven, Brittany, France. The site comprises four side chambers and two small dolmens. It is built into a hill and appears to be the remains of a tumulus.Moel Tŷ Uchaf
Moel Tŷ Uchaf is a stone circle near the village of Llandrillo, Denbighshire, North Wales. It is a collection of 41 stones with a Cist in the centre and an outlying stone to the north-north-east. The circle is 12 metres in diameter.Moel Ty Uchaf is also the name of the hill on which the circle is located.Paddaghju
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The Merry Maidens (grid reference SW432245), also known as Dawn's Men (a likely corruption of the Cornish Dans Maen "Stone Dance") is a late neolithic stone circle located 2 miles (3 km) to the south of the village of St Buryan, in Cornwall, United Kingdom. A pair of standing stones, The Pipers is associated both geographically and in legend.