Posted: May 5, 2013 by noxprognatus in Monuments

boscawen un

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. It is located at grid reference SW412274.

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 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. The stone circle is 300 m from the road. The location was apparently carefully selected, because it lies within visual range of The Merry Maidens stone circle and the two Pipers standing stones. In addition, a view of the sea, rare in this area, is offered here.

Boscawen-Un is a Cornish name, containing the syllables bod (farmstead) and scawen (old tree). The suffix Un denotes an adjacent pasture. Therefore the name translates as the pasture of the farmstead at the old tree.


The stone circle consists of a central standing stone encircled by 19 other stones, including 18 made of gray 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.


Illustration by John Thomas Blight (1864)

Plan of the burial mound and sketch of an urn (1864)

The stone circle at Boscawen-Un, was erected in the Bronze Age. It is possible that it was a meeting place for druids in the Iron Age. In any case, 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).

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 wall was removed which led through the site, and a stone wall that still surrounds the stones was built and is thus an early example of preservation of archaeological monuments. 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.

The question remains why Nineteen stones? As you will see from future sites, they too appear to have nineteen stones. Like the bluestone horseshoe in Stonehenge.

Consisting of 19 stones, the bluestone horseshoe (just inside the 5 sarsen        trilithons) had a couple of possible uses.

They could be used for counting the period from a full moon on a particular       day of the year to the next full moon that falls on that day of the year,       which would be 19 years later. Known as the Metonic cycle (after Meton,       a 5th Century BC Greek astronomer), this is correct to around 2 hours. (Postins,       1982)

It could also be used to follow the nodal cycle of the Moon, which has       a period of 18.61 years. The extremes of the Moon’s position on the horizon        with the two intermediate trilithons       and stones 8, 9, 10, and 20, 21, 22       of the sarsen circle.

The Bluestone Horseshoe (inside the five trilithons)       can also be used to predict eclipses. There are 19 of these stones, which       again relate to the 18.61-year cycle of the Moon’s wandering rising and       setting points on the horizon, and therefore also eclipses. “Due to the       way in which the lunar nodes move around the Zodiac, it takes somewhat less       than a year for the Sun to return to the same position in relation to the       nodes. This period is 346.62 days, and is connected with the repetition       of eclipses. It is known as an ‘eclipse year’. 19 eclipse years and 223       lunar months [each of 29.53 days] have the following relationship: –

19 x 346.62 = 6585.78 days,       and       223 x 29.53 = 6585.32 days.”


This means that to predict an eclipse, 223 full Moons must be counted before       the Earth, Moon and Sun are again in the same positions as at the beginning       of that time. This period of time is called the Saros, and it is       possible that Stonehenge III people discovered it. However, not all eclipses       would be predicted by this method of counting the bluestones in the horseshoe       because eclipses occur quite frequently, except with slightly different       positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun.

The other mystery of theses ancient sites lies in the alignments,and the formation of the ley lines that form from joining the ancient sites.

The above is a plan of the megalithic sites in the area of Cornwall and above that the plan of Boscawen-Un and how it may be aligned with other sites.

I hope this gives a good outline of this site. Nox.


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