Paired walks in the footsteps of Lady Mary Lockyer, led by archaeo-astronomer Carolyn Kennett

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Mary Lockyer

Mary Lockyer was a Victorian astronomer and photographer who travelled with her husband Norman Lockyer to many of SW Britain’s stone circles. While he was making measurements to support his theories, she was taking the photos, and no doubt also discussed the sites and his ideas. (Portrait photo courtesy of the Norman Lockyer Observatory.)

The walks will look at other nearby sites and landscape besides the circles. They are both in February – the best month of the year for fieldwork on Cornwall’s granite hills as the vegetation is low, and so is the light, glancingly illuminating all that the sun falls upon. The first walk is also timed to observe the setting sun at Imbolc, one of the four quarter days.

Just two weeks apart, the walks will get us thinking about an under-appreciated woman (a suffragette and a campaigner for improved health care for women as well as a sensitive archaeological artist) as well as two rich and beautiful archaeological landscapes.

Walk 1 Devils and Saints in West Penwith

A walk from St Just Church to Carn Kenidjack and back on February 3rd 2024, meet 11am, finish around 17.00.

Leaving the hustle of St Just we head out through the enchanting Tregeseal Valley. This remarkable valley is scarred by the remains of the mining industry carved into a landscape, one which was equally important to people from prehistory. We have permission to visit the privately owned entrance grave and discuss the archaeological discoveries made here, before heading onto Kenidjack common beneath Carn Kenidjack reputed in folklore to be a favourite site of the devil.

This area is rich in archaeological remains including the Tregeseal stone circle where we will chat about astronomy work of the past and the photography of Lady Lockyer. We head past the barrows and visit the holed stones. These have recently undergone an archaeological investigation when the stones were stabilised, the results of this excavation will be shared. Heading up the hill we will chat about other features in the landscape, along with the myths and legends that abound in this area. We will continue past the abandoned farmstead to Boslow inscribed stone, and maybe further if time allows…

Holed stone on Kenidjack Common (Carolyn Kennett)

The intention is to get back to the circle for sunset, in time to see the Imbolc cross quarter sun disappear over the sea and the Isles of Scilly. We head back to St Just in the fading light of the day, ready for a welcome break and the warmth of a fire, perhaps in one of St Just’s several public houses.

Meet outside St Just Church, St Just in Penwith
Latitude and Longitude to copy and paste into googlemaps: 50.124483, -5.679317
What 3 Words ///pots.cackling.claps

Please bring a packed lunch, clothes for all eventualities of weather, shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Dogs on leads please.

Walk 2 In the shadow of Rough Tor

A walk to the three stone circles on N.W. Bodmin Moor on 17th February 2024, meet 10am, finish around 16.00.

This stroll takes you onto the incredible wild north west part of Bodmin Moor, exploring both well and lesser-known prehistoric sites, including the three stone circles on this part of Hamatethy Commons. Along the way, we delve into discussions of astronomy and prehistory. Our first stop is Stannon Circle, where we chat about intriguing suggestions of its astronomical alignments. Following the clayworks edge, we pass cairns and round houses before reaching the Logan Stone at the brow of Logan Hill. Feel free to climb aboard and experience the entertaining rocking—it’s an excellent vantage point for admiring the nearby hills, including Rough Tor.

Our journey continues to Fernacre Stone Circle, positioned strategically in the landscape with its cardinal alignment to Rough Tor and Brown Willy, we’ll explore ideas of winter and movement in the skies to a time of balance. As we loop back, we encounter a unique double cist before pausing at Louden Circle. Our final ascent takes us up Alex Tor, offering a breathtaking vista of the captivating landscape we’ve spent the day exploring.

Fernacre stone circle, looking west towards Louden Hill (Carolyn Kennett)

Meet at the triangle of grass on the road to Stannon and the Quarry. Please park carefully so as not to block the road.
Latitude and Longitude to copy and paste into googlemaps 50.587821, -4.664353
What 3 words ///swerving.magical.accent

Please bring a packed lunch, clothes for all eventualities of weather, shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Dogs on leads please.