The Men-an-Tol is a small, but important, collection of Neolithic standing stones located near to the town of Morvah in Cornwall. The term ‘Mên-an-Tol’ is old Cornish and literally translates as “The Hole Stone”. The formation consists of two upright stones with a ring-stone set between them. All the stones are made from local granite and would have been both difficult and time consuming to shape. There is considerable debate whether the ring-stone was manmade or the result of some natural weathering process. If it was fabricated would have taken many hundreds of man hours to carve and must have had a very special significance to the ancient people of the region. It is one of only two such ring-stones ever found in Britain. There is a smaller version near Wigtown in Scotland but this is considerable smaller.
The two pillar stones are both approximately 1.2 metres tall and the ring stone is slightly shorter measuring only 1.1 metres. There are a number of other Neolithic stone monuments in the immediate area which has led archaeologists and historians to suggest that they were all part of a larger stone circle and some point in prehistory. Records show that the stones have been moved at various times over the past 600 years, probably to fit with local legends and folklore beliefs.
The Men-an-Tol formation is believed to sit at the junction of several important ley lines and has long had the reputation for having magical healing properties. For hundreds of years farmers with back pain would crawl through the ring-stone in the belief that it would cure their condition. A modern back specialist (osteopath) has suggested that the contortions necessary for a sizeable man to squeeze through the hole may have help to realign the spine. Another folk belief is passing a child through the rings stone will cure them of rickets (osteomalacia) but only if the process was repeated nine times.
A local legend holds that if a woman is passed feet first through the Men-an-Tol ring stone seven times during a full moon she will soon fall pregnant. A version of the story states the child will almost certainly be a boy but if it is a girl then she will be exceptionally lovely and have healing powers.
For centuries it’s been believed that Mên-an-Tol has a supernatural guardian that protects the stones and sometimes offers magical cures or special gifts. It is supposed to be particularly potent for cleansing curses or removing the spells of evil witches. Some say that the guardian is a Pixie (Piksie) while other claim it is the spirit of an ancient magician (Mage) – possibly even Merlin from the Arthurian tales.
Foretelling the Future
Robert Hunt the researcher and antiquarian recorded that if two brass pins were laid crosswise on top of each other on the ring-stone they would move of their own accord depending on the whether the answer to a question was yes or no.
There are accounts that paranormal investigators who have examined the Men-an-Tol stones claim that they have significantly higher levels of background radiation than they should. It’s fair to point out that other researchers claim there is no such effect. This has led to some debate as to whether the stones may change their background radiation subject to factors such a temperature and time of year.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B3306 (Rd), Penzance
Cornwall, England, TR19 6JB
+44 (0)1736 871 588
- Address: Morvah Rd, Bosullow, Penzance, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, TR20 8NX
- GPS: 50.15854167,-5.604475
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: TR20 8NX
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Very difficult for the mobility impaired
- Visibility from Road: None
- Image Credits: Header Image: Helen Hotson