A Megalith at the Edge of Oblivion
Dowsing-assisted rescue archaeology at Carwynnen Quoit
You just know it’s going to be a good day when you are pipped to the gate by the site organiser opening up for your event – and so it was to be. It was also a quietly historic occasion that marked the first formal joint outing involving the three dowsing groups in Cornwall – Trencrom, West Cornwall and Tamar.
Carwynnen (or Pendarves) Quoit stands – or, more accurately, lies – in a tranquil meadow of flowers in deepest West Cornwall. It is well off the beaten tourist track and, but for the signboard at the entrance, would be all but invisible even if you did come upon this hidden gem of a location by chance. Yet here, in this unpresupposing place, is one of the most remarkable lost landmarks of old Kernow. Carwynnen Quoit stood for millennia on land previously owned by the Pendarves family. The structure is known to have collapsed twice in historical times – once in the early Victorian period, after which it was re-erected, then again in 1967 as a result of the ‘St Agnes earthquake’, which left it as just another heap of big rocks, ripe for field clearance and the stone-breakers steam-hammer.
Enter stage left, Pip Richards, archaeologist, dowser and activist, who founded The Sustainable Trust with the explicit aim of restoring this endangered leviathan to its former glory. Pip’s tireless work (this event immediately followed three exhausting days spreading the word to all and sundry at the Royal Cornwall Show), ably assisted by a host of fellow dowsers including Andy Norfolk and Bart O’Farrell, has set a chain of events in motion that, fingers crossed (he said, in the most scientific manner possible), will see the major stones back into their former sockets before too long.
The hugely positive undercurrent of this undertaking is the way in which Pip has managed to draw together the dowsers and the archaeologists (and the archaeological dowsers) to support a common and inter-related cause to such good effect. While the British Society of Dowsers (BSD) Archaeological Dowsing Group (ADG) has made a number of inroads and friends in the profession in recent years, this is a prime example of the two disciplines working together under one banner.
The dowsing input was vital during the early stages of the project in determining the previous locations of the massive stones, and also in determining the energy and water lines that were marked by – or drawn in by – the quoit, during the time that it stood in the Frying Pan Field at Carwynnen. This gave the archaeologists a good steer as to what to look for, and the prospect of re-erecting a functional megalith (as opposed to just conserving a fallen rock-pile) started to gather momentum. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of getting people with physical and non-physical approaches working together in this way – as it was one of the principal aims that brought the BSD into existence back in the 1930’s.
For several of those attending, including those of us from the east of the county and beyond, this was our first visit to the site – but hopefully it will be the first of many. Substantial energy, water and ‘ley’ lines were all very much in evidence and proved to be a useful starting point – with former BSD Director John Moss providing the flags for marking out some of them. There was much discussion surrounding the current position of the Michael Line (of Miller/Broadhurst fame), which appears to have moved away from the alignment shown in the maps accompanying The Sun and The Serpent, to one much closer to the quoit. This could, of course, be due to the interaction of human and planetary activity at Carwynnen, which is itself a fundamental concept in metaphysics. However, the movement could also signal an anticipation of the re-erection of the quoit – in a similar manner to Hamish Miller’s own findings during the relocation of the massive seed sculpture at the Eden Project, as it was about to leave the quarry.
Dowsing is also informing the debate surrounding the physical archaeology of the site. A good example of this is the discovery, during excavation, of a ‘pavement’ of smaller stones, below the existing ground level, around the quoit. This had been interpreted as a potential ceremonial walkway, but dowsing suggests that it is more likely to be the remnants of the base of a cairn of smaller stones that may have been part of, or contemporary with, the main structure.
Despite the numerous visits and extensive research by local dowsers, features are re-emerging all the time. During this visit, we investigated a large recumbent stone close to the field boundary, which dowsed as having formerly having been erect, and was connected energetically to the quoit in some manner. An ancient line of consciousness was easily dowsable between the two. Other potential sites of former standing stones were also dowsed and investigated.
Despite the excitement and progress of the project, the boulders are currently propped on wooden plinths away from their original positions. Only the transient marker stumps of the archaeologists show where they formerly stood, and the very existence of this megalith is subject to the fickle whims of finance and social policy. It is still very close to becoming its own history, and it will be a relief, as well as a joy, to see it actually craned back into position.
On the way home, Tamar Dowser and East Cornwall sculptor, Pete Bousfield, hit the nail on the head when he commented that he felt the stones seemed sad. For the dowser, there is little doubt that the earth energies in the land south of Camborne will be significantly improved once the quoit is back in place. However, the real excitement will be to replicate the original dowsing survey to see what differences (if any!) such a survey will reveal. It will be a rare, possibly unique, opportunity – and we can only hope that Pip and her colleagues are successful in seeing their magnificent vision become a reality. We all left Carwynnen enthused by both the work and its implications – and I am sure Hamish himself would have been deeply proud of their efforts to date.
Many thanks indeed to a weary Pip Richards (and friends) for hosting this hugely enjoyable event – and for making us all so welcome.
Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers, June 2013
Donations to the Sustainable Trust are always appreciated (and necessary!). See their website at www.sustrust.co.uk for more details and to view a superb short video about the project.