NGR: SW77769 21044
The settlement of Tremenhere is first recorded in AD 1312 but it is likely to be much older with origins before the Norman Conquest. The name is Cornish and translates as Standing Stone Farm – ‘tre’ is the Cornish word for a farmstead, and ‘men-hyr’ means ‘long-stone’. The name refers to the standing stone which lies in the field 200m to the north-east of the settlement and which is still known locally as the Long Stone. It was described by the antiquarian WC Borlase in 1872 as a thin wedge-shaped stone standing just short of three metres high. Although Borlase said that it was made of ‘ironstone’ it is in fact made of the local igneous rock known as gabbro.
Standing stones vary considerably in their size and shape. They rarely seem to have been transported very far, and mostly seem to have been simply selected from rocks found on the ground or around nearby rocky outcrops and tors. Their smooth surfaces and rounded profiles are the result of aeons of ‘natural’ weathering by wind and rain and the actions of plants and bacteria.
No excavation has taken place at Tremenheere but excavations at similar sites in Cornwall have shown that they may be associated with postholes and pits, and areas of quartz paving – all perhaps indicative of the ceremonies and rituals for which they formed the focus. Rarely, cists (stone-lined burial boxes) containing cremated human remains, pottery and charcoal have been found. Excavation has also shown that the hole, or socket, into which the stone has been set may contain charcoal and there is also some evidence for the ritual deposition of cremated human bone. The stone sockets themselves can be surprisingly shallow.
Precise dating of the erection and use of standing stones is complicated by the difficulty of identifying closely associated archaeological layers or finds. Pottery and radiocarbon dating of associated charcoal deposits indicate that they were mostly being set up from the Late Neolithic through to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, but there is increasing evidence that they continued to be erected (or possibly re-erected) during the later prehistoric and early mediæval periods. It also seems likely that some of the early mediæval inscribed stones are possibly re-used Bronze Age menhirs.
Standing stones are often found in association with other more complex megalithic sites such as stone circles and stone alignments and funerary and ritual monuments such as cairns and barrows in what archaeologists have termed ‘ritual landscapes’. On the slopes to the north of Tremenheere are a number of single barrows, and about 1 kilometre to the south, on Crousa Common, is a fallen standing stone and several groups of barrows including a tightly knit alignment of five cairns.
Standing stones may have served a variety of purposes, and their functions are likely to have changed through time. As well as serving as funerary sites and providing the focus for ritual activities they may also have served as way markers or boundary stones; some are thought to have been sited to provide astronomical alignments to significant positions along the horizon – possible for calendrical purposes. None of these uses need exclude other uses both at the same time or over the vast expanse of archaeological time. Even in the modern day it is not unusual to find sites still serving as arenas for ritual and ceremonial activity and it is not unusual when visiting such sites to find offerings left by previous visitors.
Access to the monument is via the public footpath between Tremenheere and Trevallack.