Boskednan or ‘Nine Maidens’
Boskednan or ‘Nine Maidens’
NGR: SW 43426 35127
Boskednan stone circle is situated in an extensive area of moorland to the south-east of Carn Galver. Although it is also known as the Nine Maidens, the circle now comprises eleven stones, two of which are fallen. The even spacing between the surviving stones suggests that the site was originally laid out as a perfect circle, just under 22 metres in diameter, comprising 22 or 23 stones, the inner faces of which would have been smooth and flat, a common feature of many Cornish stone circles. When WC Borlase visited the circle in the mid 17th century there were still nineteen stones, but over the next two hundred years the site was badly affected by the activities of stone splitters and miners. One or two of the stones bear distinctive splitting marks, indicating that their destruction was recent and deliberate.
All the stones are of even height except a taller pair which stand together on the north-west side. One stands almost two metres high, whilst its neighbour, broken now, has a substantial base suggesting that it too could have been as tall. From the centre of the circle these two form a portal which frames the rocky summit of Carn Galver. Along the broad ridge which links the circle and the carn the stump of a broken menhir and a large kerbed cairn are prominent features, and a substantial barrow cemetery lies in the middle distance. As no recent excavations have taken place it is impossible to be certain whether they are contemporary with the circle or later.
An account of the site written in 1848 refers to some urns being found in the vicinity of the stone circle by labourers digging on the site, and in 1872, when WC Borlase excavated the remains of the barrow which lies close to the south-east of the circle he revealed the remains of a stone lined burial chamber or cist which had been previously disturbed. He found an urn beside the cist which was of a type known as Trevisker Ware (from the type site north of Newquay) and was covered with chevron designs. This style of pottery can be used to date the barrow to the Early Bronze Age. The area has been heavily disturbed and traces of these sites and features can be hard to recognise on the ground today.
Whilst the function of stone circles may be uncertain, it has been noted that such sites sit within a ‘ceremonial landscape’ which incorporates other broadly contemporary megalithic monuments, and where it is possible to see relationships and alignments between sites and prominent landscape features. The natural focus of the monuments in this area is clearly Carn Galver, where slight traces of a possible Neolithic tor enclosure have been identified. Whether this is the case or not, the Carn is clearly the predominant natural feature of the area, a rocky summit demanding the attention of the visitor, and casting its influence over a wide area.
Boskednan stone circle lies in open ground with access via trackways from Boskednan, Ding Dong engine house, Men-an-Tol and via Carn Galver itself. The ground is often very boggy and care should be exercised.
Barnatt, J, 1982. Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments. Turnstone Press Limited. ISBN 0 85500 129 1
Payne, R. 1999. The Romance of the Stones: Cornwall’s Pagan Past. Alexander Associates. ISBN 899526 66 8