Duloe Stone Circle
Duloe stone circle
NGR: SX 23585 58309
Nestled unobtrusively in the corner of a field beside a Cornish hedge stands Duloe stone circle, the smallest stone circle in Cornwall. The flat ridge top on which it lies is flanked half a mile to either side by deep valleys containing the Looe and West Looe rivers. The circle is in many respects unique, consisting of eight large and irregular white quartz blocks set in a pattern of alternating large and small stones. Seven of the stones are upright with one fallen. The ‘circle’ appears to have been set out by eye in an ovoid design, elongated in a north-south direction. There is a lead lode which outcrops two miles to the north of Duloe which may be the source of the stones.
Restoration carried out in the mid 1800s included the removal of a hedge that ran through the middle of the circle and incorporated two of the original stones. It is also thought that there was some attempt to re-erect the fallen stone but unfortunately part of it broke off and the fragment has now vanished from the site. During this early attempt at restoration, a Bronze Age ribbon handled urn was discovered which contained cremated human bone. There is some discrepancy over accounts of this discovery – whether the urn was found beneath the fallen stone or recovered from the hedge that bisected the site. WC Borlase inferred from the discovery that there may have been a raised mound or stony cairn within the circle and it does seem reasonable to interpret the monument as the impressive kerb or peristalith of an imposing Bronze Age burial monument. In support of this it has been noted that there are no accompanying megalithic monuments in the vicinity and no alignments to other sites or horizon features, although the stones do roughly align to the points of the compass suggesting a possible ceremonial observance of astronomical events.
Shortly after WC Borlase’s publication on Cornish antiquities (Nænia Cornubiæ, 1872), the site became know as “The Druids Circle” and appears as such on the Ordnance Survey map of 1880. The connection between stone circles and the Druid religion was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, made so in part by the antiquarians John Aubrey and William Stukeley, but this idea has now been largely discredited.
The nearby settlement of Stonetown, first recorded in 1329 is probably referring to the stone circle at Duloe. The circle can be accessed via a signposted track between two houses in Higher Stonetown to the south-west.
Barnatt, J, 1982. Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments. Turnstone Press Limited. ISBN 0 85500 129 1
Borlase, WC, 1872. Nænia Cornubiæ.
Payne, R. 1999. The Romance of the Stones: Cornwall’s Pagan Past. Alexander Associates. ISBN 899526 66 8