Ancient Monuments

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Stone setting and holed stone known as the Men-an-Tol, 315m south east of Coronation Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Madron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1585 / 50°9'30"N

Longitude: -5.6045 / 5°36'16"W

OS Eastings: 142644.404374

OS Northings: 34942.135878

OS Grid: SW426349

Mapcode National: GBR DXJ8.CM5

Mapcode Global: VH058.S8ZT

Entry Name: Stone setting and holed stone known as the Men-an-Tol, 315m south east of Coronation Farm

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1926

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004641

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 56

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Madron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Madron

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a stone setting and holed stone situated on the lower south eastern slopes of White Downs. The stone setting and holed stone survive as a central circular holed stone with two flanking upright stones, a further upright to the north west, and a recumbent stone. The holed stone is set on its edge and measures up to 1.3m in diameter and 0.3m thick, with a central circular hole of 0.5m in diameter. The three upright stones measure between 0.9m and 1.3m high; the recumbent stone lies at the foot of the western flanking upright. The stones were recorded in their current location in 1825 by Cotton. WC Borlase excavated a trench between the stones and found only a single flint flake. More recent survey and excavation work by Cornwall Archaeological Unit in 1992, prior to consolidation of the monument, revealed a nearby pit and spoil heap beside the stones to be a mineral prospecting pit. The survey also revealed some other recumbent stones nearby. This enigmatic stone group has been the subject of numerous discussions regarding its function with suggestions including: an astronomical observatory; part of a burial chamber; and part of a stone circle. The Men-an-Tol has attracted considerable folk belief. Traditionally children were passed through the hole as a cure for rickets. People with 'ague' would crawl through the hole nine times against the sun as a cure, and it was said that if two brass pins were placed on the top of the stones, their movements could be used for assessing the future.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-424271

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The stone setting and holed stone known as the Men-an-Tol, 315m south east of Coronation Farm are undoubtedly one of the most famous and mysterious monuments in Cornwall, steeped in myth and local legend and possibly one of the most distinctive in appearance in the whole of England. The exact purpose and function is unknown but in common with other similar types of monument, most notably those of nearby Exmoor, it is thought to date from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2500 - 1000 BC). As such it can be expected to provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during these periods. The continuation of ritual and belief into the more recent past makes it a extremely rare and long lived monument. One of the upright stones is thought to have been moved in the last few hundred years to make the setting more of an alignment, but despite this, and necessary consolidation work from visitor pressure, it remains one of Cornwall's most famous and intriguing archaeological sites.

Source: Historic England

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