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Mapping The Ancient Sites of Penwith

October 19th, 2015
Men-an-Tol by Helen Dixon

Men-an-Tol by Helen Dixon

This is a marvellous project happening in Cornwall. Author Palden Jenkins has been mapping the ancient sites of the beautiful Land’s End Peninsula. He has very kindly contributed the following guest blog explaining further about this wonderful labour of love.

Mapping Ancient Penwith
by Palden Jenkins 

Since moving down to West Penwith in Cornwall six years ago from Glastonbury, I’ve been tramping the fields, moors and clifftops visiting this area’s copious ancient sites and talking to other geomancers and archaeologists. Something prompted me to offer to do a map of the sites and their alignments, having done similar in Glastonbury in earlier years ( This proposition was well received. I soon found out that this area had been waiting for someone like me – I stumbled into an unfolding research process that might take a number of years. But then, ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’.

During winter 2014-15, using data accumulated over many years by Meyn Mamvro (, which has reported all ancient site research here for decades, both archaeological and geomantic, in six months I made a map of the ancient site alignments. Before long found I had tripled the number of alignments already found since the days of John Michell around 1970.

I did this using Google Maps, which has opened up a new level of accuracy in tracking leylines – you’ll find the map through . This meant that we could establish a clear and tight 10ft (3m) margin of accuracy for all alignments – though we have stretched it to 15ft (5m) in a few cases. In doing so, 20% of the previously-known alignments were ditched.

I found also that I was uncovering new alignments by using a different eye to previous geomancers.  Looking closely at hill camps (‘hillforts’) and at notable promontories (‘cliff castles’), I found many alignments involving these which other ley-hunters, looking mainly at menhirs and stone circles, hadn’t found.

I was fortunate to have Cheryl Straffon and Ray Cox of Meyn Mamvro working with me, reviewing every single alignment and discussing details at great length – this made a big difference. Several new findings emerged from all this, and they are presented in full in the ‘Findings’ section on the Ancient Penwith site.

First, alignments seem to resolve into a range of magnitudes – determined by the number of sites they pass through and the kind of sites involved. Since some 160 alignments had emerged in such a small area of 10 x 15 miles, this helped make some sense of them. On the map, alignments are thus provisionally ranked. Without this, it’s a case of data-overload.

Second, I found some alignments between major sites in Penwith that continued over to the Isles of Scilly and, switching attention there, found a whole system of alignments on the islands too, both internal and crossing to the mainland.

Third, I started finding new sites, partially ‘by chance’ in the field and partially by finding multiple crossing-points of alignments where no sites were known. These new sites include a set of aligned stones on the coasts of Penwith that are oriented to cliff castles like Treryn Dinas and Cape Cornwall or to offshore rocks such as the Longships rocks off Land’s End. I believe these aligned stones could be early megaliths from the late neolithic period. I’ve also clarified that certain promontories not recognised as cliff castles indeed were cliff castles, even though all sign and memory of them is obliterated today – this includes St Ives’ Head, Pendeen Watch and Cape Cornwall.

Fourth, the biggest find was a system of ‘backbone’ alignments. They not only connect the major sites of West Cornwall but also define the location of sites such as stone circles. To give an example, Treryn Dinas, a cliff castle near Porthcurno, Boscawen-un stone circle, Lanyon Quoit and one of the outlier menhirs of the Nine Maidens stone circle are all exactly aligned. Well, fancy that – at the time I had to put the kettle on to get over it! Or, Carn Brea (a high neolithic tor enclosure near Camborne), St Michael’s Mount, the Merry Maidens stone circle and Treryn Dinas are all exactly aligned. Phew. Meanwhile, Lanyon Quoit is on an alignment between Pendeen Watch and St Michael’s Mount.

In other words, the major sites of Penwith are locationally anchored in the ancient hills and cliff castles which, in the densely forested days of the earlier neolithic around 4000 BCE, were the main sacred sites of the area – not least because they gave people a sense of space and open sky. This discovery came out of the blue one evening. But, as someone (Edison or Einstein?) said, ‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’ – it took ages to get there.

Stone circles like Boscawen-un, Tregeseal, the Nine Maidens and the Merry Maidens are all located where they are because they play a part in a larger system of alignments covering West Penwith, anchored in the cliff castles and major hills. The megalith builders had a grand plan, and it was hatched around the late neolithic and early bronze age, around 3000 BCE – it’s possible to say this because of the dating of the sites involved.

It also highlights some sites that previously were not considered too important. One of the funniest ‘coincidences’ was that, looking for an alignment between St Michael’s Mount and Cape Cornwall, I discovered that it passes through a series of four bronze age barrows on the hill just above my home on an organic farm in the centre of Penwith. These barrows don’t look too thrilling today and they aren’t well-known, but they prove to be very important in the evolving geometry of West Penwith.  Details on backbone alignments are given here: .

There’s further to go. Currently (autumn 2015) we’re starting a project researching all of the astronomical orientations and alignments of West Penwith – involving perhaps 50ish sites – with a team of 7-8 locals. At the time of writing, the azimuths (orientations) of all alignments and double menhirs are being worked out. So there’s a lot of hiking to do, checking out local orientations and horizons and logging all sorts of details – partially to accumulate comprehensive archaeo-astronomical data, and partially in preparation for what follows that.

After that, we’re considering a comprehensive dowsing survey of the sites of the whole peninsula – that’ll take a few years and a team of about 20. But there are quite a few dowsers, geomancers, archaeologists and ancient site lovers down here, and West Penwith lends itself well to such a project because it has clear boundaries, the densest collection of ancient sites in Britain (together, interestingly, with the Orkney mainland) and a certain magic where, it seems, the spirits of the place seem to want this to happen. It’s not just a few times I’ve had the feeling I’ve been shown things by mysterious ‘chance’ means!

You might wonder why there are so many ancient sites here in Penwith. Well, back in the bronze age, in the 2000s BCE, megalithic culture was spread from Portugal to Denmark, and Penwith was at the centre of boat traffic plying the west coast of Britain, between the Irish Sea and Brittany. This was also true during the Celtic/iron age period (roughly 700 BCE to 100 CE). In Penwith we’re as close to the Boyne valley megalithic sites in Ireland and to Carnac in Brittany as we are to Avebury. Penwith was also an internationally vital source of tin in the bronze age and afterward (bronze is 90% copper and 10% tin), though in neolithic times the mining here started with gold – nodules could at first literally be picked up off the ground. So, in ancient times Penwith was rather like the Saudi Arabia of its time (minus the conservative imams and crazy skyscrapers).

Even on the eastern landward side of the peninsula there is a clear boundary. When you come down the A30 toward Penzance from upcountry, it’s at a place called Crowlas, between Hayle and PZ. How is this? Well, you feel it, but also, uncannily, the three ‘guardian’ hills of Penwith are all in a dead straight north-south alignment: St Ives’ Head, Trencrom Hill and St Michael’s Mount. That alignment crosses the A30 at Crowlas. It’s the energy-gateway to the end of the world.

Should you visit West Penwith, I have a recommendation – but give it a day and take your sandwiches. Apart from doing the usual stone circles and quoits, try Carn Les Boel. It’s a healthy stomp from Land’s End, but it’s inspiring and really powerful, at the western end of the Michael Line. Next stop, Yucatan, Mexico. If you go inside yourself and let yourself drift off while you’re there, you’ll meet some very ancient beings – and experience some serious time-warps too. On the cliff path from Land’s End you’ll pass Pordenack Point, a wondrous ancient clifftop gathering place, and you’ll see what might be Britain’s biggest collection of simulacra – natural rock shapes that take the form of beings – see  for photos. They are the Atlantic guardians of the Isles of Britain.

Further developments in this project will appear on the Ancient Penwith website as they arise. But, before ending, one final point.

Alfred Watkins, back in the 1920s, the first proponent of leys, proposed that leylines were trackways. This might partially be the case in Herefordshire, where he did his work, but it is certainly not the case here in Cornwall. The ancient trackways here don’t follow leys, and they aren’t straight. I’d even suggest that leylines are not actual lines at all, let alone trackways. We draw lines on maps to indicate an alignment, but we’ve lapsed into what I believe is a mistaken idea because of that. These are not lines across the landscape. They are alignments of sites – analogous to putting several Lego bricks in a straight line on a table, with gaps between them. It gives their arrangement coherence, a kind of ‘buzz’.

Alignments do have something to do with resonance, but this seems somewhat outside space and rather ‘morphogenetic’ or photonic. They are aligned to give them some sort of cross-resonance – but that doesn’t necessarily mean a detectable energy-flow will be there. Our future dowsing survey seeks to identify, amongst other things, how much dowsable energy-lines and ancient site alignments coincide. My guesstimate is 20%.

So that’s why I prefer the term ‘alignments’ to ‘lines’. You might check this out in your area, if this interests you. For the importance of all this is not solely to delight in the wonders of a glorious past – the megalithic era, around 3000-1200 BCE – but to try to find out what these people knew, regarding subtle energy and its manner of operation and fluctuation. We need to find this out because it concerns the next step in the global biosustainability and earth-repair issue that faces us.

The next step involves working with the subtle energies of the planet to correct and rebalance things. So this work in West Penwith is a kind of ‘pure research’ contributing toward laying the ground for that. We need to find out what ‘subtle energy’ really is and how it really behaves, for the future, and there’s a clue in what the ancients knew. It seems that Penwith is quite a good laboratory for this – it’s already something of a biosphere reserve for species going extinct upcountry. So while Middle England is busy rushing round pursuing its modern agendas, something interesting is happening down’ere that might have something to do with what happens after frenetic modernity runs out of answers.

Palden Kenkins

Palden Kenkins

Palden is an author, editor, webmaster and humanitarian worker, living near St Just, Cornwall, founder of the Glastonbury Camps, Oakdragon Camps and the Hundredth Monkey Project, and author of several books including ‘The Only Planet of Choice’ (1993). His latest book, about astrological timecycles, is called ‘Power Points in Time’ – . Still crazy after all these years.

4 Responses to “Mapping The Ancient Sites of Penwith”

  1. Absolutely fascinating Philip. I love Penwith and visit twice a year. The place has drew me since I started with Obod. I have visited a few sights. Even spent time with the spirits of the Merry Maidens circle, who reminded me a bit of a gang of biker friends of mine lol. I seem especially drawn to St Michaels mount and Marizion. Usually when there I’m led to find something to assist my knowledge on the path. The first time I was led to a book being sold for charity for 50p called The dance of the Dragon by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller(with Vivienne Shanley and Ba Russell) ISBN 0 9515183 5 6 by Pendragon Press Cornwall. This book is about the authors dowsing what they called the Apollo line, from Skellig Michael through St Michaels Mount all the way Mount Carmel and modern day Israel taking in all the relevant points along the way. What fascinated me was the fact that most sights Christianized with St Michael were usually sacred to Lugh before. Irrelevant to this but on my last journey I was drawn to Beach Cafe and found a CD called Elemental Tangents which comes as a book form of pictures and small poems of the four elements and Spirit. The Cd is of instrumental compositions of the four elements and spirit interpreted thus in turn and is fantastic. Its by Tracey Swain and Stephen Paine ISBN 978-0-9932521-0-5. I love Cornwall, its so restfull. I shall definately follow the above authors in your blog as I’ve often thought there must be micro leys between the sites within Penwith. There are so many of them in that small area it must stand for something.

  2. I feel a deep connection to penwith, I have only had the fortune of visited once, but I was handfasted in the Merry Maidens circle. Wonderful blog, is there a book on the horizon?

  3. This all fits in very well with David Furlong’s seminal book ‘The Keys To the Temple’ (Piatkus 0-7499-1745-8),where he triangulates the alignmentson ancient sites all over the U.K. (and beyond!)with tremendous accuracy and relating these to astroarchaeology. I was particularly interested in the ‘castles’ alignments reported in the piece, as of course we have the mysterious ‘brochs’ here in Scotland which seem to be much more than the ‘lookout towers’ from their elaborate construction, and were built during the same period as the Penwith monuments. Furlong also devotes a whole chapter to the calculation of ancient measurements such as Megalithic Yard,Royal Cubit and the Pyk Beladys, relating these to metres and fathoms etc. which I found quite useful. Thanks again Phillip for a most fascinating post!

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