AHA Notes | Penwith's Magical Landscape - Paldywan Kenobi

Palden Jenkins
Retired author, photographer, webmaster, historian and humanitarian
Palden Jenkins
Go to content

AHA Notes | Penwith's Magical Landscape

Lanyon Quoit as seen from Bosiliack Barrow
The AHA Class
The Magical Landscape
of West Penwith

Notes, maps, pics, links and audio
With a guest appearance from the waves of Portheras Cove.
Click any map below for a larger version.
Further useful material and links are at the bottom of the page

This talk is about earth energy, people energy and cosmic energy - the ancients worked with these in the megalithic era. I share my discoveries, showing how Penwith is one big ancient site, with all sorts of components - stone circles, menhirs, cairns, quoits and enclosures. I propose that it was a high-level magical-shamanic energy-generator, involving the whole landscape. I show how it evolved, what the ancients of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages were seeking to achieve, and how it worked.
I have come to this after fifty years' research into ancient sites, the last fifteen in Penwith. I have mapped its sites and the geomantic alignments system in Penwith. I've also written a downloadable book, Shining Land - the ancient sites of West Penwith and what they say about megalithic civilisation.
Cornwall topography

In the Neolithic 3000s BCE, most of the action happened in Penwith, Bodmin Moor and around the coast. The Neolithics particularly liked the granitic uplands of Cornwall - and the climate was warmer, and the hilltops and coasts were the best place to be. The rest was densely and quite endlessly forested. The best way to travel any distance was by boat.
Main Neolithic sites

The main power centres were Neolithic Tor Enclosures and Cliff Sanctuaries. The tors in West Cornwall were Carn Brea, St Michael's Mount, Carn Galva, Carn Kenidjack and Trencrom Hill. The centre of the Neolithics' universe in Penwith was Carn Galva - many of them lived around there. Cliff sanctuaries - sanctified spaces - were dotted around the coast, playing a large part in the location of ancient sites in the Neolithic 3000s and later the Bronze Age (2500-1200 BCE).
Penwith topography

In the Mesolithic (5000s-4000s BCE) people recognised special places with a sense of energy and magic, but they didn't built constructed ancient sites - all the Earth was sacred. But around 3700 new migrants entered from Portugal/Biscay bringing the idea of constructed sacred spaces - shrines and areas that were designated human-ruled and special. Most people lived on the hills in the north - the south was largely colonised in the Bronze Age.
Early Neolithic sites

These were focused around hills and cliff sanctuaries, and here are the main hills and bumps of Penwith that the ancients would have noticed and revered. In the Neolithic, most of the land was forested, but there were cleared areas where people lived, farmed and grazed livestock. Mostly they were transhumant gatherer-fisher-hunters with some horticulture, migrating around their patch through the year, though their thinking was nevertheless quite sophisticated.
Penwith's main megalithic sites

Penwith has hundreds of sites, but these are the main ones. In Penwith and across Britain the megalithic era came in two phases: the Neolithic (3700-3200 BCE) and the Early-to-Mid Bronze Age (2500-1200 BCE).
The Eureka Moment

Perchance, I found that a line from St Michael's Mount to Cape Cornwall went right through the barrows on Botrea Hill, just above my house. Hmmm. It led me to look at alignments between other Neolithic cliff sanctuaries and tors, and I made a big discovery concerning the layout of ancient sites in Penwith.
The line divides two distinct areas in Penwith - the northern uplands of the Neolithic and the southern lower lands colonised in the Bronze Age. The white patches are the relatively empty areas of Penwith with fewer ancient sites - probably still wildwooded in the Bronze Age.
Backbone Alignments
John Michell never discovered these. They usually involve Neolithic cliff sanctuaries and tor enclosures, plus one or more Bronze Age sites - such as stone circles.
The lines on this map prove three things: Lanyon Quoit was located in relation to cliff sanctuaries and tors, 2. these backbone alignments were established in the Neolithic 3000s, and 3. the cliff sanctuaries were held to be key sites in the Neolithic (usually they're dated to the Iron Age and given only small significance). They also suggest that some Bronze Age sites (such as Boscawen-ûn, the Merry Maidens and the Nine Maidens), were known in the Neolithic, even if nothing was built on them.
Quoit Alignments
The quoits, built around 3700-3200, were built in the area where most of the Neolithics lived, arranged in a system with astronomical alignments and parallels. They were experimenting with an integrated landscape system.
The quoits were probably all built within a generation or two. The quoits were energy-chambers used in healing, initiation, treating seeds and tinctures, and even for dying in. But not burial. There are signs that two (Mulfra and Zennor Quoits) were deliberately decommissioned.
How it all starts knitting together
Take a good look at this map. This demonstrates how the major sites of the Bronze Age were located on the basis of the key Neolithic sites, and they were also geomantically rooted in the landscape. This was not a pattern imposed on the land, but derived from it and giving shape to the constructions of the Bronze Age. They were building a whole, landscape-wide system - one big cliff sanctuary - in Penwith. And it was a good place to do it, with clear boundaries.
Backbones
This is the full backbone system in Penwith. The white lines are the Michael and Apollo lines, plus another from the Hurlers on Bodmin Moor to St Michael's Mount to Tol Pedn Penwith. Backbones always have one or two Neolithic sites on them. A classic example: Carn Brea, St Michael's Mount, Merry Maidens and Treryn Dinas - three natural bumps exactly aligned with each other, with a stone circle plugged into the alignment.
For a full-size, zoomable Google map, click here.
Boscawen-ûn alignments
Boscawen-ûn is not placed in what seems like an obvious place in the landscape, but the geomancy of this stone circle makes it a master-stroke that was put there to light up the whole system. Look at the way its position sits remarkably in relation to other natural sites in Penwith. It's a stone circle for Penwith but also it is of national significance.
St Michael's Mount alignments
St Michael's Mount is a key power centre in Penwith with multiple alignments. It's a natural site enhanced over the millennia by (very varied) human use, as a sacred place, settlement, trading place, monastery and fortress. Note its relationship with other cliff sanctuaries.
Trencrom Hill alignments
Trencrom Hill, both a Neolithic tor enclosure and an Iron Age hill camp, is an energy-gateway into Penwith, as you can see here. It is also a guardian hill with St Ives Head and St Michael's Mount - mysteriously aligned with each other even as natural hills. This nearly north-south alignment is the energy-boundary of the magical landscape of Penwith.
The Alignments System of West Penwith
Penwith can be regarded as one big ancient site or cliff sanctuary, roughly 10x15 miles in extent.
It's a contained landscape, easy enough to range around on foot in a few days.
Click here for the full, detailed Google map (it contains info about each site if you click on any symbol on the map).
Some extra maps of interest...
Below: Notional Landscape Temples and Clan Areas
This map is speculative, based in observation of the lay of the land and the likely areas that each acted as a landscape temple. It's possible that each clan had each of these areas as their own patch. They were interrelated, and the boundaries between them were less important than the key sites and centres within them.
Over the centuries there would have been many changes to the spread, relations and circumstances of Penwith's clans, but the landscape temples' structures are likely to have remained quite consistent.
Prehistoric Sites across Cornwall
For a full, detailed version on Google Maps, click here.
Further useful material

Maps of Penwith and Cornwall - ancient sites and alignments
Ancient Penwith site - lots more detail about things mentioned here
The book Shining Land, and podcasts and other useful downloads
A History of Penwith's Prehistory - about the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages
Privacy: I'm uninterested in your private data. This site collects stats of general traffic only. There's no capturing, mining, storing, sharing or selling data here. I don't keep a mailing list either. Any issues, please contact me. Enjoy your visit!
Back to content