In Cornwall we have a special kind of geological feature that through history has given the Cornish folks bucket loads of joy. It is the natural phenomena known as the Logan Rock.
The word Logan comes from the Cornish ‘logging’, meaning rocking. and refers to a number of rocks which through some a happy accident are on a pivot and can be rocked despite their mighty tonnage.
The most famous of Cornwall’s logan rocks is at Treen on a stunning stretch of coastline close to the famous Minack Theatre. It is reputed to weigh around 60 tons but because of its perfect pivot could be rocked by a small child. Of course there is a kill-joy in this tale and his name was Lieutenant Hugh Goldsmith, R.N. (nephew of the famous poet Oliver Golsmith).
In April 1824 Goldsmith was on a jolly with the navy just off the Cornish coast and apparently they heard tell of the legend that no mortal man could dislodge the rock from its axis. Goldsmith and 14 crew decided to test the theory. After several hours of struggling with iron bars they succeeded in tumbling the stone from its position.
The crew had however underestimated the importance of what they had done, the people of the area were understandably furious at this act of vandalism. Goldsmith wrote to his mother on 24th April 1824 saying “the Rock was so idolized in this neighbourhood . . . I found all Penzance in an uproar. I was to be transported at least; the newspapers have traduced me, and made me worse than a murderer, and the base falsehoods in them are more than wicked”. He was soon reported to the Admiralty and told to replace the stone immediately.
This was not an easy undertaking and it took several months to organise the necessary equipment but the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported on 6th November 1824 that crowds of people had watching the Logan Rock being hoisted back into position and a great cheer went up when it was seen to rock.
Although the stone was replaced apparently it never rocked the same again. This is a stretch of coastline that is well worth a visit and if you have a head for heights climb up to the Logan Rock and try it for yourself!
For more rocky tales try: Crantock’s hidden rock carvings & a name for a mystery lady