Carwynnen quoit has fallen more than once. It’s giant stones have been raised up again and again, the first time 5000 years ago, then again in the 19th century and the last time in 2014. Yes, unfortunately it has taken me this long to get around to visiting but the twisting back roads led me to a impressive monument.
I had wanted to be there a couple of years ago when the cap stone had been lifted into place but that happened at a time when the work I was doing didn’t afford me the kind of freedom that I have now. I understand from people who were there that it was a magical moment. Apparently everyone surged forward to place their hands on the stones, almost like a blessing for them and for the quoit.
This summer I have been working with a wonderful group of like-minded people who are as enthusiastic and passionate about ancient places as I am (maybe even more so). We have been spending our days together uncovering two almost forgotten stone circles and a stone row out on the wilds of Bodmin Moor but more of that on another occasion I promise. I choose to mention it now because one of the subjects we talked of while on our knees in the rain cutting turf was how wonderful it would be to see those stones upright again. However since my visit to Carwynnen I have to say I have been having my doubts.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am sure that every possible care was taken with this sites reconstruction and it is wonderful to see this ancient monument on it’s feet again so to speak but strangely somehow it felt wrong to me. Like something was out of place, not quite as it should be. The stones looked new, too clean, too upright – as if they had just been built – which of course I guess they kind of have.
Perhaps that is how the ancient people saw them, all clean, fresh and straight and I am just judging this place by all the other sites I love so much where everything is just a bit sunken and wonky. But it does raise a question for me – when they fall do we just leave them?
I guess the answer is a complex one. Some would argue that these are just old pieces of stone with no intrinsic worth, why should we pay to preserve and protect them? I am not one of those people, to many, including myself, they do mean something.
I believe that anything that links us to our roots and to the world we live in should be treasured. But can we go too far with restoration and how do we know we are getting it right? Each historical sketch of Carwynnen looks different from the next and different again from the stones as they stand today.
So if we can’t get it right should we leave well alone, rather than make a misrepresentation of the past? I don’t know the answer. But I would appreciate others thoughts if you wish to share.
There was a big part of me that looked at the fallen stones of those circles on Bodmin Moor and wished I could see them as my ancestors did but of course I never really will and perhaps I am just not meant to.