First impressions: fragments from diaries

I found myself trying to cross and re-cross the Fowey with some difficulty. Eventually I emerged from the 'newtake' land onto the unimproved moor. The first objective was to find the southern stone circle. I looked out for rocks emerging from the grassland and, following several false leads, found myself on the western slopes of the Beacon. I realised now that I was in completely in the wrong place and decided to locate the cairn that would give me an orientation and reference point for both the southern and northern circles, and the stone row. Working back from the cairn I found the southern and northern circles, eventually, definitely the worst preserved and inconspicuous of those I had visited on Bodmin Moor ... In the distance I could see a lone horseman cantering across the moorland to the east, followed by two dogs. He was bare-chested in the sun. This was the only person I had seen since leaving the road, and I felt somewhat uneasy. His presence broke the solitude of the moor and returned me to the 'present' from having been in the 'past'.

I could see the settlement area from the cairn - a massive tangle of stones - and decided to avoid it. It seemed impenetrable, aloof, impossible to investigate compared with the stone circles and stone rows where I had a methodology and knew what I was to do. I took pity on a solitary wind-blown hawthorn tree eking out a solitary existence on the lower slopes of the hill among the clitter spreads. Why should anyone want to live in this desert of stone? (CT)

Our walk to Leskernick Hill was via the long mound just below Catshole Tor. The small tors, Codda and Tolborough seemed more visually potent than the larger massives of granitic outcrop. Surrounded by voids of undulating moor, they provided discrete points of orientation for our walk. As we came over Codda Hill Tor, the southerly slopes of Leskernick Hill came into view. The prehistoric settlement appeared as a patterned mass of stones merging into scree-strewn hillside where loose clitter and earthfast boulders were anarchically juxtaposed. This hillside looked fractured and grey against the smooth yellow-green moor below. It was easy to feel 'lost' in the stone row area ... I felt at home in the settlement area. We searched for some cairns on the perimeter of the settlement. Without a large scale plan it was difficult, The 'natural' clitter played tricks, mimicking mounds and enclosure boundaries, or was it vice versa? (SH)

In the afternoon we walked up on the moors. A warm milky day, the path worn into the granite. Chris inducting us into the names of places. Leskernick: a gentle hill, with a great rock tumble, just possible, from a distance - knowing what to look for to see the occasional enclosure wall. On the lower slopes and the 'plain' in front, no stones, just tussocky grass. Occasionally, as we walked, we'd stumble over slightly elevated grassy square shapes, 'medieval' Chris said. Most times I didn't notice them. Equally, I guess I wouldn't have noticed the stone row. Such very small stones, and half covered with matted grass. Chris showed us the mound and then the stone row which led off and away across a gully (tin mining ...). A strong sense of not 'seeing' much ... Sue worries about how to tie an excavation trench to the three stones which make up the terminal of the row. Chris shows us the way in which, at a certain juncture as you walk the stone line, Rough Tor comes into sight. The Elder inducting the juniors. Up to the settlement. Slowly bits of wall become clearer ... and a small cairn with a cist ... then three round small hut floors. We talk about entrances and what they would have seen. Of wooden structures, water availability. Sense that Chris becomes uneasy if the conversation becomes too 'functional'. (BB)