[Save Penwith Moors] Damage at Tregeseal Stone Circle – Yet again!!

Written by Save Penwith Moors –

On 14th June 2011 it was reported to us by a local walker on Carnyorth Common near St Just-in-Penwith that a stone of Tregeseal Circle had developed a severe lean.

Two days later it was discovered that a second stone was very loose in its socket and could easily be moved.

The damage has now been reported to ‘English’ Heritage who are deciding what action to take.

Large longhorn cattle graze on Cornish moorlands where animals of that size they have never grazed before

[Above: Carnyorth Common in late summer with Carn Kenidjack in the background]

This public open access Common – a beautiful mass of heathers and golden western gorse in late summer – was chosen by Natural England in 2007 for ‘management’ under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, costing the taxpayer some £20,000 per annum for 10 years, that included enclosing the previously unobstructed moorland with barbed wire fencing, numerous gates and a cattle grid prior to cattle being introduced in May 2009.

Within a couple of weeks cattle were seen using the stones of the Circle as rubbing posts and soon afterwards several stones became loosened. This damage was repaired later at public expense and it was assumed that cattle were responsible.

Cows have been rubbing against ancient stones

Cattle hair on an ancient stone - evidence that damage is coming from livestock

A far more revealing and conclusive incident occurred in mid-March this year that, in our opinion, left no doubt what was causing damage to this scheduled ancient monument that has stood here for some 4000 years.

On 19th March one of the stones was seen to be very loose and, although no cattle were then in the vicinity, there was a mass of cattle hair on and around nearly all stones of the Circle as well as dung and hoof prints. Photographs were taken and sent with a report to English Heritage.

On 29th March the Circle was inspected by a senior advisor with Natural England (Truro office), a local English Heritage officer and an archaeologist from Cornwall Council:

“They noticed no clear signs that cattle had rubbed the stones causing one to become loose….. all those at the site visit were supportive of the grazing there. They agreed the farmer should continue, but also keep a close eye on the cattle, moving them if they looked like there were likely to cause problems.”

This conclusion was not surprising. Three days before inspection (which was kept secret from us at the time) I visited the site and noticed that someone had meticulously removed every bit of hair from and around all the stones – no wonder no evidence was found! Coincidence – I don’t think so.

However a video taken on 7th May shows very clearly what cattle are doing to this scheduled ancient Circle and it is perfectly obvious that the farmer concerned is totally oblivious to his obligations to safeguard the Circle that now has the appearance of a ‘cattle toilet’.

Why should the public – who now hardly ever go onto this moorland – have to put up with this apparently official government sanctioned vandalism?

It is high time cattle were removed altogether, along with all the visual and physical intrusion of the new barbed wire fencing, gates and cattle grid.

PRESS RELEASE 18th June 2011


Ian McNeil Cooke (Co-ordinator)

Men-an-Tol Studio



Cornwall TR20 8NR

Tel: 01736 368282