The Maps of Penwith in Ancient Times
These are maps of the ancient sites and alignments in West Penwith and neighbouring areas such as Scilly, East Penwith, Kerrier and The Lizard.
The map of ancient sites is here (Google map). The map of ancient sites and alignments is here (Google map), or you can download it as a downloadable JPG image (7Mb).
What does the ancient sites map show?
The ancient sites map shows all the known ancient sites in West Penwith, together with Scilly and the rest of Cornwall. Penwith has been given more detailed attention.
All locations are exact, and nearly all marked sites have reference links leading to websites giving more information about them - ust click on the symbol for the site and the information will appear onscreen.
The map was researched using a number of sources including Heritage Gateway, Pastscape, The Megalithic Portal, The Modern Antiquarian, and also from books, the journal Meyn Mamvro, Ray Cox's list (made under Meyn Mamvro auspices), personal contacts and field research.
What does the alignments map show?
The alignments map shows the known ancient sites of West Penwith, together with the alignments between them. These alignments demonstrate that ancient sites were very deliberately located, constituting an integrated system covering the peninsula.
Map alignments were first identified by Alfred Watkins in the 1920s-30s and the idea was further developed by John Michell in the 1960s-70s. They are not energy-lines or energy-leys: they are simply sites that are aligned with each other.
All alignments shown on this map are accurate to within three metres, with a few exceptions at five metres. Alignments have a minimum of four sites on them - mostly more - though there are three-site exceptions (discussed on another page).
Alignments have been drawn from a list compiled by Ray Cox of Meyn Mamvro, using research done over several decades by John Michell and contributors to Meyn Mamvro. Many new alignments were also discovered during the making of the map and added to the list.
All alignments have all been carefully checked by the mapmaker, Palden Jenkins, and by Cheryl Straffon and Ray Cox (click to see who we are). The map will be updated as new information and ideas come in.
How the map was made
Google Maps was chosen over other alternatives because of its accuracy, editability, public availability and its zero costs. It does have certain mapping limitations, but then, so do other online services unless substantial fees can be paid, and since this research work is financially unsupported, the free option has to be taken.
Ray Cox's list of alignments was then entered on the map. In the process, 20% of alignments in the list were scrapped, since they were found to be insufficiently accurate.
New alignments emerged during the making of the map and, once checked by Ray and Cheryl, they were entered on the map. These more than doubled Penwith's known alignments. These alignments are regularly reviewed.
A few more details
Quite a few sites marked on the map are no longer present in the field - they have been destroyed or moved by farmers, landowners and miners. Their locations have been identified by studying historical records, field evidence and other sources, and through archaeological and dowsing work by a variety of researchers.
Many now-destroyed sites were mentioned by an antiquarian of the late 1800s called William Borlase, and by others. Some were removed as recently as the 1970s-80s. Even today, battles continue over mobile phone masts, cattle damage and questionable conservation measures.
Establishing alignments through distinct points such as menhirs, stones, crosses and quoits is straightforward. In the case of stone circles, enclosures, rounds and some barrows and cairns, alignments sometimes tangent their perimeter rather than cutting through the centre of the site.
One early discovery was that of a direct alignment of three hills - St Michael's Mount, Trencrom Hill and St Ives Head - which, perceptually, form West Penwith's eastern boundary. (On the A30 you cross it in the village of Crowlas, between Hayle and Penzance.) Many other discoveries evolved from there. These are outlined in the More on the Map and Findings sections of this site.
Some are 'backbone alignments' - longer-distance alignments linking higher-magnitude sites, giving the overall alignment system an overall structure. Most other alignments are local to West Penwith - on the map these have been grouped into major and lesser alignments.
These differing alignments are marked in different colours (see map key). This classification is neither final nor conclusive - it's a working hypothesis and a way of making sense of a profusion of alignments.
The finding of new alignments was partly a logical process and partly intuitive. It's logical to look for alignments radiating from certain major sites such as St Michael's Mount, Boscawen-ûn or Lanyon Quoit. Intuitively, alignments also revealed themselves spontaneously, often 'by chance' while working on the map.
There isn't a neatly rational system or pattern to these alignments, to our modern way of thinking, such as grids or geometrical shapes, yet there is still a coherence to it all, with hints of both an organically-arising and a thought-through, planned order.
How it all came about
The idea came in 2013 to Palden Jenkins, who has been interested in geomancy since 1971, when he rather innocently slept inside a stone circle, the Ring of Brogar in the Orkneys, and experienced a powerful, life-changing dream there which drew him into the subject. This started a process that unfolded over the decades, starting with field research in North Wales and then in Uppland, Sweden, through the 1970s.
Later, when resident in Glastonbury between 1980 and 2008, he researched and published the Map of the Ancient Landscape around Glastonbury. This was a complex and meticulous project, and he prevaricated before starting work on a map of Penwith. The process started when he asked Cheryl Straffon, a mainstay of the Penwith archaeological scene, whether a map of the area's ancient sites was available. It wasn't. So Palden volunteered to do it. Little was he to know at that time that many new discoveries were to unfold as he compiled the map.
There was much deliberation over the format to be used. Google Maps was chosen because of its public accessibility, editability, aerial-photographic basis and cost-free facility. The Penwith map was started in December 2014 and work went on through the subsequent stormy winter until the first version was completed by June 2015. A complete revision and update has been carried out in 2019, adding more detail, systematising information given and checking every detail.
While doing this it became evident that more research needed to be done in future, especially on astronomical alignments, dowsable energy-lines, site intervisibility and other issues. The work will continue and develop further in coming years, and progress in this work will be reported on this site.
The Map of Ancient Sites in West Penwith and the Map of Ancient Sites and Alignments are online maps.
There are also supplementary maps - click here for all of them.
To view the maps using Google Earth on your own computer, download a KMZ file, then double-click on it to open it in Google Earth:
These are updated from time to time.
Map courtesy of Google Maps
Chûn Quoit from Boswens menhir
Boscawen-ûn stone circle
Early Christian cross near Sancreed
The fogou at Carn Euny
The Merry Maidens stone circle
Chûn Quoit and Boscaswell church
Carn Lês Boel
The Mount from Carfury menhir
Quartz stone at Boscawen-ûn
St Euny's holy well, Carn Euny
Carn Euny Iron Age village
Men Scryfa inscribed menhir
Carn Kenidjak from Botrea Barrows
West Lanyon Quoit
This project is dedicated to
and Tom Graves
for their friendship and their
contributions to geomancy
Carn Galva from Lanyon Quoit
Gratitude to the following people and organisations for the part they have played in the making of thes maps:
- Alfred Watkins and John Michell for sparking the geomancy movement in UK, and especially to John for his work in Penwith around 1970-73 - see his book The Old Stones of the Land's End Peninsula;
- Cheryl Straffon, Raymond Cox and contributors to Meyn Mamvro for all their work, and to Cheryl and Ray for checking the maps, information and considered opinions;
- the many researchers who have contributed data, insights and ideas to the study of West Penwith's ancient past;
- Heritage Gateway, Pastscape, the Megalithic Portal and The Modern Antiquarian, all of which have been important sources of precise locational data and information;
- Google Maps, DigitalGlobe, Getmapping plc, Infoterra Ltd, Bluesky, Landsat and Terrametrics for the digital mapping and satellite photography that forms the base of the maps.
Two routes follow from here.
For more about the map and alignments:
or to examine the maps more closely: