Project Leader Calum Beeson gave a talk to the Tamar Dowsers, followed with a site visit to The Hurlers stone circles.
Billed as a ‘surprise’ talk - Calum presented, along with geological information on The Hurlers, a surprise collection of histoic dowsing artifacts.
First, a couple of bits of dingy stick, with a copper clip, which turned out to be whalebone dowsing rods - too fragile to use now, but once used by real prospectors, and probably dating from the 1920s or 1930s.
Followed by a portfolio of information about the finds of a practical mineral dowser, with an accompanying letter from the practitioner, describing the nature of his work. Calum had made images of some of the diagrams, one showing how to dowse for mineral lodes, using a variation of the Bishop’s Rule that water diviners would employ in their craft.
Next, a beautifully-made dowsing ‘cone’ (think large hardwood conical pendulum), with carefully drilled slots in the top for witness samples. There was a description of how to use the equipment, including how to analyse (by dowsing) the elements included in compound samples and alloys.
A final item was described as a Dowsometer. This is a technically-crafted wooden divining tool, for which there are no instructions as to how it operated. It appeared to be a device that allowed a swinging cone to indicate the constituents of a sample against a now-lost piece of interpretative marked paper.
The presentation continued on the geological input to the life and times of the megaliths at the Hurlers, combining geological knowledge with that of archaeologicy a study of the underlying rock strata of the Hurlers complex of megaliths. Understandably, most of the areas sub-strata is granite, but with adjacent intrusions of slate. At the abutment of the two are known geological faults. Overlay the archaeology of both the Hurlers Stone Circles and the cairns at nearby Stowe’s Pound, suggests that the megalithic features align very accurately and inexplicably with the edges of the faults.
Bronze Age man (as far as we can tell) had no subterranean map of the area. There would be no way of physically finding out what lay beneath the land in juxtaposition to the man-made surface features and the underlying natural strata. Did people three millennia ago have such knowledge, and have felt it to be of such importance that they spent considerable effort constructing sizeable and complex ‘markers’ or ‘tools’.
Reading the Hurles is using cutting-edge non-invasive analytical techniques to determine the types of granite used in the three remaining partial circles at the Hurlers. The findings sofar appear to show that the material used in each of the circles was drawn from a different source (albeit all quite local to
Minnions). This could indicate that the complex was erected in stages - probably by different groups and over an extended period. This further implies that the Hurlers complex evolved over time, and could have been used by different people for different purposes.
The emerging scientific methods employed allows for differentiate those stones that are part of the deliberately erected array, from natural rocks scattered around the same area. This is hugely significant, as the shrinkage of the peaty soil has led to the re-emergence of natural rocks into a land surface of ‘ritual’ features constructed by humans.
Interestingly, the ‘Calendar Stone’, sited off centre in the middle stone circle, which appears to allow
that part of the site to be used for astronomical recording and prediction, can now be shown to come from another source entirely - and was presumably selected specifically for that function.
The afternoon saw a Tamar Dowsers field trip treading the hallowed Hurlers turf with new eyes, new ideas and new perspectives.
[Edited from Tamar Dowsers write-up]