Duloe Stone Circle
Duloe Stone Circle

Tucked away against a hedge in a farm field in Duloe, between Liskeard and Looe, is the smallest Bronze Age stone circle in Cornwall. The circle may be small by Cornish standards, but it also has the largest stones of any Cornish circle.

The Duloe Stone Circle is made up of 8 stones, 7 standing and 1 lying on its side.

The stones are arranged in an oval shape, about 102m by 11.7m (33.5 by 38 feet), aligned in a north-south direction. The largest stone is about 2.7m high (roughly 9 feet), and the stones are arranged with alternating heights (i.e. large then small stones).

The circle from the south-west
The circle from the south-west

The stones are thought to have been erected between 2000BC and 1000BC, and may once have formed a kerb for a burial mound. If so, there is no evidence of the mound now. The useful information plaque beside the circle suggests that the centre of the circle is a raised mound, which would support the burial mound theory, but to my untrained eye the centre of the circle area appeared relatively flat. Another theory is that the stones are arranged on compass alignments, suggesting that they played a role in astronomical observances.

Most Cornish circles are made of granite stones, but at Duloe the stones have a high quartz content, making them appear almost white in bright sunlight. The stones are thought to come from an outcrop of the Herodsfoot lead lode about 2 miles away, though there is a similar outcrop at Tregarland Tor about a mile away. The stones weigh up to 9 tons, and it is thought that it would have taken teams of 30-35 people to move them to their present site at Duloe.

The circle was recorded as early as the 14th century, but at some point a hedge was built through the arrangement of stones. This made it difficult for antiquarians to realise that the standing stones were actually part of a single circle. It was not until the 19th century that the circle as 'rediscovered'.

In 1860 the hedge was removed to expose the entire oval of stones once more. In the process a funereal urn containing human remains was discovered, as well as scattered charcoal. Accounts seem unclear whether the urn was found in the hedge itself or under the largest stone.

The largest stone (fallen)
The largest stone (fallen)

The removal of the hedge may have opened up the circle, but in the process the largest stone was broken and remains lying on the grass. Not only was the stone broken, but a careless workman struck the urn with his pickaxe and destroyed it.

The site was known for many years as The Druids Circle, a reminder that early antiquarians were convinced that stone circles and similiar ancient sites were part of a pan-British druidic culture. The nearby Stonetown Farm is probably named after the stone circle.

Visiting

The stone circle is easy to find. It is located of the B3254 at the southern edge of the village, just before you reach the church. There is a signposted track east off the road, leading into a farm field, and you can see the circle ahead of you against a hedge. I highly recommend good waterproof footwear; when I visited the ground was very wet in places.

One thing I noticed was a few brightly coloured ribbons tied to the nearby hedge. Clearly some modern visitors see the stone circle as a sacred place, or at least a place where they want to make a ritual offering. There are more ribbons tied to trees overehanging St Cuby's Holy Well, just a few hundred yards away.

About Duloe Stone Circle
Address: B3254, Duloe, Cornwall, England
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: Off a footpath behind High Stonetown, on the southern edge of Duloe village.
Location map
OS: SX235583
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest

Duloe, St Cuby's Church - 0.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Duloe Holy Well (St Cuby's Well) - 0.4 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Looe, St Nicholas Church - 3.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Looe Old Guildhall Museum & Gaol - 3.4 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Porfell Wildlife Park - 3.8 miles (Family Attraction) Heritage Rating

Looe Bay - 4.4 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Boconnoc - 5.7 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Golitha Falls - 6.5 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating



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Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')

South East Cornwall Discovery Centre
Tourist Information Centre
Millpool
West Looe
Cornwall
England
PL13 2AF
Tel: 0904 049 8229 calls charged
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