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Between Tor and Tolmen

Harvey Gorst

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The Neolithic, or new stone age, was an extraordinary time in our history. The period is said to have begun in 3500BC, but before that, Europe was inhabited by hunters, gatherers, fishers. Slowly, new ideologies from the east swept across Europe, driven not by armies, but by communication. New ways of thinking occurred, a new perspective of the landscape, different sorts of social structures, self consciousness formed questioning of life and death.

Cornwall is a giant ridge of granite. The peaks of which when eroded reveal from the earth layers of lenticular blocks, creating beautiful and complex structures which the Neolithic people of Cornwall saw as their ancestors creations. To add their permanent touch on the landscape, as they believed their ancestors did, they encased their most honoured dead with huge blocks of granite, to ensure them an undisturbed rest.

What I find fascinating, is that they are still there, and so are the granite tors where they found their inspiration. One can walk the landscape, between tor and tolmen, and see how these mysteries in the Cornish landscape have been as permanent as the ideas that came with them






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