Cornwall’s full of holes, small spaces snuggled behind hedges, tiny worlds tucked between the humps, bumps and winding lanes. It was a beautiful day so we went for a walk to Boscawen-ûn (Bos — farmstead, Cawen — elder, Un — by a field) – you go to Boscawen-ûn layby, walk along a permissive grassy path over a gorse field, and within half a kilometre find yourself beside a stone circle. Nineteen stones surround a central, leaning monolith; it looks like a sundial with more hours than the day.
We went to look at the central stone, and we found Martin. Tucked beneath the leaning monolith, hidden in a dip in the long grass, there was a tiny pot of petals and maybe a candle (we didn’t pry), and a stone with “Martin” written on it.
Is he human or bird or pet snail or favourite dog?
Is Martin OK?
Maybe he lives in a place far from here, and his COVID-bound Cornish friends are lighting candles for the day they can reunite? Or maybe he’s been ill, and his loved ones brought to this ancient healing site a little pot overflowing with well-wishes? Is someone in love with him, or did someone bury him here? Or is he a little boy, painting pebbles and leaving his name to say hello?
Beneath Martin, who else is here? How many pebbles have sunk into the earth to be engulfed by the grass, their names washed off by 2,500 years of rain, and all the wishes and hopes and feelings left to haunt the air, or be carried away by southwesterly breezes?
We walked away via the eastern gate, and up a narrow footpath between two high hedges, thick with battling butterflies and the humming of other wings. Dragonflies hovered out of reach, beetles and bees scratched and swarmed, and unseen bodies rustled in the foliage. Foxgloves — dead man’s bells and witches’ gloves — waved in the breeze, leopard-print pink, silky soft, almost too pretty for this world.
This place looks like heaven and feels like a place where life and death meet.
Afterwards, we went for ice-cream.