Tuesday 2 April 2019

The Mystery of the Three Hurlers Stone Circles On Bodmin Moor

Stone circle on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall can be can be an inhospitable place, especially when the weather is bad. It's not somewhere to get lost, that's for sure. 

We visited the moor to see the Hurlers.

The Hurlers are three stone circles in a line and are said to be dated from around 1500-2100 BC, which makes them 3500 to 4000 years old. Some experts date them from the late Neolithic period and others to the early Bronze Age

There are also two other monoliths, The Pipers, which are situated south-west of the center circle.

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

The Hurlers stone circles bring forth many questions such as : Why are there three of them - when one was enough for the likes of Stonehenge? What were they used for? Why would people want to create them? And so on, and so on.

Granite stone rings on Bodmin Moor

The oldest answer comes from the late 1500s when a historian, William Camden. wrote in olde English: 

"The neighbouring inhabitants terme them Hurlers, as being by devout and godly error perswaded that they had been men sometime transformed into stones, for profaning the Lord's Day with hurling the ball."

There were always simplistic religious answers back in the 1500s and 1600s: The Hurlers are men turned into stone because they dared to play the Cornish game of Hurlers on a Sunday! The two other stones were the Pipers who played music at the same time and were also turned into stone. I guess not many people will accept this as being true nowadays! 

Oh, and there is one other legend about how it is impossible to count the number of stones in the circles. 

Stone circles on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Today we have other ideas as to what the Hurlers were all about but the truth is that no one really knows. They may have been used for some form of ceremony or perhaps they defined a meeting or trading place for local inhabitants. 

There is also a new(ish) theory that the stones are aligned to the constellation of Orion.

Bodmin Moor stones, Cornwall

One theory put forward by Brian Sheen, a retired research chemist and astronomer of the Roseland Observatory, links the Hurlers to the constellation of Orion and that they are a primitive calendar.

Orion constellation
Mr Sheen explains: "As far as I can tell these Hurlers, a series of three stone circles, actually mirror the belt of Orion. Just once a year at the winter solstice Orion passes due south at midnight.

What happened is that this allowed the ancient people to tell the half way point between the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox. This was important because the people were starting to grow things and look after animals. They were becoming farmers instead of hunter-gatherers.

It confirms that the people who built the Hurlers around 1500 BC were fully aware of day length and season and had more knowledge of astronomy than we thought."

Stone Rings on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

While on the moor, we walked further than the stone circles, but the weather began to change. It's easy to see how anyone could become disorientated on the moor.

Granite boulders on Bodmin Moor


  1. I always have thought the moors such as this are so full of mystery and intrigue in their ancient history. And not to mention the landscape that seems so vast and endless. The possible astrological connection is fascinating and plausible. Wonderful post, Mike. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1. Hello Ann. Thank you very much. On the edge of Bodmin Moor is the Jamaica Inn as per Daphne Du Maurier's book, so it's an interesting area. Makes a change from the beaches!

    2. Wow got to look for the hurlers next chance me and oother half do Cornwall. We saw the merry maiden stones one Halloween and what must of been druids came along, took off shoes, and did some stone hugging. We sort of felt a bit out of it and snuck off quick lol. This is true lol. Thanks for the photos and interesting posts. Kaz

    3. Thanks Kaz. The stones aren't up to Stonehenge quality but I find them interesting plus there are usually a few ponies wandering about. Best wishes.

  2. It is frustrating that nobody has ever reported the distance between the CENTER of the 3 circles. This is important for a number of reasons.



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