st. agnes beacon, cornwall

Living just a mile or so from the beach on the north coast of Cornwall, a key landmark in our local landscape is St. Agnes Beacon. So much so in fact that when we were house hunting the man was very reassured when we found a little house from which you could see it (pretty much, you do have to stroll up the lane a bit, but we know it’s there).

Protruding out of the coastline just to the west of St. Agnes village it has phenomenal views out over the north coast, to the sea, over to the sprawl of Redruth and Camborne and on to Carn Brea. In the summer it’s wrapped in the deep purple of heather, in the winter it’s ravaged by north easterlies.

Local legend has it that the mound is the remains of the Bolster, a giant known to gobble up children, and therefore quite rightly feared by the locals. When he fell in love with a local girl, Agnes, a plan was hatched to be done with the tyrant. Agnes told him she would be his but first he had to demonstrate his love for her by cutting his wrist and filling a hole in the cliff with his blood. The hole of course was a blow hole into the sea, and therefore bottomless, and the Bolster keeled over from loss of blood. The huge mass of his body fell to the earth and became the mound we know today. And his ‘blood’ can still been seen in the copper stained streams that run out of the cliffs and onto the beaches.

Lovely, if a little gruesome and celebrated by locals every May Day Bank Holiday, when a procession of puppets and actors play out the story on the cliffs at Chapel Porth.

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