If you like your history a little more raw and unstructured, Cornwall has lots to offer. The less well-populated nature of the county means there are still many wild, remote corners where you’ll find evidence of ancient societies, and taking a look at some early Cornish history often combines well with a great walk through wonderful scenery.
Chysauster Village is probably the best known example, and this site does have some facilities and a guide book to help you make sense of what you’re seeing. Chysauster is the remains of a 2,000 year old Iron Age village with clearly marked homes set in circular arrangements. This style of architecture is only found here and on the Isles of Scilly, so it’s a unique piece of history. Near the site is a kiosk selling drinks and snack foods, plus toilets. The Iron Age inhabitants of Chysauster chose the spot well – the views are glorious, particularly in late spring when the legendary bluebells cover the site.
Much further north, the wilderness of Bodmin Moor has the remnants of an even more ancient culture in the Bronze Age Hurlers stone circles. Three separate circles compete for your attention with the old mining engine houses that litter the landscape here, creating an eerie atmosphere should the mist descend over the moorland. A short walk from the Hurlers is the Cheesewring, an iconic pile of enormous rocks balanced over a long-abandoned quarry. Local legend insists that the Cheesewring is the result of a rock-throwing contest between a man and a giant; however they got there, the facts surely cannot be any less bizarre than the fiction. It’s worth the scramble up over the rough ground to the base of the Cheesewring for the views; endless miles of open countryside to the coast. This part of Bodmin Moor is perfect for an invigorating hike with some quirky historical interest thrown in. Two cafes and a pub in the adjacent village of Minions mean cream teas and pasties will make a tasty reward for your efforts.
Chysauster Ancient Village
Newmill, Penzance, Cornwall, TR20 8XA, Tel. 07831 757934
Minions Village (for the Hurlers and the Cheesewring)