St Breock Downs Longstone… the heaviest standing stone in Cornwall
This menhir or prehistoric longstone, which was originally about 16 feet high, was known as Men Gurta. It is now called St Breock Longstone. Weighing about 16.5 tons it is still the heaviest standing stone in Cornwall.
The word menhir is a combination of two words found in the Breton language; men (stone), and hir (long).
A menhir is a large upright standing stone and they are found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top. Menhirs are widely distributed across Europe, Africa, and Asia, but are most numerous in Western Europe, in particular in Ireland, Great Britain and Brittany. They date from the late Neolithic and bronze age periods, roughly from 3000 to 1200 BC.
The purpose of menhirs remains unclear. Over the centuries there have been many conflicting theories about why they were erected and how they were used. Most archaeologists today accept that they had a wide range of functions: marking the boundaries of territory; meeting points; grave markers or fulfilling a religious/ceremonial role.
Visit St Breock Downs Longstone
3½ miles South West of Wadebridge off A39 (OS Map 200; ref SW 968683).
English Heritage, St Breock Downs, Rosenannon, Cornwall PL27 7LG