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ST BREOCK DOWNS MONOLITH

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ST BREOCK LONGSTONE, ST BREOCK DOWNS LONGSTONE, MEN GURTA
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St Breock Downs Monolith is Cornwall's largest and heaviest prehistoric monolith (about 16.5 tons). It stands 3.05 metres high on a cairn or mound and measures 4.92 metres long, and 1.51 by 1.07 metres at the base. The cairn extends to a visible diameter of circa 10 metres and the monolith base is circa 1.5 metres south-west of the cairn's centre. Believed to be Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age (around 2500-1500 BC), the stone is made of granite. Standing stones or monoliths appear to have had a ritual function and are often found, when excavated, to be associated with evidence of cremation. They may also have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves or meeting-points. The monolith on St Breock Downs has a marked lean to the north. It fell over in 1945, and was re-erected in 1956 after the excavations. The excavations showed that the stone stood in a setting of quartz pebbles below which were two small, shallow hollows; features which have been found to contain human bone or ashes at other, similar sites. The open landscape of heath and pasture surrounding the monolith contains many other Bronze Age ritual monuments, with which the stone was probably associated. These include at least one other standing stone, and a series of barrows. The monolith, also known as the St Breock Longstone or Men Gurta, features prominently in local folklore as a medieval and later meeting-place. It occurs in antiquarian records as early as 1613, and was later adopted as a St Breock parish boundary marker. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.