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in Cornwall

By Charles Henderson - 1937.

Sample text :-


The road system of Constantine is not merely mediaeval, it is prehistoric. This is not intended to be a criticism of those who have charge of the roads but merely a statement of fact. There are no roads in the parish worth mentioning that have been made in modern times 1.

We have seen that the principal roads leading northwards from the Helford River are ridgeways. The most westerly is still in use as the main road from Gweek to the Helston - Truro road (itself a ridgeway) at Buttres Gate. Beyond that it once continued by Stythians, Bissoe and Baldu till it joined the principal ridgeway running along the watershed from one end of Cornwall to the other. This road brought the tin bearing region of Stythians into communication with the port of Gweek. It enters Constantine parish at a place called Ponstreath or Ponstrays, which is possibly a corruption of Penstrase, i.e., Street-end, the word strase or strad being used for a paved way, a relic of the Roman strata. At Carloggas a fortification adjoined it. At Tolvan it was crossed by the principal track leading across the parish, and the meeting place of the roads was doubtless suggested by the presence of the Tolvan Quoit 2.

The second ridgeway from Gweek runs up to Carwythenack Chase, where an earthwork lies on its left hand 3. Then it went straight up over the top of Brill hill, to Trevease, passing the stone cross at the ford, and so out to join the other ridgeway at Buttres Gate. This road is only used in its lower part, but it can be traced through the crofts on Brill hill by a double line of hedges.

1 Martyn's Map, 1745, i.e., before the great changes in the Cornish road- system, shows the roads of Constantine as they are to-day.

2 The quaint i8th century milestones giving the mileage from Trelowarren will be noticed on this road, proof that when the road was first made fit for carriages, only those going to the great house had occasion to go on wheels. One of these milestones (the third) lay for many years in the river at Gweek, but was found and restored by the care of Mr. T. Boulden.

3 Another branch went to the ford at Trewardreva Mill, where stood Retallack Blowing House, and so to Mabe parish at Eathorne.

The third ancient ridgeway is that coming from the Quay at Merthen Hole4, up through the woods, across the old deer park, where it passes through the ditch of the earthworks, so out over the Downs, across the fields to Brill. Then to Trewardreva and over the ford (Ret) which gave name to Retallack. So up the hill along past the site of Maen Rock, skirting Treworvac, across the fields to the " Dead lane", where it proves its antiquity by being a part of the parish boundary, then into the Lestraines lane and out to the Turnpike from Helston to Truro at Rame. The " Dead lane " is a strip of this ridgeway which has not been used for over a century, and is so called because it is now a cul-de-sac. On either side of it is a tumulus, for barrows, like ancient roads, are found on ridges. It is remarkable that this lane, about three-quarters of a mile in length, is the only piece of road which forms part of the Constantine parish boundary. All the rest of the boundary is formed by creeks, streams, or, for a very small distance, by hedges.

At Merthen Hole it is a typical pack-horse track cut out of the rock. Its paving stones remain beneath the fields and make ploughing impossible. The fourth main ridgeway is the present main road from Penryn, entering the parish near Bossawsack and continuing past High Cross down to the river at Calamansack.

There are two principal tracks across the parish from east to west, and as the lower has to traverse six deep valleys, it affords a good example of the precipitous nature of old roads.

This enters the parish from Mawnan at Tregarne Mill, passes up the steep hill to Treworval (by what is now a rough lane), continues across the fields to Driif and Treviades, then down past Gweal-mellin to the creek-head at Polwheveral. This part bore the name of Clodgy lane in 1649, a common name in Cornwall, derived, in all probability, from Clud, a carriage, or perhaps from Clodding, meaning " trenched " or " embanked." At the bottom stood two grist mills, and a Tucking or Fulling Mill. The bridge over the stream was built in 1572, as appears from the contract between Roger Hallard, a mason of Tregony.... '

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