' The life of a region depends ultimately on its geologic substratum, for this sets up a chain-reaction which passes, determining their character, in turn through its streams and wells, its vegetation and the animal-life that feeds on this, and finally through the type of human being attracted to live there. In a profound sense also the structure of its rocks gives rise to the psychic life of the land: granite, serpentine, slate, sandstone, limestone, chalk and the rest have each their special personality dependant on the age in which they were laid down, each being co-existent with a special phase of the earth-spirit's manifestation.
West Penwith is granite, one of the oldest rocks, a byword for hardness, endurance, inflexibility. That is the fundamental fact about Cornwall's western-most 'hundred'; and unless you like granite, you will not find happiness there. But if there is that about a granite boulder hung with grey and golden lichen which 'sends' you, then you will feel at home. East of Penzance there are two more large massifs of granite before you reach Bodmin Moor: the hills of Carnmenellis that end in the scarp of Carn Brea above Camborne-Redruth and, on the south, the hinterland of St. Austell. There is also the small outcrops of Tregonning Hill declining coastward to Rinsey Head.
So great a continuity of soil links the Dartmoor Tors and those of Cornwall that one wonders at the immediate difference once you cross the Tamar, whether by road or across Brunei's famous suspension-bridge at Saltash. Both Cornwall and Devon, not to mention part of Somerset, were all comprehended in the territory of the people whom the Romans called Dumnonii. It must be in Cornwall, that almost-island, that Dumnonian factors and influences have finally, after succesive pressures—economic, racial, religious, political—been massed together, whereas further 'into England' they have become thinned out.
However this may be, the range of Tors is a defensive chain; to this day the granite masses that crown the hills of Devon and Cornwall have rather the look of constructions than chance formations of nature. In Cornwall, the 'Cheesewring' near Liskeard is perhaps the most striking of these, though many others, like Row Tor and Brown Willy, are scattered over the Bodmin Moors. Penwith too, can show Trencrom and the moors above the coast from St. Ives to Zennor, not forgetting the sinister Kenijack inland from St. Just. Structures they once were, but all that now remains are a few stumps, the abraded foundations of a power-house where Sarron and Samothes, royal colonists from Atlantis, stored their subtle force. To the sensitive, these truncated towers still emanate the residue of a powerful radiation. A carrek sans or 'holy rock' is one that was anciently magnetised; and until a few years ago if not more recently, many of these, whether Tors or not, were the scene of stone-worshipping rites. It may be that granite more than another rock retains for aeons such psychic forces. Only recently Dartmoor's Kes Tor was used as an altar in a sacramental celebration designed to absorb this force and distribute it by Christian means. But Rocks, Wells and Trees were originally the animist's Trinity.
Not only the Tors but also the 'rude stone monuments,' the more widely acknowledged relics of an unimagined age, are repositories still of ancient power, are the living stones. Modern erections may be distinguished landmarks or seamarks, but around them can be sensed no magnetic field: such are Knill's Steeple on the high ground east of St. Ives; or the immense granite cross in the centre of Cam Brea - very different from the Tors at either end - which commemorates Francis Basset of Tehidy, or that other set up by some Adventist sect on Dodman Point; or the attenuated pyramid, memorial of two wars, that crowns Tregonning Hill. Striking as they may be in form, size and position, they have no informing vitality; being uncharged, they exhale a mausoleum's chill. How different in quality are the stones surrounding an ancient well! Either they have absorbed the virtue of the spring they guard, or have themselves been 'holy rocks' before their incorporation with the shrine.... '
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