Interested in doing research?
This requires a modicum of dedication, though it's doable in scale and tempo. It involves contributing one or two days per month, in autumn, winter and spring.
Arrange your days and times with the person you'll be working with. You can work as and when you wish, in coordination with the person you're working with.
We need some consistency since this is a team effort, we need good results and there will be a knowledge buildup in the team. This is not a course and we rely on you finding out what you need to know - and we're learning too.
You need to have some knowledge and understanding of ancient sites and related matters, plus a willingness to work systematically to produce useful data and observations. Perhaps you might bring with you a valuable skill or ability.
You need to live locally to Penwith, be fit for walking on rough terrain and willing to be out in Cornish weather. Computer literacy and own transport are advantages.
There will not be many meetings - much contact and discussion will be online.
If you like ancient sites and engaging in this kind of activity, and if you have available time and space, this could be rewarding to do.
The spiritus loci of West Penwith seeks to reveal some of its secrets, and you could be part of this process.
What we'll be doing
The main activity is visiting sites and doing a broad-spectrum survey of factors pertaining to site positioning and their possible reasons for being.
Our method is all-round and two-pronged.
One task is to work through a checklist of observations to be made, to help compile a comprehensive wide-spectrum database of measurements and observations.
We'll be recording visible sightlines and orientations, taking notes on how the local landscape looks or might have looked, on the site itself, and doing sketches, diagrams and photos. It's worth finding out what is already known about the site, if it has mythology attached, and studying maps before visiting. Then there is some writing-up afterwards, online at home.
An example: when visiting a chambered cairn, what is the view from inside the cairn? What is its orientation, centrally down the passage and also to the left and right-hand walls? What sites are visible from there? What horizon azimuths and elevations are noteworthy from that site? What is its landscape situation? How close is it to its likely original state?
The other observational method is to freewheel with your own interests and observations and noting them down, to contribbute to a more free-ranging and creative database that might nevertheless yield valuable objective results. This can include subjective observations, an artist's assessment of landscape factors, intuitive and dowsing skills, or simply sitting quietly and listening.
Each site will demand or offer different things. Sites for initial examination are Chûn Quoit, Carn Galva, Ballowall and Bosiliack Barrows, the Kemyel menhirs, Caer Brân, Chapel Carn Brea, Carfury and Boswens menhirs, Lesingey Round, Maen Castle and Treryn Dinas. Later on we'll look at the stone circles and their complexes, and mysterious sites like Treen Common Circle.
The main item is a compass clinometer to measure azimuth (direction) and elevation (horizon height). Google 'compass clinometer' and you'll find a variety from £20-60. Some are mechanical, some electronic. Some smartphones have apps claiming this purpose, but they are insufficiently accurate and reliable, and some sites are out of range.
A GPS can help but isn't obligatory. It is possible to print out a Google map of the site, on which precise locations of features can be marked, for transferring to digital format later. Binoculars, camera, tape-measure, notebook or clipboard, weatherproofs and tea-flask are all useful. We're working in pairs, and each pair needs the necessary equipment between them.
Belerion - the ancient sites of Land's End, by Craig Weatherhill, published by Alison Hodge, 1981-89, ISBN 0-906720-01-X, out of print.
Cornovia - ancient sites of Cornwall and Scilly, by Craig Weatherhill, Halsgrove, 2009, ISBN 9781-84114-748-2.
Take a good look through the Ancient Penwith website for useful information and pointers.