CARN STABBA isthe name given to an area in which significant arrangements of large stones are to be found, one as large as 3m high and 6 metres long and 3m wide. it includes at least one ancient site, carn stabba cave, and many of the stones take on zoomorphic features.

in addition there are logan stones, many with solutions basins. they span the length of this extensive outcrop on the heights above cornwall's first planned mining village halestown. there are clear lines of sight with the nearby trencrom hill fort enclosure and the ancient sites on trink hill

it is also one of the sites where fire beacons to celebrate the summer solstice, are lit on cornish hilltops. these sites extend from lands end across the cornish moors to kit hill on the cornwall/devon border. other sites include castle an dinas, chapel carn brea, and carn stabba

these bonfires share an ancient rite with many nordic countries and are a celebration ofthe longest summer day, which are lit the night after the summer solstice. this ceremony, locally spoken in cornish, climaxes with the lady of the flowers casting into the now roaring flames a garland, comprising herbs, both good herbs, with medicinal qualities, along with those that are poisonous, also oak, rowan and foxglove and is held on the 23rd june


the ancient festival was first described by dr william borlase in 1754 in his book antiquities of cornwall.

'in cornwall, the festival fires, called bonfires, are kindled on the eve of st. john the baptist and st. peter's day; and midsummer is thence, in the cornish tongue, called 'goluan,' which signifies both light and rejoicing. at these fires the cornish attend with lighted torches, tarr'd and pitch'd at the end, and make their perambulations round their fires, and go from village to village carrying their torches before them; and this is certainly the remains of the druid superstition, for 'faces praeferre,' to carry lighted torches, was reckoned a kind of gentilism, and as such particularly prohibited by the gallick councils: they were in the eye of the law 'accensores facularum,' and thought to sacrifice to the devil, and to deserve capital punishment.' another example of christianity trying to either ban or incorporate pagan and ancient festivals and reduce the influence of their pre-christian origins.



in the 14th century a monk from shropshire records ‘in the worship of st john men waken at even and maken three manner of fires; one is clean bones and no wood, and is called a bonfire, one is of clean wood and no bones and is called a wakefire. the third is made of bones and wood and is called st john’s fire.’ hence the origin of the name bon(e)fires.

in ancient times, the summer solstice was a fire-festival of great importance with the lighting of fires, seen as ritually strengthening the sun, was often accompanied with torchlight processions. the norse in particular would extend these processions to include their animals, families. with lighted torches a parade would process to the chosen celebration site. the use of fires were understood to drive out evil spirits, and was also connected to fertility rites and were said to bring prosperity to men, crops and herds. blazing gorse or furze was carried around cattle to prevent disease and misfortune, while people would dance around the fires or leap through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. various sources

park in the halsetown inn car park and enter the adjacent field.

site name: carn stabba  west penwith 
type: natural stone/ erratic/ rock outcrop
nearest town St. Ives nearest village Halsetown map ref: SW50663906
latitude: 50.198923N  longitude: 5.495214W
go to maps below