Category Archives: Minions

Daniel Gumb’s Cave

Daniel Gumb's Cave

 

Cornwall is a land full of tales, myths and folklore – many of which are somewhat economical with the truth, but Daniel Gumb was a real man who became a legend in his own lifetime.

Born to a humble family in nearby Linkinhorne in 1703, he worked as a stonecutter up on the moor around Stowe’s Hill. I’m not sure whether he was paid much for what he did, but he was obviously pretty good at it because he decided to build himself a cave out of the raw material that was readily available.

The 10×4 metres stone dwelling suited Daniel for several reasons, but whether his wife and nine children appreciated it as much as he did, I wouldn’t like to say.

Apart from saving himself money in the building and running costs, the Flintstone type existence enabled him to follow his love of astronomy. He also had a passion for mathematics, and if he wasn’t following the stars from the roof of his cave at night, he was solving mathematical problems during the day.

He became known as the ‘Mountain Philosopher’, and even Willam Cookworthy, who discovered China Clay in Cornwall, came here to see him.

Daniel Gumb finally went to that great big cave in the sky in 1776 aged seventy three, and his home could have gone to the bottom of the quarry floor if somebody hadn’t had the foresight to move it to a safe location when the quarry was expanded. Although it doesn’t look quite the same as it did back then, there are still some of the original slabs of stone on which he made some mathematical carvings.

The cave can be found on the way from Minions to the Cheesewring next to the quarry. The easiest way to find it is to walk around the edge of the quarry towards The Cheesewring and then just before heading uphill you’ll hopefully be able to see four grassy humps on your right hand side. The cave is tucked in between them.

OS Ref – Map 201 SX258724

Latitude – 50° 31′ 29.3″ N

Longtitude –  4° 27′ 28.51″ W

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Where History is set in Stone

The Hurlers

Where History is set in Stone

 

Anyone who enjoys ancient history will enjoy coming to Minions. If you’ve come here by car, and most people do, then the Hurlers car park gives easy access to the well-known ‘Hurlers’ stone circle.

The Hurlers are a circle of standing stones dating back about 3,000 years to the Bronze Age. In actual fact there are three circles and a couple of ‘Pipers’. One of the circles isn’t that easy to identify, but even so, the experts tell us that they are all in alignment, which instead of providing us with answers about what they were used for, poses even more questions – but that’s ancient history for you.

Even if we don’t know why the Hurlers are here, then there’s an explanation as to how they got their name.

Not to be confused with the Irish game of hurling, Cornish hurling is a game which is a bit more like rugby, only with a small silver ball. Cornish legend tells us that the game was being played here one Sunday when the players, and a couple of Pipers who were supplying the music, were turned to stone in punishment for not observing the Sabbath.

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The Landscape around Stowe’s Hill

Stowe's Pound and Bodmin Moor

The Landscape around Stowe's Hill

 

As I mentioned in my article about Minions, the village was built for the industrial activities that occurred here during the 19th century – namely copper mining and quarrying, both of which were transported down to the port of Looe via the Liskeard and Caradon Railway.

Both of these activities can be seen on a walk from the village to Stowe’s Hill along the old railway track, but my preferred route is a circular one which also includes some ancient archaeology too.

I’m not going to describe a detailed walk here, but instead I just want to discuss the landscape which provided the reason for all this ancient and industrial activity, and even if you have no interest in any of these things, I’m confident that you will enjoy the stark beauty of this corner of Bodmin Moor.

Walking from Minions in the opposite direction to Caradon Hill is Stowe’s Hill. It’s quite unmistakeable because it’s topped with granite tors, much like those of Dartmoor. These tors are the most obvious signs of granite weathering which has been taking place for tens of thousands of years.

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Minions

Minions

 

I suspect that some people may wonder if there’s any connection between the 2015 film of the same name and this small village on the south-eastern edge of Bodmin Moor, but as far as I’m aware it’s just purely co-coincidental. Mind you, those pesky little yellow creatures have existed since the beginning of time, and strangely enough the village has many ancient features on its doorstep, so who knows?

I don’t suppose it’s any co-incidence though that the area boasts so many ancient features, as at 300 metres, Minions is the highest village in Cornwall.

Rising above the village even further is Caradon Hill which is topped by a transmitting station with a 237 metre high mast, so the village isn’t difficult to find.

The hill also gives its name to the Caradon Mining District which is part of the Cornish World Heritage site.

During the 19th century around 650,000 tons of copper were mined in the area, and there is plenty of evidence in the form of engine houses that still dot the landscape. One of them is used as the Minions Heritage Centre where you can find out more about the landscape in general as well as the locality’s industrial heritage.

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