Monday, March 25

The Bells Toll The Way To King Arthur And St Denys In Cornwall

St Denys church St Dennis Cornwall
St Denys Church, St Dennis, Cornwall on a dark dismal day
It was a dark, dismal day but Karin and I wanted a walk. We were undecided as to where to go but headed to St.Dennis, a village well away from the normal Cornish tourist trail. I made the decision as the day before I had read 'by chance' that the two bells in the local church tower were dated 1167 and 1176. As regular readers will know 67 and 76 are important numbers for me.

The old church, St.Denys, stands high on a conical hill, over looking the village and Goss Moor. The church was originally built on the site of a fortified Iron Age settlement and this may have been how it got it's name. The Cornish word for a hill fort is 'dinas'. But, in saying that, the church was dedicated to St.Dionysius in 1327 and this could well have changed over the years to become Denys or maybe Dennis.

Whatever, the church itself has been in place since at least the 11th century and probably used for religious meetings well before this.

Old steps leading to St Denys churchyard Cornwall
Steps leading to the St Denys churchyard
The legendary King Arthur may have walked these fields. The Magalithic Portal website quotes from the Chronicles of British Kings' by Geoffrey of Gloucester:

"King Arthur, king of the Britons took refuge in the South west from the Angles, a Turkonic (sic) race who invaded Britain during the 5th century. Demelihoc was a secondary fortress of Gorlios, King of Cornwall. We assume Dimelhoc was a dinas of dennis on which the church is built. During the fight with Arthur, Gorlios put his wife Igeme in his strongest fort, Castle an Dinas, and he commanded Demelihoc hoping that he would survive. He was slain and his wife captured. She afterwards married Uther of round table fame."

View from St Denys church St Dennis Cornwall
The fields, divided by ancient stone walls, viewed from St Denys church
Going back into the St Denys Churchyard, along the main entrance path is an ancient Celtic Cross. The age is unknown but has crude markings of a Celtic Cross and an hour glass (Clepshydra) shaped design on the shaft.

Ancient Celtic Cross
Ancient Celtic Cross at St Denys Church, Cornwall
One of the strange moments of our visit was that the church is normally closed during the week, yet when we arrived there was a man sweeping the paths and the church was open for us. Those 67 and 76 bells signified the right time to venture to St.Denys.

I'll have to go back to the St Dennis church on a sunny day to take some better photos. From the hill it's possible to see for miles into the distance. On a dark day it all looks kind of creepy.

Other Cornwall Posts:
10 Mystery Posts About Cornwall
The Holy Well Of St Sampson At Golant In Cornwall
The Magic Of Fowey Cornwall

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  1. Re:
    " But, in saying that, the church was dedicated to St.Dionysius in 1327 and this could well have changed over the years to become Denys or maybe Dennis."

    Ive been having a lot of syncs with a novel I just finished reading called "Babylon",written by Stephen Sewell,who I met last year at the Byron Bay Writer's festival.
    Anyway in the book there is a cyclone approaching the town of Babylon named Denise.
    When I look up the meaning of Denise
    I got this -

    Denise \d(e)-ni-se\ as a girl's name is pronounced de-NEES. It is of French origin, and the meaning of Denise is "follower of Dionysius". Feminine form of Dennis, from the Greek name Dionysius.

    Good name for a church when you think about it.
    Get on De-knees and pray.-)

    1. I see that Dionysius is a version of today's "Denys, Denis and Denise" according to Wikipedia. So that fits well, the church being St Denys at the village of St Dennis.

      De-knees - :)

  2. Love these Cornish posts - more please!

    1. Thanks Suzie. If the weather improves may do some more. It's so cold, about freezing here!

  3. Mike, even on a dark day, these photos capture a spirit of charm. I'm inclined to put it on a long list of places I'd love to visit.

    Something strange occurred to me while reading this. The number I most often have "cross" my path is 42. 6x7=42. I know it's a stretch, but I come here often!

    I feel encouraged to get out to places here of similar caliber. Thanks.

    1. Like the 6x7=42!

      We enjoy visiting these old, historical places and areas. I also like churches - some have such a great peacefulness inside.

  4. i like these cornwall posts as well it looks very atmospheric and interesting

    1. Thanks Tom - hopefully more will follow. Take care.

  5. I agree with Dixie, I like the stark clarity of these pictures. I'm sure the scenery is beautiful but these photos are almost black and white, with an artistic flavor to the color spots. I love the way you appreciate the centuries of history in your local walks and take us off the tourist track. Thanks!

  6. Thanks Terri. Interesting what you say about black and white photos as I have done this with another St Denys photo for Wednesday's post. Cornwall, the county where I live, is full of history and legends. So it's fun visiting different places and imagine what used to be.

  7. Does anyone have any information as to why the east side of the cross only has two holes as opposed to the usual four that normally mark out the cross as is found on the remarkably similar Roche cross nearby.