West Penwith, the western-most peninsula of mainland Britain, is virtually an island surrounded by the sea on three sides, with the indented Hayle estuary and the lowlands of the river Hayle and Red river and Marazion marsh to the east, where the distance from coast to coast is only 6 km (Figure 9.1). The island character of the peninsula is readily appreciated when one stands on the summits of many of the rugged hills, particularly in the north. Roughly 20 km long from west-east and 8 to 12 km wide, West Penwith is one of the few places in Britain from which the sun can be seen to have a watery death and birth at important points in the solar calendar. From this basic observation, without any need to further allude to complex geometry or astronomical

alignments, one can suggest that elemental cosmological themes of fire, water, stone, birth, death, and the regeneration of life had a particular resonance and symbolic power among the prehistoric populations.