Local myth claims The Nine Sisters were cast to stone as punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. Further north is another megalith named 'The Fiddler', which is supposed to be the petrified remains of the musician who played for the dancers. The stone row was first noted in Survey of Cornwall (1605) by historian Richard Carew, Carew wrote: "Wade bridge delivereth you into waste ground, where 9 long and great stones called The Sisters stand in a ranke together, and seem to have been so pitched, for continuing the memory of somewhat, whose notice is yet envied us by time." (Carew, 1605). I am exploring the idea of photographing the timework and weathered surfaces and patinas of ancient ruins and remains to visualise traces of impermanence. I went to visit the Nine Maidens (Naw-voz, or Naw-whoors) neolithic stone row today but was charged out of the field by some aggressive cows.

Mobile phone picture just before charged at by The Nine Maidens' Guard-Cows, A field alongside the A39 between St Columb Major and Wadebridge

All of my research pointed to lots of people on Trip Advisor happily jumping over the sty to the field and enjoying the 108 metres (354 ft) long row of irregular, recumbent and broken north-easterly facing megaliths ranging from (2.6 ft) (a stump) to 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) in height. All was as mentioned on Trip Advisor and as I jumped over the sty I noticed lots of cows over the fall side of the row of stones. I didn't think anything of it and that they would just move as I got nearer. They actually started moving towards me and as the atmosphere thickened it dawned on me that I was being prompted to move on. I just had enough time to register my escape route (the sty was about 100m away) before they charged at me. I managed to dive over the fence. The cows continued butting the fence and charging all the way along until I had they had chaperoned me off-site. I really wasn't expecting such an encounter. My mum said to me "you're an idiot, people die from cow stampedes", I spent the evening googling the dangers of walking in cow fields.

Fig.1: Nic Shonfeld, 2021, Deer Carcass.

As I was getting back on my motorbike, I noticed a young deer carcass in the lay-by where I'd parked. I photographed the deer in its natural state of decay, speaking, albeit in stark terms, about impermanence. Also, in Buddhist and Pagan thought, deer antlers are a spiritual metaphor for impermanence through the idea of natural re-birth and re-generation. The carcass, which oddly it didn't smell or have flies hovering around it, was layed by some bushes naturally decomposing - it did not appear to have been touched by other animals and, curiously, its jawbone was about a metre away exclusive from the rest of the remains. I am not sure if this image makes sense as yet (fig.2). I imagine the young animal was hit by a vehicle and the driver had pulled it in off the road. I hope it didn't suffer and I respectfully say thank you to this animal for being part of my project.

Fig.2: Nic Shonfeld, 2021, Deer Jawbone.

REFERENCES:
Carew, Richard. 1605. Survey of Cornwall