An Archaeology of Supernatural Places: The Case of West Penwith



This article interprets ‘natural’ features of the landscape unaltered by human agency – hills, rock outcrops, and solution basins – in West Penwith, Cornwall, and discusses their significance in relation to Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age monuments, cairns, and enclosures. We argue that ‘nature’ provides a fundamental conceptual resource for understanding cultural form, and that ‘natural’ architecture had a super-natural significance for prehistoric populations. Its meanings were intricately linked to elemental processes involving metaphorical relationships between water and fire, stone, sea, and the passage of the sun in the heavens.