As daylight fades from the sky people gather all over Cornwall for the traditional Cornish midsummer bonfires, these photos are from the top of Chapel Carn Brea where the first fire was lit. The next fire was lit on a hill near Madron. Other fires were lit at Castle-an-Dinas and Rosewood Hill until a firey chain could be seen through the 80 mile length of the Cornish peninsula right up to the Tamar border. The event has been hosted by the Old Cornwall Society since 1920.
In ancient times the fires held on Midsummer Eve, just after the solstice, would have celebrated high summer, with the sun at its peak of its power and glory in the heavens, and promising ripeness to the maturing fruits and grain. They were supposed to bring on the crops, and animals, such as rabbits and pigs, and sometimes criminals as well, were sacrificed in the flames, these days just the traditional bouquet of herbs and flowers is burnt.
Once the fire is lit by the mayor the traditional bouquet of herbs and flowers is cast into the fire by the Lady of the flowers. The herbs are said to be both “good” and “bad” some know for there medicinal value, as well as those which reputed to given protection from witchcraft and other diabolical influences, others obnoxious weeds and plants which, either by name or association, were believed to posses malign influences.
The ceremony was performed in the Cornish & English language.
Tan y’n cunys
Re splanno an tansys
Dres lyes plu!
I set the pyre
At once on fire;
Let flame aspire
Over many a parish!
You can see video clips of the event at Cornwall information