Bodmin is still a place for Holy Wells, water sources once frequented by people who mixed religion and superstition. There are 7 such wells in the area that can be explored. Young men and women threw blackthorn pins into these wells and made a wish. If the crooked points sank, it was a sign that their lovers were not sincere. Many wells were dedicated to saints like Petroc and Guron. In the 6th century Petroc, who is considered Bodmin’s founder, started a monastery here.
50 million years ago Cornwall had a warm humid climate and wooly mammoths roamed about. But then a series of ice ages occurred and what is today the Bodmin Moor often became frozen tundra during them. During thaws bedrock appeared and granite formed over time.
In the 19th century quarries mined this granite that was used in construction projects all over the world. It can be found today in the British Museum, London Bridge, Singapore docks, Waterloo Station, etc.
I mentioned previously that old Bodmin has a new tourist attraction. It’s unique in my experience and very 21st century in its execution. It uses animated, human-like figures to tell the story of a trial. In 1844 Charlotte Dymond was murdered. Young Matthew Weeks was accused of killing her and tried. The attraction is called Courtroom Experience. It consisted of a presentation of the trial, a discussion of the jury’s verdict that involves the audience and demands your input, and a descent into the holding cells where those accused awaited justice. Did Matthew get justice? We get to decide.
This will work as long as the case is little known. So far it’s still a long-ago local event, but as more travelers experience Courtroom Experience its impact will probably diminish. For now it really works. The presentation is a bit static but held my attention. It was obviously made on a budget and the show will never be confused with a CG enhanced Hollywood blockbuster, but it is compelling and I recommend it if you’re in Bodmin’s Shire Hall. I have to give its conceivers credit for coming up with an innovative concept. The Bodmin Town Museum is just a few steps away and well reviewed. I wanted to see it, but it didn’t open until 10:30 and Ruth and I had to catch the bus to Tintagel.
I was told at Bodmin’s truly excellent visitor center that most tourists who are there for more than a day or two cycle to the coast on the Camel Trail or hike one of the local trails, some of which take walkers onto The Moor. I was assured that some of the trails are a bit hard to find because they’re out in the middle of nowhere. There’s your challenge.
ps A typical Cornwall scene like the one below is very different from a Bodmin Moor landscape.