Goonhilly Taskscape

Goonhilly Taskscape presented history, stories and folktales connected to the Downs. The area has been described as a ‘dreary waste’ but it is evident that the presence of people has fundamentally shaped what happens there and how it looks today. The topography of the area was created to scale in local soil, based on a cardboard contour model of the 1:25000 Ordnance Survey map of the Lizard. Numerous models from different historic periods were added, referencing the area’s ‘stories’, from the satellite dishes to Goonhilly ponies and the reputed Dry Tree gallows. The piece encouraged people to consider the Downs as an evolving landscape that is neither static nor 100% natural. The presence of people has shaped how the Downs look and continues to influence what happens today. For instance, in the next year or two it’s likely the satellite dishes will be removed, while larger wind turbines are currently being installed to replace 14 smaller ones that will be taken down. Curiously, the area has never been permanently settled but it has been utilised for symbolic and experimental purposes, which continues today.

Silhouetted satellite dishes

1930’s day trip to the Lizard

Hiker and wind turbines

19th Century Milkmaids and 20th Century tanker

Spitfire and airmen

Tiger Moth and airmen

Goonhilly ponies, now extinct

Mid-20th century car – Ford Cortina

WW2 anti-aircraft gun on Bronze Age barrow close to Croft Pasco forest during World War II

Satellite dishes, anti-glider defences, receiver masts, Dry Tree standing stone and Dry Tree gallows, 3,500BC-2000AD

The murder of William Hancock by John Thompson and John Barnicoat (who protested his innocence) but was still hanged at Bodmin for the crime in 1821. Both Johns were subsistence farmers at Croft Pasco and Croft Noweth respectively. The farms fell into disuse after their deaths. The piskies of Croft Noweth are a near forgotten folktale about the first farmers there.


  1. Wendy

    I lived at Bonython Camp in the 60’s as a child, other member of my mum’s family also lived there, I remember as a child the first Satellite ” Arthur”. I spent many hours on the downs exploring with my sister, amazing place. My sister was a horse lover and still is, she would go up to the horses and was never afraid, and she made friends with them. One of my uncle bred few pigs, my grandfather would cut logs for the family and neighbours, the years when people shared and help others.
    Wendy Gray.

  2. happidrome

    Hello Wendy
    Many thanks for your recollections. Really interesting to hear of your experiences. What was the Bonython Camp? My colleague Lizzy and I are working on a new project called Goonhilly Village Green and we’re looking for people with knowledge and memories of the Downs. Best. Sara

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