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Vatten (Cairn(s))

Visited: September 3, 2014

Standing just 100 metres south of the cairn at Vatten North, in the adjacent field, lies the considerably larger chambered cairn of Vatten South. This cairn is seriously ruined, with a height of 3½ metres and a basal girth of almost 40 metres. Most of the cairn has degenerated through stone robbing into little more than a stoneheap, with a conspicuous, deep trench across it where material has been removed.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
6th September 2014ce
Edited 7th September 2014ce

Visited: September 3, 2014

I must have passed by this huge cairn many times while motoring across Skye, yet never realised it was there, despite it lying just 50 metres from the roadside. I bacame aware of it as I returned from visiting the broch in Glen Heysdal. There it was: straight ahead of me.

The Vatten North chambered cairn is every bit as impressive as Carn Liath at Kensaleyre—indeed, almost an identical twin—standing over 6 metres tall and with a basal girth of 25 metres or so. In form, it is an almost perfect cone, covered by heather and numerous smallish, white, rounded stones. It's condition, unlike that of its neighbour Vatten South, just 100 metres distant, is almost pristine.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
6th September 2014ce

Dolmen de Kergavat (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Just south of Plouharnel on the D781 to Carnac, another dolmen throwing itself in front of me, so what can one do but swerve dangerously into the adjacent farm entrance, and dump the car for a very short while.
Leaving the kids in the car for a few minutes I carefully legged it across the busy road for a quick sniff about. Sometimes having an ancient site right next to a house can be a bit disheartening, but this one is right by a house and so close to the road that it looks like it's playing frogger, a simple spirit might mistake it for a bus stop.
Were it anywhere else it would be fabulous, a nice big capstone held up with uprights pointy and squat, with cairn material or dry stone walling at the back of the chamber. Next time I come to Brittany I'm not going to bother with a hotel I'm going to sleep rough in a dolmen, a different one every day. Not sure what the kids are going to do though..
postman Posted by postman
5th September 2014ce

Dolmen de Crucuno (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

When I were a lad at school, my two favourite books in the library was a Fabulous beasts book and an Ancient mysteries book, in the latter was the Carnac stone rows and a dolmen, this one, at Crucuno. So this was perhaps the first dolmen I was ever aware of, and now 32 years later, here I am, and I can scarcely believe it. They say that you should never meet your heroes, but I say tosh and cobblers, get in your car and get your arse into gear, go, go now.

It's as simple as driving on the wrong side of the road to find, and many and much parking places to be had just yards away. It was taller than most other dolmens we've seen, no bowing and crouching here. The way the capstone fits onto the uprights, and the way they are set into the ground makes it feel to me to be a perfect example of whatever type of dolmen it is, a show room model.
The house next door, very next door, is still dilapidated, signs tell us of it's dangers, either tear it down or fix it up, please.
I've heard it said that the village idiot used to live here, what ? with that great big puddle ? poor chap. But the village idiot is a bit not nice, I prefer another way I've heard of describing him, a simple spirit. Could've been talking about me.
postman Posted by postman
5th September 2014ce

Broughmore Wood (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Two new panels discovered a couple of days ago 100 metres west of previouly recorded panel . tiompan Posted by tiompan
5th September 2014ce

La Loge Aux Loups (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

There is not much I can add to Ravenfeather's notes, except maybe that it's located half way between Elven and Tredion on the D1, west of the road, there is room to park for maybe four cars. A five minute walk through some very pretty woods.
This was another one of those places when you see a picture of it and you know that if you get the chance you've got to go for it. We had the chance, in fact it was very close to Vannes where we were staying so we went for it. I've gone a bit out of order adding these pics and notes, this was in fact the last place we went to before we came home. But ive added them next to Ty Ar Chorriket because the two are very similar except of course for the big capstone, it's like they combined two different ways of building a burial chamber. Which is I like.
It's not marked on my map, but it is well worth the minimal effort involved. Could have stayed here a while but daughter is in the car waiting and it's nearly tea time.
postman Posted by postman
4th September 2014ce

Ty ar Chorriket (Arc-boutée)

From Duarnenez follow the D7 west, looking for a right hand turn that almost goes back on itself, signposted from there. There is quite a large parking area next to the path that leads to the woods, about 50 yards distant is the information board, you can see the front section of the Arc Boutee from here 20 yards away.
This is another place Moth and Jane made me go to, just one look at it and I knew that the next time I get the chance I'm definitely going there. As far as the kids were concerned we were going to a big aquarium today, but of course I could squeeze in a couple of burial chambers and a couple of menhirs too.
It was fairly early in the morning and my two little bundles of joy were sleepy in the car so I had the place to my self.
They're just bonkers in Brittany aren't they, you don't get stuff like this at home, not even close.
The early morning sun filtered through the canopy above, a few birds were singing but it was otherwise silent, it doesn't get much more perfect.
The stones were slightly bigger than I was expecting, there was enough room to actually get in and shuffle along the passage on your haunches. There are also many other stones scattered around, but I only went about fifty yards away.
I love it, the improbable way it's all put together, the kerb stones pointing away from the passage make it have a W appearance head on. It is just so absurd and fantastic.
If you are in the area, or even if your not, we weren't, make this a must see, it is a delight to behold. I cant understand why Castel Rufel is more famous
postman Posted by postman
4th September 2014ce

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow)

Walked here from Black Down where I parked up. How I found the long barrow I will never know - pure luck - after deciding I was nowhere near it, I stumbled over it, hidden away behind a hedgerow, round a farmer's gate. Spoilt, after a long acquaintance with Stuart Piggott's masterful restoration of West Kennet Long Barrow ~ why can't it happen here? This site begs to be carefully restored in an age and culture which is beginning to value the living heritage of prehistoric monuments - a heritage which extends into the now & into the future. I would guess before the days of hedgerows that this once substantial barrow was extensively visible to those travelling the Dorset Ridgeway and related track ways, it seems to be perched on the side of a down, but the modern fields make it difficult to work out the syntax of the prehistoric topography. Wayland's Smithy is a bit like that too I think. The folklore behind the naming of the Grey Mare barrow does not appear to have been recorded, a shame if so, that link with the past gone then. Folklore is so important. Posted by m6
4th September 2014ce

Chapel Knowe (Broch)

Coming from Finstown along the A966 turn right onto the Burness road and soon you can make out the distinctive broch profile right of the farm, I hadn't expected to see anything. Having come a long way I used my binoculars and saw that there were kie in the field. So I bethought to turn down to East Quatquoy and make my way along the shore instead, but a garden extension stopped me short and not expecting to go this way I didn't know the state of the tides so contented myself with distant shots. At high zoom I see a low scoop coming from the mound. I presume this is the assumed chapel enclosure, but it brings to my mind the stony areas landward of two of the Evie brochs. If coming along the coast another time I would try from further back. You can see the tidal islets called the Skerries of Coubister via which one very low tide a man in waders was able to reach Damsay. His idea was folk used this route to reach the island but perhaps it had been the islanders that went the other way to reach the Burness site. For from Chapel Point there is a pre-eminent view from Finstown through Kirkwall all the way around to Crookness, taking in most of the isles in too. wideford Posted by wideford
3rd September 2014ce

Towednack Double Armed Cross

25 June 2014

Surprised to find this on TMA. The cross is carved into a long granite slab and looks medieval to me - perhaps a grave slab. There's much of interest to look at inside the church, but all rather outside TMA's scope.

One nice bit of folklore though, to explain the shortness of the tower - each time the masons got it higher than the present level, the Devil would knock it down again. Eventually they gave up, making it unique in being the only medieval church in West Penwith without pinnacles on the tower.

From here we headed up over Amalveor Downs to visit an old friend, Zennor Quoit.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st August 2014ce

Ty Ar Boudiged (Chambered Tomb)

Today we have been to Brest, to Oceanopolis, Brittany's biggest aquarium, our hotel in Vannes is about a hundred miles away. In between the two, more or less, is Ty Ar Boodigay. Ever since Moth and Jane went there nearly five years ago, the name has been rattling round my head, and, even if the precise picture of it had faded in my mind the memory of a perfect chambered cairn had remained, I must see it, I decided, next time I'm in the area (like I come here all the time?).

It is a drive of over forty miles from Brest to Brennelis and I'd be needing some petrol, so I chose to go along the main N12 duel carriageway from Brest to Morlaix, but there was not one petrol station (at home I'd have passed at least three), very close to running out I went into Morlaix, a big town, but not big enough to have a petrol station though. I thought of going to Barnenez cairn instead, but stuck to my guns, in the end I found a petrol station after much panicking and flustering, and soon we were heading south on the right road, with petrol a plenty. Bloody Frenchies.
Brennelis is a very small town in Brittany's rocky hilly interior, it is as hilly as it gets in Brittany but it's nothing like Snowdonia or owt, a bit like Bodmin moors high places.

The official car park quickly passed us by on our left, so we turned back and parked up, it was a big area but we were all alone. Nice.
The chamber is visible under a tree and close to the car, half a minutes walk. The back end of the chamber is arrived at first, something has been removed from the side of the chamber and you can scramble in through the wide gap.
But I like to walk all the way round before I go in, but all the way round can't be done because of a low wall that slightly truncates the barrow, that and a bit of graffiti inside are all that's wrong with it.
Around the front is the entrance, and it is a wide and welcoming entrance that beckons you in, I suspect that a cap stone or two may be missing from the very front. Inside it is dry, light and airy, and there is a standing stone. What ?
Where have I seen one of those before ? well Bryn Celli Ddu for a start, and like that one the stone is not structural in any way, very mysterious.
It's late in the afternoon now and it's almost time to go, it has been a perfect time here at Ty Ar Boudiket, a picnic would be ideal, a cold beer or two sublime.
Swallows squealing round, warm dappled sunlight filters down through the trees, it is lovely lovely lovely, I am very sad to have to leave, but I'm already looking forward to the next time , and the holidays not over just yet.
postman Posted by postman
31st August 2014ce

Treryn Dinas (Cliff Fort)

24 June 2014

The walk along the coast path from Carn les Boel is lovely one, rugged cliff tops dropping away to the blue-green below. At Gwennap Head basking sharks can sometimes be seen, but we don't have that privilege today.

It's an up-and-down section of path, dropping down to the tiny sandy beach at Porthgwarra (tea-shop), back up to exposed cliffs before a further drop to St Levan's Well above Porth Chapel. The well is worth a stop off, in its unusual position half way up the cliffs. From here it's a brief foray into tourist central near the famous Minack Theatre and the thronged beach at Porthcurno. From the cliffs above the Minack there is a great view of the day's final objective, the impossibly craggy headland of Treryn Dinas (pronounced "Treen").

We last came here about eight years ago, I only have a few crappy pictures and am keen to return - since then we've only seen the headland from a couple of boat trips, which reinforced just how startlingly rocky the site is. Along with its companion on the north coast, Gurnard's Head, this is the most impressive of the West Penwith cliff forts.

The defences are quite something. The outermost consist of a single, huge earthwork bank, several metres high in places. South of this is a flat area, quite overgrown now, before the central defences appear quite some way further south. These are formed of three lines of banks and ditches, much smaller in size than the outer rampart, but still providing a series of obstacles for any unwanted guests to negotiate. Beyond these, the ground slopes downwards towards a band of craggy granite outcrops. A sort-of path runs through the centre of these, taking the visitor along a ever-narrowing channel between the rocks. There is an easier route round to the west, but it would be interesting to know which was the original way in - perhaps one was the tradesman's entrance.

Once you've semi-scrambled over these, you are confronted with the narrowest point of the headland, where a ditch fronts another well-defined stone rampart, the innermost of the defences. Stone facing still lines the entrance through the centre of the bank. A circular round house (perhaps a guard house) originally existed at each end of this, but one has largely eroded away now.

Beyond this final earthwork, the tip of the headland is a wonder of jagged towers of granite. One of these is topped by the famed "Logan Rock", a rocking stone once toppled by sailors of the Royal Navy and re-erected at their expense following a public outcry. Quite right too.

I have a good scramble about in the rocks, although I don't manage to find a way up to the Logan Rock itself - I'm sure a longer visit would provide the answer to how to get up there, but it's quite exposed in places and the wind whips around the rocks, even on this sunny June day.

It's an amazing place here. Once beyond the innermost rampart, there's little that would suggest a nice place to live though. My speculative guess is that any occupation here took place further inland, within either the safety of the enormous outer earthwork or the central rows. Which leaves the question of why build a strongly defended rampart across the rocky tip of the headland. Perhaps someone important had their home here, or perhaps the headland was kept free of riff-raff for the inevitable "ritual purposes". My usually sceptical self can certainly imagine that here, as the wind gusts around the stone towers and the focal point of the Logan Rock itself, perched above it all.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st August 2014ce

Ashurst Lodge (Enclosure)

Stumbled on this small charming enclosure while ambling around the New Forest. It's not very big, popular with local bovine herds, probably no more than about 20-25m in diameter and the banks no more than 1.5m high (mostly on the southern side). I imagine in the winter months it's probably very boggy around here and the northern and eastern sides are bounded by the beginnings of the Beaulieu River which acts as a natural defence. Pastscape describes the earthwork as a Bronze Age enclosure or early Iron Age univalate Fort. I'd go for the former as the earthworks don't seem like they were ever defensive and more about preserving a bit of dry ground in a very flat area. There are also a number of (presumably) Bronze Age barrows nearby which might support that.

Another interesting feature about a mile to the west is Row Hill which has 3, or possibly 4, long mounds on top of it. These are quite substantial, the biggest being about 2m high and about 15m long all running parallel. I've no idea how old they might be and would hesitate to call them long barrows. WW1 activity in the forest might be one explanation for their presence as there are currently notice boards all over the place warning you against straying from the path due to unrecovered ordnance. After a hundred years - I ask you?!
A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
30th August 2014ce

Gleninagh (Stone Row / Alignment)

The 6 stone row is located in the breathtaking Leenane valley in Connemara (near Kylemore Abbey). The scenery here really has to be seen to be believed.
The row is located up a road with a sign marked "private road". I knew it was unlikely I'd be in these parts again so I decided I would drive up and see if there was anyone around to ask permission to view the stone row.
I came to a farm gate near some out-buildings and just as I was about to leave I was lucky enough to meet who I presume where the owners of the land, two nice sheep farmers - probably a father and son who granted me access.
The stone row itself is lovely with smooth rounded stones. It was misty the day I visited and I can only imagine how much more beautiful the setting would be on a clear day.
To top it all off the row is likely to be aligned to the winter solstice sun-set behind the high mountains here, likely to be around 1.30pm in the afternoon.
bawn79 Posted by bawn79
28th August 2014ce

Badyo (Cup Marked Stone)

Not much better , but slightly clearer than original pics from first discovery a decade ago . Not from the period but the cross incised stone is three hundred metres away . tiompan Posted by tiompan
28th August 2014ce

Kergadiou Menhirs (Standing Stones)

Just 8km away from Kerloas, these two sites were very high on my wish list, the 1st and 3rd tallest stones in Brittany. There was much more in the area I wanted to see, but these damn French roads are perfectly designed to take you in the opposite direction to the way you want to go. After the big Aquarium at Brest (titter) we got horribly messed about, I've developed a special hatred for French road designers, they are all manner of unrepeatable
swear words. A pox upon them.
But, the ancient Bretons must be applauded for their stone shifting efforts, it is nothing short of superhuman. Few places in Britain or the rest of the world can be compared to Brittany. It is the stuff of dreams come true. The biggest stones in the world, the highest concentration of stones and dolmens anywhere. One cannot enthuse about the place enough.
The French have tried really hard to make the rest of the place a nightmare though, they've taken all the best ideas the modern age has to offer then fluffed it up royally.

Oh yes the stones, they're allright I suppose.

Trip advisor indeed.

Parking is easy, finding the signposted duo is easy. Eric elected to go barefoot, he's turned a bit feral so far from home. From the corner of the field the up right menhir is arrived at first, it is only a little shorter than Kerloas and Dol, but you'd need a tape measure and some extending ladders to prove it.
Tall and lean and made of stone, it is a perfect example of a menhir.
But the other stone has had an accident, it's fallen over, not all the way though, you can get onto the stone and walk all the way to it's tip, thus making an inspection of the tip of the stone ultra easy. Eric and me sat with our legs dangling over the edge, swinging back and forth, like kids do. We stayed until someone else came, a little man with a big camera, over compensating some might say, we gave him the field and headed off to Morlaix, after getting turned around in Brest (tiiter) again.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Kerloas (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Kerloas, the field of sadness, grief or mourning, which ever meaning you take it is not a happy place.
But today it is a very happy place, I have the stone all to myself, but should we call it a stone ? it is made of stone, granted, but a tall thin mountain would be more like it.
Is this the tallest standing stone in the whole world ? excepting Egyptian obelisks, which to my mind don't count. If it isn't, ive yet to hear of a bigger one. Some say it is 9.5 meters high, which is exactly what they say of Champ Dolent menhir, so it is equal first place, but then Kerloas has been truncated, cut short by as much as two meters, the broken bits apparently carted away by local farmer.

As I walk around I cant help smiling at the incredulous hugeness of it, 350 tonnes, dragged over 3km and then stood upright. Blammo, is your mind intact, nowhere near.
The two bumps carved on its lower flanks are very intriguing, his and hers fertility rubbing points, tosh I'd say, I tried, I'm too short by nearly a foot. So I decided it was for medicinal purposes, I rubbed my back where I had my operation and I'm glad to say that it does not hurt at all, it could just be good doctormanship instead though.

Not far from the big car park, very easy to find, well, your not going to miss it are you.
I combined it with a trip to Oceanopolis, Brittany's biggest aquarium, the kids loved it.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Mane Lud (Tumulus (France and Brittany))

It was getting late now and I was on my way back to the hotel, but as I was driving past I saw a sign saying Mane Lud Dolmen, and like I said, when a dolmen throws itself in front of you, it is impossible to resist a quick look, and it was I'm afraid to say a very quick look.
I came at it from the opposite direction to Moth and Jane, who seem to have been every where around here. The parking place is large, room for twenty cars at least. The path goes off towards some houses, it takes maybe five minutes from car to dolmen. It is a weird path, going where you don't expect it to, it ended in a small cul de sac, the dolmen is just round the corner. The mound is massive, this is another one of Copes Carnac Grand Tumuli. But the chamber can be accessed now, and it's a doozey. Roofed over by a whopping but broken capstone, the chamber is accessed via some modern steps at the far end of the big tumulus. The property next door has built their shed right next to the chamber, it forms one side of the passage into the chamber. It was really getting dark now and I didn't have time to inspect the interior thoroughly, if I did I would have seen some faded ancient carvings. Oh well, next time, for there will be a next time, ive still only seen half of what the Carnac region has to offer.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Er-Grah (Cairn(s))

Our fantastic Mr Cope groups Er Grah together with six other big tumuli, calling them the Carnac Grand tumuli, it is a phrase I cannot find elsewhere (granted I haven't tried very hard) so it must be one of his own, possibly.
If it is of the same ilk as Mane er Hroek and the tumulus St Michel then the chamber would have never been able to be entered, they buried the chamber beneath tonnes of Cairn with no passage, so no getting in.
The chamber here, is just visible, the capstone sits proudly just above the cairn. The capstone is again taken from a toppled menhir, but whether it is from Le Grand menhir Brise is a matter for discussion.
There is still no way of getting under the capstone, nor even to try and peak through any gaps as there is no cairn climbing allowed. I know ive sneaked in and there is no one here to tell me off, but some sensitivities remain, and anyway, I'm trying to keep my head down.
The cairn is a massive construction, even now, but originally it would have been much higher, perhaps twice as high as the capstone. Much stone robbing has occurred.
My advice is to get here early, be the first through the door, pay your money, stay a while, and don't be afraid to stray onto the grass. Bloody Frenchies.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Table des Marchants (Chambered Cairn)

Due to sneaking in after hours there would be no getting into the Table des Marchants, which is a shame, I tried the gate blocking the entrance but it was of course locked. Ive been in before, but there was a sign saying no photography, like an idiot I obeyed the sign now I have no photos of it's wondrous interior.

But is it wondrous ? Older pictures of it show it as a simple, massive, but simple dolmen. But today there is a long passage, impressive entrance, and strange stepped cairn covering it all, it all looks great, but its very modern. The dolmen was covered solely to protect the carvings, so, what they've done is erect a modern folly over an awesome megalithic site, I think I might have preferred it the way it was.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Grand Menhir Brise (Standing Stone / Menhir)

From Mane Rutual I walked up the road to the gate where you can look over it at the three marvels here, Er Grah, Table Des Marchands and Le Grand Menhir Brise. From the gate the big broken stone is tantalisingly close, there was no one around, so, like a very bad boy I jumped over the gate in a trice and had the trio to myself.
If I'd paid to go in I wouldn't have been able to walk on the grass, touch the stone, or even have a good look around it. But as it's after closing time there would be no getting into the Marchants table.
It's all about give and take, ive given Brittany over a thousand pounds, I wanna see the stones and no little gate is gonna stop me. Am I a bad ass or just determined?

Le Grand Menhir Brise was the biggest standing stone in France, possibly in Europe, only Egyptian obelisks are taller, but I don't really class them as standing stones. If you know of a bigger one please let me know. It may have stood 14 meters high, if it ever stood at all. Some parts of the broken stone have been removed to be capstones for nearby and not so nearby dolmens.
The four remaining pieces are most impressive, and no matter where you are in the complex your eye keeps being drawn back to the great broken stone.
Three pieces are still in such a position that you can see they still lie where they fell, but the fourth and biggest piece has somehow twisted around and away from the other three. It is difficult to imagine where the parts that were removed came from as the four parts seem to fit together.
It is a most perplexing and mysterious thing. Oh, and it's very very big.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Mané Rutuel (Passage Grave)

The kids had made some friends at the hotel and their parents granted me two hours leave to go see some stones, so with no small amount of glee I bombed it over to Locmariaquer. Followed the signs for Table des Marchands, went straight past it, turned right at the cemetery down a very thin road until I saw the sign for Mane Rutuel. Parking here is precarious to say the least, there is not much room at all.
A path leads you in between some houses and past their gardens, there was someone at the burial chamber before me, so I strolled as slowly as I could. That's the thing about sites around Carnac, you very rarely get the place to yourself unless your there out of season, but I guarantee that they never stay long. The young English family didn't even go in, what's the point ?
This long Allee Couverte sits in an area barely big enough to contain it, there is just enough room for three to walk abreast around it. After walking around it I bent low and passed through the entrance.
There is a lot of concrete here, more concrete than in any other site ive seen here, it's not particularly pretty. The passage opens out slightly into a round-ish chamber, tall enough to stand upright in. But beyond the round-ish chamber is the concrete chamber, it seems cut off from the rest of the monument, like it wasn't used at all, almost all the wall stones are concrete, graffitied and littered. It is best appreciated from the outside, where the concrete is almost invisible.
The massive capstone that sits at the end of the passage is truly gargantuan, the carved human figure on it's under side was not visible to me, mostly because I didn't know it was there. Was this capstone one of the menhirs from the alignment up the road ? it is very rectangular, unlike most other Carnac Menhirs. So I don't know.
But that is where I'm going now, even though it's closed for the day.
postman Posted by postman
27th August 2014ce

Woolsbarrow (Hillfort)

[visited 16/8/14] In what is a mostly flat landscape as the land turns to heath as it meets the sea, I was surprised to see a couple of hillforts on the tma map. Looking to escape after a long week visiting family in Upton I headed over to this, the most complete and accessible of the two (compared to Bulberry Camp). Turns out there is a ridge of land to the North of Poole Harbour which when on the ground is plenty high enough to build forts on.

The interior of the fort is small, made smaller by the extreme amounts of gorse and bracken covering the site. A space/path is maintained which means you can get to the western edge, though a circumnavigation of the top isn't possible unless you want to fight your way through gorse bushes. I'd like to come back here in the winter to investigate further and also have a look at the hill immediately adjacent to the north which seemed to also have earthworks or at least modified to make the path to the North of this fort very well defended.

Access is easy along a well maintained network of paths from parking just off the Wareham to Bere Regis road. I did get confused and ended up circling the fort as I missed the easy path from the South which takes you straight up and in past the defences. Unlike most hillforts the gorse in August stops you going up and over the defences...
juamei Posted by juamei
27th August 2014ce

Top Low and Net Low (Round Barrow(s))

Top Low, Blore.
Top Low is located upon the summit of a hill standing between the Staffordshire Moorlands villages of Blore and Swinscoe. It is an oval mound of stone and earth 1m high with maximum dimensions of 22m by 20m. Two pits upon the summit of the mound are evidence of excavation. Samuel Carrington opened Top Low in May 1849 and Thomas Pape reopened it in 1929. The field surmounting the top of the hill is shown on a tithe map of the parish dated 1845 as bearing the name Top Low Field.

The report on Carrington's excavations of 5th and 12th May 1849 contained in Bateman's "Ten Years Diggings.." occupy six pages (including the plan of the distribution of the graves kindly added to this site by Chris Collyer). Carrington describes Top Low as being "an elliptical-shaped barrow, about 15 yards wide" the barrow was presumed to have started out as a round barrow whose shape has altered over time as numerous subsequent interments were added to it. Carrington found an interesting variety of funerary practices in evidence at Top Low with 14 interments in total. Two cremation deposits were found, one housed in a pottery vessel and one a loose pile of burnt bones accompanied by a flint implement. 11 interments were complete or partial crouched inhumations, mostly adults. These were interred in various grave forms - some lain in stone-lined cists, some surrounded by lines of stone slabs, some with upright stones erected at the head and feet whilst others were placed upon or leaned against stone slabs. However, the most unusual deposit was found at the very centre of the mound where a small, roughly built cist contained the ritual animal burial of a young hog accompanied by an antler tine. Also found were a bronze clasp, a lozenge decorated drinking cup, a complete 'A' type beaker, a broken leaf-shaped flint arrowhead and fragments of a second beaker.

Pape's 1929 excavation of Top Low was confused from the start as he was not aware that the barrow he was excavating was Top Low, even though he found the skeletal remains of several individuals all mixed up and piled together (probably reinterred by Carrington's workmen during backfilling). He did find a fragment of a polished greenstone axe. Pape's excavation report was published in the Transactions of the North Staffs Field Club simply as "Excavation of a round barrow at Swinscoe". Even after completing the dig Pape admitted that he was not sure if the site was Top Low but he had "an uneasy suspicion" that it was.

There is no public access to Top Low but both field walls between the barrow and the public footpath were down when I visited. There is a free public car park beside the Blore to Ilam road which is just a short walk via public footpaths from the hill which Top Low and Net Low sit upon.

Scheduled Ancient Monument No. =1009654. Scheduled as Top Low bowl barrow. NMR = SK14 NW1. RSM = 13576.

Net Low, Blore
Net Low is located upon the lower slopes of the same hill Top Low surmounts and some have labelled it Top Low II. However, this barrow does seem to correspond with one "in a field called Nettles" opened by Carrington in 1849 which he thought was called Net Lows. The name of the field in which this barrow sits is shown as 'Blore Netlow' on a tithe map of the parish dated 1845. Net Low sits upon a natural knoll on the side of the valley to the South-West of St. Bartholomew's church, Blore. It is an oval earthen mound 0.7m high with maximum dimensions of 13m by 10m.

Samuel Carrington opened Net Low on 2nd June 1849. On the South-West side of the barrow he found a paved cist containing calcined bones and a broken urn of red clay which contained a small vase or incense cup of the same fabric. This may have been the primary interment. Nearby his excavation trench uncovered the disturbed remains of an skeleton which has been interpreted as an Anglo-Saxon secondary inhumation. Near to the skeleton the base of a wheel turned pottery vessel and an iron ring one and quarter inches in diameter were found.

Thomas Pape re-excavated Net Low in 1927 finding disturbed charcoal, teeth (including a human tooth) and the Anglo-Saxon secondary inhumation.

Public footpaths run along the valley bottom below the site and along the hillside above it allowing the barrow to be viewed easily.

Scheduled Ancient Monument No. =1009652. Scheduled as bowl barrow 380m SW of Blore church. NMR = SK14 NW2 RSM = 13575.
BrownEdger Posted by BrownEdger
26th August 2014ce

Carn Les Boel (Cliff Fort)

24 June 2014.

We carry on round the coast path from Pordenack Point and its trashed barrows. The sea is that beautiful turquoise blue that you get in far west Cornwall when the weather is at its best, and it's sure at its best today.

The little cove at the base of Lower Bosistow Cliff is quite lovely, revealing a narrow arch cutting deep into - and through - the rock below the headland. From there it's a reasonably steep climb up onto the headland itself, where a sign warns of the dangers of coastal erosion and advises that we stick to the path. Which we do, at least until we reach the fort that occupies the rocky tip of the promontory.

For some reason when we first walked along this stretch of the path we didn't visit Carn les Boel fort. I'm not sure why, perhaps just laziness or a desire to Get Along. No pressures today though, so we can have a leisurely explore and some lunch, away from the Land's End crowds.

Although the rampart isn't as big and impressive as some of the others on this Cornish coast, it's still immediately apparent. It slopes steeply from the central neck of the promontory, ending at sheer cliffs. It's not clear if it always ended so sharply or whether erosion has taken its toll. The ditch is mostly silted up, but from the rampart there is a great view across Nanjizal to the next headland, confusingly named Carn Boel.

The entrance to the fort interior is flanked by large granite blocks, one of which has fallen. The other one is an impressive size, weighing a good few tons. Slightly down the slope is the precariously balanced boulder shown in Hamish's picture.

The interior is quite rocky, dropping to rugged cliffs at its tip. Not the most hospitable place you could decide to set up home, but then there's no evidence that anyone ever did. No hut circles or anything structural can be seen.

We sit and enjoy the view and the sunshine for a while, before deciding to head onwards. We're aiming for Treen and particularly Treryn Dinas today, so we've a little way to go. Before we leave, I take a minor detour to look for the Higher Bosistow round barrow. It occupies the highest part of the headland and has terrific views of the coast. Unfortunately the barrow itself is almost missing in action, barely more than a slight rise in the ground with a scooped centre. Great spot though. Inevitably.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
25th August 2014ce
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