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Redland South (Chambered Cairn)

In Evie village opposite the 'new' school is the Aikerness road with a sign for the Broch of Gurness (originally the Knowe of Aikerness). Going down the road where the farm on your right ends Redland South is in the second and third fields down - when I went three-and-a-half years ago, taking photos from the roadside bank, I didn't realise that the bulk of the cairn lies in the lower field because I went purely by the Pastmap marker. Certainly the 'upper' section is the most visibly man-made because of the large excavation pit around what had been known as the Redland standing stone, and looking across to Vishall Hill two long shapes look much more like burial mounds (they are above where Keek once stood). This is because the cairn sits on a the flat top of a natural mound rather like later cists were placed in false crests and rises. Indeed it feels as if the 'upper' section is a seperate entity as with the Head of Work. The lower field's remnant (entered by another gate) is rather unimpressive, especially as with a warming climate the protruding stones detailed in the record are hidden by grass. I came across then haphazardly, and it struck me that rather than ragged stumps these are original tops - I don't see why the standing stone alone would have survived levelling. wideford Posted by wideford
9th April 2015ce

The Hoar Stone (Chambered Tomb)

Stumbled across the Hoar Stone more easily than I’d planned after leaving the Rollrights, not that I was expecting too much difficulty.
On a dull day like today the stones struggled to make their presence felt from their wooded enclosure. Which was strange because it’s a hefty old set of stones which have a solid physical presence. Stuck behind their protecting wall I couldn’t visualize the context of their surroundings very clearly. I don’t know if it was due to the close proximity to the road, and the fact that I didn’t need to walk through the trees to find them, which might have given me some sense of great reveal about their discovery. My problem, really. On a different day I’d probably be enchanted. Next time; ‘must try harder’….
Posted by ruskus
9th April 2015ce

Nympsfield Long Barrow

Despite the fog and drizzle worsening as I left Hetty Pegler’s Tump, I thought I must drive up to nearby Nympsfield before the late April afternoon became a total washout. Amazingly there were lots of people at the picnic area around the long barrow. Mostly dog walkers desperate enough to escape a dull Easter holiday weekday, even in this cold and murk. The view over to Coaley and the flat top of Cam Long Down was limited in this weather, but still impressive. I then noticed the barrow sitting over to my right, and approached from it’s side.
It has a neat, understated and unobtrusive presence, here in such a public place. I guess the recently-visited Notgrove could have been presented like this. This accessibility combined with the damp conditions, reminded me of when I’ve visited places such as Parc Le Breos before (I’ve just looked at Parc Le Breos again, and seen an entry from tjj pointing to the similarity to Nympsfield).
As I’ve noticed this week, whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds, another long barrow perched high up on the edge of a hillside. Now that I’ve seen a few, these Cotswold-Severn chambers are starting to become a bit of a fascination. Got a bit carried away taking photos, and in wanting to get out of the rain I completely forgot to check out Soldier’s Grave. Bah!
Posted by ruskus
9th April 2015ce

Devil's Quoits (Henge)

I had a bit of difficulty finding where to park and where to then head out to, when arriving next to the portacabins near the recycling site, so instead headed off ‘round through Stanton Harcourt again, coming out of its south end, ending up taking a path to the northern side of the lake eventually. Probably a longer walk, past the deserted farm buildings, but an easier choice at that point.
It’s a site of contrasts really. Such an ancient idea, remade in such a modern context with the dirt heap directly next to it. As I walked up to the henge banks I spoke to a lady just leaving. I suggested that it was a shame about the landfill next to the henge. She immediately pointed out that if it wasn’t for their digging this wouldn’t exist like this now. Ok.
Despite the pristine circle of stones, the banks of the henge are pretty much full of rabbit holes. It’s both a beautifully constructed thing, yet somehow left me with a cold matter-of-fact impression. It is great it exists for many reasons though, so maybe it was just a me-on-the-day thing which kept me from feeling it a bit more. Or maybe it was the presence of the heavy bulldozer sat on top of the heap, facing the stones. I felt a kind of tension, as the workman sat in the driver’s seat having his lunch, as if he was somehow waiting before he started the machine to then bear down the slope and plough right into the henge. I guess it re-enforced the idea that they could construct this and easily destroy it.
Posted by ruskus
9th April 2015ce

Hetty Pegler's Tump (Long Barrow)

Because Hetty Pegler’s Tump is relatively easy to find I ended up visiting here after an aborted mission to the sites around Minchinhampton. I failed to find the Longstone and others due partly to what Julian writes in TMA about the maze of roads in Minchinhampton, but mainly due to me bringing the wrong map (too vague)and being woefully under-prepared through acting upon a last minute whim to venture out on a wet, foggy late afternoon. Lesson learnt.
Anyway…as the fog turned into drizzle I pulled up at the tiny car-width spot by the roadside, and headed out into the gloom in the direction of a muddy path. Soon the tump loomed out of the grey, making it hard to get a sense of its size against an unclear background. After walking around for a while I noted with interest how, on just like my recent visit to Belas Knap, the mound was perched upon the edge of the plateau of Crawley Hill. In fact it looks like the tump is going to slide off towards the back, if it wasn’t for the surrounding trees on the northwest side.
I was surprised how far back the chamber cuts into the barrow, but didn’t stay long due to the worsening weather conditions. Time to head off to Nympsfield, and maybe another attempt at Minchinhampton?.... (I failed again).
Posted by ruskus
9th April 2015ce

Belas Knap (Long Barrow)

I was not prepared for the steep trek up through the woods, which left me realising just how shockingly unfit I am! The levelling out of the next section of path allowed me to recover in time for the sudden arrival at the long barrow, which equally took my breath away.
On this cold & windy, yet bright April late afternoon, I found that I had the barrow all to myself, adding to the distant feeling from the valley far below. Belas Knap was an ideal start to this week away in the Cotswolds, giving me a perfect introduction as an example of how the areas’ long barrows seem to be perched high on the edge of a plateau (as I would later note at Hetty Pegler’s Tump for example). Without the trees covering Humblebee How on the east side I guess the view from, or indeed up to, the barrow would have been quite something.
I think I’m beginning to realize, the longer I spend visiting these ancient sites, that it’s about the environment, the setting, the place, the feeling, as much as it is about the actual look of the monuments. So although, as others have commented, Belas Knap is quite manufactured and overly neat, it is still here. Literally, which is great of course, but also in the sense of giving context as to why it’s here in this place.
Posted by ruskus
8th April 2015ce

Notgrove (Long Barrow)

After reading previous entries I visited with low expectations of this site, but was pleasantly surprised. It’s not that bad really.
Upon my arrival late in the evening an older couple were just leaving. They told me they’d been watching a Barn Owl quartering the field nearby - unfortunately it had passed elsewhere time I got to the long barrow, although this shifted my focus back to the site itself. Despite the fact that it is obviously no Belas Knap (from where I had just left), it’s general large shape can be followed, and the imagination can provide some gaps to aid what is seen, or not seen.
Because it feels somewhat ignored and separate from the cars zooming past nearby, I felt able to switch off from that world also, and find some sense of what the barrow feels like within the surrounding landscape. I was happy to spend time here, and found its location welcoming.
Posted by ruskus
8th April 2015ce

Maen Llia (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Visited 6.4.15

After visiting the ancient yew tree in Defynnog it required only a (relatively) slight detour in order to visit the mighty Maen Llia – one of my favourite prehistoric sites. The recent excellent photos of the stone on TMA only heightened my longing to re-visit. (Thanks Matt)

The sky was a deep blue with small white fluffy clouds. High above could be seen the trails of several airplanes. The weather was unusually hot and it was a relief to both myself and Sophie’s to be able to get out of the car. The first thing I noticed was a new information board. I am sure the addition of an information board will not be to everyone’s taste but it is well done. The Perspex board is semi-see through and is in the shape of the standing stone. It gives basic information about Maen Llia and shows a time-line of events over the 4,000 years since the stone was erected. It is mad to think that the yew tree I had just visited was a thousand years old when someone decided to put the stone up!

After reacquainting myself with the stone (which by now seems like an old friend) we headed to the small stream nearby. As quick as a flash Sophie had her socks and wellies off and was knee deep in icy water! Once she got over the initial cold water shock she happily splashed around and amused herself. I sat on a grass knoll next to the stream and soaked the atmosphere up. The weather was gorgeous. Above me two red kites floated silently on the thermals. Away in the distance a saw a paraglider doing the same thing. We spent a really relaxing time here and the only thing I regretted was not brining a flask of tea! I could feel my inner batteries being recharged and any stress I had before I arrived soon evaporated in the breeze.

A magical visit to a magical place.
Posted by CARL
8th April 2015ce

Defynnog Church (Christianised Site)

Visited 6.4.2015

In the village of Defynnog on the A4215 – just south of the A40 – west of Brecon.

A few months ago I came across an article reporting that ‘Britain’s oldest tree’ had been identified in St Cynog’s churchyard in the village of Defynnog. It was reported that the yew tree is estimated to be 5,000 years old and is possibly even older than the famous Yew in Fortingall in Scotland. It also said the tree ‘was planted on the north side of an ancient burial mound which is now the churchyard, probably in honour of a Neolithic Chieftain’. How much truth there is in this I don’t know? However, needless to say I was eager to visit!

It was a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday morning and today was the day. Dafydd decided to stay home and watch his Dad’s Army DVDs so it was just myself and Sophie ‘out exploring’ this time. The drive up the A470 and over the Brecon Beacons was lovely and, judging by the amount of cars parked on the verges, plenty of other people were making the most of the weather. We soon found the church, parked outside and headed through the metal gate into the grave yard.

Walking down the path there is a large (and clearly old) yew tree to the left but this clearly wasn’t the tree I was looking for. Sophie was enjoying herself walking around the graves and looking at the headstones and sculptures. She asked me to read out several of the inscriptions. One was for a 5 year old child which was particularly sad as Sophie herself is only 4.

We made our way around the back of the church and there it was – in all it’s glory. The tree looks for all the world like two separate trees. It is hard to believe what you are looking at is two sides of the same tree. If the trunk was still as one it would be massive! Sophie climbed up inside the hollow trunk and I spotted a ribbon tied to one of the lower branches. Around the trunk were propped up several old headstones, some from the 1700s – no age at all compared with the tree.

I then decided to have a look inside the church but unfortunately it was locked. However, much to my surprise, there was a tall old stone affixed to the inside of the porch wall. A small information sign next to it explained that this was a 4th/5th C Roman burial marker which has a Latin inscription carved along its side (the inscription was very easy to see). The stone was later re-used in the 6th/7th C and had a lattice design carved on its upper part (again easy to make out). It is also said to have traces of Ogham script but I was unable to spot this. Discovering this stone was a very welcome surprise indeed.

If you happen to be in the area this is a church which is well worth a visit

Tree ageing expert Janis Fry, who has studied yews for more than 40 years said ‘I’m convinced this is the oldest tree in Europe. It is so old it has split into two halves – one 40ft wide and the other 20ft wide. Its DNA has been tested by the Forestry institute and its ring count is 120 per inch which makes it more than 5,000 years old’.
Posted by CARL
7th April 2015ce

North Lodge (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Richard Marriott who lives at the North Lodge, Fetteresso has collected thumb, hand scrapers and broken flints. These he found in this garden from 1992-2008, centred around NO 83882 85881.

Taking a keen interest in prehistory I was also told about the urn found near Fetteresso Castle and The Hawk Stone.

Lovely way to end the day.

Visited 5/4/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
5th April 2015ce

Cefn Coch (Cairn(s))

What is entirely certain though, is the massive Cefn Coch (“Red Ridge”) cairn. It would be impressive anywhere, but what sets it apart from comparable sites is the stunning backdrop of the Carneddau.

Turning its face resolutely from the sea hidden behind a ridge to the north, the cairn unquestionably looks inland towards the mountains. The very highest peaks of the range are hidden from here, but the skyline is filled with an array of summits all well above the 2000ft mark, several of which boast contemporary monuments.

It's a breathtaking sight and we sit in awe for quite a while.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
5th April 2015ce

Cors y Carneddau (Stone Circle)

Having singularly failed to realise we’d missed Circle 278, we continue west along the main track. Cors y Carneddau circle is supposedly on the north side of the track. Surely this should be easy to find?
Well, no. Part of the problem lies in the fact that there are quite of lot of random stones in the grass here. Which ones do you choose?

Eventually we decide that a group quite near to the drystone wall, just east of a corner, is the best bet. There are at least four stones in a sort-of arc, with a couple of additional possibles close by. But I could be persuaded otherwise…
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
5th April 2015ce

Monument 280 (Standing Stones)

Blossom has Frances Lynch’s excellent Gwynedd guide with her and we have a quick look to see what else there is around here. The prominent jumble of upright stones visible to the west is the most obvious place to head next. Unfortunately we don’t realise that Circle 278 is hidden away over a little crest and miss it completely. Drat.

Monument 280 (these numbers suggest a spectacular profusion of other sites crowding around us) is very difficult to get a handle on, even when you’re standing in its midst. A row of four uprights run north-south across the monument, while on the west an apparent kerb forms its edge. Shapes and patterns can be discerned, but are contradicted by other patterns. Truly an enigma.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
5th April 2015ce

Y Meini Hirion (Stone Circle)

It’s not much more of a pull upwards to reach the circle. There’s no-one else about so I can savour this beauty properly. The setting is as good as any stone circle I’ve been to, particularly on such a wondrous summer’s day. The sea to the north, the high peaks of the Carneddau mountains to the south. It’s a bit special this.

The stones are big, certainly bigger than you’d find in many Welsh circles. Each has character and there are veins of quartz here and there. Although some of the stones have fallen, it doesn’t detract from the overall impression.

Mountains, stones, silence, sea and sky.

I could write a few pages of superlatives, but really you should come and see for yourself. In the meantime, we have some lunch and take it all in.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
5th April 2015ce

Shieldon (Stone Circle)

05/04/2015 – After our trip down to Avebury last week, me and my feet were still not talking to each other but the sun was too nice to stay in. Sheldon stone circle is one I’ve not been to before. I’d been saving it and today felt and looked a perfect day to visit. With a lovely blue sky and warmth in the air, we made the short trip to the circle. Sometimes I get a little sad at sites when I think about the stones that have been lost and the neglected and forgotten state the circles are in, not today. Looking from the circle there are farmlands and fields as far as the eye can see, I just felt lucky that what is left is still just so wonderful. Like a little stone oasis. Maybe it was the weather or just how I felt today but the circle has a very calm and sleepy feel to it. We sat for awhile looking and not looking, from the stones to the landscape beyond. Bennachie, as ever, wonderful in the distance. When folk ask why I go to stone circles I never really know what to say. Days like today give me the answer, I now just have to find a way to put that into words. A wonderful circle and visit. thelonious Posted by thelonious
5th April 2015ce

Llwyn Erddyn (Ring Cairn)

Coflein says this about the larger southern ring cairn.........
An oval penannular grassy ring bank measures overall 19.5m (N-S) by c.14m, open on the E where there is a gap 6m wide. The stony turfed-over bank has a maximum width of about 6m and an average height of c.0.5m. On the N part of the ring bank are set two small boulders, 2.5m apart, which appear to flank another gap though, in fact, the bank between them is only slightly lower than elsewhere. The interior is uneven.

and this about the smaller one.......
A slightly oval ring bank surrounding a sunken interior lies adjacent to a farm track.
The overall dimensions of the feature are 13m (N-S) by 12.2m, the interior 6.5m (N-S) by 6m. The crest of the stony turf-grown bank is 0.2m high above the exterior but 0.75m above the sunken interior. A small stony mound lies adjacent to the bank, on the NW.

Coflein also calls them possibles, but that they are bronze age funerary monuments.
Easier to find than I anticipated, though their not on any map but you'll still need an OS map though.
They are wildly different in size, the larger one is like many other ring cairns I've seen but the smaller one is, well, its very small, and that sunken interior. There are stones poking out of the grass where the smaller one abuts the farm track, weather they are part of the cairn or part of the road I couldn't say. This may be private property but I encountered no people and no barriers.
postman Posted by postman
5th April 2015ce

Plas Captain cairn (Cairn(s))

Parking was obtained on the B5121 to the north west of the cairn by the overgrown entrance to a footpath. But ignore the footpath and walk south down the road, then enter a field through the gate and walk across it, the cairn is in the next field. Its easy enough to get to with an OS map.

This is a good cairn, at least six feet high, made of white limestone like stones. Coflein says it has two trees growing on it, and there is a large boulder on it as well. Typically there are now more than two trees, and the boulder count has grown to three, though the other two are much smaller.

I was really impressed with this cairn, I was expecting it to be much flatter, and the biggest boulder must have taken some great effort to get it up there, effort taken by a tractor or something I presume.
En route back to the car I took a different route across a recently ploughed field, I found a stone that is too flat and smooth on one side and a stoneware jar, it is now on the kitchen window with some small Naffodils in it.

150 meters east are two ring cairns, to where I'm off to next.
postman Posted by postman
5th April 2015ce

Circle 275 (Stone Circle)

It’s a further steady slog of a climb up from Maen Crwn, and the excitement levels really ramp up from here on. Druid's Circle is already visible on the skyline above, but it's still worth restraining the urge to get there for a while with a pause at this lovely little circle.

Like something someone might build around a campfire, a simple ring of smooth stones, with a wonderful sea view. The dogs are very taken, sniffing around the inside of the ring. If it weren't for the fact that the Big Attraction is so visibly close, it would be easy to stop here for a good while.

But we don't.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
3rd April 2015ce
Edited 5th April 2015ce

Maen Crwn (Standing Stone / Menhir)

After passing Red Farm stone circle without a proper look, the impressive boulder of Maen Crwn is the first proper stop on the walk up towards the Druid's Circle.

Set in the V of a valley between higher hills, the long views are restricted. But it feels like a stone-on-the-way-to-somewhere stone, the kind you often find marking your path in upland Wales when on the way to exciting destinations. And given what waits above, it certainly performs that function beautifully.

The pull of the circles is too much to linger though...
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
3rd April 2015ce
Edited 5th April 2015ce

Seven Knowes (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

I decided to do the Hackland Road in Rendall from north to south, starting from the junction near Skiddy. This section's only purpose seems to be to separate the Seven Knowes from mounds formerly on the downhill side near the new housing where the road turns. Marked as tumuli on the map, though not prominent if you know they are there the two chief ones are quite easy to spot approaching uphill. The southern boundary of Seven Knowes is formed by a farmtrack that goes to Enyas Hill, and Gitterpitten on the road below is the Orcadian form of the term Picts Dyke. Along the track is the fieldgate by which I entered for a closer look at the two main mounds, it being open at the time. One of these seems completely intact, truly conical, whilst the other one has a large scrape in the south side and depressions on top from previous digging (best seen from uphill). wideford Posted by wideford
3rd April 2015ce

The Wrekin (Hillfort)

28/03/2015 - It must be 20 years since I was on The Wrekin. I remember it being a tough climb up and 20 years on it still felt a steep climb. I was glad to get to the top for a sit even if the wind was pretty chilly. Maybe not the best hillfort in the world but the walk through Hell Gate and Heaven Gate is good. The view from the top is fantastic. Last site we visited on our trip and as I walked back down my feet were telling me it was time to go home. thelonious Posted by thelonious
3rd April 2015ce

Earl's Hill and Pontesford Hill (Hillfort)

28/03/2015 - Now this is my sort of hillfort. Same way up as postman. Great way to spend an afternoon. Nice fort near the start, lovely but steep walk over Pontesford Hill then onto the open ground of Earl's Hill. Great fort, like a mini Caer Caradoc which it has a lovely view towards. Bit overcast whilst we were there but the sun did pop out now and again. thelonious Posted by thelonious
3rd April 2015ce

Nesscliffe Hill Camp (Hillfort)

28/03/2015 - After a visit to Old Oswestry, we were making good time so we played our hillfort bonus card and went for a quick nosey at Nesscliffe Hill Camp. I liked this one. Little bit of up, nice trees to walk through, good ramparts and a fine view. Worth a visit if you are passing. thelonious Posted by thelonious
3rd April 2015ce

Old Oswestry (Hillfort)

28/03/2015 - Rain started to clear as we arrived and there was a lovely rainbow over the ramparts to greet us as we walked through the west entrance and up to the top of the fort. Old Oswestry is one big place. If ramparts are your thing this is the place for you. Nice circuit of the top (clockwise), stopping occasionally to shake my head at the sheer number and size of the ramparts. It's a must see site but I've got to admit not one of my favourites. thelonious Posted by thelonious
3rd April 2015ce

British Camp (Hillfort)

27/03/2015 – I drove down to Cornwall a few years back and remember looking across from the M5 and thinking the Malvern Hills looked a great place to visit. Finally made the trip on our little grand tour last week.

British Camp is such a famous site, it was great to get a chance to walk the ramparts. Luckily the weather was good and the views from the hill are very good. The hillfort is amazing, one of my favourites, I think. Would love to have spent more time there but Worcestershire Beacon and St Ann’s Well Cafe were calling. Time ain't my friend sometimes.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
2nd April 2015ce
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