Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists..
An exhibition that has opened at the Victoria Gallery, Bath.
Paul Nash's Eclipse of the Sunflower is there, also Druid Landscape, Megalithic Landscape and work by Graham Sutherland, and The Ruralists of course who lived in Wiltshire, Inshaw painted Silbury and the Owl... continues...
Following the fine directions given by previous contributors, and the particularly useful link provided by Rhiannon, I managed to find this place no problem, and worked it into a visit on a round trip from Glastonbury taking in both Stoney Littleton and the Faulkland standing stones first.
As suggested parking at The Bell Inn (right next to the A361 Frome Road at the village of Rode) is by far the best plan, and the public footpath is easily accessible just across the road. Once over the first stile and into the fields proper you soon see the copses of trees on the rise ahead, to which you have to aim. The fields up to the copses were currently fallow, but clear paths around their edges allowed me not to get my feet too muddy. Gates were all open and access was easy, with only the occassional distant report of a shotgun giving me a vague sense of unease lest I become unwitting cannon fodder for a trigger happy farmer.
As I head across the fields I disturb a pair of deer grazing at the newly emerging shoots, and we both freeze, staring wide eyed at each other for a moment, before they turn and flee from this noisy interloper.
Soon I'm at the barrow, huddled amongst the trees, the outline of the monument clearly visible since most of the vegetation has either died back in the harsh winter, or else been cropped by the fiendly neighbourhood deer. As I take in the whole of the monument it almost looks like a cutaway diagram of a barrow, the footings of the mound still clearly visible, the entrance portal stones standing proud, and a thick stone defining the end of the barrow (presumably the Devil likes to prop his feet up when in bed).
I crouch down to take a closer look at the portal stones, getting a few nettle stings in the process, but noticing what could possibly be three cupmarks on the interior facing of the stone. Once again I curse the fact that I've left the camera at home, and so am forced to take photo's with the phone (which singularly fails to provide a decent picture of the cupmarks), oh well just an excuse to return I guess.
As I sit quietly here a buzzard swoops in low and lands in the tree next to me, and I'll echo Rhiannon's thoughts, it is lovely here, and the sort of place you could spend hours. It seems as if few people visit, there was certainly no evidence of any rubbish or offerings at the site, and it feels like this is the Severn-Cotswold barrows best kept secret. Often it is some of these lesser known places that retain a more tangible atmosphere.
I notice that the village church seems to be in a direct line with the barrow, which along with attributing the stones to the Devil, is one of those terribly insecure Christian gestures, to defame any other alternative beliefs. Well if the devil has all the best tunes, then he also seems to have the best places, as I'd much rather be here in this magical place than in the cold dour surroundings of the local church. With that thought I head back to The Bell, to finish off a site visit in the best possible way, with a nice pint.
Well this a strange little place. I stopped off after a visit to Stoney Littleton, having discovered the village of Faulkland was only a couple of miles from that site (thanks TMA website!).
It's easy enough to park next to the village green, which stands next to the unexpectedly busy A366, and I get out to have a poke around the stones.
Two weathered old stones flank a rickety pair of stocks, with a stumpy square stone having been thoughfully provided as a seat for the unfortunate penitent. There are also a couple of other stones evident sticking up from the manicured grass of the green. The stones undoudtedly have some age to them, but I'm sure that any alignment or structure they once belonged to has long gone, and they were repurposed, effectively a glorifed field clearence doing double duty as a prominent site of local punishment.
A couple of benches and a flagpole on the well tended green add to the overall incongruency of the site, but the continual whizz of traffic through the village doesn't inspire me to sit here for long.
It feels like the first proper day of spring today, so a trip out is definitely in order. I've a great fondness for Stoney Littleton, it was the first site I visited as a result of buying the papery TMA all those years ago from a bookshop in Glastonbury, prompting me to visit it that same day, and firing an obsession that has lead me to many wonderful sites over the years.
Take note if you've not visited before that the small brown signpost pointing the way up the lane to the barrow as you enter Wellow is now completely obscured by vegetation, so it's easy to miss the sharp right-hand turn as soon as you enter the village.
After negotiating the narrow lane I parked up in the small parking spot, idyllically placed next to the bubbling Wellow brook, and walked up the hill towards the barrow. It felt good to be out and about, surrounded only by the call of birds and bleating of the sheep (and some very cute lambs).
The barrow was looking neat and tidy, and as I descended into the long passage, which really does seem to stretch back forever, I was heartened not to find any old tealights, litter or other 'offerings' which on previous occasions have been mouldering away in the inner chambers. Instead I just crouch at the back of the barrow and contemplate for a bit.
Stoney Littleton has a sort of understated grandeur, it's not the largest long barrow, and doesn't have an impressive portalled frontage, just the fine artistic eye of whoever selected that amazing fosillised ammonite for the entranceway, but it doesn't need them. This is a place that feels right, a perfect example of the barrow builders art.
Outside I sit against the barrow to write my fieldnotes. The warm yellow Cotswold stone of the perimeter dry stone walling of the barrow infuses the place with a warmth, no sombre feelings of death here, just a glorious remembrance and re-birth. Sitting here I'm pervaded with what I can only describe as a mellow vibe. The barrow sits perfectly in the bright spring landscape, even the old nearby landfill site has now blended into the landscape, and the concrete plaque cemented to the barrow entrance, proudly proclaiming it's restoration by affixing a great anachronism to its frontage, which normally irritates me, now seems rather quaint, an antique in itself as most of the inscription has now worn away, a signifier of the monument's more recent past, like the old Ministry of Works signs you still find from time to time at megalithic sites.
Days like today just underline to me everything that's great about visiting the remains of our prehistory, and why I love this hobby so much, Stoney Littleton is truely special place to be, and one of the best barrows you can visit.
A short distance west of the B3114 / B3139 junction, North West of Binegar.
South of Redhill Farm Barrow.
A public right of way runs past the Barrow.
I forgot to make any notes on this Barrow so we will have to rely on what EH has to say!
‘A bell barrow situated on level ground south of Blackwell Tyning Plantation. The barrow is a steep sided mound, 32m in diameter and 2.5m high, surrounded by a berm or platform 4m wide. Surrounding the berm is a ditch 3m wide which has become infilled over the years and no longer visible at ground level’.