The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Long Tom (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.1.15

About 1km south-west of Minions (No sign of Gru!)

Long Tom is easy to spot from the road and parking is also easy – on the grass verge.

Long Tom is a tall, slender stone which has a good covering of ‘hairy moss’ – dried out on my visit due to the wonderful warm weather. The cross carved on its southern face is easier to make out than the cross on the northern side. The stone is situated in a fine moorland setting with good all round views.

Long Tom is well worth stopping off for when en route between visiting Trethevy Quoit and the nearby Hurlers stone circles.

Maen Llia (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

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.

Defynnog Church (Christianised Site) — Fieldnotes

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’.

Midsummer Hill (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 6.3.15

As the hill is now owned by the National Trust they have thoughtfully provided a small car park with adjacent information board giving details of local flora and fauna. A metal gate from the car park gives access to the hill and then it is simply a case of following the ‘path’ uphill. Once across the open ground the ‘path’ goes through trees before coming out the other side and the top of the hill. It only takes 15 minutes to walk from the car park to the top of the hill but it is quite steep. By the time I reached the top I was huffing and puffing like a good ‘un – you would have thought I had just climbed Everest! I am definitely not as young or fit as I used to be!

The first thing you notice when you get to the top is a rather ugly concrete seating shelter. This was built in memory of the son of the Reverend who donated the hill to the National Trust who was killed during the first world war. On top of said ugly shelter is another N.T. information board giving details of the hillfort. It mentions the small ‘hollows’ throughout the site which are the bases of the many round houses which occupied the site. I spotted a few but to be honest if it wasn’t for reading about them on the information board I wouldn’t have known they were there.

The weather was very Spring-like with a warm sun and blue sky. However the wing was still cold. To the north you can see the Malvern Hills stretching out in front of you. The Shire Ditch is easily seen snaking its way along the top of the hills. To the east, west and south you can see for miles. Only the far distant horizon was blurred by haze. Although there were several cars in the car park I had the place to myself. All was quiet – not even birdsong for company.

Where the ramparts had been cleared of trees and bushes the single bank from the inside was still approximately 1.5m high in places. Other sections of the defences are still overgrown and it was difficult to tell what condition they are in? I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked as we had to get back to pick the children up from school and I also wanted to see the ancient yew tree in the churchyard at Much Marcle (well worth seeing – as are the medieval effigies in the church itself)

Provided you are reasonably mobile this is an easy enough hillfort to visit and the views certainly make the effort worthwhile. This was my first bit of ‘old stoning’ of the year and it felt good to be back out in the countryside again. Roll on next month when I have a week in Cornwall to look forward to……

St. Lythans (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Visited 20.12.14

Not quite the Solstice but as the weather forecast was better and I take Dafydd to his swimming lessons on Sunday mornings it was to be an eve of Solstice visit. Not unexpectedly I had the place to myself. It was quite warm for the time of year although the wind was rather cutting. I looked around and waited for the sun to rise. Despite a menacing cloud bank on the horizon it was possible to tell where the sun was coming up and it was clear the chamber did not line up with the winter solstice. In fact, my guess is it lines up with the Equinox. A further visit required next year then to confirm my theory!

On the way home I popped into Tinkinswood. Again I had the place to myself although there were quite a few animals about. Sheep and rabbits in the next fields and a grey squirrel which I startled and it fled up the nearest tree. There seemed to be more ribbons tied to the branches of the tree next to the gate than I remember but otherwise things were the same. The inside of the chamber was once again under water.

Much better way to start the day than lying in bed methinks!

Middle Harling (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 28.10.14

A short distance west of the barrow at East Harling.

The barrow is in the middle of a pig farm (one of many in this part of the world) so I wasn't getting any closer than a view from the road.

I think I saw the barrow as a small rough-grass covered mound. I am not 100% and it could have quite easily been a natural mound.

E.H. have nothing to report.

East Harling Heath (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 28.10.14

South of East Harling, alongside the B1111.

I could just about make out a grass covered mound amid trees and bushes.

E.H. have no comment.

Thetford Castle (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 28.10.14

Eastern side of Thetford - can't miss it!

The Norman motte is huge (apparently the largest medieval earthworks in Britain). The banks and ditches surrounding the motte are also very impressive.
This is the part which includes the earlier Iron Age defences.

The site is in a public park so access is not an issue. An added bonus is the fact there is a play ground to keep the little ones happy while you go exploring!

** Thetford was where they filmed Dads Army. Check out the superb statue of Captain Mainwaring! There is also a museum dedicated to the show which, unfortunately, was closed when I visited.

Emily's Wood (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 28.10.14

West of Grimes Graves, alongside the road but in dense woodland.

A proper search for the barrows would be quite tricky as this appears to be on MOD land and there are warning signs to say the verge is soft so you could get stuck if you pulled over.

I possibly saw one of the barrows as a low overgrown mound amid the trees - but I can't be 100% sure.

E.H. state:
Two bowl barrows visible as earthen mounds. Both approx 1m high x 30m in diameter.

Pepper Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 28.10.14

Just off the A1065, north of Brandon.

As Postie says, the barrow is a big 'un and easy to see from the lane which runs immediately to the south.

As the barrow is in a field of crop (and the other side of a barbed wire fence) I also settled for a view from the road. Worth looking out for.

Howe Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 30.10.14

Alongside the B1085, to the immediate west of Kennett - opposite a public footpath.

There is just about room to squeeze in at the start of the footpath.

Due to the unseasonal nice weather I was still wearing shorts although this soon proved a bit of a problem as I had to wade through knee high nettles. Yes, they did get me!

It was worth it though as the barrow is large and in good condition. It is approximately 3m high x 30m across. E.H. state it is undisturbed which I find strange given it is right next to a road. In fact the northern edge of the barrow has been clipped by the road. Still, I am sure they know best!

There are several trees growing out of the barrow - Scotch Pine and Oak. The barrow is surrounded by fields in crop.

Although parking is a little tricky it is well worth stopping off to see this barrow if you happen to be in the area. If so, also go and see the nearby Moulton Medieval Packhorse Bridge (E.H.) - well worth a visit.

Icklingham (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 31.10.14

South of Icklingham (on the A1101) near a minor road.

I think I saw what is left of this barrow as a very ploughed down 'bump' - alternatively what I saw was natural and the barrow has been completely ploughed out?

Either way E.H. has nothing to report.

Grime's Graves (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Fieldnotes

Visited 29.10.14

Well, I finally managed to get here!

We parked up on the grass field (which doubles for a car park) and made our way to the information centre/museum/shop. Sophie was too young to be allowed down the mine (minimum age 5) although I know she wouldn't have any difficulty getting down. She had to satisfy herself with an ice cream and a DVD of Peppa Pig sat in the car with Karen as myself and Dafydd headed for the entrance to the mine.

I was surprised to find a sort of Potacabin above the entrance as when I have seen the site on TV they always enter via a shaft which requires a hand winched hatch to be opened. (I later discovered that that particular shaft is not open to the public and is on the far side of the field - unless you happen to be Neil Oliver of course!)

We donned our hard hats and climbed down the ladder. There were only two other people there so we didn't need to wait. If you do have to wait there were replica hand axes/arrow heads/scrapers you could examine in the 'Portacabin'. Once at the bottom of the ladder our eyes soon adjusted to the gloom and we took it in turns to duck down and peer through the railings and into the tunnels.

In the main shaft many of the prized blac flints could be easily seen against the backdrop of the white chalk. I was surprised to see ferns growing on the sides of the top of the shaft. I was glad I had my hard hat on as several times I bashed my head on the stones! We were able to spend as long as we wanted at the bottom of the shaft before returning to the surface.

We then headed across the pock-scarred field to explore the 'lumps and bumps'. This is often referred to as being a 'lunar landscape' but to me it just seemed exactly what it was - a post-industrial landscape. Being from South Wales I am used to seeing the scars of industry making their mark on the landscape. This seemed no different.

As we walked back to the car two army helicopters landed soldiers in the field opposite and they then practiced their landing/taking off. Most of the land surrounding Grimes Graves is owned by the MOD.

I am glad I visited Grimes Graves - it is amazing that these ancient places are still with us - and I would certainly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the area. As an added bonus it's another English Heritage site knocked off the list!

South Creake (Plateau Fort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 28.10.14

South-West of South Creake along a minor road.

I wasn't expecting much from this site but I was pleasantly surprised. A decent car park, litter bin, benches/table and information boards. Access from the car park to the fort is via a wooden kissing gate.

Despite being the end of October it felt more like summer. Clear blue sky, warm sunshine and feeling comfortable in shorts and t-shirt.

Although most of the site has been ploughed away (one section survives to a height of about 1.5m) the information boards give a good idea of how it would have looked in its prime.

An RAF jet roared overhead, twisting and turning as the pilot practiced their manouvers. I am sure the inhabitants of the hillfort would have appreciated having one of those when facing the mighty Roman Army!

This is a great example of how a site can be both protected and made accessible for the public to visit Well done to Norfolk Archaeology Trust for their good work. Let's hope other parts of the country follow suite.

Sea Henge (Timber Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 28.10.14

Lynn Museum, Market Street, Kings Lynn
(entrance at the bus station)

Being a big Time Team fan I have wanted to see these timbers ever since the (in)famous 'special'. It's a long way from Cardiff to Kings Lynn but at last I got the chance. I had planned this holiday and booked the hotels months ago but last week my dad passed away at the 'ripe old age' of 93. I know this is a 'good innings' as they say but the sense of grief remains the same. The holiday was therefore nearly cancelled but as there was nothing I could do at home it seemed pointless moping about at home.

From October to March the museum is free to enter which is an added bonus. I was able to buy a leaflet on Seahenge for 50p but was surprised there wasn't something more 'substantial' available to buy. Although they did have several Francis Pryor books on display.

Myself and Dafydd eagerly went through the door marked Seahenge exhibition (unfortunately no audio phones available) and we made our way past the model of one of the Seahenge builders and the reconstructed outside of the timber circle. Although made of fiber glass it does look like real wood to be fair.

We the turned around the corner to see the real thing (well, half of the circle anyway) encased behind glass. The information boards are very good although I was expecting the timbers to be rather larger.

Enclosed in a separate glass case is the mighty upside down tree trunk, complete with hole in order to drag it across the land. The tree trunk is very big, much larger than I was expecting.

There are also several display cabinets showing prehistoric finds from the locality. There are also very good. The rest of the museum covers the Roman period right through to recent times.

The start attraction of the museum of course is Seahenge. It really is very special and well worth the effort involved in getting to see it. Lynn Museum isn't very big and I can see that they have done their best to display the timbers. However, it is a pity that the circle couldn't be displayed in its entirety with the tree trunk in the middle. Perhaps one day this may be possible? I assume the other timbers are safely stored away somewhere?

Do try to visit the museum if you happen to be in the area. It is well worth it.

It seems likely that the upturned tree trunk served as a place for a body to be exposed to the elements in order to be 'prepared' for burial. Last week my father passed away and yesterday I had a 'phone call from my sister to say that he is now at the funeral home being 'prepared' for his funeral next week. It may me think of the emotions the people who built Seahenge must have also been going through.

These notes are dedicated to my dad who I thank for taking me on holiday around this wonderful country of ours whilst I was growing up and hence installing my 'curiosity' to visit places of my own.

Aldringham Green (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.10.14

In the village of Aldringham, on the eastern side of the B1122.

The O/S map shows a public footpath running south-east from the B1122 past the barrows.
In reality it doesn't exist. There is no access through the hedge or past the farm workings.

From the side of the road I could make out one of the barrows as a rough, scrub covered mound.

E.H. state:
Two bowl barrows situated near the edge of a south-west facing slope overlooking the Hundred River. The larger of the two is visible as an earthen mound c.21m in diameter and stands to a height of 1.2m. The second barrow, which lies 7.5m to the south-east of the first, is c.14m in diameter and stands to a maximum height of 0.6m. A slight hollow in the centre marks the site of an old excavation.

Tinker's Walk (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.10.14

Either side of the B1387, the approach road to the village of Walberswick.

For a dead-end road it was surprisingly busy.
However, there is room for a couple of cars to park at the entrance to a bridleway.

I couldn't see anything of the barrow to the north of the road as it is very overgrown woodland and access would be very difficult.

However, the barrow on the southern side of the road (near a rather smelly pig farm) could be seen as a rough grass covered mound.

Not one to go out of your way for.

Church Common (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.10.14

North of the village of Snape, on the southern side of the A1094.

Parking is difficult (a recurring theme so far from my travels in this part of the world) but Karen briefly pulled over so I could have a quick look over the hedge for the barrows.

All I could see was one small area of rough grass.
Was this the remains of one of the barrows?
Or have they now been ploughed out?

Unfortunately E.H. have nothing to report on the matter.

Portal Avenue (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 27.10.14

Near the junction of the A12 / A1214.
South of Woodbridge.

Parking is impossible here so I attempted to see this large barrow by driving past on each of the roads.

Unfortunately the area is overgrown woodland and nothing can be seen - except trees and bushes of course! Perhaps it can be seen in the winter?

E.H. state:
A bowl barrow 2.6m in height and covering an area 30m in diameter.

Dobbs Corner (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 27.10.14

A short distance north of Pole Hill barrow, just south of Woodbridge along a minor road.

After visiting Pole Hill barrow I thought I would have a look for barrows further along the road.

Unfortunately the area consists of very overgrown woodland. I couldn't see anything to be honest.

Parking would be difficult if you fancied crashing your way through the undergrowth to look for the barrows!

There is a further barrow (580m north) at TM2386345885 which I didn't have time to look for.

E.H. state:
Two bowl barrows, standing 1m and 0.8, with a combined length of 24m. The barrows are the only two which survive of a closely spaced group of 6.

Pole Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.10.14

From the minor road which runs to the south there is room to pull in right next to the barrow.

The barrow is quite large (for this area anyway!). Approximately 1.5m high x 20m long.
It is covered by nine trees and surrounded by flat fields in crop.

Well worth seeking out if you happen to be in the area.

North Barn Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 14.10.14

Directly opposite the junction leading from the minor road from Long Bredy onto the A35.

These two very large grass covered barrows are easy to spot. If visiting, a standing stone is a little way to the east along a track.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit the stone. Perhaps next time?

Long Barrow Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 14.10.14

I spotted two barrows whilst driving past - both grass covered mounds.

The O/S map shows several barrows on this hill and two long barrows a little to the south.

There is a lot to see here and a proper visit is in order. Looks like the best place to park would be at the church in Long Bredy. From here a footpath runs north east.

Ridge Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

Next to a minor road off the A352 to the north of Cerne Abbas / west of Buckland Newton.

There is very little to see. I could only spot one of the barrows. Approximately 0.3m high x 5m across.

Don't bother.

E.H. state:
The monument includes two bowl barrows aligned broadly NNW-SSE on the crest of Ridge Hill. Both barrows have been reduced in size by past ploughing. The northern barrow has a mound, now elongated but formerly 8m in diameter, and 0.5m high. The second barrow, approximately 30m to the south west, is now visible only as a slight rise in the ground surface but was formerly 13m in diameter and 0.6m high. Both mounds are surrounded by quarry ditches from which material to construct them was derived. These have become infilled over the years and now survive as buried features approximately 2m wide. The barrows lie within a wider area of prehistoric field system which is not included in the scheduling. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

Longlands (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

There is a large barrow which can be seen on the southern side of the wood south of the the other baoor(s) / long barrow.

I spotted it whilst driving north along the minor road between Portesham and the A35.

Valley of Stones Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

You can pull in at the wooden gate and sign pointing the way to the Valley of Stones.
I didn’t have time to visit the valley but immediately to the right of the gate is an area covered by the dreaded gorse. Amidst the gorse, next to the road, is a gorse covered mound.
It is approximately 1 metre high x 10 metres across. You can’t get too close due to the gorse.

E.H. has nothing to report.

Grey Mare Barrows (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.13

Parking at the start of the private road to Gorwell Farm (room for one car) the barrows are easy to see as low grass mounds in the field the other side of the fence. There is a metal field gate which gives access to the field. This was my starting point for visiting the nearby Grey Mare and her Colts.

E.H. state:
Two bowl barrows 283m SSE of the Grey Mare and her Colts
Two bowl barrows situated on the upper western-facing slopes of a prominent hill, overlooking a dry valley and with distant views to the sea. The barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches, from which the construction material was derived. The western mound measures 29m in diameter and 1.3m high; the eastern mound is 24m in diameter and 1m high.

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Failed visit 14.10.14

I am gutted about failing to find the stone circle.

We managed to arrange a short two-day break away (without the children!) on the south coast.

This was due to be the first ‘major’ site on my itinerary for the two days but due to the awful weather I rescheduled the plans which basically meant we did things in reverse order. So, instead of being the first site to visit it became the last – which (at least partly) was the reason for my failure.

It was not clear from the map which was the best route to the circle. From the south or from the north?
It looked about the same distance walk so I opted for the approach from the south as I would be able to take in the Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. (Despite being an E.H. site they give no information on the best way to approach the circle – despite an e-mail to them requesting advice). Unfortunately I had not read dickie's directions beforehand – mistake.

After visiting the Grey Mare I continued north through the fields (but not as I should have done along the bridleway). After crossing the first field I was met by a large field in crop. I was able to walk part-way into the field along a track but there was no way through it without causing damage – something I wasn’t prepared to do. I re-traced my steps but could find no other way past the field of crop.

Due to time constraints I discounted the longer walk past Gorwell Farm as I needed a more direct route.
I decided to return to the car and attempt an approach from the north. We weaved our way through the maze of unsignposted lanes and followed the road as far as we could. Unfortunately about 1 mile before where the O/S map shows the road ends and the footpath starts the road turns into a very rough track – suitable only for 4x4s.
I simply didn’t have time for this extra walk as we had to get back for the children. I was very, very disappointed.

The next time I visit I will take the rout via Gorwell Farm. Although it may be longer than dickie's directions it involves the shortest distance ‘off road’. Given my poor orientation skills this probably gives me the best chance of success!

I would be happy to hear the advice of others who have visited as to which is the best route to take.

I guess you win some, you lose some………………… Still gutted though!

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

Park at the start of the private road to Gorwell farm (room for one car).
Directly in front of you is a bridleway. Walk along the bridleway (high hedge on your left) until you reach a wooden stile. Go over the stile, turn right and walk a short distance until you reach a metal gate on your left. **This is NOT the gate you see immediately after going over the stile**. You will see the long barrow from the gate.

As has previously been reported, despite its ruined state, there is a lot to recommend a visit.
The standing / fallen facing stones are very large and there are sufficient remains of the earthen part of the long barrow to easily make the shape out. Far away in the distance the coastline and sea can be seen. On my visit the field was full of sheep that seemed quite at home nestled down amongst the stones – until I disturbed them!

Despite the damage caused to it the long barrow has somehow retained a sense of ‘atmosphere’.
It only takes about 5 minutes to walk to the Grey Mare and it is well worth the minimum effort required.

Sheep Down Long Barrow — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

As formicaant states the long barrow is easy to visit (being close to the minor road running south from the A35 to Portesham) but there is not much to see.

It has now been reduced to a long low grass mound.

Still worth a look when in the area.

Sheep Down (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

I was able to spot 3 barrows when driving along the minor road to the east. They appeared as rough grass covered mounds.

Access to the barrows can be made via a farm track leading from the road.

Bottlebush Down (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Driving along the B3081 I could spot two of the barrows showing on the O/S map.

Both are rough grass covered mounds.
One is right next to the road and the other is further into a field.
Parking would be difficult on this busy road.

Oakley Down (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Several of the barrows making up this cemetery can be seen when driving along the very busy A354.
Parking would be a problem if opting for a closer look.

Lanceborough King Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Viewed from Maiden Castle 14.10.14

This is a very large barrow and can be easily seen on the road leading to Maiden Castle car park and from the car park itself. However, the best view is from above, from the ramparts of Maiden Castle.

I am not sure which direction to take if you wanted a closer look as the barrow is surrounded by fields in crop. As far as I know there is no public right of way to the barrow.

Maiden Castle (Dorchester) (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

I had previously visited this iconic site a few years ago but then I was short of time and only had chance to explore a short section of the mightily impressive ramparts. This time would be different as it is a morning visit and I could take my time – allowing for the fact that Karen would be waiting for me sat in the car!

It is a 5 minute walk from the car park, up the path, and through an original entrance of the hillfort. You then come to the first of several information boards scattered around the site. This directs your attention to the surviving low bank of what is left of the long barrow. This would be very easy to miss if you weren’t specifically looking out for it.

The rain (thankfully) had eased today and I was able to walk around (in a clockwise direction) in comfort. Although the skies were a menacing grey there was little wind and the temperature was very mild for the time of year. There were only two other people visiting the site, one was walking her dog and the other looked like a student who was making notes and sketches as she walked around.

The ramparts are superb and must have looked amazing in their prime, topped with a huge wooden palisade. Even the mighty Roman army must have been (at least a bit) intimidated when confronting this hillfort - although we all know the eventual outcome! The hillfort dominates the surrounding countryside and as you walk around the defences there are good views to be had in every direction.

As I walked around I spotted 3 circular shapes in the grass, given away by a ring of darker grass. Were these the outlines of huts? They certainly looked to be about the right size. My next stop was the information board at the remains of the Roman temple – well worth a look.

I then stopped at the eastern entrance to the hillfort where I feel the defences are at their most impressive. (This is the section of the site I explored on my previous visit).
The two information boards (one broken) explain about the complex defences and the discovery of the pit of sling shots and mass grave found here. I was also able to spot what looked like the remains of a round barrow.

I continued my walk around the site until I ended up back where I started. Walking back down towards the car park the large barrow in the fields beyond looked particularly impressive. It took me just over an hour to complete the circular walk. There are worse ways to spend an hour of your life. When I got back to the car Karen had fallen asleep so I gave her a bit of a fright when I opened the car door!

This is a famous E.H. site but it has not been commercialised (like others) and you can happily wander about the hillfort pretty much wherever and whenever you want. I have visited many hillforts over the years but in terms of sheer scale and impressiveness there is nothing to compare with Maiden Castle.

This is one of those sites which is worth travelling a long way to see. If you get the chance to visit, do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Cowdown Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

North of Newton Barrow on the western side of the A360.

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Despite these being nowhere to park the barrow can be easily seen when driving past.

It is approximately 1 metre high x 10 metres across.

Winterbourne Stoke Long Barrow — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

After visiting the new visitor centre at Stonehenge I kept an eye out for this longbarrow on our way south. I have known about this site for a long time but had never actually seen it. I am pleased to say that it is very easy to spot when driving past. There is no chance of parking near the longbarrow. I am not sure where the closest parking would be – the visitor centre main car park perhaps?

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

Visited 13.10.14

Since the closing of the road / opening of the new visitor’s centre I had been keen to re-visit Stonehenge. Not to look at the stones but the new exhibition centre.

The visitor’s centre is very easy to access and looked quite impressive on the approach to the large car park. Despite the foul weather the car park had several coaches and many cars already parked up. Several groups of school children excitedly waited with their teachers for their turn to board one of the land trains.

Karen went for a much needed coffee whilst I headed for the ticket booth. The lady looked a little surprised when I said I only wanted a ticket for the exhibition centre and not to see the stones themselves but a ticket was duly issued. It is nearly £20.00 per adult to see the stones and exhibition – I have no idea how much it would be to just see the exhibition. Fortunately I have a CADW card so admission was free for me.

As you enter the building you first come to a 360 degree surround visual display of what it is like to be in the centre of the stones at the mid-summer / mid-winter solstice. The film is run on a loop and I thought it was well done although it only lasts a few minutes (ship ‘em in – ship ‘em out) came to mind.

From here you enter the main exhibition room which has another large visual presentation along the far wall and several displays along the other walls. There are (I think) 8 free standing glass display cabinets in the centre of the room which were really interesting. I particularly liked the pretty ‘ceremonial’ mace head. The ‘reconstructed’ head of the controversial skeleton on display is excellent and very life-like. I spent quite a long time moving slowly from cabinet to cabinet.
There is a lot to see – pottery, bone tools, stone tools, flint arrow heads, flint scrapers etc.

I then went out the back door to have a look around the reconstructed round houses. The rain continued to pour and as such there were few people about. The replica (fiberglass) megalith on the wooden sledge was impressive and gives a good idea of the scale involved in moving these massive stones. You can even test your strength in trying to move it!

There was a private event going on in one of the huts and a flint knapping demonstration in another. I spent a bit of time chatting to an E.H. chap in the other round house who explained to me how they built the hut and showed me the clever way they made the door. A small mouse scuttled past – not a bad place to live!

I then headed for the café to meet up with Karen and we finished our visit with a look around the shop. The shop is much bigger than the old one and you can buy just about anything with a Stonehenge theme – a Stonehenge snow globe anyone? Some of the prices were eye watering and clearly aimed at the overseas market – an engraved glass vase £500.00, a limited edition teddy bear for £110.00………. I decided not to bother!

All in all I was very impressed with the new visitor centre and it is certainly much better than the old one. However, I did come away with a few negatives.
Firstly, with the exception of the chap I was speaking to in the round house, all the staff I encountered seemed quite miserable? There was little interaction with visitors and very few smiles to be seen. Everything seemed a bit much trouble. I know not everyone is happy in the job all the time but it is a lot of money to visit Stonehenge so a smile and a friendly face wouldn’t go amiss!

Also, when we were sat in the café we looked outside to see children trying to keep out of the rain (and keep warm) whilst eating their sandwiches. Why hasn’t E.H. provided a ‘school room’ where children can eat their sandwiches in the warm and dry on days like today? I am sure Stonehenge generates enough income to pay for one. Most large ‘attractions’ (which is what Stonehenge is) have these facilities. Perhaps I am doing a disservice and they do have one but I didn’t see it?

Even if you have been before the new visitor centre / exhibition room makes Stonehenge a place to re-visit. Just make sure you take plenty of money with you.

Marden Henge (and Hatfield Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

I first visited this site a few years ago but on that occasion I was in a rush and I (somehow) missed the information board. I had been meaning to revisit ever since.

This time I had Karen with me and it didn’t take her long to spot the info board. It is the other side of a wooden stile giving access from the road to the small field owned by English Heritage.
The heavy rain didn't help when trying to read the information.

As has previously been said there is very little left of the henge to see - a low, arcing grass bank.

Although what remains of the henge obviously needs to be protected I am not sure why E.H. has this site on their advertised list of ‘places to visit’.

It is a bit out of the way and I am sure the average visitor would be somewhat disappointed by what they find.

There are certainly other much better preserved henges people could visit and appreciate.

Newton Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

There is room to park off the very busy A360 at the start of the track which leads to the transmitter aerials. The barrow is a short distance along the track.

Not a lot to see other than the usual low grass mound.

Can be seen quite easily when driving past.

New Barn Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Just south of Knowlton Henge, on the east side of the B3078

The barrow is easily seen from the road as a tree and bush covered mound.

The barrow is approximately 2 metres high x 25 metres across.

Wimborne St. Giles (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

South of Cranborne near the junction of the B3081 / B3078.

There are several barrows marked on the O/S map either side of the B3081 and in woodland adjacent to the B3078.

The bad news is I couldn’t spot any of the barrows marked as being in open fields to the west of the trees. Ploughed out?

The good news is there are two whopping barrows to be seen directly opposite each other, in trees, on the B3081. There is room to park next to the trees / metal gates.
(Ignore the private – no public access sign!)

Both barrows are very large, approximately 3 metres high x 15 metres across.
The surfaces of both barrows are covered in ivy. There is a small depression in the top of the northern barrow which may indicate previous excavation? I didn’t spot any depressions in the southern barrow but chances are it has been dug into at some point.

If you happen to be in the area these are a cracking pair of barrows to have a look at.
The only thing to spoil the visit was the rubbish dumped at the side of the road. (I thought I was back home in South Wales for a minute!)

For some reason I couldn’t find any E.H. information on these barrows – which seemed strange given their size and close proximity to the road.

The Great Barrow (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

When visiting Knowlton Henge the barrow is unmissable.
It is in a private field next to the henge (full of sheep at the time) and does not have a public right of way to it. The field is overlooked by a farm house who I assume own the field?

If you want to access the field for a closer look it is easy over a low metal fence.
I chose to view from the henge as there didn’t seem much to gain from getting closer – other than perhaps an upset farmer?

The barrow is large but totally overgrown with several large trees and many bushes.
I would imagine climbing to the top of it would be tricky.

Knowlton Henges — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

Sign posted off the B3078. You can park right next to the site.

This is one of those sites that I had been looking forward to visiting for a long time.
I am pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed – despite the heavy rain coming down.
(At least I had the site to myself!)

This is pretty much as easy a henge you are ever likely to visit. It has obviously suffered from erosion over the years but it is still in pretty good condition. It must have been very impressive when first constructed.

What surprised me was the old yew tree at the far side of the henge which was covered in clooties, bells, feathers, messages etc. Some of the messages were quite moving. It is nice that some people keep the old traditions alive.

The ruined church is also an obvious place to have a look around.
Inside the church were many tea lights scattered about the floor.

Knowlton Henge is well worth visiting if you are in the area.

That’s another English Heritage site knocked off the list!

Pen-Rhiw-Wen (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

East of Llyswen – near the A470 / A4079 junction. South of Builth Wells.

On the road near Boughrood there are two places to park. Either outside the pub (which has a warning notice advising that parking is for patrons only) or at the school. As I was driving from Boughrood I didn’t know about the pub parking so chose to park at the school. As the children were in school I don’t suppose this was a good idea as you have to be careful these days in case people get the wrong idea.

I crossed the road and headed for the newly installed wooden gate and the newly cleared footpath going up the hill. The path was very muddy despite the nice weather – a dry stream bed ran alongside the path – no doubt in full flow in wet weather!

At the top of the path a stile on the left leads you into a field. You then have to walk up the very, very steep field until you reach the trees and the next stile. By the time I reached the stile I was hot, sweaty and panting – not as young as I used to be!

The people renovating the footpath have clearly not reached this far yet as there is no trace of a path through the overgrown trees. I battled my way through heading in a north-west direction. As luck would have it I came out at the right place – next to another stile. From here the enclosure could be easily seen on the other side of a barbed wire fence. The banks are overgrown with trees but easy enough to make out.
What would be great views are completely blocked by the trees.

I didn’t stay long as I was conscious of my car being parked at the school and I knew it was nearly lunch time. Time to go before any awkward questions are asked!

You need to be mobile and fairly fit to visit this site.
Best park somewhere more sensible as well.

COFLEIN state:
A roughly oval enclosure, 90m by 100m, defined by double banks and ditches, which merge into scarps on the east, downhill side.

Tre Durn Wood (Enclosure) — Miscellaneous

Mid way between Llandefalle and Llanfilo – just north of the A438.

After visiting the lovely old church of St Matthew in Lladefalle (complete with fragments of mediaeval wall painting) I attempted to visit this nearby enclosure.

Unfortunately I hadn’t allowed for the very narrow roads with little to no passing or parking places. It was dodgy enough parking at the church, certainly not a place to leave your car for too long.

There is no public right of way to the site and a visit to Tre Durn would involve a long walk from wherever you were able to park. Something I didn’t have time for as I was keen to visit the not too distant Hills Camp Hillfort.

Pen-yr-Allt (Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

200m west of Hills Camp Hillfort.

When visiting Hills Camp you just have to visit Pen-yr-Allt at the same time. You can either access via the road or if (like me) you prefer the direct approach you do have to cross boggy ground and a barbed wire fence.

The remains of the low bank (less than 1m) is surmounted by trees although is easily seen. There are plenty of stones sticking out of the bank to show how it was constructed.

COFLEIN state:
A poorly preserved hillfort set upon a ridge top. It appears to be a shield shaped enclosure, 60m by 45m, the flat side facing south. The enclosure is defined by banks and ditches, except where it rests above precipitious natural slopes on the west.

Hillis Camp, Llanfilo (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

Looking at my previous notes this was again to be my last site of the day. I wanted to first visit the old church in Llanfilo but the door was locked and the key holder was not at home when I knocked. This was a shame as the church has an apparently particularly fine rood screen and pre-Norman font.

I left the car outside the church and decided to walk to the site as I didn’t know what the parking was going to be like any closer. As it turned out I could have driven up the hill, through the trees, along the minor road which runs along the north of the hillfort. By now the sun had come out and it went from humid to hot. It would have certainly saved my tired legs a walk but there we are…………….

Although, technically speaking, there is no public right of way to the site in reality there are several points of access from the road. Best bet is to walk to the top of the hill and then up and over one of the metal field gates. It is then only a short walk across a flat field.

The is not a huge amount to see here as the rampart surrounding the hillfort is completely overgrown by trees and bushes. Although in places you could see it still stood to a height of approx. 2m when viewed from the outside. The inside of the hillfort is an oval open field of pasture. A trig point is located in the middle of the site. Good views are to be had over towards the Black Mountains? to the east.
There is not much else I can add really.

Not too much to recommend a visit unless you planned to combine it with a visit to the church perhaps?

Boughrood Court (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From the A470 (south of Builth Wells) take the turning for Boughrood. Go over the bridge and take the first turning left. Drive past the church and take the immediate left turn. The barrow is in a field on your left – next to a hedgerow.

There is nowhere to park other than next to the field gate which gives access to the field. Even then you would be probably blocking this narrow road. I decided not to take the chance and settled for a quick look from the gate.

There is not much to say about the barrow. It is now a ploughed down mound.
Not one to go out of your way to visit.

COFLEIN state:
A mound, 17m in diameter and 1.1m high.

Maesgwyn Mound (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From Paincastle take the minor road south across open moorland. You will come to a small N.T. sign on the left (east) of the road stating ‘The Begwns’. There is loads of room to park on the grass near the sign. Head up the slope to the highest point, keeping the dry stone wall on your right. When you reach the top you will see the barrow as a large fern covered mound on your left.

Although the sky was overcast it was very close and humid. It was certainly warm for the time of year and thankfully dry underfoot. It is only a short walk from the road to the barrow.

It was very peaceful with no wind and only the sound of bird song for company. There are good views to be had although today the surrounding hills were surrounded in mist.

The centre of the barrow had been clearly dug into and the crater left is about 1.5m deep – pretty much the height of the barrow itself. The barrow is overgrown with ferns, as is its immediate surroundings.

This is a good place to visit – particularly on a day like today.

COFLEIN state:
A centrally disturbed mound, 22m by 17m and 1.8m high. Believed to have been opened prior to WW2. There is a tradition of an urn being discovered here’.
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I have visited both historic and prehistoric sites for a number of years but since 'discovering' this website my visits have spiralled out of control!
I am now out 'exploring' as often as possible and have been to many wonderful places I didn't even know existed before using this website.
Having visited all the CADW sites I am now trying to visit all the E.H. sites and as many H.S. sites as possible.
In trying to achieve these goals I get to travel all around the country and with it the chance to visit as many sites as possible mentioned on this fine website. I hope some of you find my contributions a little helpful?
I have certainly found the contributions made by others to be both very informative and often quite amusing!
I must also mention the lovely Karen whom without her help, encouragement and understanding I would not be able to visit half of the places I do.
I am forever grateful.

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