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

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The Bridestones (Burial Chamber) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.15

East of Congleton along minor roads.

The two large upright stones are easy to see from the road and we parked outside the (posh) appropriately named Bridestone House (up for sale if you are interested!) We didn't park in the lane next to the stones as it gives access to Bridestone Natural Stone suppliers and judging by the amount of mud on the road it sees a lot of use. We didn't want to risk blocking a lorry etc.

Anyway, I walked up the lane (in the rain) and through the wooden gate. Next to the gate is a prostrate large moss covered stone - is this from the burial chamber? It is certainly large enough to have been?

The site appears to have been restored at some point with one of the large (approx 3 metre) having been cemented back together again. Having said that, the site is certainly impressive and offers fine views west over Congleton and the surrounding low lying area.

I had the place to myself and am glad to report no sign of litter or barking dogs! This is an excellent place to visit and well worth stopping off for when in the area. Pity about the rain!

Marton Church (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.15

On the A34 - north of Congleton - can't miss it!

We parked in the large car park next to the church. From the car park the mound upon which the church is built is very noticeable.

Luckily the church was open and I had a good look around. There are some medieval wall paintings to be seen as well as two worn stone effigies of knights in armor. The leaflet I picked up stated that in the village there is an oak tree which is believed to be 1,200 years old - possibly the oldest in England. Unfortunately we didn't have time to look for it.

I like an old church and this is a good one.
Well worth stopping off for - particularly given its prehistoric roots.

St Weonard's Tump (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.6.15

On the A466, north of Monmouth.

St Weonard’s is only a small village and it is easy to spot the church. We parked outside the church and bought a sunflower from the church’s ‘honesty table’. (That morning we discovered a slug had eaten Sophie’s sunflower she had from school and was very upset so this was a ‘must buy’!) I like ‘honesty tables’ and try to buy from them as much as possible. It restores my faith in humankind. The church is pretty and well worth a look around. There is a 15thC wooden chest and some kind of wooden stretcher which I assume was used for carrying coffins? I like an old church………..

Anyway, onto the Tump. It is easily found, just outside the church, next to the primary school. There is a pavement which runs around the base of it. Two ends have a fence around it (part of someone’s garden?) but the main bit is open from the pavement. It is very large and completely covered in trees, bushes, nettles etc. The sides are steep and the soil loose. When I climbed up the soil was giving way with each step. Due to the trees there is no view to be had but I suspect when the Norman fort was built it would have commanded the surrounding area.

If you happen to be in the area it is well worth stopping off for. I would strongly suggest combining a visit with the not-to-far away Kilpeck Church, with its fantastic carvings and famous Sheela Na Gig.

Thornborough Mounds (Bucks) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25.5.15

Just south of the village of Thornborough on the A507. The car park is sign posted.

My last site visit of our weekend away and what a good one it was!

Despite the constant hum of traffic on the very busy A507 this is a pretty place to stop off. Adjacent to the car park is the medieval bridge which the information board state was built in 1400. This crosses a pretty little stream/river which is full of reeds and life. I do like an old bridge – but that’s another story!

Next to this is a wooden kissing gate which gives access to the field where the two barrows reside. They are HUGE. Approximately 5m high x 25m across, and both seem to be in good condition. There was no sign of the tyre tracks previously reported. The information board states the barrows were constructed in approximately 200AD. Other than the sheep and lambs I had the place to myself.

This is a really easy site to access and the barrows are very impressive. The river / bridge is a very pretty setting and well worth stopping off for. The only down side was the rubbish dumped in the car park by some low life or other. An old fridge, wardrobe, microwave etc.
What is wrong with these people? :(

Clothall (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

Approximately 3km south east out of Baldock on the A507

‘Drive by’ 24.5.15

There was nowhere to park on the busy A507 so I had to settle for a drive-by.

The fields were in crop and I couldn’t make anything out. This could have been due to the crop or perhaps the barrow has been ploughed out? E.H. have nothing to say on the matter.

No doubt a winter visit is required? If you do plan a visit I suggest parking at the church in Clothall and approach via the public right of way from that direction.

Waulud's Bank (Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25.5.15

Next to the 3 horse shoes roundabout, near the train station.
Plenty of parking available.

We found the site with surprisingly little difficulty. Karen stayed in the car (Dafydd now watching a DVD on the ancient Greeks whilst Sophie was enjoying Annie).

I first walked up to the (naturally) vandalised information board and read it as best I could. I then headed up the grass bank which is part of the perimeter of the enclosure. Let’s be honest, this is not the nicest of places. The urban sprawl of Luton represents (to me) all that is bad in modern day ‘progress’. It is not a pretty sight.

However, this small oasis does at least provide some respite from the dreariness of the surroundings. The further you walk into the field the better it seems. Car noise is replaced by bird song and (if you try hard enough) you can start to forget about the ‘progress’. At least there was no litter to be seen – which was another surprise.

From the top of the bank you can appreciate what an elevated position this is - IF you can erase the modern buildings etc this would have been a locally prominent location. I was able to trace large sections of the bank across the grass and out of the trees. This would have been a very large area.

There is not a huge amount to see here and to be honest had the site not appeared in Julian’s big orange book the chances are I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to visit. However, this is an important site and as such is worth the effort. I am glad I visited but not a place I am likely to make a return visit.

Earl's Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.5.15

Although a little distant from the main group of barrows Earl’s Hill barrow is easy enough to spot. An obvious thing to look for is the metal bench perched on top! It is next to the tee-off for the 18th (350 yards Par 4 – if you are interested).

The view from this large barrow is not as good as the main group due to the large factory / industrial site and new housing estate being built below. On the plus side the sun had finally broken out from behind the clouds and a warm glow of sunshine enveloped me.

I note 12 years have passed since Kammer visited. I would encourage other TMAers not to wait so long to pay a visit.

Therfield Heath Long Barrow — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.5.15

Once you arrive at the main group of round barrows the long barrow is easy to spot on the fairway of the adjacent golf course – 18th hole? It is larger than I expected, approximately 2m high x 30m long and looked to be in good condition. I know golf courses are not everyone’s cup of tea but at least they should offer some sort of protection to sites – excluding divots of course! I find it quite amazing that this long barrow was perhaps 2,000 years old when the ancestors decided to build their round barrows.
Makes you think – well, makes me think anyway!

The Five Hills (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.5.15

Just off the A505, west of Royston. Large (free) car park.

Karen stayed in the car to keep an eye on the children (who were busy watching DVDs – Dafydd a documentary on the Vikings / Sophie Peppa Pig!) whilst I headed up the obvious ‘chalk path’ towards the barrows which are easily seen from the car park.

Despite being overcast, it was quite warm with only a little breeze. Surprisingly for a bank holiday there were no golf players around so I didn’t have to worry about stray golf balls hitting me!

The three larger barrows are approximately 2.5m high x 20 across, the smaller ones approximately 1.5m high x 10m across. The 'missing barrow' Kammer refers to is possibly either a very small barrow next to the long barrow? On the other hand it may not be! Although one barrow showed clear damage caused by previous ‘excavation’ the others all appeared to be in good order.

There are good views to be had from the top of the barrows north and west.

The O/S map shows a couple of other barrows to the east and a further barrow across the road on the other side of the car park. Unfortunately I decided I didn’t have enough time to visit these as I felt I had been gone too long as it was. Which proved to be the right judgment call given Karen’s response when I did eventually arrive back at the car! It is surprising how quickly time can pass when you immerse yourself in a site.

This is an excellent place to visit and well worth the minimal effort. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time!

Standon Pudding Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.5.15

Next to Paper Mill Lane (near the church). Can't really miss it. Plenty of parking.

My second 'Pudding Stone' in as many days! This one is even better than the first. It has a nice setting on a small green, next to a lovely oak tree. An information board and bench have been kindly provided. The stone sits on a conical flint built stand - nicely done.

Standon is a very pretty village with an attractive church. This, coupled with the stone itself, makes it a good place to visit if you happen to be in the area.

Six Hills (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.5.15

Next to Six Hills roundabout, near junction 7 of the A1 (M).

I would guess that parking is tricky here during the 'working week' but as it was evening time on a bank holiday Sunday I had no such problems. We parked in the empty Kings Court office complex.

I am pleased to say the cycle tracks across the top of the barrows previously reported are no longer there. All six barrows are fully grassed over although four of them are suffering from rabbit burrow damage - one in particular. I know rabbits are cute but something needs to be done here before too much damage occurs.

The barrows are very impressive, approximately 3 metres high x 10 metres across. Most have the tell-tale depression in the top of earlier excavations.

It is amazing that the barrows have survived. This is a very built up 'modernized' area with office blocks, DIY centres and duel carrigeways. we should be thankful that planning permission now (for all its faults) offers far more protection than it ever used to, otherwise these fine monuments would be but a memory.

I wonder what the builders would think if they were transported forward in time until today and see how much has changed - yet their monuments remain.

This is an excellent site to visit although I would suggest a weekend / evening visit when parking will be a lot easier.

Robin Hood's Arbour (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.5.15

Come off the A404 at junction 9B. Take first exit at small roundabout onto Henley Road (north). Then take the first right into Pinkey Road and after 200m you will find a N.T. car park on the left (Pinkey Wood). Park here, walk back to Henley road and turn right (north). You will then come to a turning on the left which goes under the A404. Immediately the other side is a bridleway on the left. Take this and continue walking south along a path which runs parallel to the A404. Take any of the paths to the right which will lead you to the site.

Although this may sound long and complicated it is only a 15 minute walk from the car park to Robin's place. (Although I doubt the famous Mr Hood ever set foot here!).

I was initially attracted to this site as it appears on the AA road atlas map. How the AA chooses which sites to put on their map is another mystery altogether! Although I am surprised these are the first field notes to appear.

The site is easy to miss and if the ferns were any higher of the N.T. hadn't erected a handy sign I would have probably walked straight past it.

There is not a lot to see. A low circular bank at most 1m high (most of it less than this) and a shallow ditch.

If you are looking for somewhere to have a nice walk through the trees then this is a good place to come (it is very pretty) but if it is substantial prehistoric remains you are after then this isn't! Still, at least it is still with us so that can't be such a bad thing :)

Church Hill Camp (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.5.14

With children in tow we opted for the (sometimes rough) drive up the hill, past the infamous Hell Fire Club caves, and parked in the large car park at the top of the hill, next to the church of St Lawrence.

There were several dog walkers about on this overcast but warm day and myself, Dafydd and Sophie headed towards the church, passing the large boulder on the way.

The church itself was locked and looking around the graveyard there wasn't (at first glance) much to see. However, it didn't take long to get your 'eye in' and the familiar low circular inner face of the rampart could be made out.

We then went back outside and walked down the path to the left (when facing the church). It was then that the true preservation of the ditches/ramparts became apparent - approximately 2m high. We rummaged about in the undergrowth and in places (which were worn by recent human feet) you could see how the bank was made up of lumps of chalk and flint.

There was a N.T. sign erected which said the site is going to be cleared of trees to improve the view across the landscape. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not?

Despite initial reservations I am glad I visited this site. If you do plan a visit, watch your suspension when you near the car park!

Pudding Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.5.15

Easy to spot, next to the main roundabout when driving through Princes Riseborough. It is outside a toilet block, next to a newsagent. There is plenty of parking available.

The stone is a little less than 1m square and moss has started to grow around its top.

It is good to see that this stone is appreciated by the locals and has been given the presentation it deserves.

Well worth a look when in the area.

Farhill Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.4.15

Approximately 1km south of Barrow Elm Farm barrow.

Due to time constraints (and the fact the field was in crop) I opted to observe the barrow from the roadside. There is no public access to the site. Parking is on the grass verge.

The barrow is next/in a hedgerow. It is approximately 1.5m high x 15m in diameter. The barrow is overgrown and has two trees growing out of the top. Worth looking out for.

For some reason E.H. doesn’t appear to have anything to report.

Barrow Elm Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.4.15

On a crossroads about 1km south-east of the village of Coln St Aldwyns

Access is easy.
You can park on the grass verge and the barrow is right next to the road, the other side of the hedge.
There appears to be a depression where it has been dug into although E.H. states there is no evidence of excavation. No doubt they are right and I am wrong!.
Worth a quick look if you happen to be passing but don’t go out of your way.

E.H. state:
‘A round barrow immediately north of the Salt Way. The barrow measures 19m east-west by 15m north-south and is 1.5m high. The barrow is thought to have been the meeting point of Brightwold’s Hundred, known as ‘La Berge near Hatherop’, although this identification has not been proven’.

Broadfield Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.4.15

(I didn't realise I had been here before!)

There is plenty of room to park next to the metal field gate.

There is no public access to the field where the barrow resides so Karen stayed in the car whilst I hopped over the locked metal gate. Across the field and then over a wooden gate and the remains of the barrow can be seen in the corner of the field to your right. There is a low barbed wire fence which surrounds the barrow – easy to step over.

The whole corner of the field is covered in nettles and I was wearing shorts! However, at this time of year they were only a few inches high so I felt confident I would be ok. What I didn’t allow for was the unseen rabbit holes which are everywhere. The first I knew was when my left leg disappeared down a hole to knee height and I fell flat on the nettles! My legs were a bright red and itching like mad – cue a desperate search for dock leaves! It could have been worse as at least I didn’t injure myself.

I now carefully walked over to the barrow for a closer look. Unfortunately the barrow is well mangled and has clearly been dug into at some point – and I don’t just mean by the many rabbits who now call it home. The barrow is covered in nettles and if you came in the summer access would be much more difficult. When I got back to the car and told Karen of my woes she said I would get no sympathy as I wasn’t supposed to be in the field in the first place! Also, a couple of passing farmers had given her the ‘evil eye’ whilst I was gone. Worth a look if you are very keen and happen to be in the area.

E.H. state:
‘A bowl barrow set on top of a ridge 335m south of Broadfield Farm. The barrow measures 27m in diameter by 1.65m high’.

Bowldown Wood (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.4.15

A short distance north of Westonbirt arboretum.

It was Karen’s birthday and as a treat we decided to have a day in the lovely Cotswolds. Of course, if we just happen to be passing a site it wouldn’t harm to have a quick look………..........

There is a wooden gate and a public footpath sign. You can park on the verge opposite. There is very little to see, just a minor ‘bump’ in the grass field. It didn’t look 0.6m high to me. Don’t bother.

E.H. state:
‘Two bowl barrows arranged on an east-west axis and situated on sloping ground. The western barrow, a mound composed of small stones, is 25m x 0.6m high. The eastern barrow, also composed of small stones, is 22m x 0.25m’

Rillaton Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

On our way back to the car after visiting the Cheesewring, I was keen to visit Rillaton Barrow – home of the famous gold cup. It took a little time to spot as the ground is very uneven and despite being a fair size the barrow is not at all obvious.

However, find it we did. It has now been reduced to a mangled grass covered mound. A large hole has been dug into it in the past, no doubt how they unearthed the cup in the first place. Clearly an important person was buried here and the barrow would have been a substantial size when first built.

I am glad that I managed to find and visit this famous barrow. I will always think of it when I see a photo of the cup. Try to visit it if you are on your way to/from the Cheesewring.

The Cheesewring (Rocky Outcrop) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

The Cheesewring is the prominent landmark when in the Minions area and is well worth the walk for a closer look and exploration. From the Hurlers stone circles the Cheesewring looks quite far you can walk it in about 15 minutes, although you do need to be fairly mobile to clamber up onto the rock outcrops.

Both myself and Dafydd enjoyed scrambling around the rocks and the views are excellent in all directions. From the top of the rocks you get a great ‘bird’s eye’ view of the collapsed circular stone wall which surrounds the Iron Age site.
I am not so sure Karen would have approved of Dafydd being up here with me but is it quite safe as long as you are sensible about things.

Daniel Gumb's House — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

I thought we would have difficulty spotting this site but as luck would have it we literally walk right past it. When approaching the Cheesewring look for the barbed wire fence – there to stop you falling over the edge into the quarry! Mr Gumb’s house can be found just below the fence line – quite easy to spot.

Dafydd was keen to go into the house but was only able to do so a little way as it has largely collapsed. In a book I have there is an old photo of the house and it is clear that when the photo was taken you could go a fair way inside. The year’s have not been kind to Daniel’s house. Perhaps someone will restore it?

Well worth looking out for when visiting the Cheesewring.

The Pipers (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.14

Very easy to spot when visiting the stone circles.
When looking towards the Cheeswring they are to your left, near the track.
To my untrained eye they didn’t look ‘old’ but they do perfectly frame the Cheesewring.
Worth looking out for.

Minions Mound (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

Had it not been for Mr Hamhead's notes I would have had no idea it was there!
Very easy to miss as it just looks like part of a garden wall.
Nothing much to see but it is nice to know that the barrow has survived.

The Hurlers (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

We parked in the large car park (free) and Karen decided to go for a walk to try to find a café with the girls whilst myself and Dafydd headed in the opposite direction to visit the famous stone circles. It is only a 5 minute walk over flat moorland – very easy to access. Due to the great weather we had had all week the ground was dry underfoot with the crisp grass crunching under our feet.

There was a sign saying that filming was taking place and apologies for any disruption. We never saw anyone near the circles and we later learnt (via the landlord at the pub where Karen got her coffee from) that the filming was for a ‘period costume drama’ and was taking place on open moorland nearer the Cheesewring.

We walked around the circles (Dafydd trying to count the stones) before making our way towards the Cheesewring itself.

The Hurlers are easy to access and well worth a visit when in the area. As a bonus it’s another English Heritage site ticked off the list!

Merrivale Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.4.15

It is only a short walk from the stone rows to the circle. The tall (over head height) outliner can be seen from the rows but not the stones forming the circle itself.

I counted 11 stones and walked (as I always seem to do) in an anti-clockwise direction around them, touching each stone I passed (something else I always seem to do)

This is a nice, rather than spectacular, stone circle and is well worth visiting. One piece of the complicated prehistoric jigsaw that is Merrivale.

Across the way (other side of B3357) I suddenly noticed a large black cloud of smoke. A fire had somehow broken out (I didn’t see anyone) and was spreading through the tinder dry bracken. Fortunately it soon burnt itself out before too much damage was done.

Merrivale is yet another fantastic ‘must see’ site in the Devon / Cornwall border area.

First TMA notes for this site in 9 years?
How very odd.

The Plague Market At Merrivale (Multiple Stone Rows / Avenue) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.4.15

On the B3357 (east of Tavistock). Not sign posted but large parking area.

It was hot in the car and it was good to get out in the fresh air and stretch our legs. I led the children up the slope which soon brought us out onto the two stone rows. I rarely get the chance to visit a stone row so I was particularly looking forward to visiting Merrivale.

The stone rows certainly didn’t disappoint. The children opted to take their shoes and socks off and play in the leat whilst I walked the entire length of both rows – something I am sure most people who visit this site does! I imagine that it wet weather the ground would be quite boggy – but not today. The larger stones at the end of each row are an obvious start/finish point for whatever activities were once carried out here?

The cist in the middle of the southern row is well worth checking out.

From the row the tall standing stone can be seen. That was my next port of call.

Hound Tor (Cist) — Fieldnotes

Visited 17.4.15

There is a large car park next to a minor road north off the B3387 – northeast of Widecombe in the Moor. Hound Tor and its medieval village is not sign posted.

To be honest my main reason for visiting Hound Tor was to see the deserted medieval village (E.H. site). Obviously this also gave me the opportunity to visit Hound Tor itself and the adjacent cairn circle and cist. This was the last day of our holiday and I was keen to make the most of it!

Karen opted to stay at the car with the girls whilst Dafydd and myself headed up across the moor towards Hound Tor. Although the Tor itself is obvious there are no signs or path to the medieval village which surprised me as it is an E.H. site. (In Scotland a site like this would have been marked by poles)

We soon reached the Tor and had a good look around. We then headed down the other side and luckily we spotted the cairn/cist pretty much straight away. Approximately two thirds of the kerb stones remain and both ends and one long side of the cist. Bizarrely, a large plastic model of a USA space rocket had been placed in the cist! Dafydd enjoyed taking this home!

From here we (eventually) found the village and then headed back over the Tor to the car park. Because it took us so long to find the village we got back to the car a lot later than I expected. Apparently the girls had been playing up and Karen was less than happy.
Time to head home…………….

Grimspound & Hookney Tor — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.4.15

South of the B3212 (sign posted)

Although the site is sign posted from the main road, the appropriate parking place isn’t. Best bet is to follow Pure Joy’s directions.

I wasn’t expecting the stone path up to the site and it was a lovely (and surprisingly easy) walk from the parking area to the site. The weather was fantastic, hot sunshine and blue skies. The children loved messing about in the small streams tumbling down the hillside. The dry, crisp grass crunched underfoot. No need for walking boots or coat today – in fact it turned out I didn’t need them all week!

We soon arrived at Grimspound and what a fantastic place it is! A real ‘wow’!

We walked around the outside of the circular wall and entered the village through what would have been the original entrance. The two stones forming the doorway certainly give you the feeling that you are entering a place – passing from the outside to the inside.

We looked around several of the houses and each picked our favourite one to live in. I was drawn to the large house in the middle of the village – the one with the ‘porch’. I could see myself living here!

A family were enjoying a picnic next to one of the lower houses (a great place to have one) and several people could be seen walking up to Hookney Tor – something I unfortunately didn’t have time to do on this occasion.

Grimspound is an excellent place to visit - particularly in good weather. It is a lot easier to access than you may think (for a moorland site) and is well worth the effort. I can’t recommend Grimspound highly enough. One of the best places I have visited for a long time.
And it’s another English Heritage site ticked off the list!

Black Hill (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

Visited 17.4.15

Adjacent to a minor road across moorland to the north of Haytor Vale. O/S map required.

I saw this site on my O/S map and thought I would check it out. It’s not that often I get the chance to visit a stone row!

Although the road is narrow and parking is difficult we were able to pull over a little way to the south. The barrow is well mangled and is now no more than a low stony mound, easy to miss unless you were specifically looking for it.

30 paces to the north-east of the cairn is the stone row. I was able to identify a total of 10 stones. The tallest stones are the first two you come to. Both are approx 1m tall although one has fallen. There are then 4 smaller stones (approx 0.5m long) all of which are prostrate. There are then another 4 stones (approx 0.5m high) which are still standing. The final two stones are next to each other and clearly form a start/finish point. I suspect the same was originally true of the other end of the row.

This is typical moorland, rough gorse covered. There are good views along the valley to the east.
This site is a little out of the way but well worth the effort of visiting – I am glad I did.

Oddly, E.H. have nothing to report – so my notes will have to do!

Haytor Rock (Rocky Outcrop) — Fieldnotes

To the west of Haytor Vale alongside the B3387 – you can’t miss it!

There are a couple of car parks you can choose from, the main one has an information centre and toilets. I bought the E.H. site guides for Merrivale, Hound Tor DMV and Grimspound from the shop.

I don’t know if this site is appropriate to be included on TMA but as other rock outcrops are I assume it is? If not, apologies to the Eds who I am sure will delete anyway!

This is a significant landmark and I am sure it will have been as much a curiosity for the ancients as it is for visitors today.

The walk up to the Tor isn’t that far but it is a little steep. The weather wasn’t so good today and a cold wind and light drizzle took the edge off the visit. There are handy steps carved into the rocks which make climbing to the top a lot easier than it would otherwise have been. There are great all round views to be had but due to the weather the view was limited to ‘only’ several miles.

This is a great place to visit when in the area. I just love these rock Tors – great places to explore!

Seven Lords' (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 17.4.15

Approx 1km west of Haytor Rocks – near where a minor road heads south off the B3387

The cairn is visible as a raised circular mound from the road near a dry stone wall.
You can pull over on the grass verge. The cairn has several stones protruding out of the grass around the perimeter of the cairn. The cairn is covered in turf, heather and the dreaded gorse.

Worth stopping off for when on the way to either Haytor Rocks or Hound Tor and its deserted medieval village (also worth a visit)

Duloe Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

In the village of Duloe on the B3254. Sign posted from the road – pedestrian access only from road.
We parked outside the village hall, a short distance to the north.

Karen chose to stay in the car whilst I led the children up the road to the stone circle. We passed a group of young children being taught how to safely ride their bike on the road and make a right hand turn. It was nice to see their teachers doing this and hopefully will reduce the risk of future accidents?

We soon arrive at the circle and the girls made for the lambs, Dafydd for the stones and I for the information board. Oddly enough the information board states there are 8 stones here but I counted 9 (albeit one very small) See Mr Hamhead's notes.

The white of the stones shone brightly against the deep blue of the sky. All was quiet except for the low bleating of the lambs lying in the warm sunshine – wonderful.

Duloe is one of several famous sites I managed to visit during my week in Cornwall and (as with the others) I was not disappointed. This is a superb stone circle to visit with very easy access.
It is remarkable that these sites have managed to survive all these years despite being so close to housing etc.

If you are ever in the area this is a ‘must see’ site.

The Spinsters' Rock (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.4.15

There is a small wooden sign pointing the way from the A382. It is very small and easily missed on this busy road. The minor road leading to the site is narrow with few passing places. However, parking is fine once you arrive at the burial chamber. There is an information board.

This was the first ‘old stone’ of our holiday – and what a cracker it is! It was a lovely spring day with blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Access to the field is via a wooden kissing gate. We said ‘hello’ to the farmer who was busy going about his work. The field was full of sheep and cute lambs. Sophie, Karen and Ella-Rose (we had the grandchild with us for this trip) went to look at the lambs whilst myself and Dafydd explored the dolmen.

I was surprised by the height of the capstone – I was just about able to walk upright underneath it. The uprights had a lot of ‘hairy’ lichen covering them although it was very dry and brittle due to the nice weather. Although re-erected this does not detract from the site at all. I would much rather a dolmen be put back up than left as a pile of stones. After all, wasn’t that the intention of the original builders?

This is an excellent site to visit with easy access (once you find the right road).
Highly recommended and a great way to start the holiday.

Trethevy Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Visited 16.4.15

Trevethy Quoit is sign posted when approaching from the north (Darite)

It was another glorious day. Not a cloud in the sky and an unusually hot sun for the time of year. It felt like the middle of summer. We parked in the little parking area and I first read the information board. By now the children had run on in front of me and were already exploring this superb dolmen. I soon went through the wooden kissing gate to join them.

This was one of several famous sites I was looking forward to visiting during my week in Cornwall and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The Dolmen was much larger than I expected and in excellent condition. I really liked the fact that the original entrance is so well preserved and it made you think of the past and the people who would have used it to gain access to the tomb in order to care for their loved ones. I couldn’t help but crouch through the entrance to try to get a feel for what they experienced. Due to the fallen rear stone you can only go in a little way. The main way into the dolmen now is via the fallen stone. I sat on this whilst Dafydd pondered the dolmen’s construction, with the girls happily running around outside blowing bubbles. The only thing detracting from this scene was the close proximity of the houses, which is a pity.

I had wanted to visit this famous site for many years and it felt great to finally get here. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It is worth travelling a long way to see. Fantastic!

Meacombe Burial Chamber — Miscellaneous

Failed visit 13.4.15

A short distance south of the A382 / B3206 junction – opposite Meacombe Farm

After visiting the excellent Spinsters’ Rock dolmen I wanted to have a look at this burial chamber.

However, Karen was less than keen as it had been a long drive in a hire car she wasn’t used to driving and the lane leading to the site is very narrow, overgrown and has very few passing places. It didn’t help that the low fuel warning was bleeping away and I knew we were some distance from the likely nearest petrol station. Added to this was the fact the children were getting restless and were keen to get to our caravan.

The hedgerows alongside the road are very high, well over head height and as I said, there are very few places to park. I would say the best place to park would be at the farm to the south and then walk back up the lane to the burial chamber. This was something I didn’t have the opportunity on this occasion to do. Perhaps next time?

Pelynt Round Barrow Cemetery (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Little Hendra Barrow

A short distance west of the Pelynt barrows.

The road running immediately to the north is narrow with few passing places. However, there is just about room to pull over next to the wooden field gate which gives access to the field where the barrow is. My O/S map showed two barrows, divided by a public footpath. There is no sign post for a footpath so I assume access is via the field gate?

I could only spot one barrow, which is easy to identify as a large low grass covered ‘bump’ in the field.
Not worth going out of your way for although more to see than the Pelynt barrows!

E.H. state:
‘Three bowl barrows situated close to the summit of a ridge between two tributaries of an unnamed river leading to Polperro. The barrows survive as two circular mounds and one oval mound. The northern mound measures 40m and up to 1.7m high. The southern mound is 38m in diameter and 1.5m high. The eastern mound is oval and measures 40m long by 30m wide and up to 1m high – it is cut on the east side by a farm lane’.

Visited 15.4.15

Directions: See mr Hamhead's notes.

As recommended I parked at the Spar car park (few other places to park) and whilst the children sat and enjoyed their ice creams I headed off down the rough lane towards the barrows. Please note that the track which runs to the east of the barrows is not suitable for driving.

The field where the barrows are marked on the map had been recently ploughed and to be honest I couldn’t make any barrows out. Perhaps this was due to the strong sunlight or perhaps they have now been completely ploughed out?

The walk along the track was pleasant but not one to recommend.

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!
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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.

My TMA Content: