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"Its my first time", I whispered to no-one as we stepped foot onto exmoor for the first time, at the start of a couple of visits in a weekend also including depressing footy & the beautiful woolacombe beach.
First up the moors just south of Porlock.
[visited 1/7/6] Having never visited an exmoor site before, I had some trepidation as to how much we'd be able to see in high summer. The answer is, pretty much all of it. This is a weird little thing, about the same diameter as (say) Kingston Russell
but with stones that struggled to reach my knees. I liked it but couldn't help thinking, is this all it is? Now, having visited different sites on exmoor in short open grass I can apreciate how powerful this could have looked 4 thousand years ago, stones very much defining a ritual space.
is very good, we parked just down the road but there is parking by the gate to the field. Someone had actually parked in the field within 10 metres of the circle and seemingly then gone for a walk. Which was unsightly and spoilt the "we are in a desolate moor" effect, I think the circle was aiming for but never mind. You can find the circle about 20m to the right of the sheep fold as you look from the road.
[visited 1/7/6] This was a strange little beasty and I guess the majority of stone rows about these parts look very similar. We found 6? stones in a double row pointing roughly towards the porlock circle|circle and then another stone on the same alignment about 5 metres closer to the circle. We think it was the row, but its hard to tell, the stones were barely 10cm above the ground and hidden in heather. The two rows were about a metre or so apart, with the stones in each row being about a metre or so apart as well. The row itself was located just off the brow of the hil and off the path to the right.
Access is good, its maybe a 5 minute walk up an open path to where the row is, though you may have to negotiate heather to get to it.
[visited 1/7/6] Getting used to the underwhelming size of the stones took a bit, but having warmed to the task we quite liked this 'setting' (apart from the random blood on one of the stones). Apparently people used to think this was the remains of 2 concentric circles and now they think its the remains of two rows. Personally I have no idea. I stood at pretty much every stone we could find and surveyed the weird arrangement of stones, seemingly raised upright at random, but once in a while offering glimpses. A possible curve here, 3 in a row there. So unless a lot of stones were removed which would have made this clear, I suspect the builders were on strong drugs when they put this up.
Access is ok but probably only by foot unless you have one of those fanangally off road wheel chair things. The circle is easily accessible to a moderately fit person, its about 15 minutes walk along tracks through the heather, ferns and peat, from the nearest car parking spot.
[visited 1/7/6] Its a weird thing relative perspective, in a different place & time I'd have called these smallish, but here they are massive. Two gert big chunks of rock leaning to the side, I don't know whether they were ever standing but tbh they look as if they were. Apparently they were used as medieval forrest boundary stones so I'm unsure about a prehistoric provenance, all complicated by a weird metal thing attached to one of them (see pictures)  its an OS thing apparently (see misc notes) so I didn't bother putting the extreme closeup up. The views though, oh the views. The moors off to the right and the beautiful devon/somerset cliffy coast to the left.
Access is ok, but difficult for wheels as you need to go up a bank and along a narrow path in the heather. Parking is by the side of the road, or by the clifftop and a little walk.
Next day just time for two sites, first one we didn't really aim for & then one to say goodbye to devon.
[visited 2/7/6] Drive towards Two Gates from the A-road, trying to find a setting next to the road, stop randomly to take bearings, realise you've gone far too far but are close to some other settings, go to those instead. And it was a real treat to see by accident. My first triangular setting, again no stone higher than my knee, but with two in short grass we really saw the power that these small settings can provide. I kept thinking if I stand in the middle and say the right incantation I'll be imbued with a mystical power, but sadly no.
Access is good, its about a 5 miunte walk from the car in a straight line or a 15 minute one walking in zigzags. Keep on the path and head down the hill, if you can still see your car, you're not far enough down.
We tried to find the setting across the road from Clannon Ball at this point, but were driven back by some cows. Damn you cows!!!
[visited 2/7/6] If ever a stone was a way marker at the top of a valley, this was it. Its in lovely location and its flat faces point north down the lush green landscape into the valley. The stone is one of the largest we saw over the weekend and possibly the nicest. Head away from the road and bear left down the hill, you should see it about 30 yards away at the head of the valley.
Access is good. About 5 minutes from the road, over open moor with low grass.
Well all in all, very enjoyable and we'll be back again. There is a 3m standing stone, a circle and lots and lots and lots more settings and rows to see. mmmmm.
Another year, another few days with the family in Dorset. I've been somewhat neglectful of wandering of late, partly brainstate, partly beer, partly HA. In particular I seem to have abandoned new sites in favour of the path well trod, revisiting my faves again and again, partly because I love em and partly to make sure they get the tlc they deserve. However, I think I'm coming out the other side and decided to celebrate this (and a new OS map) by visiting 3 hill forts I'd not seen before.
[visited 27/12/05] I've been pondering on visiting this place for years, finally getting off my arse to see this and hambledon in the same day. So, firstly, this place is huge. I'm not surprised the Romans went to the additional hassle of cornering off part of this massive fort for their pad, the iron age ramparts would have required many hundreds to defend properly. Walking the ramparts in December is a chilly affair but the views either side of Hambledon are awesome, looking out down the side of Cranbourne Chase and onto the vast plain in front of you.
Access is for the reasonably fit, the car park is at the bottom of the hill then its up a steep slope to the fort.
[visited 27/12/05] After 20 mins eating my lunch and warming up in the car after a visit to Hod Hill, I set off for Hambledon Hill. A neolithic enclosure, long barrow AND a hill fort? Its enough to make a megarak go weak at the knees. I parked at the carpark between hambledon and hod, which meant the view to the North was saved till last, delaying gratification is always for the best I find.
So I came to the long barrow marked on the OS map and the neolithic enclosure first, the barrow is denuded but still obvious to an observant seeker. As is the enclosure, split with a fence but still followable as a line of bumps in the grass. I'm surprised the enclosure isn't further forward tbh, there is a lot of hill to the North untouched. Eager for the view I hurried on, down and then back up to the fort entrance and onto a melange of weird banks. I think I picked out the fort from the medieval lynchets, but with a Maes Knoll
esque cross bank, I'm not convinced the fort itself went right to the end of the hill.
And what is with the large long barrow shaped top of the hill, just to the north of the cross bank? What possible defensive function did this fulfill? Is this related to the strip lynchets? Reading the notes here on TMA, this is actually a barrow? Did the farmers fill in the defenses at the North end of the hill?
Confusedly I struggled against the biting wind to the View. And what a View. I couldn't stand and stare for long as I wanted to leave the hill without losing bits of my face due to frostbite, but on a clear day you must be able to 20miles from up here. I'm coming back in the summer, because this is one of the best views for miles about and I love my Views.
is a mile or so from the carpark, up a fairly steep slope and through a few gates.
After those, I had a couple of visits to old faithfuls, Nine Stones and Rempstone. More pathetic chalk swastikas at Nine Stones dampened my mood, as did a No Entry sign newly errected at Rempstone, but I pushed through with the help of scrumpy and on my way back to Bath decided to pop in to the giant breast I keep driving past.
[visited 28/12/05] I almost crashed first time I drove past this on the way to Dorset, not only are the ramparts immense but there was a gert huge nipple on top of a giant breast, just to the right of my vision. Cut to 1 1/2 years later, I finally had the Warminister map and went "Oh thats Cley Hill". This is a popular place and I was fortunate to get a parking space as I headed up here for sunset.
The defenses are steep, in fact the whole hill is steep, I imagine they had all sorts of fun trying to get the carts with provisions in up to the top here. Now perhaps my brain just sees breasts, but the barrow is large and very carefully placed... As a whole the hill is still in great condition and sees a lot of use, not surprising given how prominent it must be from Warminster.
Access is up a steep hill and through a gate from the car park.
Another chapter (previous ones unpublished :) in a good hard look at zummerzet's ancient sites, this time with a relative newbie to the area, so a couple of classics for good measure. Unfortunately due to damaging my knee walking a couple of weeks ago, not as many sites as I'd have liked.
Starting in Bath, we had the obligatory stop off at Stoney Littleton first and then onto a newbie for me.
[visited 28/11/04] Yet another possible trashed ancient site, I'm not that picky me, so I popped along. I counted 5 medium sized stones (4ft+) scattered on or near the village green including the two set up either side of the stocks. They certainly had the look of very weathered stones to me, covered in lichen as they were. I didn't go looking for the cottage called "The Cove", but I do think the evidence weighs in favour of this being the site of an ancient monument.
Access is excellent, you can park within 20 yards of the stock's stones, on the edge of the green.
Heading west and back to the classics with the second largest circle in britain/europe/world at Stanton Drew. Being more of a longbarrow man myself, I was pleasantly surprised that my companion prefered Stoney Littleton...
Now the true aim of my day kicked in, a few of the monuments about Priddy and the edge of the mendips.
[visited 28/11/04] The lure of a concrete copy onsite lured me here, but I kinda failed to find it. I think I saw it across a field, but pain & mud put me off till the spring.
For those who are tempted in the meantime: Starting on the B road, head west to east along the footpath that goes past Pool Farm. On the other side of the first field on your left is what I think is the remains of the cist.
Access is unknown but looks like being across a muddy field.
[visited 28/11/04] Yet to get into the field to have a close-up look at this, but through the hedge and the gate its little more than a ripple in the grass. The barrows in the henge are semi-visible but as with the henge, clearly ploughed out. The whole site has that fuzzy look about it. Sadly there is also a hedge across the henge so you can't even see the whole thing in one go.
The field containing the henge is on a country lane with 70mph cutthroughers, so if you keep your wits about you access is good as they don't come along that often.
[visited 28/11/04] I'm loathe to include this as a seperate site from priddy nine barrows
(PNB), but as it is seperate on other websites and an extra eight or nine barrows would make PNB very badly misnamed... However, these should almost certainly be counted as the same cemetary, being less than 10 minutes walk from PNB and highly inter-visible. But maybe then the idea of a barrow cemetary is fundamentally flawed when you are talking about barrows. Where do you draw the limits?
Moving on, this is a nice linear cluster, acting almost as a counterpoint to PNB who's line lies slightly further to the east. They are all in relatively good order and a fair size for todays barrows. One thing that did puzzle me were the ditches either side of the barrow line expecially as the Northern ditch had large stones within it. Whether this is a mendip thing I'm not sure, there is a solitary large barrow at 545492, with 300 metre long ditches either side of it. The ditches look newer than bronze age however...
is a 100 yards down a track then 200 yards across a muddy muddy field.
[visited 28/11/04] This is really only half a barrow cluster, there being another line of barrows (Ashen Hill
) 1/2 a mile to the North. One thing I noticed when up here, besides the fact its cold on the edge of the mendips in late November, is you can't actually see the levels from here. In fact they are a touch oddly placed imo.
I presume the sight from the Priddy Circles
to the North would have been unimpeded 3-4 thousand years ago and this lovely linear cemetary would have visible shining white on the horizon.
is across a few fields, but you can see these beauties from a fair way off in most directions (except North).
[visited 28/11/04] These caught my eye a few months ago and finally I've had a chance to visit. The view was gorgeous and well worth the trip to these parts all by itself, but the site itself, hmmmm. Lets start with the dead badger lying close to the stones, not their fault I will admit, but it really didn't add to the ambience of the place, though did provide a useful comparison for the photos.
Onto the antiquity of the stones, I've seen a fair few standing stones now about these parts and they have all to a rock, been considerably more weathered than these two. They've had much more lichen and are on the whole darker. These stones stood out lighter from a distance, which is never the best of signs.
Perhaps they've come from a barrow hereabouts, the roundbarrows round here contain cists after all, or perhaps they are a more modern introduction.
Reading the site notes, one stone should defn be less weathered, presumably the upper stone as its lighter.
Access is via a 10 minute walk from one of two ebhor gorge car parks, along a road for a bit, then in a field.
[visited 28/11/04] Apart from the Priddy henges, this is the one I've been wanting to visit longest in this area. I got the OS map of the area and then had to drive past the mendip main tv transmitter everyday, knowing there was a longbarrow I'd not visited right underneath it. Finally however I got to it, having picked our way across a sea of mud, the barrow is in its own little enclosure.
Its positioned perfectly, running along the crest of the hill and the view across the somerset levels is gorgeous. Of course most of the land you see now was underwater in the neolithic, but the distant hills were certainly occupied and the gods are always watching.
The barrow is in fairly good nick but is clearly denuded, I couldn't see any sign of stones around or on it, so this is presumably an earthen longbarrow. Unless someone has nicked them all of course. I'd recommend this site, though the huge transmitter may put some people off as it really is hard to forget about it towering above you.
is up a metalled track to the transmitter, then round to the left, through the gate and the barrow is in front of you enclosed in fencing.
One more thing worth looking at is the weird linear feature to the east of the barrow which you'll probably see before the barrow itself. This is the 'bank barrow' Rhiannon mentions. I'm not convinced it qualifies to be in the same league as the dorset ones. Its just not enough of a brute for that in my opinion, its too small in width and height.
It does however look similar to the weird tracks
leading up to the Barrow above the long man of wilmington. I'd bet someone elses house on it being as old as the barrow.
One doesn't go mad in Dorset
Back in Dorset again, in September. Can't ask for more really.
I came down on the friday from Bath and the clear air really opened my eyes to the enormity of Cranbourne Chase. This monster plateau rising up from the South must have been a dominant aspect of life in prehistory and maybe thats why the neolithic folk built such a monster monument as the Dorset Cursus. So before heading down to Dorchester, a second look at the monster.
[visited 10/9/4] Not much to see here that is recognisable really. As you approach from Bokerly Farm, the cursus is conspicuous by its absence on the right in a field where it once stood. And then in the next field where the goal should stand, Bokerly Ditch rises like a false dawn in the distance.
Now given that the remains on the map look like a C with long barrows attached, with supposedly the earthwork of Grim's Ditch just behind, one long mound took me a bit by surprise. I contemplated for a good 10 minutes whether the elongated mound in the middle of the field was actually part of the cursus and I think on reflection it probably is. It does kinda point at the obvious long barrow on the hill to the South and does also have a couple of dips, kinda like the map.
But ffs what damage and destruction the plough has wrought here. This monument was once one of the greatest ever built and I get the feeling 200 years (or even less) ago, we would have seen something of that greatness rather than the sad remains today. This field is still being ploughed, all thats left is the bizarre mound, the two sides are gone forever, as has Grim's Ditch it appears.
Worth a visitish, personally though, if you only see one bit of the cursus chose the middle bit by Oakley Down
is on flat ground via public footpath and probably through crops in summer. I parked in Woodyates village.
Just one day out and about this time, so a couple of oldies and a couple of newbies to keep me ticking over. As per the A35 features...
[visited 11/9/4] The idea that this sad stone could be part of a circle has excited me since I heard it, so I thought as I was site hunting about this way, I'd have a good walk about. I visited the actual stone again; its sad slow disapearance under vegetation & creeping topsoil continues. Never mind resurrecting it, I'm thinking a visit with a couple of shovels would be a good start.
I found one stone in the field next door and another in the field next to that. They are much smaller than the Broadstone, but as at Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas
about a mile away, the size differential between stones is greater, its not a problem. I didn't see Moth's circle markers in the field and tbh if the circle existed, I imagined the road went straight through the middle of it. But I think thats just my fatalism.
to the Broadstone is from an AA layby along the verge of a very busy A road. Not for the faint hearted. Access
to the other stones was (by me) over a fence from verge.
[update: december 2005] Was here to clear the creeping topsoil again and noticed the field next door is now being ploughed. A cursory look failed to locate the other stones, they may well have been removed...
[visited 11/9/4] Quick look about after hearing of a metal detector in the Dorchester area digging into barrows. No real sign here, but a couple of the barrows have patches of bare soil, presumably from the sheep as they didn't look like shovel dug holes. I also had a quick chat with the owners of the house next door, who say they keep an eye on the place and certainly wouldn't tolerate treasure hunters.
Whilst you visit Poor Lot don't forget the woods just to the East, though watch out for gamekeepers as these be pheasant woods. There is a circular banked structure just before you enter the woods to your left, it used to be in the woods, but the landowner has removed the woods to iirc turn it into pasture. I preume this is the remains of a disk? barrow, similar to one at Oakley Down
cemetary, but I'm not sure.
[visited 11/9/4] September in Dorset can really get chilly, especially on top of the southern hills. Don't let that stop you coming to look at this beauty however. Two bank barrows are marked on the map though only one is really obvious and its a delight. It points just to the North of the Long Bredy Bank barrow which is clearly visible on the hill to the west. Whilst not as big as that one, this is still longer than most long barrows and holds an unexpected delight. Unmarked on the OS map is a large round barrow with a huge sarsen stone on it top, a definate bonus. Looking at The Ancient Stones of Dorset, Peter Knight calls it "Kingston Russell Barrow 5".
Look to the South from up here and you can see the extended hill containing the Grey Mare
and Kingston Russell
circle. Poor lot
is below you to the North and you can see to the horizon in most directions. I've been thinking a good deal about the purpose of these Bank Barrows and indeed similarly placed Long Barrows. Riding the crest of a hill, a man-made white streak visible for miles. A sign for the gods or a marker to all who enter these parts that this is taken. Access
is up about 3 fields from the A35 carefully avoiding cowpats...
[visited 11/9/4] As I was bombing past here on my way to Toller Porcorum
, I stopped for a shufty. Basically its 2 (or possibly more) large stones together in a crop field. Luckily the crop was gone so I shinnied over the gate and went for a closer look. I presume this is the remains of a long barrow and in fact The Ancient Stones of Dorset has a picture from 1872 suggesting these may form two sides of a chamber. One thing is for certain not much is left to talk about. Good views though...
to the edge of the field is easy as its on a road, after that its a field...
[visited 11/9/4] Those that know me know my sceptical nature and I'd hate to disappoint. Umm... the church is certainly higher than the surroundings. There are certainly a couple of large stones in the entrance to the churchyard. It has a kinda circular churchyard. Thats about it really.
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a church, but I left feeling cheated in some way. On a plus note Access could only be easier if the place had a moving walkway taking you round it.
So then onto the Grey Mare, Kingston Russell and Tenants Hill collecting Blackberries as I went. Another nice day out in Dorset.
Four stone circles and two henges, doodaa doodaa
A weekend in Avebury but with no opportunity for real site seeing put me in the mood for something special and as I've been meaning to do a few of the great rings in the Lake District for ages, they really were the only choice when I woke up this morning.
I got up later than I'd normally do for this sort of trip so I was time limited more than usual and hence really trimmed the possibilities to sites I'd wanted to see for ages.
[visited 31/5/4] Wow this is a great circle and really set the tone for the day. I walked up from the road below wondering if the circle was over rated as it took an age to appear. Of course then it was suddenly there, fantastically set against the hills with a kite flying high above it. Access is good if you're prepared to drive up the track; a small car shouldn't have too many problems. Otherwise its a mile or so up a rough track.
Maybe it was the perfect weather or the random company (hi btw) but this circle rates as one of the best I've seen. It seems to compliment the surrounding hills, having spent so long together they are perhaps now inseperable. The portal is immediately obvious despite being the first I'd seen and provides a real focal point from the centre of the circle.
So, after the sublime I fancied the ridiculous and a reconstructed circle next to Nuclear facility seemed ideal.
[visited 31/5/4] Strictly not a visit as I only managed to get within 15 metres of the circle due to it being in crop. Access is poor, you could be best off parking on the street near the golf course and walking down the right hand side of the course. There is a stile into the field with the circle towards sellafield. A note on the site security guards, they drove past me carrying a large telephoto lense and didn't even blink, so I think the golfer mentioned here, should be ignored. :)
Oh and I had another encounter with evil cows (tm) as I walked through their field between the circle and the access road. Beware the cows!
By this point I was starting to run out of time due to excessive lingering at Swinside, so I abandoned any more thoughts of non-show sites and set off to see the obvious choices.
[visited 31/5/4] My second visit here, the first being as a tourist many years ago knowing nothing about stone circles. Last time the surrounding hills were covered in mist & cloud and we left slightly disapointed not to have seen the expected supporting cast. This time however I was blown away. The circle is here to service the axe trade (amongst other things) but thats secondary to the placing, this circle was here and is here because of the amazing views. If you only saw one circle in your life, this one would not leave you disapointed.
Of course it is with its downside, tourists are highly prevalant and its ease of access means more dedications & bizarre stuff left in the name of belief. There was a weird circle of plaster druidesque figurines not 6 inches high in the centre of the circle and I didn't get a second alone here, but that changes nothing. I loved this so much I could share it with thousands and not care...
I was thinking 'time to head back home' by this point, but as I was going to Penrith anyway to get on the motorway, it would have been a waste if I didn't go see the bigsites nearby, wouldn't it?
[visited 31/5/4] I've wanted to visit this ever since I'd read about it, an 'irish' henge in England next to a classic style henge, how could I resist. Access is fairly good, you can park pretty much next to the henge and get in through a gate. So, I set off from my car almost at a run, straight up the west edge of the well preserved bank of rocks and pebbles. As I reached the top I looked down into the gloomy centre, the low sun not really lighting this place with its large tree and high banks. I inspected the remaining stone defiant in its solitude, Burl reckons it could be the last stone of a giant four poster, I remain reckonless.
A henge without an inner ditch is a weird one to see for the first time and I'm still left pondering who it was that built this. Was it irish traders in the Lakes backyard, maybe a permitted intrusion or was this a local tribute to a distant race or religion? Whoever it was this slightly foreboding henge is well worth a visit.
[visited 31/5/4] Sitting almost in the shadow of Mayburgh
is this Arbor Low
esque henge. Its a bit trashed by the road and forgotten by modern penrith but its doing remarkably well compared to compatriots about the country. Access
is ok, I stuck the car on the verge next to the henge and shinied over the gate. I think you can get in without gymnastics though.
Henge complexes are reasonably common in Britain but I've not heard of two so dramatically different, being so close as this and Mayburgh
are. Despite the closeness I feel this one is the true henge of the area, maybe the local henge for local people.
I'd now started to think up possible excuses for being late as I had one last visit of the day, a 'top ten' site I'd never been too, Long Meg.
[visited 31/5/4] This is a cracker and in the low sideways light, Long Meg itself comes into its own, its spirals clearly visible even from a distance. Access
could only be better if they built a track round the stones, you can after all park inside the circle. After 5 minutes here, I decided this was a cracker. Huge stones Avebury
size, in a massive circle. Its reminiscent of Stanton Drew
, both being colossal and bizarrely on slight slopes. This really is a circle to spend a day at watching the world go past.
Unfortunately I only had a cursory look, walked the circle, admired the spirals and left cursing the god that made each day only have 24 hours.
What followed was a mad dash south, but thats not really relevant is it?
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