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A fatiguing scramble, and the top of Carnanmore - 1,254 feet - is reached. As indicated by the name, this mountain has on its summit a "great carn," considerable remains of which are still to be seen. It is to be feared, however, that much of it has been erected into very matter-of-fact stone ditches, to mark the boundaries of "my Lord's" estate. The remaining portions are well worthy of examination. This is from the Annual Reports and Proceedings of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club for 1879/80. You can see the NISMR here.
The northern side seems to have been partially removed, thus exposing a large chamber of unhewn stones; part of a covering of larger slabs still remains in position, while others lie scattered about. It is probable the carn was erected to commemorate some great victory, or mark the burial place of some powerful chief, whose name and deeds are alike long forgotten.
Though the carn is itself a monument of antiquity, one at least of the stones used in its construction belongs to a more distant period still. On its upper surface, but almost defaced by long exposure, are several cuplike depression, evidently of human workmanship. Were these the only marks upon the stone they might easily have been overlooked; but, on the under side of the slab, which can fortunately be seen by a person entering the chamber above referred to, many more perfect hollows, arranged in something like order, are quite perceptible. The present position of the stone is certainly not that which it occupied when the depressions were cut, as many of those on the under side are now entirely out of reach.
A.D. 901.Mention of Badbury in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 901 was a bit frantic. Winburn is called Wimborne today, and Twineham is Christchurch.
This year died Alfred, the son of Ethelwulf, six nights before the mass of All Saints. He was king over all the English nation, except that part that was under the power of the Danes. He held the government one year and a half less than thirty winters; and then Edward his son took to the government.
Then Prince Ethelwald, the son of his paternal uncle, rode against the towns of Winburn and of Twineham, without leave of the king and his council. Then rode the king with his army; so that he encamped the same night at Badbury near Winburn; and Ethelwald remained within the town with the men that were under him, and had all the gates shut upon him, saying, that he would either live or there die. But in the meantime he stole away in the night, and sought the army in Northumberland. The king gave orders to ride after him; but they were not able to overtake him. The Danes, however, received him as their king.
Leland came here in the 1530s:
Hene Dinas a quarter of a mile out of Oswestre north-west. The toune or castelle of Hene Dinas standith apon a rounde hillet aboute half a mile in cumpace. Ther be iii. greate diches in the botom of the hillet cumpasing it, and in the toppe of the hille now grow great treas of oke. The commune people say that ther was a cite withyn those ditches. I think rather a campe of men of war, wheras perventure was the campe when Penda and Oswaldes did fight. There is a nother hillet of caste yerth bytwixt it and Oswester not far from Dinas self.It always has to be about fighting when it comes to you men doesn't it. Or so it seems. The nother hillet I assume is the little wooded bump between the fort and Oswestry, on the line of Wat's Dyke. I'd have liked to have seen all the oke treas up there.
From John Leland's Itinerary In Wales.
On a rocky eminence in the townland of Ballyvernish, about one mile from the village of Doagh, stands a whinstone slab, called the Holestone. This stone is upwards of five feet in height above the ground, and near the base six feet eight inches in circumference, and ten inches in thickness. At about three feet from the ground there is a round hole perforated through it, sufficient to admit a common-sized hand; it has evidently been made by art, but there is neither record nor tradition respecting the purpose for which it was erected, nor by whom.From The Dublin Penny Journal, April 20th, 1833.
About thirty years ago a man put his hand through the aperture of this stone, but was unable to extricate it; on which, those who were with him gave the alarm, and a crowd was soon collected, whose conflicting opinions only served to increase the fears of the person in limbo.
Amongst those assembled, was a Mr. O---, a resident in the neighbourhood, who seeing so much needless alarm, determined to be a little waggish upon this occasion. "Fly," said he, to a by-stander, "for my powder-horn, and I'll soon free him; I'll blow up the stone in an instant!" At these words, the confusion and alarm of the multitude beggars all description, while the cries of the prisoner, which had hitherto been sunk in the noise, became piercing in the extreme.
During the confusion, the gentleman had sent off privately for some vinegar, and on the return of the messenger, with it, he began to pacify the prisoner, and to bathe his hand, which had become swelled in the various attempts made to get it extricated; and he at length succeeded in effecting his liberation, without application to the dreaded powder horn. [..]
Interesting that there's no mention of any betrothal traditions - in fact quite the opposite!
A visit to the stones two hundred years ago. The superstitious may want to infer something from the horse's reticence. But I think we need a proper experiment with a range of horses and control stones before we leap to any conclusions.
It will gratify any person, who, from a motive of curiosity, can turn a little aside (about a quarter of a mile,) from the thoroughfare of business, to see a CROMLECH, or stone of worship, on the right hand of the road leading from Belfast to Newtownards, at a place called Green-Graves, and about a mile and a half from Dundonald, (so named, probably, from the sepulchral mount adjacent, the mount of Donald, a chieftain resting under it). From The Belfast Monthly Magazine, August 1812.
This Cromlech, consisting of one large rock, supported on five others, smaller in size, two in front, of a wedge shape at top, and a third lying across the remaining two, upon which, and the two front supporters, the great stone majestically reposes, in an inclined position, as is generally the case, in this druidical monument.
Though perhaps not the largest of many to be seen in different parts of Ireland, it certainly, on a near approach to it, has a respectable, not to say a sublime, aspect; particularly when accompanied with the ideas of great antiquity, great power in the construction, and a great obscurity respecting its original destination.
My Rozinante, who thinks as little of the past as he does of the future, and is now come to a time of life when he can no longer boast of any nice sensibilities, no sooner came within sight of the sloping stone, than, by pricking up his ears, and a sudden start, he roundly declared, that he had never met with such a thing in the whole course of his life; nor could my repeated assurances, that it was nothing but a stone, (such as Fin Mac Coul might have worn in his ring,) induce him to cross an imaginary circle, which kept him at an awful and admiring distance.
The Duke de Vendomes used to say, that in all the disputes he had seen between the mule and the muleteer, and he had seen many hundreds, the mule was always right in the argument, and his driver in the wrong. In the present instance, I confess, I thought my beast was entirely and obstinately in the wrong, but I conceded the point to him, and allowed him to graze at the distance he thought most agreeable. [...]
For many, many years past, hundreds of Wiltshire people, and even strangers to the county, have made a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to see the sun rise on the 'longest day,' when, standing on the supposed 'altar stone,' the sun, immediately on rising, appears over the apex of the large 'lion stone,' which stands at a considerable distance from the outer circle on the Amesbury road. Just to demonstrate that nothing much changes. Notes and Queries (1882) s6-VI (132): 26.
Scores of persons started from Salisbury in vehicles of various kinds on Tuesday night; others 'tramped' it to and fro - eight miles each way - and slept beneath a rag under the shelter of the magic stones. Up to midnight the sky was bright and clear, and then a heavy mist and lowering clouds appeared, the result being that the 'pilgrims' - many of them footsore and weary - returned home to be heartily laughed at.
The above appeared in the Western Gazette of June 23, and is worthy of a nook in your columns.
H. Glover Rayner. Southampton.
The cave was visited by Dr Samuel Johnson.
Reynard's Hall is a cave very high in the rock; it goes backward several yards, perhaps eight. To the left is a small opening, through which I crept, and found another cavern, perhaps four yards square; at the back was a breach yet smaller, which I could not easily have entered, and, wanting light, did not inspect.From A diary of a journey into North Wales, in the year 1774.
I was in a cave yet higher, called Reynard's Kitchen. There is a rock called the Church, in which I saw no resemblance that could justify the name.
The Rev. J. N. Harrison says, that whilst some quarrymen were digging for limestone on the northern top of Coygan hill, they came upon a kind of cell, scooped out in the solid rock, in which was the skeleton of a man lying on his side, with the head to the north, the knees being doubled up so as to allow the body to occupy so short a space. The cell measured 4ft. 6ins. long by 2ft. 6ins. wide by 2ft. deep, and was covered by a large "clegger" stone, almost circular, 5 ft. in diameter, and from 10 to 11 ins. thick. The top of the covering stone was about 1ft. below the surface of the ground, and round the edges of it was a kind of dry-built wall.From 'Two Kelto-Roman Finds in Wales' by J. Romilly Allen, in Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series, volume 1 (1901).
The Coygan hill rises abruptly from about the centre of the marsh, and juts out into it so as to form a nearly isolated promontory of limestone rock. It lies a mile and a half south-west of Laugharne. From the summit a magnificent view is obtained of the Bristol Channel. Very nearly on top of the rock is the well-known Coygan bone-cave, concerning which the following facts have not before been made public.
More than thirty years ago, when I was only just out of my teens, I heard my late father, Mr. George Baugh Allen, relate an incident which took place on the occasion of a picnic party visiting the Coygan cave. The entrance to the cave is so low and narrow that it is necessary for anyone to crawl on their hands and knees who wishes to gain access to the interior. A fat lady, who formed one of the party, succeeded getting half of her body through the opening, but then stuck fast: the result being that she had to be hauled backwards by her legs, amidst the laughter of gods and men.
Just about the time when I heard this story, prehistoric man and his co-existence with extinct animals was being much discussed, and it occurred to me that it might be worth while visiting the Coygan Cave in order to ascertain whether it was a hyaena-den. I did so, accordingly, on the first opportunity; and when I entered I saw, to my great delight, that the surface of the cave was strewn with the bones of extinct mammalia, which, if any previous visitor had noticed, he had not thought them worth while carrying away. The bones obtained by me on this and many subsequent occasions, in company of the late Dr. Henry Hicks, F.R.S., were presented to the Rugby School Museum. Mr. Edward Laws, who has collected bones from the Coygan Cave, found a Palaeolithic flint implement associated with them. The bones and flint implement are now in the Tenby Museum.
Note on a Dolmen at Stoke Bishop. By M. H. Scott.From the Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, v10 (1905), p318. Druids. Don't let them spoil your lawn.
(Read February 10th, 1904.)
This monument stands to the left of the entrance gate of Druids' Stoke, and just inside the grounds. I quote Seyer's description [...] [Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its Neighbourhood, Rev. Samuel Seyer, M.A., 1821, v1, p103].
"It consists of one large stone, and three small. The large stone is 10 1/2 (feet) in length, 2 1/2 thick, and 5 1/2 at the broadest. It has been thrown down, and having fallen on one of the smaller stones, which stood beneath, it partly rests upon it, and is prevented from lying flat on the ground, so that at first sight it appears a cromlech (i.e. dolmen) or altar stone.
Of the three smaller stones, the first has already been mentioned, as supporting the great stone; it is about three feet above the ground. Another lies close to it westward, and the third a few feet distant north-westward: the two last are broken off close to the ground, they may be fragments separated when the great stone fell down. That which was its northern or north-eastern face when it stood upright, which now lies nearest to the ground, is tolerably smooth, and of the natural colour of the stone; all other parts are eaten into deep holes by the action of the weather, and are slightly covered with moss, and the colour is dark and dirty.
The stone is a millstone grit, or breccia, and was probably brought from the foot of Kingsweston Hill, about a mile distant, where numbers of the same sort, although not of equal size, still lie scattered on the ground, and many more were formerly to be seen, until Mr. F. collected them for the foundation of his house.'
Mr. Seyer, though he seems inclined to doubt that this erection was a dolmen, does not suggest any other theory, and his remark that the under side of the large stone is not weather worn is in favour of this stone having been the covering stone of a dolmen. The presence of three smaller stones is also in accordance with this. They are not so large as one would expect the supports of a dolmen to be, but it is possible that some fragments may have been carried away.
Miss Munro, whose father, William Munro, Esq., formerly owned Druids' Stoke, says:--
"In my recollection, once a year a body of men calling themselves Druids, with a Priest (?) dressed in wonderful garments, used to hold a service at the Druid's Stone."
On my asking at what time fo the year this occurred, she says:--
"I am almost sure that the Druids' ceremony took place in the spring before the grass was put up for mowing. I have a dim recollection that the Druids wished to have the ceremony later, but were told that they could not be allowed to tread down the growing grass, as they came in considerable numbers."
So long as Mr. Munro had the property, as also his successor, Mr. Wedmore, this monument was safe enough. But since the death of the latter, the property having failed to find a purchaser, has been put up in separate lots, and it is quite possible, as the stones are so near the road, that at no distant date the land may be sold for building, and the stones removed. I therefore place this note on record.
The Goldstone Monolith. -- An interesting monolith has just been disinterred at Goldstone Bottom, Hove, in the shape of the original and celebrated "Goldstone" or Druidic altar which stood from time immemorial in this well-known valley, but which was in 1883 deliberately buried. The stone is of an irregular, wedge-like shape, and measures about 14 feet by 9 feet, with a thickness of between 5 feet and 6 feet. The stone is described as an ironstone conglomerate, with veins of spar running through it, and when struck responds with a metallic ring. It is proposed to raise the stone on to a suitable base, and place it in the new park at Hove. -- E. A. Martin, F.G.S.From Science Gossip, v7 (1901).
There is an old fortification, on an insulated rock near Cwm y Glo, in this parish, called Caer Cwm y Glo; the wall is about nine feet thick, and in some places about six or seven high; the entrance is from the west; several other fortifications are visible from it, such as Dinas Dinorweg, Lys, and Pen y Gaer, in Llanddeiniolen parish; the circular watchtower, between the two lakes in Llan Beris parish and Dinas Dinlle, near the sea in Llan Dwrog parish.From 'The Cambrian Register for 1795' in a section entitled 'a statistical account of the parish of Llanrug in Caernarvonshire.'
Substantial sounding remains? There's details from another visit from 1856 in Archaeologia Cambrensis and an empassioned plea for its protection and need to be valued here, as between 1854 and 1856 there had been much damage ("shamefully and needlessly maltreated").
There's no detailed information on Coflein though yet. Perhaps someone should take 'H.L.J.'s advice that "antiquaries should hasten to visit it before it is too late". It might be nice to check out whether the "small spring of water" still "trickles out from a rock near the single entrance on the south-west". With running water and natural fortifications it sounds quite the spot.
I wonder if this cist is related to the stone Nick found. It's on the same estate at least.
In March, 1880, roadmen digging for gravel in the side of a moraine in Dunrobin Park (Co. Sutherland, N. B. ) came upon an upright sandstone slab, which proved to be the foot of a stone coffin. This cist, formed of undressed slabs, lay north-west, about 3 ft. below the surface, and was 4 ft. long, 2 ft. wide, and 1 ft. 6 ins. deep. As the lid had not been lifted, the contents were undisturbed. These consisted of a skeleton (female), in fair preservation. Behind the head stood an urn of the "drinking cup" pattern, the farthest north of this type recorded up to this date, 1903. At the feet of the skeleton, which lay on the right side, with knees doubled up, lay 118 shale beads about size and shape of a silver threepenny piece. Six of these were perforated. Near these were 18 beach-rolled quartzose pebbles about 2 ins. long [...]From The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist v10, 1904. The accompanying photo is added above.
It's quite dull to point this out, as their flutiness is perhaps why they're so appealing today, but it may well be that these lovely fluted stones were not in their lovely fluted state when they were erected. Here are some gleanings from an article about the circle's excavation in 2008.
The stone is thought to come from an outcrop of Fell Sandstone at NT935437, east of here. The stones must have been dressed there, or at least away from the circle, as when the site was excavated, no tell-tale bits were found.
The grooves are called 'rillenkarren' and are caused when wind and water erodes the stone. But the direction the grooves run in, parallel to the bedding plane, suggests they developed after the stones were put up. Because if they'd been chosen for their rillishness in situ, the grooves would probably run the other way compared to the bedding plane.
The waists of the stones are said to be as a result of physical erosion too (maybe animals plus weathering), although the general shape of narrow bottomed / wide topped was probably part of the deliberate shaping.
Another point is that if Beckensall's cup marks are man-made, they must have been put on there post-dressing of the stones, and therefore be unusually dateable.
Roughly a fifth of the stones' heights are hidden beneath the ground, which because it doesn't seem like very much, led the authors of the article to speculate whether the 'waists' of the stones were actually caused by erosion at a former ground level.
And a last point, that although the stones mostly have two flatter faces and two narrow sides, the builders of the circle didn't seem to orientate them in a consistent way (for example, in/out of the circle, or towards a point of the compass). But it may be they 'relied upon some lost factor of the landscape we cannot know'. Indeed.
Much more besides in: 'The Excavation of Duddo Stone Circle, Northumberland' by B Edwards, R Miket, and R Bishop (2011): Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 77, pp321-353.
A very fair response was made to the appeal issued on behalf of your Society and the Viking Club for funds for carrying out a careful exploration of Wick Barrow (better known locally as 'Pixies' Patch,') near Stogursey. The excavations were carried out under the directio of Mr. H. St. George Gray who was ably assisted by the Rev. C. W. Whistler (your Society's Local Secretary for Cannington), and Mr. Albany Major (Editor to the Viking Club). The work has not been completed, but an interim report has been issued to subscribers. The secondary interments so far uncovered date back to the early Bronze Age, and your Museum has already been enriched by an extremely fine flint knife-dagger and two well ornamented drinking-vessels found with the skeletons. The work will be resumed early in the autumn and further subscriptions towards the work are solicited.P7-8 and p67 in Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society for the year 1907 (v8).
The highest interest was taken by members of the Society and others in the excavations conducted at Wick Barrow [...] the operations were witnessed by sometimes as many as sixty at a time.
The parish of Amroth has as its southern boundary the Bristol Channel, and along a considerable stretch of the shore the sea has been encroaching upon the land for untold ages. At very low tides the remains of a submerged forest are visible. Bones of comparatively recent animals, the wild ox and stag, and flint objects in various stages of development and states of workmanship have been found, of which an interesting collection is exhibited in the Tenby Public Museum. They are all of the Neolithic period.From 'An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Wales and Monmouthshire: VII, Pembroke' (1925).
An excellent paper entitled "Flint-working sites on the submerged forest bordering the Pembrokeshire coast, by Mr. A.L. Leach, F.G.S., will be found in the Proceedings of the Geologists' Association for 1918 (vol. 29, part 2), from which the following remarks are taken.
"Amroth, Site B2. -- Below the western end of this village evidence of flint-working abounds on a site first noted in August, 1912, and examined each summer and winter since. The sea washes away the soft blue silt, leaving the flakes projecting more or less noticeably. On each occasion I removed all visible flints and by the time of the next visit a fresh crop had become exposed. In August, 1917, for the first time in my experience, the whole site lay buried under several inches of sand. Objects in flint and chert collected inclued: one hollow scraper, one long flake, ridge-backed and serrated (saw); two shorter flint saws, two conical cores, one core trimmed to yield small flakes, three contiguous flakes, three long cores of cherty flint, two cores of black glossy flint, ten flint pebbles partly chipped into cores, fourteen small blades, twelve large flakes, two calcined flints, some scores of roughly chipped and broken fragments."
At the risk of being told off for adding any old bit of stone on Dartmoor, but this does sound rather good, and is not hugely far from the popular Merrivale.
Leaving Ward Bridge we pass up the hill to the east, and presently arrive at a point where our road, which runs up to the common near by, is crossed by another coming up the valley from Walkhampton. Here we turn to the left, adn crossing a small stream by a comparatively modern clapper of two openings near Withill Farm, shall pass Davy Town Farm and make our way along the narrow lane to Hucken Tor, or as it is usually called in the locality, Okel Tor. From Gems in a Granite Setting by William Crossing (1905).
The scene presented as it comes into view is truly characteristic of the Dartmoor borders. The rude walls of small enclosures, encumbered with scattered granite, are seen on the hillside to the right; to the left is the valley, and beyond rise rocky peaks. There is a slight ascent towards the tor, through wich the road may be said to pass. The approach to the cluster is between two immense rocks, one of which overhangs in such a manner as to form a rude canopy.
When we pass through the opening we find ourselves amid a number of granite masses of fantastic shape, not all of great height, but none the less strking. Many of these being draped with ivy, and all rising from a wilderness of dwarf oaks and heather and whortleberry plants, render Hucken Tor one of the most beautiful on the Moor. .
We have, with much regret, to record the destruction of the famous and well-known object called "The Buckstone," [...] it formed a prominent object on the top of a hill 891 feet above the level of the sea, and was one of the attractions to visitors to the Forest of Dean and the beautiful Wye Valley district. This unfortunate event occured on the 10th June, 1885, on the occasion of a visit of some half-a-dozen strolling acrobats possessed of more energy than sense.From Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, volume 10 (1884-5).
[...] According to an account given by Mr. W. H. Greene, of Chepstow, who carefully inspected the remains a few days after the overthrow, it appears that the massive block was pushed off its base and has fallen a few yards below on the declivity of the hill, broken into many fragments, the largest of which lie upside down. The block, however, appears not to have been thrown off en mass, for the lowest portion of it still remains in situ. It would seem that there was a fissure in the stratification, probably beetween the sand-stone and conglomerate, extending half-way across, as shewn by the discolouration of the stone so far, but the remainder is red and fresh.
Hence he says, "these enterprising strollers actually broke the stone off its pedestal! There can be no mistake about it. They must have exerted a force of no common nature." There is however, great difference of opinion upon the subject. Sir James Campbell, crown surveyor of the Forest of Dean, takes a more favourable view of the circumstances. He says, "it would seem to have been more the result of foolish reckless romping than of intentional mischief."
It is not unlikely that the sandstone stratum of the block had, in process of time, become disintegrated from atmospheric causes, and that a slight disturbance precipitated the calamity which, from natural causes, would in no long time have occurred.
[...] In some of the newspapers it is stated to have been undoubtedly a Druidical altar, and some supposed accessories to such altars are particularly described. There is, however, no ground for such an opinion. It possessed rather a geological than antiquarian interest.
Clearly this was once a massive tourist attraction for the area - everyone writing about their travels to Cornwall seems to have visited. It doesn't seem to have had many TMA visitors? But this report is just like a fieldnote.
Castle Treryn is supposed to have been an ancient British fortress, though, at first sight, it appears to be merely a shapeless pile of rocks, never arranged or touched but by the hands of nature.From volume 1 of William Maton's "Observations relative chiefly to the natural history, picturesque scenery, and antiquities of the western counties of England, made in the years 1794 and 1796."
The situation was certainly never indebted to art for its strength, and all that human labour has effected is the piling of some loose masses of rock in the form of ramparts, of two or three of which there are traces, one above another. A considerable area is left between each, and the interior part must have been in early times almost impregnable.
The foundation of the whole is a vast groupe of granite rocks, rising to a prodigious altitude, and projecting into the sea.
Our guide would scarcely allow us to pause and look around us before he summoned us to see the Loggen-Stone (as it is called), climbing some of the barriers with great agility, and bawling to us to follow him to the "greatest wonder in the whole country," as he was pleased to stile it.
This Loggen-stone proved to be an immense mass of granite, perhaps more than ninety tons in weight, and so exactly poised on the top of one of the highest rocks that a child might move it. It does not seem possible for any human exertion to have raised it to so great a height.
The precipice below us here was so horribly steep that we could not help shuddering as we climbed, and so deep was the roar of the billows between the chasms and irregularities of the rocks, that our expressions of astonishment to each other could scarcely be heard.
When, on my first visit to Glenelg, I arrived at the first of the two brochs, that of Dun Telve, the larger, which stands in a field on the right, entered by a white gate, I found a mason at work on the initial stages of restoration.From Wanderings in the Western Highlands and Islands by Mary Donaldson (1923). There's a plan of the broch on this page. She also includes a photo of herself here - she was a photographer and built a box with removable wheels (the Green Maria!) to carry all her equipment, change of clothes, picnicking provisions and waterproofs: covered in green canvas so she could stash it invisibly in the undergrowth. I might like one myself. She sounds pretty cool.
The details of the work so successfully carried out are not only intensely interesting, but they afford so admirable an example of true restoration as opposed to ruinous rebuilding operations miscalled "restoration," that i give them as kindly detailed to me by the young architect to whose art, approaching genius, and ingenuity the broch's preservation is due.
He found that the ends of the broch had been pinned up in cement, and promptly cut away this obscuration and negation of the distinctive feature of drystone buildings. In such danger of falling was this broch that it had been shored up with heavy timbers, and, after careful examination and prolonged consideration, it was resolved to consolidate the building by grouting in cement that part which was in the greatest danger of collapse.
But in order that there might appear no trace of the use of cement, the joints of the section to be grouted were previously carefully packed with clay. Thus, when the cement was poured in at certain points, it found no outlet, and when the clay was thereafter washed away, there was no outward indication anywhere visible of the extremely clever and most artistic method of restoration adopted. Then, when the shoring could be safely removed, the broch was excavated; and, besides foundations of some out-buildings being brought to light, several stone cups and whorls were discovered.
Several years after, on returning to Glenelg, I saw this perfect restoration completed, as well as that of the second broch, untouched when I had previously seen it; and whenever I think of these fascinating works of art, the delight which I experienced in hovering about them at once returns to me.
A singular cavern, called Kent's-Hole, is considered as the greatest curiosity in this part of the county. It is about a mile distant from Torquay. Two women, whose usual business it is, conducted us to the spot, provided with candles, tinder-boxes, and other necessaries for the expedition.An eighteenth century visit, from volume 1 of William Maton's "Observations relative chiefly to the natural history, picturesque scenery, and antiquities of the western counties of England, made in the years 1794 and 1796." It sounds slightly less commercialised than today, as you can now opt to get married there or go on the "ghost tour". Hmm. They do advise sensible footwear though, something Mr Maton should probably have considered.
After pursuing rather an intricate track, we arrived at the mouth of the cavern, and soon saw there was some occasion for the assistance of guides, who presented each of us with a candle stuck in a piece of slitted stick. The aperture was just large enough to admit us. As we advanced, our guides fixed candles on the sides of the cavern, in order to give us as much light as possible, and to provide against the consequences of an extinction of those we held in our hands.
The chill we received after having entered is inconceivable, and our clothes were moistened, (as it happens in the Peak) by the continual dropping of water from the roof. The lights, when viewed at a distance, gleaming through the gloomy vaults, and reflected by the pendant crystals, had a most singular effect.
We began to fancy ourselves in the abode of some magician, or (as our companions were two ancient females, and not the most comely of their years) in the clutches of some mischievous old witches, the representation of whose habitations in Shakespere's Macbeth we could for once persuade ourselves had its foundation in nature.
Kent's-hole is in no part more than twenty feet high, but the bottom of it is very irregular, being sometimes on an ascent, and sometimes on a descent, and the moisture of the stone on which we trod rendered both not a little difficult and dangerous. -- The roof is in some places so low that we were obliged to advance on our knees. -- At length we reached the extremity of the cavern, which is full two hundred yards long, and, though it sometimes winds, seems to run for the most part in a southern direction. As no great elevation of ground appears on the outside, the declivity of it must be considerable.
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This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.
-- Alan Garner.
...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...
-- William Wordsworth.
I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them: