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

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Devon

Any visitors intending to spend more than a day or so on Dartmoor should consider investing in the following publications:

Petit, P. (1974/1995) Prehistoric Dartmoor. Forest Publishing, Newton Abbott. ISBN 0951527460

and

Crossing, W. (1912/1990) Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor (2e). Peninsula Press, Kingskerswell ISBN 1872640168

Burford Down (Stone Row / Alignment)

"Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor" (1912) has this to say about the row:

Not far from the rock [Tristis Rock] there is a single stone row which starts from a ruined circle and runs North for a distance of 400 yards and consists of 112 stones (p 401).

Paul Petit's (1974) "Prehistoric Dartmoor" adds the following:

The lower end [Northern] was originally marked by a tall stone, now cut in two. The base is 4ft wide and rsies over 2ft out of the ground at an angle, so that the stone was leaning when cut. Presumably this was done by a mason in search of a gate post who then abandoned it, leaving a slab over 7ft long and tapering to a breadth of 2 and a half ft lying on the ground. It must have been an impressive terminal, comparable to those at Laughter Tor and on Langstone Moor. (p 135)

Challacombe (Multiple Stone Rows / Avenue)

Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor (1912 but frequently reprinted - ie 1990 Peninsula Press) is an invaluable aid for a trip to the area. I discovered this book in the library of an excellent bed and breakfast in Chagford and rushed out to buy a copy from a local bookshop the next day. Crossing has this to say about Challacombe:

Here we shall come across a triple stone row, the existence of which was recorded in 1830, but at that time the whole of the stones composing it were lying on the ground. A few years ago they were re-erected so that the visitor has now something to look at, but whether he will be able to find any interest in what is only a late 19th century erection, formed out of old material and on an ancient plan is another matter. No real antiquarian interest can attach to such an erection as this, [but] at the same time we are constrained to admit that rebuilding is preferable to allowing the stones to lie upon the turf, and this even at the risk of it being said (and it has been said) that on Dartmoor you can be supplied with stone monuments "while you wait".

The Waters (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Penelope Durell's (1996) otherwise excellent book, Discover Dursey, makes an error in publishing C. Cullen's photo (p 216) of a stone which bears little resemblance to the one which is actually found at this site.

Coate Stone Circle

The following extract comes from Aubrey Burl's Prehistoric Avebury (1979). Yale University Press, New Haven. p 237. [My comments in parentheses].

Much farther away, nine miles to the north of Avebury are the fallen pillars of the Coate Circle, prostrate and three-quarters covered in turf but when A.D. Passmore probed the ground [research published in 1894] he found several were up to three metres long. Like Langdean [also known as Little Avebury] there was the suggestion of an avenue leading to the ring from the north [the course of the existing DayHouse Lane, past the Richard Jefferies Museum back towards Swindon]. It has been thought that Richard Jefferies first recognised the remains of this ring and, undoubtedly, he had an affinity with the people who had moulded the ancient landscape before him. [...]

In the case of Coate, however it was John Aubrey, two hundred years before Jefferies who wrote that "at Broome near Swindon in Wiltshire", hardly a mile from Coate, "in the middle of a pasture ground called Long-stone is a great Stone ten foot high (or better) standing upright", the ruin of a circle with a row of stones " in a right line" leading to it.

Experimental Earthwork (Artificial Mound)

In 1960, the British Association constructed an experimental earthwork in the vicinity so that patterns of erosion and the behaviour of buried materials could be studied over a known period. So Hey folks, lets be careful with those picnics.

See Jewell, P.A. (ed) (1963) The Experimental Earthwork on Overton Down, Wilts. London: British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Avebury & the Marlborough Downs (Region)

"Grey Wethers or Sarsen Stones" is a cartographic shorthand (some of these stones really do look like sheep from a distance) and crops up on the map all over Fyfield and Overton Down. There may be some confusion caused by the use of this name therefore. It should not be confused with the Greywethers stone circle in Devonshire.

County Cork

I'd concur with Iron Man's recommendation on this handy tourist field guide. Used this little booklet extensively whilst visiting sites in Cork last year. The book (ISBN 1 901983519) includes a map with some stylised pen and ink drawings. Similar publications I found of use when planning visits to sites were "Antiquities of West Cork" by the same author (ISBN 1 001083101) and an illustrated map/guide "Antiqities of the Beara Peninsula". All three can be purchased from good sized local Tourist Information Ofiices.

For the completist, I also found the following in a bookshop in Bantry very useful:

An Archaeological Survey of the Mealagh Valley (1998) David Myler (ISBN 0 95349280X).
30-something Wiltshireman now living in Cardiff. When not at work (as a housing academic) or coaching a local junior football team I'm often to be found with my camera at sites listed on TMA

Apart from Swindon's County Ground some of my favourite places include:
Gurranes
The Polisher
Uragh
Ardrah
Ardgroom
Drombohilly

My TMA Content: