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

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Harold's Stones (Standing Stones) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Harold's Stones</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Harold's Stones (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

A real find. The village is situated some 6 or 7 miles out of Monmouth, and on the approach you are aware of how you climb the hills to reach the site.

Trellech is a small village, built around the main road that cuts through the heart. The church of St Nicholas is approximately 3-400 yards from the stones. A visit to the church is a must when visiting the stones.

Parking for the stones can prove difficult - a lay by is some 200 yards from the site, but you then have to walk back along a busy road with blind bends to the stones. Children and animals will have to be kept under control and wheelchair users might find themselves feeling very vulnerable. Entrance to the paddock is via a kissing gate, again a barrier for wheelchair/pushchair, and something to be considered.

The stones are beautiful, a warm brown rock, coated with gossamer lichen that spreads in rosettes across the surface. One side of the rock felt much warmer than the other, despite the fact the sun had yet to make an appearance. Two of the stones have a pebble dashed appearance, for a moment raising the panic than some sort of 'renovation' has taken place.

The phallic properties of the rock shape are obvious, but lend a certain bawdy 'seaside postcard' feel to the site, which emanates a cheerful and rumbustious air. The sheep graze cheerfully around the stones and a small earth bank nearby creates archaeological curiosity. A 'For Sale' sign reveals the site and nearby farm are for sale, at 'Offers over £400,000'.

Leaving the stones, head back into the village to the church. There is parking for 3 or 4 cars outside the church, and entry is via a normal gate.

In the churchyard stands 'the pyramid', a collection of granite stones placed in formation, topped by a cross. In front, the 'Druids Altar', the sides of which bear faint shadow to the carving of Celtic Crosses, traceable by the finger, but not available to capture by the camera.

Inside the church, the sundial, with carvings of the stones around its base. Why a sundial indoors, why the carving?

This place raises more questions than answers. The sense of history runs deep and those with time to study will reap rewards.

Harold's Stones (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>Harold's Stones</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Harold's Stones</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Harold's Stones</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Harold's Stones</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Gwernvale (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Gwernvale</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Duloe Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

07.01.04 11.30am
These are great polar monsters. As you approach they seem to change in size dependent upon the angle of approach, but nothing prepares you for the scale of these beasts. The tallest must be near 9 foot of quartz granite, and the beautiful lustre of the stone contrasts sharply with the bleak relief of the surrounding trees and fields.

The circle gathers the visitor in and when stood in the middle you feel a claustrophobic breathlessness like the tight embrace of a mother. Stepping back and walking around the outside you feel drawn to touch and stroke the stone, which welcomes you with warmth and friendly reciprocation.

I felt there was an affinity between the circle and the nearby church, but time was not on our side and we had to press on, so d*wsing rods had to remain packed, but this is certainly worth a visit and more research, if only from the folklore that must surround this charming place.

Gwernvale (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Saturday 22nd November, 1545 hrs - dusk is looming over the surrounding mountains and Gwernvale lies coldly at the side of the main Bwlch to Crickhowell road.

Parking at the entrance to the hotel we wonder back and weep at what was once a beautiful site, its back now broken by progress. As cars whoosh by I study the restored stones that trace the ghost of the previous tomb. Is it right? is it correct? All we can safely say is that a road passes through it, the rest remains conjecture.

This is a lonely highway, with more than a fair share of accidents. My companion shivers, she feels that anyone who builds a road through such a location is asking for trouble. I feel that a photograph is asking too much of this place, and leave a blessing, hoping that one day it will find peace. Great disturbance and energy lie buried deep here. We drive on, into the welcoming lights of Crickhowell, where we stop for a needed drink, before continuing on, home to the borders.

The site is within 10 feet of the main road, parking is easy as long as you are the only visitor, and access is good. Not a safe place for children or animals to visit due to proximity of the road.

The Merry Maidens (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I last visited here over a year ago, in late spring, and never felt I could gather enthusiasm for the site. Too close to the road, too perfect in its approach, it struck me as almost an exhibit in 'theme park Penwith', such is the nature of the location.

One thing I noticed this time was how it now seems a repose for partaking of 'the magic leaf'? Certainly our visit disturbed many 'toking' frantically in the late summer sun.
I am undecided about this place. Perfection, symmetry, and a certain...blandness, all conspire to make this a visit of conflicting emotions.

Access is easy - park at the side of the road and then a gate is the only obstacle. In the past this has been easily opened but yesterday it was tied shut with string. The stones are then inside a gently sloping field. The ground is good and firm, with only the droppings of a bovine beauty to be wary of.

The stones are too perfect, especially when compared with the primitive beauty of nearby Boskawen Un. If I were to 'have a smoke' it would certainly be in the sacred confines of Boskawen.

Is this how a circle should be, or is it how we want it to be?

A customary stroll around the perimeter revealed little of interest, and as we watched the occupants of the circle frantically puffing away, my companion pulled at my sleeve. 'It exists because they want it to...'

I think she was right.

King Arthur's Hall (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Tuesday 2nd September 2003.

After scrambling to the top of nearby Roughtor, we decided to visit King Arthur’s Hall. Easily found, but not too accessible for anyone with trouble walking, this is situated about mile from the road. One of my party had recently undergone knee surgery and found the undulating moor land too difficult to proceed. Parking is strictly a haphazard affair and the opportunity to end up stuck in the mud must be avoided.

The site is visible quite soon after commencing the walk, but as it comes into view the feel of gravitas surrounding it, and its location, become more and more apparent. In the film ‘Excalibur’, knights and druids are seen in ceremony on a hill top henge – this is such a site, but set low, in a shallow bowl. It reminds me of the landscape that encircled Culloden for some reason, more suited to clansmen.

As a meeting place this must have been impressive. Neutral territory that required a concerted effort to reach, the location making skullduggery and ambush a huge difficulty. Anyone attending a meeting here was on their own.

Of course, this is the part of Cornwall where the chance to buy ‘King Arthur pasties’ and ‘Lancelot fishing nets’ tend to colour any site which referes to the legends, but for atmosphere and spectacle, this is a hidden gem.

Carreg Samson (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Carreg Samson</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Carreg Samson</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Carreg Samson</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Trecenny Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

1400hrs Sunday 17th August 2003.

Just outside St David’s, this stone, roughly seven feet tall, stands happily in a well used field. There is no path, and no sign post, but if you find yourself in the farm of Trecenny you have gone too far. Back track one hundred yards north, until you come to a field gate on your right. Look over the hedge on your left and you will see the stone. The farmer was ploughing and gestured to me in a friendly manner, inviting me in, but I could see he was busy, and his tractor took him close to the stone. I had no wish to disturb his chores and contented myself with photographing from the hedge. One thing that is apparent is how brown the stone appears. Maybe it was the surrounding earth, but this feels to be a ‘farmer’s stone’, and one happily existing in its natural landscape. It appears shaped towards the top and on one side, but otherwise a friendly, cheerful stone, lord of all it surveys.

Access is along a winding road, but full mobility would be required to see the stone over the hedge.

Trecenny Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Trecenny Stone</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Carn Llidi Tombs (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Carn Llidi Tombs</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Carn Llidi Tombs</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Carn Llidi Tombs (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

1430hrs Monday 18th August 2003.

Sadness. Perhaps my earlier visit to Coetan Arthur has played upon my mind, but these two tiny chamber tombs speak to me of children. Situated at ‘Highwinds’ on the map, these tiny forgotten graves lie just behind the rotting foundations of what were once anti aircraft and sea defence guns in the second world war. I for one cannot imagine daring to ‘step outside for a smoke’ on a winter’s night in such a place, for even on a summers day history and its ghosts surround you here in swathes.

One tomb retains its capstone, four foot square perhaps, and cosily resting on four decent sized slabs, with one slightly sunk. The one behind, no more than five feet away, has the capstone pushed off. At first glance it almost looked like a Holy Well, similar to those found in Cornwall, but closer inspection revealed this too was a small tomb. It tucks into a low bank and almost seems part of the hill, projecting out onto the headland. From the tombs you can see Coetan Arthur. Perhaps they could see their father? A weird and unsettling place, with sadness and loneliness soaked into the stones. I offered a blessing to those gone before, and wished them at peace.

Access is along a well marked coastal path, but it does swing perilously close to some very severe cliffs, so children need to be watched at all times. To visit the tombs you have to leave the path and traverse some quite steep hillside for approximately half a mile. The path is clear at all times, but take a good OS map to lessen any confusion.

Coetan Arthur (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Coetan Arthur</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne<b>Coetan Arthur</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

Coetan Arthur (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

1200hrs Monday 18th August 2003.

Climbing up from Whitesands, Coetan Arthur bursts onto the skyline in perfect silhouette, astonishing one with its dramatic curves and intensity. First espied, when approaching St David’s, and I am amazed. A moment before it was not there. Such is the approach, the pitching, rolling angles of the springy gorse that the tomb, one moment nestling within a circle of bracken and gorse, seemed to spring up from natures grasp and suddenly establish itself proudly on the skyline.

Low and deep, the capstone is strong and immense. Solid, with purpose it grips the supporting stones with a vice like grip, unlike the nimble acrobatics of Carreg Samson. Situated roughly one hundred yards out from the defensive walls of the headland hill fort, the site almost challenges the visitor to first pass the warrior or chieftain who surely must have been buried here. “You may battle with the physical, but our ghosts will surely slay you too”, the message is writ, in hunks and slabs of angular stone that graze the earth like the nearby wild ponies.
The position, overlooking the Irish Sea and the multitude of small islands around the head seems a statement about who resided, who still dwells here. Tread carefully, they are not gone.

Access along a coastal path is visiting from Whitesands, well marked but close to cliff edge. Scramble off the path and up to Coetan Arthur through scrub and heather. Difficult but not impossible for anyone with walking disability.

Carreg Samson (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

1600hrs Wednesday 20th August 2003.

We approach the site along a farm track, and our first glimpse is through a gateway on our right, when still 200 yards away. Crouching alongside a sparse West Wales hedge the stones hunker down against the scrub and gorse backdrop, as if sheltering from the winds that must tear across this exposed landscape.

Our pace quickens as the tomb slips away from view until we find ourselves in what appears an abandoned farmyard. A faceless farm stares down at us. A sign points to ‘footpath’ but there appears no way ahead without opening tied gates. Are we welcome? A dog crouches beneath a gate and studies us curiously. The atmosphere is oppressive and after studying the map we decide our course lies across a rusted cattle grid and along the left hand hedge. Retying the gate behind us we find ourselves approaching this great chamber, growing in stature as we approach.

The capstone appears finely balanced, a huge slab of raw rock, shot through with the famed rose quartz. Warm to the touch, tactile and smooth, one feels that with just a push of the arm it would rock, being balanced beautifully on 3 stones only. From certain angles is appears almost to be levitating, the point of contact being so difficult to see unless up close. A Naum Gabo sculpture hewn in stone.

The interior is clean, almost swept, and there are none of the usual offerings here. The sheep happily graze in its shadow but there are no droppings within the tomb. The position on the landscape is strong, visible to all who approach along the north east cliffs, the pathways of old. A fallen stone lies some 30 feet distant, and it is on this which I sit and write my notes, gazing back at the squat, powerful hulk that still stands guard. I would not like it, if it were angry…

Access if on the flat. Park at the end of the farm drive, walk along a tarmacaddamed road into the farmyard, then cross an old cattle grid to join a well trodden, wide, dry path to Carreg Samson. Approximately 10 minutes leisurely walking from where you park.

The Fish Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visiting the Fishstone this morning I was delighted at the size of the beast. Eighteen feet, to the inch, is stands solemnly beside the River Usk, with an air of bemused calm. Like a stunned salmon one gains the impression this stone is merely recovering its senses before leaping back into the cold, clear waters nearby. The warm red, almost salmon pink sandstone adds to the fish similarity, and also makes touching the stone a welcoming tactile experience.

The slight angle it finds itself leaning lends to it an air of dynamic movement, like a crouching hare, alive, sensitive to its environs and watching, watching, watching...

The site is friendly and clean, and small offerings were placed in cracks and cubby holes of the stone. The early morning sun had stripped the grass of dew, but the rear of the stone still shone in the cooling shade.

The dynamics of the location are interesting, as is the relation to the other stones in the locale. Local folkore twists many tales around these, but I note that not one contains the usual 'punishment' for dancing on the sabbath so beloved of the Cornish sites. These stones have been loved, and this is reflected in the folk memory that permeates the area.

This is a site you could visit at dead of night, in winter, and still feel protected.

Access is by appointment only. In the wet this would be a bog - walk for about half-three quarteres of a mile beside the river.

The Four Stones (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

An old and dear friend was very fond of an expression that I still remember to this day.

'Words fail me. Please see sketch.'

Such is the impression that Old Radnor leaves you with.

Upon arrival, you find yourself saying 'Is that it?', but hours later, on the drive home, you find yourself mulling over what you actually saw. It is true that first impressions are underwhelming. The geography of the landscape, and the immensity of the plain on which the stones are situated, tend to detract from the scale of the construct. Approached through mountains, then hills, the visitors field of view remains on the horizon, and the stones, magnificent as they are, cannot compete with the surroundings.

And yet, and yet...

Turn your gaze inwards and puzzle. Exactly how deep are these beasts? What do they feel?

Struck deep into a soil that has fed generations for thousands of years, these monsters know all there is to know about the seasons and their cycle. Empires have come and gone, farmers born and died, but they have remained constant.

I felt humbled.

The pure depth intrigues me. Try stamping around the bases and listen to the acoustics. Are there chambers below? Trace the cupmarks with a finger. I struggled but then found them, and their gentle bowls and furrows made perfect sense when traced in tandem with a survey of the distant mountains.

It was a strange feeling leaving the stones, but their attraction increases as you draw distant. Next time, I will approach with a far more inward looking mind, and greater subtlety.

But until then, substituting the word 'sketch' for the remarkable photographs found here on this site...

'Words fail me...'

Arthur's Stone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Situated deep within the wonderfully named 'Golden Valley' this was a haven of peace. The stones appear to occupy a position of some influence, but fail to dominate the true summit of the hill, which extends for several hundred metres away to the north east, before giving way to the most exquisite and all encompassing viewing point.

The site itself appears to seek some shelter from the ridge behind, and appears almost 'cosy'. Certainly, despite its appearance, I feel sure that some degree of shelter could be afforded here should the weather change rapidly.

The capstone is breathtaking, resting gently upon the supporting stones in an almost illusory manner of weightlessness.

Sitting within, a feeling of claustrophobia begins, as the sheer psychic weight of the structure feel as if it is bearing down upon you. Again, dampened acoustics add to the feel that sound played a part of the rituals here, irrespective of the fact that the tomb is not complete. Coughs and conversation soak into the stone that gives nothing back.

Crawling back out into the sun the oppressive mood lifts and spirits rise. A check of the cracks and joints reveal the customary offerings of coins and flowers, and a small corn doll ties with a pretty pink ribbon flutters in the light wind. Peace and contemplation are on offer here, but be prepared for questions.

By car, you can drive within 10 yards of the stone. Peaceful car park with stunning views, easy access to the site apart from a clamber over a stile.

Maen Llia (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

The stone appeared worn out today. Litter again (aargh!) at it's base added to an overall unkempt feel. I am undecided if this is an individual stone, or the remains of what were once many, perhaps resurrected in the distant past after it's companions had been moved or destroyed. However, I still believe this is man made, and it's slim lines astonish upon closer inspection.

From the road it appears immense, but closer inspection reveals a positively sylph like stone, the super model of its age. The positioning in relation to the nearby Roman road intrigues. This must have been one of the most foreboding tracks in the empire, the location being one of desolation. What role this site played in the dynamics of this landscape can only be guessed at, but psychologically speaking, it's appearance must have struck fear into visting soldiers, especially ones who had been reassured 'the old ways' were no more.

Walking the Roman road, the stone strikes an unusual juxtaposition with its surroundings, appearing to play optical illusions as you walk south to north, appearing like a slender spear point at first before rounding itself into an axe head upon approach. Intentional? I can only guess, but it certainly unsettled me and my companion.

I left, cursing again the visitors who are too idle to reclaim their rubbish, and deposited a bootful of recovered junk in nearby Sennybridge. A worthwhile, but unsettling site, with many answers still to give up.

Park at the side of the road (a layby waits) and the stone is no more than 20 yards 'inland', open for all. Beware of visiting in wet weather - very boggy.

Gilestone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Good post - we too had problems getting access to the site a few months back. 'Polite, but firm' is the phrase I think that best describes the fellow's manner. However, other friends have secured entry without any problem, so maybe it's just 'one of those places'.

Stoney Littleton (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

My fourth visit in as many years, and I am never disappointed. A wondrous day, we decided to go early, to avoid the heat, but even at 9am the sun was thumping against our heads.

The offerings and flowers are still here, and I climbed deep within the chamber, lying on my back and testing the incredibly acoustics. No visit is complete without you trying this - complete and utter silence, no reverb, just 'sound' - like a recording studio but with less 'feel'. Words fail me, but surely the acoustics must have paid a big part in the ceremony here, reducing all living things (including the voice) to a dead husk.

Emerging into the sunlight it struck me again how this site is so tied up with seasons and agriculture, from the offerings to the cereal crop surrounding. A cursory dowse revealed nothing new of note, the usual lines from east to west still warp and weave their way across the fields before converging at the site and then separating.

A place of gentle contemplation and peace, but I wish those who decide to use it as a picnic spot would take their cans of Special brew home with them, as I found myelf gathering 5 empties as I left, 2 from inside the chamber.

Carn Euny Fogou & Village — Fieldnotes

Visiting Carn Euny for the first time last week, I was immediately struck by how peaceful the site was. Save for the distant hum of light aircraft, taking off and landing at nearby Land's End airfield, all is silence.

Entering from above the site, from the north-west, a narrow path carved through shady trees opens onto the village. If the GreenMan dwelt, it would be in such a place. A small gurgling spring adds to the feeling of enchantment.

Smaller and more compact than nearby Chysauster, it is far more friendly. A feeling of calm pervades the site, that truly feels as if it is a welcoming family home.

I began to dowse and encountered only gentle energies, trickles almost, but the most powerful appearing to emanate from St Michaels Mount, just over 5 miles away.

The Fougou and Beehive are wondrous, and after my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I could see the phosphorescent moss that others here have talked of. Confetti litters the entrance to the fougou, together with small bunches of tightly bound and neatly interwoven flowers. A local visitor told me that he thought a wedding had taken place in the previous 48 hours. Standing at the entrance to the fougou, looking west at the rolling countryside I could empathise with such a decision. This is a gentle, peaceful sight, and one that has quickly risen to the top of the list in my affections.

Linger and soak up the harmonious nature, and enjoy the company of the 'guardians of the stones', two dogs of indeterminate years who will shepherd you around their site, asking only for a crust from your sandwich in payment!

The Great Circle, North East Circle & Avenues (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>The Great Circle, North East Circle & Avenues</b>Posted by Dominic_Brayne

The Weddings at Stanton Drew — Fieldnotes

Stanton Drew is a hidden gem, poorly signposted, just outside Bristol. The manner in which the site is presented hints at disagreement with ownership, a pathway being traced through obviously fenced land to the stones themselves.

Once we arrived nothing prepared me for the energy I felt. My dowsing rods twitched and soon I was aware of many lines of energy, the strongest appearing to run north to south.

After half an hour or so we felt sufficiently adjusted to enjoy our lunch, and found ourselves at The Druids Inn, which has 3 large stones in the beer garden. Checking alignment, these reek of ceremonial purpose, and it was quite odd watching children caper amongst them.

We paid a final visit to Stanton after our repast, and still the energies were noticeable, so my dowsing powers were not affected by sub conscious sensation. I allowed another visitor to try my rods, and the result appeared to replicate what we had earlier found.

lack of excavation, a powerful location and a stunning location make this site well worth a visit. What hides beneath the surface and in the stones can only be guessed at, but local folklore hints at the darker side of human nature.

Visit, but allow yourself time to become attuned.
Living on and off in the UK for several years, I now find myself tucked away on the Welsh/Shropshire Borders. I have a particular interest in ley lines and energy fields.

The re-routing of leys (I won't mention them here but pin my colours to the mast now!) and the harnessing of the ways of the Green Man and mummers will hopefully be covered in a new TV documentary that is currently in production, and which I shall be presenting (if we don't run out of money), for broadcast early in the new year.

I am particularly interested in the role of folklore with regards to the legends and stories concerning megaliths.

Wishing to keep all things TMA 'on track', feel free to visit my sites. As well as posting my recent dowsing results, drift over there for ramblings and nonsense a shade more 'off topic'...

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