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

Fieldnotes by texlahoma

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Showing 1-20 of 51 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Paussac (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A magical first visit to Paussac during August 2014 with two Dutch friends. It took a while to find the right road but then all of a sudden we found it, parked up and there was the Dolmen, found in the twilight of sunset as a full moon was rising above the tree lone, two little owls calling to our north and south.
This Dolmen is well worth searching out in this remote part of the Dordogne.
As the sun set the full moon rose above the line of trees, the torch lights extenuating the strange 3rd eye like recess on the underside of the capstone.

There is another Dolmen very close by but it was too dark to see where it was, just as we decided to give up the search and go back we turned a corner to a fully grown barn own that looked directly at us, starred for a time before flying in front of the moon into darkness.

Grotte de Villars (Cave / Rock Shelter)

I visited here in August 2014, a large cave complex which includes several examples of prehistoric art and signs of cave bear habitation. The caves themselves are worth visiting in their own right, with stalactites and stalagmites lit and shown off to great effect. The cave art has been protected from being covered by the living stone process since it's discovery and is a joy to behold.

Baylea Farm Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

A very difficult place to get to this.
I feel fortunate to have seen this barrow via access from from local residents whose house backs on to the MOD land. The photos are taken from the bottom of their land.
This place is used by the MOD for grenade testing and there was evidence all around that it's actively used. As a result there is no way of getting any closer without signing up and going out on exercise.
The barrow is in fairly good condition if quite overgrown. A shame that we can't enjoy what is a very beautiful and mystical part of Dorset despite the military activity.

Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor (Stone Circle)

Thank you to those that fought to keep this circle for all of us to still visit and enjoy.

I visited the Nine Ladies for the first time a week ago today. What an amazing place it is. When I arrived there we're a couple of elderly lady back packers having a rest on the stones and a traveling man hanging out in the sun with them. He was a really nice guy, blissed out with his acoustic guitar and hammock in the trees, not a bad life!

I approached in the car through Stanton on Peak, keeping straight on (left turn) onto Lees Road and didn't follow the Brichover Road. If you take Lees Road then just keep going up the hill through the trees until you reach the brow of the hill where there is a lay-by to park and a path that will lead you towards the circle.

The Nine Ladies is a very magical place to visit for the first time, maybe every time, I look forward to the next visit to find out. The condition of the circle and the surrounding ground was well kept and mostly litter free, there was a really, really good and positive feel to the place, it regained a feeling of mystery and secrets despite the harsh treatment it has obviously been subjected to. It's a little sad to read some of the field notes here and the sad state this place has been found to be in the past. I am happy to report I felt supercharged and in love with this ancient place that has survived and inspired people to make sure it survived against very tough odds.

Arbor Low (Stone Circle)

My first visit to Arbow Low, and a great visit it was. The whole family all marched up there, leaving two quid in the little metal box for the two adults in our party.

After a while our youngest got bored but my daughter and I stayed and had a really good time exploring each stone and walking around the entire site, we even had the place to ourselves for a while. It was a beautiful hot dry day, a little overcast at times but when the sun broke through directly the light on the stones was amazing. This place has a real energy, it had a deep feeling of peace about it and is magnificent in scale. If you're up this way then you have to call in and spend some time in the wonderful Arbor Low.

Gib Hill (Artificial Mound)

I'm with Jane on this being very reminiscent of Silbury, albeit a very small one, perhaps more Silbaby that Silbury then.

Anyhow, the view across to Arbor Low is great from here and the landscape itself very beautiful.

Access couldn't be better or easier though, and still the building and farm building do not impose themselves while I sit here dreaming.

Black Down Barrow Cemetery (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Kiss me Hardy!
Or on second thoughts perhaps not, these barrows are much more interesting.

On a September evening the Hardy monument car park is close with just the lay-by below serving the occasional dog walker. Parking is still easy though in the lay-by for the heath walk.
These barrows are still pretty fine specimens with incredible views, some well guarded from people with barbed wire but not from the Rabbits who we're having a great time diving in and out of their burrows.

The late summer sun gave this place an other worldly feel as I drove up to the blind summit bathed in sunlight, shadows all around the car it was like driving directly into the sun and then dropping off the edge of the world into darkness.

Gould's Hill Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This is an interesting site in that it offers such a clear view of Maiden Castle and the surrounding landscape. I've only ever seen these barrows from maiden castle in the past so this reverse view (for me) is very welcome indeed. It's also an interesting place as it joins up Maiden Castle right across to The Hellstone via Black Down and the Hardy monument, across to Hampton Down. This is a must do walk for the future!

Fontmell Down (Dyke)

Fontmell down can be easily found on the just a few miles south of Shaftesbury on Spread eagle Hill between Blandford Forum and Shaftesbury. 863 feet above sea level with amazing views across Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. This is definitely a good place for long views and to blow the cobwebs away.

Parking is very easy with a national trust car park just off the road and easy to find. If you prefer the walk then there are good walks to be had from shatesbury or Compton Abbas around Fontmell down and it's neighbor melbury down.

London Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I visited the Stone on the 19th March 2012 CE.
It's now very dimly lit. The entire building empty, a To Let sign hangs from the building. Through the window to the stone I could see abandoned display and merchandising displays, perhaps left behind by the sports shop that last occupied this space. The stone deserves more. Opposite the space aged facade of the new loo Cannon St station, mood lit in comparison to the empty and forgotten space that the stone resides in on the other side of the road.
There are barriers and road works currently slightly dividing a symbol of the ancient past and the modern reality of modern commuters passing buy with take away coffee and laptops unaware of the almost hidden stone. If you stop though, even just for a second then you can still spend time at the stone, consider it's past, hope for a better custodian than an empty shop space to let.

If the remainder of the stone is still beneath ground level and you believe in the ley line theories by Iain Sinclair and others then this is still a magical place, albeit one that requires as healthy dose of imagination and romantic thought.

Lewesdon Hill (Hillfort)

This is a truly magical place and (disputably) the highest place in Dorset, I believe it is as everything else in sight from here is below.

The approach I took was from Broadwinsor on the B3164 and then onto the B6132 and then take the bridle way at the old farmhouse across the filed and up towards Lewesdon Hill.

Before the steep climb begun I crossed what I'm told is an old drovers road or route, this place feels incredibly atmospheric from here right until you reach the top, with trees ranging from relatively young beech trees to ancient looking Oaks.

Oncve at the top there is a clear and quite flat plateau, surrounded almost completely with trees but still offering amazing views to Pilsdon Pen, Golden Cap and Lambert's Castle. Maybe with a pair of binoculars and on a clear day you could even see across to Glastonbury Tor, as my guide and fellow walker on this day has.

Poundbury Hillfort

On visiting yesterday I found the ever growing housing estate of Pounbury growing closer, in fact in places the view is dominated by the faux historic architecture.

Even so Poundbury Hillfort still retains its soul, housing estates, construction works, railway lines all play a part in its modern day perspectives but do not disconnect this place from Maiden Castle or the landscape as a whole. Although very easily accessible from the road this still feels like a hidden place, perhaps because it's somewhat on the edge of time. Well worth a visit if you find yourself near to Dorchester.

Race Down (Long Barrow)

Nothing much to add to directions on getting to this site, follow the post by formicaant below but make sure to take the right hand path after parking up as there are two to choose from. If you take the left hand path you will make it there eventually but only after walking through some of the army base.

Both paths seem to be predominantly used though by dog walkers and not solders, on a Sunday at least. Follow the narrow right hand path, which is quite overgrown and enclosed until it opens out at the sign warning you are now entering MOD land. The path does continue on though and you don't have to actually go through any security here, I guess it's just luck whether you run into any patrol or not. The gunfire that could clearly be heard from the base was slightly off putting after just reading the sign but the odd friendly dog walker passing by calmed any nerves.

The long barrow is well enclosed behind barbed wire but looks very well preserved for it. It's not possible to get very close but you can get a good perspective of it without taking the risk of jumping fences onto MOD land. This is a smaller structure by far than the Pimperne long barrow it's closest neighbour.

Pimperne (Long Barrow)

This is a huge long barrow just off the A354 between Blandford Forum and Salisbury. The best place to park is in the lay by when heading North towards Salisbury. The lay by is almost opposite the turning into Blandford camp on the other side of the road.

From the lay by you can already see the long barrow and it's just a very short walk past the bowl barrow. There is no longer any sign of the other barrows and the "British settlement" as drawn by R. Hippisley Cox in his green roads of England book.

The magnificence of Pimperne long barrow is all the more special as it's the best preserved part of what was obviously once such a rich landscape of monuments.

Race Down long barrow is located just to the North East of here on the edge of the army camp across the road.

The Hellstone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

The best place to park for this site is the layby by the Farm on Portisham Hill, next to the farm at SY601879. The path leading from the style at the layby across the field will lead you directly to the Hellstone. After the first field you need to walk on the other side of the hedge, and then change back again for the third field to be on the correct side for the style and to avoid the electric fence.
This is all going to change soon though as I met the farmer who told me they are soon to change the path leading to the Hellstone.

This lay by is also the perfect place to leave the car to walk to Hampton Down opposite, and just back along The Valley of the Stones and if you have time why not continue on past the valley of the Stones off Coombe Road and then take the right hand turn onto Bishop's Road. The track to The Grey Mare and her Colts and Kingston Russell is just off another right turn (the next one you come to on Bishops Road) onto a farm track.

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow)

English Heritage have now helpfully nailed a very small disk with their logo on to a fence post as you take the bridleway towards the Grey Mare & Her Colts and Kingston Russell stone circle. This I presume in case you don't notice the very large sign warning that the other trackway from the road leads to private property.

Today the ground is frozen solid and the long grooves left by the farm vehicles and cattle are frozen solid.
It begins to lightly snow as we reach the long barrow.

This is a place well worth seeing, the structure of the site may no longer be intact, slightly ruinous even but still very much here within the landscape, and a truly amazing place it is!

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle)

Maybe it's just the time of year but Kingston Russell seems much more visible on the approach from The Grey Mare & Her Colts than last time I was here, perhaps when the tree leaves , and hedges grow back and the grass is longer it would be as I remember it.

There was no sign of the sign here anymore either, a circle without the sign, even better!

Along with Hampton Down what I noticed most on this trip was the other ancient monuments all in view from each of these sites, their interconnectedness in the landscape. You might argue that this is because a lot of the monuments are on hills but the view between them only really opens up within the circles themselves.
From standing in the center of Kingston Russell I have a view all the way across to Abbotsbury, Golden Cap, Seatown and Lyme Regis.

Hampton Down (Stone Circle)

This must be one of the very best locations for a Stone Circle. The view across to Chesil Beach is very clear, as are Chapel Hill Abbotsbury and The Hellstone seen here and on the walk all the way down to the Portesham Hill Road, as well as Black Down Barrow Cemetery
As said previously the condition of the circle itself is quite sad, although in recent years it does seem that the site is being maintained better than perhaps it has been in the past.
Given that though this is a splendid place to have to yourself for a while, a stone circle with an incredible view on the crest of a Dorset Hill.

Winterbourne Poor Lot (Round Barrow(s))

How often Winterbourne Poor Lot must be seen from speeding cars and not up close. It's as true for me as anyone. It's only the second time I've stopped off here to have a closer look. It's not an easy place to stop at. There is no obvious easy access from any direction. The road is fast and the fences don't exactly invite you in. For all that this is a site managed by English Heritage, on their site it still says access via Wellbottom Lodge and this is probably the only place to park. Even then the road is so fast that stopping there and getting back out again in one piece feels like quite a mission!

Once up there on the hill though and it's a different world, albeit one that shares the main road. Maybe the fact that people usually pass by instead of stopping here adds something to the place, it's certainly nice to have the place to oneself for a little while.

The view across to Long Bredy is very good and looking back in the other direction knowing that Broad Stone and The Nine Stones lie just around the corner

Long Bredy (Bank Barrow)

Long Bredy is one of the most accessible sites in this area, it even has it's own bus stop! From the bust stop it's through the gate and up the concrete trackway to the top, and you're there. This site is a pleasure to visit since the site on a public right of way, the bank barrow itself magnificent and the views also. It's just high enough up and away from the road for it to be possible to just lose yourself here for a while. Today I only had the company of a few cows, the custodians of the site perhaps.

The Winterbourne Poor Lot round barrows are in full view from the bank barrow and this is one of the better perspectives to see Poor Lot from.
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