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

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Petersfield Heath (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj

Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse</b>Posted by tjj

Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Starting at Westbury White Horse today walked to Wellhead Springs which are approximately two miles from the White Horse along a well used bridleway. We didn't see them at first but when they came into view it was - yes, a magical moment. They are in a deep wooded combe which was a bit slippery to get down (but fun too). The water from the springs looked clear and clean though I didn't sample it. A dog walker told us that up until a few days earlier the place had been covered in litter. A solitary man had been down there over several days and cleared it all away with a wheelbarrow. What an unsung hero whoever he is.
Walking back uphill to a footpath which merges into the Wessex Ridgeway we came upon a massive hole in the side of the hill. A chalk quarry belonging to the concrete works in Westbury. I always wonder how this vandalism is allowed to occur to one place. I guess its just accepted in the name of commerce. So glad this hasn't been done elsewhere (to my knowledge anyway) on the wonderful chalk downs of Wiltshire.

Anglesey (County) — Links

Welsh History Month: A tale of two tombs ...

"The island of Anglesey has a personality all of its own. Sheltered in the lee of Snowdonia, it is the only area of fertile and accessible land in a region of high and barren mountains. It is, therefore, not surprising that settlers have been drawn to its shores from the dawn of history. And they have left us some of the most inspiring monuments in Wales."

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

Entry taken from "A Complete and Universal DICTIONARY of the English Language" by Revd. James Barclay - dated 1812.

STONEHENGE, a remarkable monument of antiquity situated on Salisbury Plain. It stands on the summit of a hill, which rises with a very gentle ascent; and consists of stones of enormous size, placed upon one another in a circular form: many of which are really stupendous, and cannot fail of filling the beholder with surprise and admiration. All the stones added together make just 140. One, at the upper end which is fallen down and broken in half, measures, according to Dr. Hales, 25 feet in length, 7 in breadth, and, at a medium, 3 and a half in thickness. The stones are supposed to have been brought from the Grey Weathers, upon Marlborough Downs, but the difficulty in bringing them hither, and especially in laying them one upon another, is inconceivable, as no mechanical powers now known are sufficient to raise those that lie across to their present extraordinary situation. It is supposed to have been a temple belonging to the Antient (sic) Druids. Stonehenge is 2 miles W. of Amesbury, and 6 N.N.W. of Salisbury.

Anglesey (County) — Links

Megalithic tour of Anglesey

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by tjj<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by tjj

Soussons Common Cairn Circle (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Soussons Common Cairn Circle</b>Posted by tjj

Grimspound & Hookney Tor — Images

<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj

Grimspound & Hookney Tor — Fieldnotes

On a walking break for a few days in Devon last week. Spent a day (it was never going to be long enough) travelling to and walking on Dartmoor. First walk was to Wistman's Wood - a place I have long wanted to visit. Ancient twisted oaks dripping with silvery lichen and huge rocks covered in mosses, the place had another-worldly feel.
Later, a quick roadside stop to look at Soussons Common Cairn Circle and then on to Grimspound Bronze Age settlement.
Grimspound is one of the best known prehistoric settlements on Dartmoor, probably dating from the Late Bronze Age, with the remains of 24 houses/hut circles enclosed within a stone wall. A very impressive place to visit as positioned on the steep side of some spectacular moor land. A peaty fast flowing stream runs down past one side of the circular wall.
Text taken from 'Ancient Dartmoor' by Paul White says "The most famous of the pound settlements is Grimspound, which is untypical in the immense thickness of its outer walls. It has been calculated that these would have taken 35 man-years to make. Since the site is badly positioned for defence (and the Bronze Age was a remarkably peaceful period) it is hard to see why such a massive structure was needed." Paul White goes on to say it would be tempting to assume these people were pastoralists, keeping their sheep and cattle on the moor and bringing them in for protection from raiders such as wolves or 'the wild lads from the next valley', however, he adds there is no evidence to support these assumptions.

Avebury (Stone Circle) — News


Steve Marshall will be giving a talk on springs, rivers & the Avebury monuments in Swindon!
Friday 26th Sept, 7.30pm, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Bath Road.
Museum Friends £3.50, Non-members £4.50

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — News

Obama visits Stonehenge

"How cool is this" - BBC Points West publish a photo of President Obama strolling around Stonehenge this evening.

On Facebook under Points West.

Cley Hill (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

A chance visit, not planned at all. Just the other side of Warminster today on the way to somewhere else, spotted this marvelous enigmatic looking hill. Never seen before by me. Abandoned original plan with "Let's walk up it." Remarkably easy to access, just past the entrance to Longleat there is a National Trust signpost and small car park. Easy walk up ... today was very windy indeed which made it a lot of fun. There is a clear information board telling us about the Bronze Age bowl barrows, Iron Age hill fort and the six different varieties of orchid. Too late for the orchids today but amazing views - in some ways this hill reminded me of Uffington and even Glastonbury Tor as it has a smaller hill next to it. Very much the same 'feel' as Uffington but without the white horse of course.

Lovely, relatively, unsung place. Added to list of great hill forts around Wiltshire.

Cley Hill (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound) — News

Silbury in August's Edition of Current Archaeology

In August's edition of Current Archaeology, Jim Leary talks about his theory first aired in 'The Story of Silbury Hill'. Did our ancestors build Silbury to mark the source of the Thames. I've always liked this theory.

West Kennet Avenue Settlement Site (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — News

Update on second year dig at Avebury WK Avenue

Archaeology students mostly from Southampton and Leicester universities have re-opened one trench from last year’s dig and opened another major area of investigation in West Kennet Avenue. This involves moving tons of turf and soil and getting down to a level of soil that has never been ploughed (“intact soil”) and so holds flints and other artefacts such as pottery shards, where they were dropped.

This part of the Avenue was chosen because it had been investigated by the marmalade millionaire Alexander Keiller in the 1930s and he had located a gap in Avenue’s stones. Such a gap must have been left for a reason – perhaps because there was a building or other special structure that had to be preserved.

Among these finds are several flint arrowheads – including one miniature barbed and tanged arrowhead (photo left) which the project's experts say is deliberately miniaturised. Whether it was made as a gift, a toy or for a ritual purpose is another matter altogether. Whatever the reason for making it, the workmanship is extraordinary.

This dig is part of the long term Between the Monuments programme which aims, as National Trust archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall puts it, “to put the people back into the Avebury site.” Finding out more about the routine lives and residence of the people who built and used Avebury’s henge and avenues should help understand why these monuments were made and why this site was chosen.

It is a collaborative research project between the University of Southampton (Dr Josh Pollard), University of Leicester (Dr Mark Gillings), Allen Environmental Archaeology (Dr Mike Allen) and the National Trust (Dr Ros Cleal & Dr Nick Snashall.)

On Tuesday (August 5), with only two full days to go before the dig had to finish and with some rain showers during the morning, people from the surrounding villages were shown over the site and heard about the project’s progress.

Despite the buckets, wheelbarrows and spades (there was even someone spotted wielding a pick axe – albeit on the upper layers of soil), archaeology makes use of all the latest technology. This year laser measuring equipment has been used on the site.

Dr Mark Gillings & soil samplesDr Mark Gillings & soil samplesAnd those plastic bags behind Dr Gillings (photo left) contain soil samples which will be analysed and may reveal tell-tale signs of plant life, what animals were about and so on. This is important as the soil is so acidic that snail shells and bones are not found – but pollen and chemical residues will be preserved and identified in the analysis.

Another recently available technique allows scientists to tell what different sizes and shapes of flint cutting tools were used for. This high-magnification process has shown one tool found last year was used to cut nettles – from which string and cords were made.

Another exciting find in one of last year’s trenches is what looks to the experts like the remains of a ‘possible hearth’. It was nearby in this trench that they discovered in 2013 twelve certain or probable stake-holes in a pattern that could justify the theory that they were part of a dwelling of some sort: it is very tempting to add two such finds together to make a dwelling.

And then, just when the students thought they had unearthed some really good and significant finds from many centuries BC, someone finds a mediaeval coin. Mind you, this coin far smaller than our five pence piece and paper thin, so spotting it amidst the soil and recognising that it was anything at all worth keeping from the spoil heap, is a testament to these students’ growing expertise and enthusiasm.

As ever, it is a matter of funding being available to allow a third year’s dig to reveal even more of the evidence of the human lives that flourished in between Avebury’s stones.

Wiltshire — News

Extension To Salisbury Museum opens

A £2.4m extension to Salisbury Museum housing more than 2,500 rare artefacts has opened.
The Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, which was partly funded by a lottery grant, is home to to a large collection of Stonehenge-related pieces.

These include the skeleton of a wealthy and powerful Bronze Age man dubbed the "Amesbury Archer" discovered in 2003.
The gallery also includes the Wardour Hoard containing 4,000-year-old sword fragments, spearheads and chisels.

Graigue (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Spotted this 'split' standing stone while looking for the Pulcin an Chairn wedge tomb. It stands in the middle of a field along the same single track road as the wedge tomb. Haven't been able to find any additional information about this site. Hopefully will be able to add something to this brief field note later.

Graigue (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Graigue</b>Posted by tjj

Dunbeg (Cliff Fort) — Images

<b>Dunbeg</b>Posted by tjj

Dunbeg (Cliff Fort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 18th May 2014
Dunbeg Fort is closed to visitors at present because of the serious damage caused by the winter storms. Visitors are allowed to walk down to it but no access to the site - it is clear to try and enter would be dangerous. The woman in the audio-visual centre told us that engineers had recently undertaken a structural survey and there is hope that some of the damage can be repaired with limited access allowed later in the summer.
The following information is taken from the audio-visual leaflet.
"Dunbeg Fort is a small but impressive example of a promontory fort but its location makes it even more dramatic. Built on a sheer cliff, its archaeological excavation was undertaken in the late 1970s. There are two major phases of occupation recorded. The first phase was around the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Clusters of stake holes to the north and south of the fort indicated the presence of wooden tripods for supporting pots and skins over the fire. Analysis of the occupation debris suggests a diet mainly of pigs, sheep and goats with some cows.
The second phase of occupation lay above the first phase and was around the 10th and 11th centuries AD. It was concentrated on two hearths in the centre of the Beehive (clochan). The bones of sheep, pig, deer, birds and fish were also recorded. But the excavation results did not reveal what the site was used for; it may have been defensive, or used for ritual or even status purposes, or it may simply have just been lived in."

Some lovely examples of clochans/beehive huts nearby on the hillside.

Fallen stones near Milltown Milestone (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>Fallen stones near Milltown Milestone</b>Posted by tjj

Milltown (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Milltown</b>Posted by tjj<b>Milltown</b>Posted by tjj

Milltown (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 19th May 2014
Located in Milltown just outside the town of Dingle on the Dingle peninsula, the large standing in the front garden of Milestone B&B is clearly visible from the road. Known locally as the Milestone, the stone stands in good view of Brandon Mountain with large recumbent stones in the adjacent field. These stones feel 'related' to the standing stone though now separated by a fence. I *think* one of the stones has cup and ring marks but heavily covered in lichen so hard to make out. The farmer who rents the field politely asked us to leave at this point as he wanted to lock the gate - so we really only had a cursory look.

Corr Aille Spiral (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

<b>Corr Aille Spiral</b>Posted by tjj<b>Corr Aille Spiral</b>Posted by tjj

Corr Aille Spiral (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited 19th May 2014 while spending a week exploring the Dingle peninsula, Kerry, Ireland.

Learnt about this spiral rock carving whilst visiting Kilmalkedar ruined medieval church on the Dingle peninsula. Before going into the church and churchyard – which contain a fine ogham stone, a large stone cross and stone sun dial, all dating around 12th century – we wandered up the lane to another atmospheric ruin, Fothraich Brenndan (St Brendan’s House) with a fast flowing spring nearby. Also nearby was an information board which made reference to a recently discovered spiral rock carving known as the Corr Aille Spiral. We noticed the route of the Pilgrim’s Way or ‘Way of the Saints’ was close by going uphill and marked by posts with the Pilgrim’s Way symbol on them. We fell in with a couple also visiting from England and set off with them in search of the stone. We walked up Reenconnell Hill from post to post which were positioned every 100 metres or so, jumping over bogs in the process. One of other two people strode on ahead and at the very top of the hill in what appeared to be a rocky outcrop he located the spiral stone. From this point there are fabulous views towards Brandon Mountain on one side and two bays on the other.
The Pilgrim’s Way or Cosan na Naomh starts at Ventry Bay and goes to the summit of Brandon Mountain, 18 km or 11miles. It is thought to be a much older pre-Christian pilgrimage route in honour of the festival Lughnasa traditionally held 31st July. It was later renamed for St Brendan the Navigator who came from the town of Tralee.

Doonmanagh (Puicin an Chairn) (Wedge Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Just back from a dream like week on the Dingle peninsula. No stone circles on Dingle though lots of standing stones. This wedge tomb, however, more than compensated for the absence of stone circles. Probably one of the most inaccessible sites I've ever visited. A long drive down a narrow single track road and very difficult to locate on a steep, boggy hilltop overlooking sea and mountains in the parish of Min Aird. The tomb is on the other side of a stone wall and unless you know where to look almost impossible to see. We were directed there by a helpful, friendly, person at the Ballyferriter (West Kerry) Regional Museum.
Apart from the breathtaking views - my amateurish photo cannot do it justice - it is of particular interest as most of the original stones covering the cairn are still in place.
Just had to sit for a while and soak up the 'words fail me' beauty of the place.

Doonmanagh (Puicin an Chairn) (Wedge Tomb) — Images

<b>Doonmanagh (Puicin an Chairn)</b>Posted by tjj

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

English Heritage list entry and description

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Site is on the edge of what is now a housing development on the southern side of Swindon, also close to the river Ray. Although not a lot to see, a green circular area enclosed by wooden posts, and a scheduled ancient monument plaque with the description "Rushy Platt Bowl barrow is sealed under a layer of modern landfill. Archaeological investigations reveal it consists of a mound 11m in diameter and about .75m high. There is a large flat slab sealing a deep pit containing worked flint".

It is unusual in as much it is not on Wiltshire down land but on a low lying ancient fen area, now a designated nature reserve 'Rushy Platt Nature Reserve'. Anyone wishing to visit can access the site via a pleasant walk along the Berks and Wilts Canal known locally as Kingshill Canal. The barrow is on the right across a small river and bridge. Walk into the housing development and it is just in front of you. (See English Heritage link for map).

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images

<b>Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow</b>Posted by tjj<b>Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow</b>Posted by tjj

Figsbury Ring (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Visited today courtesy of a good friend who now lives in Devizes - part of a long awaited trip to Old Sarum. The sun was shining and at Old Sarum we really did feel like tourists, walking around the old castle ruins and ramparts a few paces in front of a French family.

Figsbury Ring, off the A30, was a very different experience. By now the morning mist had cleared and the afternoon was Warm and Sunny .. how wonderful in itself that was in the middle of March. The first thing I noticed, although owned by the National Trust and designated a SSSI, Figsbury Ring is adjacent to some heavy duty MOD land and there are 'Keep Out - Danger' notices all along the right hand side of the hill fort as you walk towards it.

An unusual hill fort, univallate with an inner circular ditch. I did a bit of reading after my visit and there is a view that this is the site of a late Neolithic henge which was later utilized as a hill fort. On a grassland chalk ridge it provides great views towards Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral - though both were shrouded in mist today.

In the course of my reading I also came across this item in the Heritage Journal. It doesn't appear to be posted on TMA so here it is -
Perhaps it is worth mentioning there were lots of rabbits around - we spoke to a dog walker as we were leaving who had just disposed of a rabbit picked up by her dog which appeared to have myxomatosis.

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — News

A303 upgrade to be fast tracked because of flooding crisis

The prospect of fast-tracking an upgrade of the second artery into the region comes as travel in the West country has been thrown into turmoil as the only mainline into Devon and Cornwall collapsed into the sea at Dawlish.
When questioned in the Commons as the region was effectively cut off by rail, transport minister Robert Goodwill said widening the A303 was a project on which the Government “needs to concentrate”.

Read more:

Cadbury Castle (South Cadbury) (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

" ... But I should at once declare my position on all matters Arthurian. I would be bitterly disappointed if it was proved - which looks unlikely - that there was a historical Arthur. One of the great triumphs of the English literary imagination is that the cathedral of prose which is the Arthurian cycle was built up over centuries on empty ground.
Even so, on arriving at Cadbury Castle I could see why such sober heads as Leslie Alcock, who had excavated here in the 1960s, should have succumbed to its charm: the ring of trees around the banked hill; the approach up through them along a hollow way; the emergence onto a plateau commanding views across to the Somerset Levels and Glastonbury. Moreover it was close to the River Cam, and had the villages of West Camel and Queen Camel just to the west, so encouraging the identification with 'Camelot'.
When Alcock excavated here, he established that the hill-fort was built in the Bronze Age, with later Iron Age usage, and that it was substantially enlarged and occupied just after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the fifth century - much more so than other comparable hill-forts. The fifth century was precisely when Arthur was supposed to have emerged to lead the British against the Anglo-Saxons.
With great good luck, Alcock discovered a 'Great Hall' from this period, measuring some sixty-five feet long; good luck, in that his team of archaeologists allowed themselves only a relatively small part of the plateau to excavate, so to find anything was providential. Perhaps it was this that tipped Alcock over the edge into making the identification with King Arthur, which brought Cadbury Castle to world wide attention at a time, the late 1960s, when a generation were searching for a lost and future king. It cost him a great deal of respect from his peers, who questioned the historicity of Arthur. There are no contemporary accounts of his reign and the first chronicle describing his deeds dates from 600 years later - but then argued Alcock, there are hardly any fifth-century contemporary accounts in the first place..."

Taken from: The Green Road Into The Trees - A Walk Through England by Hugh Thomson

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

"Set back inland from Abbotsbury, and a brisk walk up the coast path, was the Kingston Russell stone circle, a place so off the map that even Aubrey Burl didn't list it in his authoritative gazetteer, Rings of Stone.
In a corner of a farmer's field, the stones lay a little forlorn. There were seventeen of them, arranged in a careful, elliptical shape mirrored by other stone circles along the Atlantic coast. They had been there some 5,000 years.
The stones had all fallen over. English Heritage, who nominally administered the site, hadn't put up so much as a board to inform visitors what they were looking at. While I was there, three couples passed at intervals, heading for the coast path. They would not have noticed the circle if I hadn't pointed it out.
Yet the stones had a majesty, and much that came from their position. The slight rise in the land meant that there was a clear sight line to the round hills of Beacon Knap and other similar knolls heading west along the coast. I was accustomed to the prehistoric love of mimicry, the circle reflecting the shape of the hills beyond.
Making the landscape yours, stamping ownership on the land by showing that you too can shape it, is a primal human instinct. The power of the sacred landscape, and in this case of the sea as well, can be refracted by a sense of placement, of concentration. There was a feeling at the stone circle of great deliberation - that this was precisely the right place for these stones"

Extract from "The Green Road into the Trees - a walk through England" by Hugh Thomson.

Tinhead Hill (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Visited this hitherto unknown long barrow today. Walked up a firm, steep, footpath from Salisbury Hollow in the village of Edington, turning right at the top onto another field edge footpath. The barrow is in the middle of a crop field almost on the crest of Tinshead Hill. Protected by a strong fence topped with barbed wire and planted with beech trees, it is not possible to investigate too closely. However, couldn't resist walking up to it across the field - it felt very good to have mud on my boots again. Wonderful views towards Salisbury Plain (in fact on the edge of the Plain) and the town of Westbury. Walking back down to Edington there is a beautiful valley reminiscent of the area around Bishopstone in north Wiltshire - also on a spring line I understand, though it too wet underfoot to clamber down to them today.
Many thanks to my good friend M for spotting this long barrow on the OS map and for leading me up there.

Tinhead Hill (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>Tinhead Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Tinhead Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Tinhead Hill</b>Posted by tjj
Showing 1-50 of 592 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
Passionate about:
Nature; stone circles and all ancient sites that involve walking through unspoilt countryside/being near the sea; islands around the the British Isles, especially those with ancient monuments.

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