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

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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 (click to view fullsize)

<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.

http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/features/history/3319-did-our-ancestors-get-it-wrong-and-create-silbury-and-avebury-to-mark-the-source-of-the-thames

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

Update on second year dig at Avebury WK Avenue


http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/features/history/3314-exciting-archaeological-finds-from-the-second-year-s-dig-at-avebury-s-west-kennet-avenue?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-28276503

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 -
http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/figsbury-ring-a-monument-in-need-of-care-2/
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:
http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Flooding-crisis-A303-upgrade-fast-tracked/story-20640157-detail/story.html

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

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Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited Stonehenge today via the new Visitors Centre at Airman's Corner. The Exhibition Room was excellent, the gift shop was what it was, and the cafe was probably the best it could be catering for hundreds of visitors a day (don't expect anything more than the most basic of light-lunch-type-food). I was looking forward to the land-train but instead travelled on a small bus which used the remains of the A344 as access to Stonehenge. It's still a bit of a mess up by the site of the old carpark and I was disappointed to find the wire fence still in place around the ancient monument. To view the Stones from the Avenue you have to go around into the adjacent field. However, Stonehenge was wonderful today with a far wider circumference to walk around than previously. The English Heritage staff were friendly and helpful but I was still left with the feeling of being 'delivered', 'processed' and 'dispatched' with exit through the gift shop. Next time I'm going to try and walk up the by-way from Larkhill to fully take in the barrows and magnificent sweep of the landscape.

Grim's Ditch (Dyke) — Miscellaneous

The Dyke to me back to an older heritage than the Saxon world; it was built by the Celts of the Iron Age in about 300BC, for reasons that, if archaeologists are honest, remain mysterious - to the point that there has been some argument as to whether it was for southerners to keep northerners out, or vice versa. To my lay eyes it seemed probable that it was designed to keep the north out, with the ditch on that side of the embankment; but more crucial for me was the acceptance of a mystery. I was used in Latin America to ancient earthworks whose purpose or meaning remained resolutely obscure, and I liked that. Keats's idea of 'negative capability', that we should be humble in the face of what we do not understand, does not always sit well in the world of archaeology, where forcibly expressed hypotheses and the denigration of rival theories are the norm.

Perhaps because we understand so little about it, you never hear Grim's Dyke mentioned in the same breath as Offa's Dyke on the Welsh border. Yet it was also a substantial achievement and wherever traces of it remain, as they do on the high horse country below Wantage and even around Watford and suburban London, it is a reminder of how insistently north and south were divided in this country, a fatal fault line that ultimately allowed the Normans to conquer the Anglo-Saxon world.

Taken from "The Green Road Into The Trees" by Hugh Thomson

Northumberland (County) — News

Northumberland stone circle - 'DIY Stonehenge'


This may be old news by now. I've not come across it before though.


http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/northumberland-builders-diy-stonehenge-causes-6358709

Hill of Tara — Links

YouTube - Traces of the Past


Tara Lidar HD.

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — News

Bus service to be withdrawn


A friend in the Ramblers sent me this earlier today - am a bit gutted as have been known to use this service to walk up to Wayland's Smithy.

"Thamesdown Transport's route 47 between Swindon and Lambourn, via Bishopstone and Ashbury, is to be withdrawn. This will leave several villages without a bus service and make it more difficult to do linear walks along that part of the Ridgeway. At the time of writing it is unclear whether the Ridgeway Explorer bus X47, which runs only on Saturdays, will continue."

I despair!

Ogbourne St Andrew Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — News

Bronze age mound at Ogbourne St Andrew being investigated


Small fry compared to the West Kennet Avenue dig but I found this quite at exciting.

Started a walk today from the church at Ogbourne St Andrew - a couple of archaeologists from Cranfield University were in the church-yard undertaking a geo-phys and mapping exercise of the Bronze Age mound which is in the churchyard. Apparently a small history group in the village had invited them in. I do hope the results will be published.

Wiltshire — News

"Evidence" of a giant hill figure near Swindon


http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10594307.The_hills_have_eyes____and_a_spear/

".... it can be revealed that for the best part of 3,000 years a hillside near Swindon was the site of an epic chalk carving of a giant spearman.

The 130ft high hill figure at Foxhill near Wanborough is believed to have been maintained for generations, almost certainly in honour of pagan gods worshipped throughout the centuries."

The Western Isles — Folklore

In his book ‘Behold the Hebrides’, Alastair Alpin MacGregor (1925) explains how the people of the Hebrides are surrounded by the sea and it though the sea is part of them and they are part of the sea. He says it was known as well as though it were a member of their own family and that to them the sea spoke in Gaelic. He says they listened to what it said and from this they prophesied good and bad fortune, at home and abroad, and how by its sounds and moods they could tell what weather was coming. There was the ‘laughing of the waves’ – ‘gair nann tonn / gair na mara’ and sometimes this laughter would be mocking and derisive when a storm had risked life and feeble humans had struggled to survive it. He also describes the laughing of waves across a great stretch of sand on Lewis in calm and frosty weather as being “weird and eerie”.
In the Hebrides there are many descriptions of the sounds and moods of the sea. Here are a few of them.
Nualan na mara – sounds like the lowing of cattle
Buaireas na mara – restless sea
Gearan na mara – complaining or fretting sea
Mire na mara – joy and cheerfulness of sea
Osnadh – sighing of sea, like the breeze through pine and larch at nightfall
Caoidh na mara – lament of the sea.

He says that sometimes the sea is totally still and silent as though it sleeps, and the people nearby are lulled into sleep also; and he says that people who live by the sea derive their vision from it.

Martin Martin, writing of the Western Isles in 1695 says of the inhabitants of one of the small, then inhabited, islands round Lewis, that they took their surname from the colour of the sky, the rainbow and the clouds.

Source: ‘Mother of the Isles’ by Jill Smith

Tarren Maerdy (Cairn(s)) — News

Stone Age carved wooden post found


Stone Age carved wooden post found at Rhondda Wind Farm ..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-23349783

Hetty Pegler's Tump (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

I've visited this long barrow before but on each previous occasion the chambers have been closed to visitors. Today was my first opportunity to go inside.
A hot summer's day, as we approached along the edge of a field of unripe wheat a raven rose up from the barrow - a good sign. Externally the barrow was covered in high grass and wild flowers - internally it was dark and cool with a low lintel stone to scramble under to gain access. The ground is covered with loose Cotswold stone chippings so hard on the knees, especially in light summer clothes. However, once inside it becomes almost possible to stand - I could see the chamber at the back of the barrow but did not venture that far in.

This is one of my favourite long barrows to visit - it always feels 'away from it all' in spite of the road only being a field distance away. Today there was a raven and later a buzzard.

Sad to report, the exterior of the lintel stone had been vandalised by some idiot scratching the word 'Beware' and someone's name on it. My companion also reported similar damage inside.

Hetty Pegler's Tump (Long Barrow) — Images

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Clearwell Caves (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Images

<b>Clearwell Caves</b>Posted by tjj
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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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