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

Get the TMA Images feed
Circlemaster's Latest Posts

Latest Posts

Maen Llia (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

I drove past this in Wales and didn't have time to stop, but it's always stayed in my memory as it was a very beautiful stone almost sculptural and the location is very wild and scenic as well

Devil's Den (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Well I made to to see this today, followed scubi's directions by turning off the A4 just after it leaves Marlborough to head up Downs Road towards Manton House, it was racehorse country so everything seemed a bit cultivated, but near the dolmen was a path through some grass and sarsens, and a wildflower meadow leading up to the dolmen. It was very accessible and easy to find. I climbed up to the top but forgot to look for the cup marking on top of the capstone! I may go back and look for them, although had trouble getting down as couldn't see my footing. This is my first dolmen I have been to visit and I was very impressed. I climbed through the portal and felt the cosmic energies!

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

I usually go here in the autumn, the dappled light through the beech trees on a sunny day in autumn makes it very atmospheric. The stones are old and gnarled and it looks like West Kennet on a smaller scale, though it has a lot of its own charm. Have been there since the neo nazi activity and not seen any noticeable damage. I am going to read Walter Scott's legend of Kenilworth as he is responsible in large part for the folklore about the phantom blacksmith which has made the site so popular.
I read Clive Spinnage's myths and mysteries of Wayland's Smith which is an excellent resource although I still have not been able to find the "snivelling stone" he speaks of which is supposed to be there.

Uffington Castle (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Uffington Castle is an amazing place to watch the sun set

Carn Goch Hill Fort (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

I can't believe there aren't more posts for this. I went to see this last year, it's an absolutely huge hill fort and an amazing site. It's unusual because all the ramparts and fortifications are still there and stone built, rather like Grimspound in Dartmoor on a massive scale. The huge cairn on the other side is called the red cairn I think and is a huge pile of stones that could be mistaken for a quarry.

Cherhill Down and Oldbury (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Well. What to make of this? I enjoyed the walk from the car park through the strange tree covered earthwork, and it was quite a long way although with excellent views across the national trust landscape, until we reached oldbury hill fort. The earthworks seem quite extensive and interesting. Then into view comes a strange obelisk, which looked to me like something out of HP Lovecraft..perhaps the temple to Dagon? Up close it turned out to be a monument erected by some aristocrat in memory of his ancestor, and it seems like a blot on the landscape of what would otherwise be a very natural landscape. It depends on personal taste I suppose. The monument is now crumbling and in the hands on the NT. We walked around towards the cherhill white horse, it was spectacular views from there across the coombes.
However as someone who lives near Uffington white horse, which is of course far more ancient and significant, there was just no comparison. This is not to say I won't come back as it was very interesting and enjoyable walk up to the site.

Barbury Castle (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Went there today, it's a shame there's no roundhouse. The place has some excellent scenery though and is a very easy walk about half mile if that from the car park. The immense size of the ditches made the most impression on me. There's still an information board there.
The interior of the hill fort is very rough ground with sheep grazing and lots of vegetation, which contrasts with the flat ground seen in the centre of places like uffington castle and segsbury. It does have a country park feel although this was not a bad thing, I saw some people taking pushchairs with babies up there so it's very accessible. Did not see the disc barrow so might go back for that.

Windmill Hill (Causewayed Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

I fulfilled an ambition of many years today by finally making it up to Windmill Hill. Having been to Avebury lots of times over the years, this was the one part of the landscape I had not visited and it was well worth seeing. We did a circular walk starting from the church near the Alexander Keiller museum, when we got there walked up to the top of the largest barrow and found it very peaceful and atmospheric. One might say there isn't much to see, but it's unusual because it does some interesting barrows and it's a neolithic enclosure which is different to the many hill forts which are so ubiquitous in the area.
As an integral part of the Avebury landscape you can't fail to miss this if you have a serious interest in the place, or like me it's great for any completists who come back time and again and want to see more.

The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle) — Folklore

Regarding the location of the witch or eldern tree, there is a stone figure in the porch of the church at nearby Long Compton which local tradition asserts is the figure of a witch. The figure is actually heavily eroded and almost looks like one of the rollright stones.


"In his 1968 book, Murder by Witchcraft, Donald McCormick describes how the female figure has 'an eerie and malevolent stare on her face that fixed one wherever one stood'. The author goes on to say that, even when moving back 20 paces from the figure, 'the stare was still directly confronting me'...". Mark Turner, Curious Cotswolds


"The feet of the stone figure appear to be resting on an animal, perhaps a cat or fox.It may this that has led to suggestions that the figure is that of a witch who was turned to stone, her familiar resting at her feet. In his book Murder by Witchcraft Donald McCormick suggests this figure has a malevolent stare, and his implication that it fixes any onlooker has helped to cement the folklore".

"...in a field near the church can be seen some ancient earthworks. The field is called The Close. An old tradition is attached to it...It said a young man sold his soul to the devil there." Mark Turner, Folklore & mysteries of the Cotswolds.


"Belief in witchcraft and the power of witches features prominently in Long Compton's folklore.Rarely in fact does one find a village with such strong witchcraft associations." mark Turner.Folklore & Mysteries of the Cotwolds.

"There are enough witches in Long Compton to draw a wagon load of hay up long compton hill " - Old saying.

The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I went to visit this today. I was quite disappointed the see the warden's hut had gone. There was actually a small fire burning where it used to be, which was ironic. I did notice one of the stones seemed quite badly blackened which must be fire damage.

Belas Knap (Long Barrow) — Folklore

From THE HAUNTED COTSWOLDS by Bob Meredith:

"One warm summer afternoon a family from the Midlands, visiting the mound decided to picnic on top of it to enjoy the view. They laid a large table cloth on the mound and loaded it well with food and crockery.The day was still and warm without a breath of air about.During the course of the meal the table cloth suddenly leapt into the air, scattering food and the people.The family were so upset by the incident that they quickly packed everything away and hurriedly left."

Belas Knap (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

I have been here today, and got home just in time to find out about the severe weather warning. I enjoyed the walk up to Belas Knap. It does look to me like a hobbit's dwelling. Having been to Rollright Stones on the same day though and seen the fire damage, I was dismayed to see the same sort of thing in the east and west chambers of Belas Knap. It seems people go up there at night and light fires and tea lights. Perhaps they don't realise by doing this they are damaging the stones.

I thought Belas Knap looked very different from Waylands Smithy. Belas Knap is definitely more curvaceous and feminine. I agree with Jane on most points and because it looks very "cosmetic" and restored, I would like to know how much of it is original and how much has been restored.

I parked in a road next to several other cars which was where the sat nav took us. I do not yet have GPS for walkers so I was using a Jarrold guide book for the walk up to the barrow. The views of the cotswolds are certainly beautiful and it felt like we were up in the clouds. I intend to go back at some point and do the full 8 mile walk around Cleeve hill which incorporates Belas Knap.

Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill (Hillfort) — Links

Time Team


A description of what Time Team found there in 2004.

The exhibits are on display in the Project Timescape Museum nearby.

Brightwell Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Brightwell Barrow</b>Posted by Circlemaster

Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill</b>Posted by Circlemaster<b>Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill</b>Posted by Circlemaster<b>Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill</b>Posted by Circlemaster<b>Wittenham Clumps and Castle Hill</b>Posted by Circlemaster

Brightwell Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Brightwell Barrow</b>Posted by Circlemaster

Brightwell Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

I was inspired to visit Brightwell Barrow after reading a reference to it on the Poem Tree on nearby Castle Hill

"In misty distance see the barrow heave
There lies forgotten lonely Cwichelm's grave."

It looks like one of the "hedgehogs" surrounding avebury although there are few trees. There are several rocks which look as if someone has brought them up there attempting to build a cairn?

The place is certainly very lonely and exposed and is worth a visit. Perhaps it is best viewed from the Clumps, while reading Joseph Tubbs' poem on the tree. Project Timescape is where you can sget a nice cup of tea and see the artefacts on display that Time Team found in the area.

EDIT: According to the Northmoor Trust website, the poem does not refer to Brightwell barrow but another site which is farther away. I still think on a misty day Brightwell Barrow is very picturesque.
I enjoy visiting atmospheric and historical places and have got my interest in megaliths from Julian's fantastic two books

Avebury, Savernake and Rollright stones are some of my favourites and local to me.

would like to travel more to see more

My TMA Content: