Washed east along the Ross of Mull
We decided to visit Iona for the day (it has to be done) but it all went a bit pear shaped, mainly because of the weather. We were rained on and bitten to the point where we decided to leave early. There was a bit of an exodus of tourists leaving the island, and progress down the A849 was hindered by some pretty severe flooding (the kind where you wonder when the car is going to start floating).
This was the context of our visit to three standing stones on the Ross of Mull, all within easy reach of the A849. I say 'we', but it was only really me doing the visiting. The others stayed dry in the car.
Visited 11th August 2004: On our way back from Iona I persuade Louise that we should pop in and see a few standing stones. Fionnphort was the first we came to, and at the point when we arrived the rain was torrential.
What I should have done was ask at the house for permission to take some photos of the stone. Instead I wound the car window down and took some hurried photos from the relative dry of the driver's seat. Yes, I know, this is not in the spirit of things at all. The stone looks rather pleasant as a sort of garden feature. It's an elegant monolith.
Visited 11th August 2004: Tiraghoil was the second stone we came to heading east. I left the others in the car (the rain had subsided a bit) and made my way to the stone. This is a large lump of rock, much bigger than Fionnphort
. It has quite a presence to it. With the weather as it was the stone did a good job looking immoveable (sort of, "I ain't budging!"). The lichen hair might have been what suckered me into thinking of the stone as human.
Visited 11th August 2004: Taoslin is accessible over a small stile. It's a hefty lump of rock, with large packing stones around the base of it. It's a lot smaller than Tiraghoil
and far less elegant than Fionnphort
. On my visit the hollow around the base of the stone was full of water, forming quite an aesthetically pleasing pond. The reflection of the stone in the water was great. I wonder whether Taoslin is the real deal though? Those packing stones can't be original. They're far too large, and inexpertly placed.
Posted by Kammer
4th August 2005ce
HOWE TO KNOWE July 10th 2005
This year's open day at the Knowes of Trotty I would be a little early because of the bus timetable. Only Kirkwall-Stromness on a Sunday so set off from the Dounby junction and up to the first crossroads, the one before Appiehouse Take the RH off. Coming to the side road that goes up by Howe (built on a natural hillock) and Manse when I had a thought about the Fa'an Stane 0'Howe. This large stone on the Howe lands was broken up and removed sometime before 1882 (for I don't see the O.S. missing a named stone). It is said to be a standing stone of which there is no trace. Only it struck me as it was already fallen when named maybe they should be looking for an artificial mound, perhaps like the Stanerandy Tumulus having been called the Stanerandy Stones till (IIRC) modern times. There were and are tumuli over by Winksetter, I rather imagine we can ignore the Knowes of Trotty. Or maybe a natural hillock would do, like with the Appiehouse Stone. Further along the road lie a disused pit and a quarry - perhaps it got in the way of workings. Wish I knew what precise area the Howe farm lands covered on the 1882 map.
Saw a mown track before the route used last time and presumed it to be a newer better way to the Knowes of Trotty. In this I was wrong. Continued across fields anyway. Very tough going but did get to see a nice bridge out there and became intrigued by a flattened area of burn that I guess was the ford marked on the 1:25,000 in a now isolated spot on the track to the tumuli. Getting to the track my trousers were soaked all the way up from the vegetation, strangely I didn't become thoroughly drenched until the knee-high grass where the farmtrack underfoot becomes a not-quite footpath. Not had squelchy feet for ages, must have been sock osmosis ! So know not to come hither when rain is about. But oh, all about the bright dainty butterflies seeking mates and the siren calls of parenting birds.
When I reached the place of excavation, about the middle of the day, I found out that I forgot the open day started not till two. There was no-one about, only a notice for when the tour began. Thought I to cross the field and while away the time perusing sites about Dounby - for one I have never yet gone down the Howe side road to seek out the broch and well of Nettletar that lie on the Burn of Nettleton below Manse. Unfortunately identical notices bounded the field on all sides, blocking my way [once the season's dig was done the public were informed that besides the scattered amber beads had they discovered three gold fragments, one being about an inch long even still rolled up]. So I wended my way back fully along the proper track and pitied those to come later whom I could not warn of conditions (no notice at the track's start !).
So it was that my feet found there way to the farm road that skirts the Loch of Wasdale before heading for Berstane, cars going only as far as Wasdale Farm. There are a few 'standing stones' on the way to the northern end of the lochan. Before you reach the waters a tine goes to Setter, and in the angle sit a set of picturesque ruins above road level that NMRS calls a farmstead, though using a query in so doing. Just above Setter Farm are shown mounds, and in the far end of a field to its left a burnt mound. I saw the waters of the lochan lower than on any of my previous visits - there were several areas of ground just about breaking the surface and I am able to see the tops of at least one side of the short causeway to the artificial islet (though later I see a poor photograph in an hardbacked thesis shewing its entirety laid bare, a drought year). Mostly what you are aware of is the 'modern' cairn atop this creation. Like the Holm of Groundwater on the Loch of Kirbister in Orphir used to there are the traces of a wall round it at the (winter) water-level. Here, though, there is a causeway from the southern tip behind which are the remains of a massive stone rampart. Of the suspects it does sound more like a dun than a broch or any kind of roundhouse.
Along the grassy track to Berstane and the Howe-Harper cairn still looked impregnable in an unenterable field. The map shows tumuli a little further around the hillside. On the farm road above Berstane Farm I looked back at the cairn and noticed a second area of exposed soil on the opposite end to the first. Only when I looked at the digital photo back home did I notice a gate in the fence alongside the field. Must be up at the level of Berstane House or I'd certainly have noticed it before - ah well, there's always next time. From this point I looked across the the pass and the Kirkwall-Stromness road to the Hill of Heddle and for the first time really noticed the mounds on the slopes. The 1:25,000 confirms these as tumuli. I am struck by their resemblance to the hillside above New Scapa Road and finally convinced that the mounds there too are man-made. Back down to the main road the wood on the right is a plantation and a cairn is shown on the hillside above its east end. More evident is the Snaba Hill Cairn up around the hill again.
Last visit of the day is the Cuween Hill Cairn. Fairy Knowe indeed. Orkney has no faery, it has Finns and huldu-folk, dwarfies and hogboons. Finally I added the cell that lies to the right of the entrance, an easy one to overlook by the fact of being on the same side. Climbed on top, or rather up around the back. Here can be seen a circular back to the mound. Not sure whether this is original or a post-excavation artefact. Does feel somewhat like a platform, and a similar feature has been said to be part of the Howe-Harper Cairn.
Posted by wideford
4th August 2005ce
OLD FINSTOWN ROAD June 1st 2005
Took the bus to Finstown, got off by the graveyard. Considered trying for the Snaba Hill cairn, even had that part of a large-scale map with me. It occupies the kind of hillside location where you can identify sites on the map from a distance but once you reach the hill itself you become lost, the landscape overpowers your senses through the added third dimension. Conserve my energies, leave it for a day in winter or spring when I am less liable to be disappointed by covering vegetation. Places like Cuween Hill that are in care are a wonder year-round by contrast. Up onto the Old Finstown Road past the burn side mounds and up the track to the chambered cairn once more.
The lantern at Cuween Hill is next to useless, the pinprick of light and its umbra good for picking out points but next to useless here, really need one of those dome lanterns to see much of anything (especially if you wish to take photos, for which it is necessary to know what is in the frame before the flash goes !). And my 1 lux videocamera proved useless too, once inside. Decided to take pics of the ceilings as I figured not many people would have done this. Simple technique, lay the digital camera on its back roughly central and press go. This works well here. (But when I tried it at Wideford Hill's chambers this Sunday I only got half of un in, so credit to whoever shot the 'beehive' chamber there). Bit of a hands and knees job but reasonably dry. Only one I put myself entirely inside for a good look was the double at the back, all the rest I basically laid out flat with arms in front to place the camera. If there had been more light and if I hadn't been alone ... The double was split by two thin slabs across the width, the chamber on the right has a thin slab acoss the end of the the entrance flag marking the chamber itself. You certainly have the feeling that all the cells are by different hands, finally unified by the covering mound. Apart from that at the left (which you can practically walk into therefore) all the chambers' entrances are raised above the floor of the main chamber, though at differing heights. A lost rough sandstone ball came from the s'ern half of the doublet. On this occasion I missed the chamber to the left of the main entrance (It actually showed in a photo, but being uncertain of the batteries I looked at none whilst there). I was looking for four spaces and found four, not thinking one main chamber plus four cells leading off !
Looking along the entrance to the outside it is possible to see Wideford Hill in the distance like the say. But on the diagonal - was this an accident, explaining the slight curve of the passage, or deliberate like the sightlines that 'pass' across the outside of a mound for instance. And rather than looking across to the other chambered cairn did it look down onto the various settlements (Crossiecrown at Quanter Ness and/or the Ramberry Cairn may have been visible too). Up on Wideford Hill and looking down
across the burn could those bumps be indications of a more extensive settlement than just the excavated Wideford Meadow ? The latter resulted from finds of flints but the earlier report of of a flint findspot along the burn relates to an area of gorse not far from the main Kirkwall-Finstown road (by the road end of the burn the 1882 map shows a stone, perhaps a boundary marker, gone now).
Back down to earth and along the road you come to a bend opposite the the Old Manse of Firth where it cuts across the end of a large mound on its right which is hemmed in by two tracks additionally. This is the Cot of Cursiter. Cot is taken to be 'common field', but as the only other such placename I know, Nevada Cott near Lingro and Work, is also dominated by a sizable mound also, I beg to differ. I take it to be a Celtic loan-word here, with a meaning of something along the lines of 'palace' instead.
Before I reached the small stretch of road that 'bridges' the two main ones from Finstown I chanced to look across to Ingshowe Broch. From here at last it looked like a proper broch ruin outline, though don't remember if this was a naked-eye observation. Peachy. Didn't take the cut to there.
Past the junction there is a nice farm called Rossmyre. The burn t'other side o't' road may have the scant remains of something along the upper east bank, a few stones sticking out of the bare earth. Next good bit of masonry is at Bridgend. A burn again. The bridge on the cottage side looks down on the burn several metres below, reminiscent of that near Millhouse in Holm. But the real goody is on the other side. Here the burn runs alongside the road on its way east. Not running quite so deep, but still impressively deep for Orkney and lined with stone banks for the whole depth of it. Definitely for a mill - the craftsmanship is superb (and hid from almost everyone). All the prehistoric stuff still standing and yet where now is the associated mill for this. And where the celebration for what does survive at this place ?
Now back up a bit or you'll do the same as me. Between Rossmyre and Bridgend is Nabban. A little past here I had previously found something resembling a cist in the wide
grass verge (HY391118). Went straight past before I thought on it. And despite being on foot and having been twice or thrice previously I still walked up and down two times before I found it again !! The water levels having dropped since the previous occasion the site looked more like a well now (a totally unmapped one in 1882 or now if so), with what at first glance looked like corbelling. The full depth being revealed as 0.9m (as far as I could find) what I had taken for the bottom were ledges on two sides. To the casual glance the ledges do indeed make you think of corbelling, however there's only one rough-edged ?slab on the left extending as a near triangular shape 0.25m along and 0.6m from the back left corner, with drystane walling above, and one on the right a slab 0.45m long and only 0.1m from the back right corner. Apart from the section of walling and the 'ledges' the structure is of slab construction (the slab at right back does feel like a standing stone re-used though). The base is hidden by a couple of short bits of wood and a thin layer of other rubbish. Almost feels like part of a souterrain, certainly something of at least that age.
Posted by wideford
2nd August 2005ce
John Spence's Birsay landscape 1920 re-assessed
Last week in the Orkney Room upstairs at the Orkney Library after doing a spot of research I noticed a whole new lot of acquisitions on the shelves. In amongst this was a series of volumes on 'old-lore miscellany' and in one I came across a chapter by a man who lived at Overbist (on the Evie-Dounby road near Click Mill). I had a strong feeling that the information therein might not be in Canmore and so made extensive notes and passed them on to RCAHMS. My assumption was correct, but as there appeared to be one major disparity compared to their 1946 Inventory my findings have been reduced to a bibliographical note on the various relevant site records. So I have done further research in an attempt to reach a concordance.
JOHN SPENCE :-
1) The Kirk of Kirkgoe lies about half-a-mile or so south of Overbist, on a high ledge on the south side of a deep-cut burn. Foundations showing as a square-shaped clump of grey stone over an area some twelve by fourteen feet or so. His father remembered the northwestern wall as standing some three feet or so high, but now all reduced. There appeared to have been an enclosing dyke or bulwark which in 1920 could be traced on all sides a few yards outside the main building apart from where the site sloped steeply down to the water.
2) About eighty or a hundred yards further down on the same side of the burn is another green mound similarly situated on a ledge alongside the water. The evidence for this being the graveyard was "rich black earth charged with minute bone fragments and mixed with ashes" in the exposed part. Also mixed in with the earth were lumps of 'smithoo-cramps', so called by the locals after the resemblance to slag.
3) About half-way between the the Kirk and the second mound, but on the north side of the burn, is a slight mound traditionally called "The Castle".
4) This the author calls the remains of an "ancient pictswork and enclosure", which in his time were "meagre and all but vanished".
5) The place called Kit-Huntlins [P.O.A.S. calls it Kithuntlings] where about 1920 he found burnt earth and minute fragments of bone.
6) In the neighbourhood of '4'. From here flints had been found at various times, some quite fine, most of them red. He then quotes "The Orcadian" (undated) on the finding of a polished stone 4 1/2" or so long some quarter-of-a-mile or more east of that. It was of hard close-textured brown sandstone 1 1/4" broad and 3/4" thick about the middle tapering to 1" by 1/2" at either end. This stone was then in the author's possession, and he adds that it came from well down in the moss.
1) Kirk of Kirkgeo HY32SW 9 at HY33272324: aligned E-W the possible foundations of a small church, internal dimensions around 17'x12' with walls around two-and-a-half foot thick. Probable burial enclosure on S side shown by what remains of a bank/ridge of earth.
2) Burn of Lushan HY32SW 8 at HY33152313: castle appears neither large nor fortified, the only evidence a change of plants accompanied by broken stonework.
4) Over(a)bist HY32SW 7 at HY331238: burnt stones, mound now lost through cultivation.
?5) Burn of Kithuntling HY32SW 24 at HY340218: stones, possible shielings. Pursued bibliographical reference to an article in "Scottish Studies"; (Kit Huntland) 6 small pits on S-facing brae. To the W of these were possible bothy remains, on the top of a burn bank 250 yards N of this similar turf-walled remains but with an erect stone at one end that gives it a resemblance to a grave (but suggested as a rubbing-stone for pigs) and a rough stairway going down to the burn that could represent the boundary between two commons [1882 map shows B.M.233.8 nearby at HY33812174].
7) Burn of Lushan HY32SW 23 at HY346237: possible shieling. "Scottish Studies"; part of the upper section of the burn [1882 Burn of Loomashun distinct from Burn of Kirkgeo] as seen from the road looks like a shieling but is a very boggy area with no remains to be seen. The field-name here is Queefiglamo (field of ?? the snatcher).
MY COMMENTS :-
The disparities are two-fold; '1' and '2' are 80~100 yards apart according to Spence but on the order of 170m on the 1882 map and CANMAP, the latter two sources place the legend Castle at '2' but he refers this to '3'. Perhaps the map-makers were mislead by the name. In Orkney it is held that many castle names were loosely applied to watchtowers, making this equivalent to a Tuo/Too'er placename or a 'beacon' site. Certainly at either distance '2' is too far to be the kirkyard. Spence's description brings to mind the scant remains of a barrow with cist (cramp often found in cists), though there is the outside possibility that this is a metalworking area similar to the Castle of Snusgar (HY21NW 21).
From Spence's description of '4' it comes as no surprise that there were no traces left by the time the O.S. went. The 1882 map shows a small enclosure a little further E of Overbist at HY33202374 (and one somewhat larger to the SE of Overbist at HY33172366).
On the 1882 map a single track is shown coming down towards the Burn of Kithuntling. Just before reaching the burn it turns up in a fork with two near parallel ends. Though no structure is shown there it is assuredly this open-ended rectangle (HY34172202) that marks the place called Kit-Huntlins. If '5' were a burnt mound one would expect it to lie between here and the burn, which is in a treacherous area rendered difficult except in the driest of seasons by reason of the peat-bogs - indeed this fact of constant water is also the reason for people working here in the first place Though a late legend is attached to the vicinity it has been surmised that the name originally comes from a lost Viking cat-monster story.
Posted by wideford
24th July 2005ce
July 17th 2005 LONG RAMBLING ABOUT ORPHIR
Checked out the area of today's walk on CANMAP the night before to double check my memory. Steatite urn found on glacial till mound soth of Highbreck. Cist found in a cleared bit of ground before Nearhouse at the junction of the main road and the Swanbister farm road. Another from Smoogro, axe hammer found in kitchen-midden there. "Beautiful well" below Bancquoy/Bane-quoy sounded very intriguing: stone-walled well 0.9m across (formerly with a perforated coverstone where flags do duty now) sits in a marshy depression with many stones and the ground disturbed on all bar the east, a little before 1880 they found arrowheads, stone hammers, stone and flint implements, a large amount of "diminutive clay pottery", animal bones; the stones and bones were all burnt and a fatty deposit went down 6'. Surely a sacred well screaming out for a dry season's perusal ? Halfway down the Burn of Lerquoy another cist. A couple of fields to the SSE a flint scatter was found that included an axe flake. By the south wall of the grounds of Swanbister House between the stream and the farm road are the remains of a burnt mound the latter cut through (nowt to be seen). About where the lettering for Swanbister area is on the 1:25,000 there was a cist and urn found. The only cist still present is a double cist found in 1972 at Gyre, according to Canmore still lying under a sheet of corrugated iron but I hadn't found it previously. Over at the Earl's Bu apart from remains of burnt mounds only Viking structures visible [ball of freestone & stone 'celt' found close to standing stone by churchyard, by Petrie], so I presumed owt else prehistoric overlain by that to the point of invisibility.
My walk was pegged on an OAT guided tour of the Viking stuff mid-afternoon, but it being Saturday I had to get an early morning bus in order to do my investigations elsewhere.
Got off at the Grimeston road junction and briefly considered going around the east side of the Loch of Kirbister to gaze on the probable artificial islet of the Holm of Groundwater and on up to the tumuli above that had produced several cists. But I knew how too much time can still turn into too little and so continued to Graystane. I took two gos to find it because I relied on sight instead of memorised directions. Took as good a close-up as I could of the area of fracture or unsuccesful cleaving. A little further along a burn passes downhill and at the field edge is bounded either bank by a pair of 'standing stones'. It is crossed by a bigger version of the primitive bridge that you find over ditches in Orkney, a flat platform of stone covered by turf. Just downstream is/was a spring and a well is a liile beyond that, all by the burn. Over the road is a gravel pit.
At the Swanbister junction I took the track on the opposite side of the road until it gave out to the grassy brae, then retraced my steps to take my second target the track that runs at an angle to the road and ends at the Newhouse junction. This makes an almost triangular tract of land 'twixt it and the road. The twin-rutted track is little used, though there are reinforcing stones underfoot in a few places. At one point early on you can see where a stream ran underneath it from the edge of a small nearby rise. The way to points of interest is a modern metal gate on the uphill side. I clambered over to look at the mounds on the hillside in case they were other than natural. You can see where there has been peat-cutting, regular excavations a foot or so deep. Just within the boundary of the first one you come to a piece of stone about a foot across, either the top of a boulder or of a larger stone, either way certainly firmly embedded in the peat and not part of any hidden rocky outcrop. Elsewhere there were a couple of flat (sub-) rectangular stones that may have been from something, definitely no drystane wall hereabouts. From here you have a wonderful view of all the lands this side of Ward Hill. Another mound further on and slightly higher beckoned me, but I would have to negotiate a barbwire-fence and so left it for now. Near the end of the track is the first habitation, Akesley or Aikislay according to which century's map you use, not shown on the 1:25,000 map but being within where a waterbound rectangle is shown (it has changed location a little since 1882, and used to have something more marked the other side of the road).
Just before you reach the end there is a quarry on the uphill side of the track. Reaching the junction you will see opposite several widely-spaced 'standing stones' forming part of the curving fence, most (if not all) neither modern nor of any great age. Coming back to the Orphir road I was deeply desirous of checking out on the uphill side an intriguing feature into which a chicken feeder had been placed. There is a regular scoop that resembles in size and shape the space left by the removal a small croft, say. But the 1882 map shows no habitations in that entire tract of land apart from Akesley, even Highbreck is modern. Then directly behind the back of this rectangular negative space (that is, next up in this seemingly unmapped mound) is another of less regular shape that has a high back up to the top. The boundary between certainly appears man-made and on the RH side at the upper level seems to be a short exposed length of crude walling. Moving along and looking back you can see that this is merely the roadside end of what appears to be a large circular bank, possibly a quadrant of something. Forgot to take notes of where exactly these things were.
Now back to the Swanbister junction. As you turn down at your left is the cleared bit a cist came from. There are a few 'standing stones' on the field edges but the outstanding ones are a pair on the left down at field level, from an opening redundant since the farm road was built up across the face of it. The uphill stone is way too big for a gatepost, its size overpoering the other one, and is packed well. Often there is the impression that where you have a pair of 'standing stones' one far precedes the other in date, only subsequently being doubled up for the later usage. Where the track turns their is a field about the angle on the seaward side. It is from near an edge of the field next along that the scatter of flint flakes came, possibly indicative of settlement. Going along the next length of track looking uphill beyond Swanbister farm and the other dwellings is roughly where a cist with urn was found.
The attribution of the Hillock of Breakna to a Sveinn seems in further doubt in that Marwick refers several similar names to Swanbister to 'swine' and the Sands of Piggar are below here ! When the farm track turns again to go past the grounds of Swanbister House the trees either side give me the sense of a green lane which it obviously isn't (the same effect at Gyre is over a slightly longer distance and through it the track dips down and rises, a sure cure for anyone such as myself missing a real wood landscape in Orkney). Where the copse ends on the right between the track and the stream a triangle of land is all that survives of a burnt mound after the modern farm road was raised - there isn't so much as a hint of rise even at less luxuriant times of year, so completists only.
Now you can see the broch's hillock down on the left, alas in summer all you see is high grass and nettles. The short un-named burn (?a continuation of the Burn of Swanbister that comes down from Rams Dale above Orphir 'village'), passes under the track and on the left where the stream takes a final turn to flow alongside the Hillock of Breakna is a short length of wall in the further streambank. Once in the field you see that this wall starts at a natural ford that may well be the site's raison-d'etre. My third target was a rocky outcrop forming the seaward corner of the natural hillock. And still can't make up my mind if man has altered it, was much more convinced up close from inside the field. To the right of the burn are an imposing set of conical 'gateposts', well constructed of stone, that must have been where they went down with their boats. About where the stream comes to the shore is a very large thin slice of rock crossing it, damn shame it has to be natural ! There is groundcover of some teeny-tiny flowered plant.
On my last visit I had been most impressed by the Sands of Piggar that cover this side of Swanbister Bay and was surprised they weren't as popular as Waulkmill Bay. But now I knew why a local that had been gained the (for Orkney) extensive sandy beach by boat. The rocky foreshore where it isn't plain slippy is covered by equally slippery seaweed, eventually I was forced to retrace my steps. I had hoped to take a picture of the broch from the bay, after dodging between the many shallow pools of low tide I still could not see it. Even with a tall tower the hillock doesn't strike me as designed for visibility from the sea. And it seemed ably defended by nature as I have mentioned. To back this up I would point out that to the east of the hillock is a broad declivity that would allow an enemy to bypass it, There is now a good stone wall with another of those impressive 'gateways'. From the sands I would sat that if any place needed defending it would be flat Toy Ness where there is a pier still in use.
Back up on the track I saw that the field against the final bit of it had been cut since my previous visit, and so decided to look for any evidence of the chapel that stood there. Not even sure I saw the slightest rise though. Strange to say I did see a water-tank sized object alongside the track though outside the field-fence. Very plain cuboid. The interior was growing grass. Moved the grass away from the sides but saw no distinguishing marks. Would surely have been seen in the last official look for traces, so surely modern ?
On my way back up to the Orphir road there came a patch of drizzle, presumably the light occasional rain a few hours later than predicted. Into the 'village' and the old but not ancient church which marks the junction whera a road goes down to Gyre and down the hill to the Bu of Orphir and the Viking sites there. This treat I reserved for later. Past the edge of the 'village' there are the grounds of Cairnton. The name is transparently 'tunship of the cairn'. But though nothing is shown on the maps or on CANMAP there are patently at least one or two obvious ones. In the W of the wall about the place there is a small stone hut, like maybe a gardener's shed. You wonder, though, which came first - the back of the hut is so at one with the wall's outer face. Sometimes small features are the earlier but I can be fairly sure here that this hut post-dates the house. Between here and Rams Dale is the curiously named Russamyre 'horse-bog/marsh', that leads the mind to conjure up a vision of antient finds. Next junction up is where one short leg carries on up over Scorradale and another winds leisurely around Houton way. Briefly considered going up the track to Linnadale for the ford shown on the map. Unfortunately it looks as if my way there could end in recent buildings and I preferred to leave potential disappointment for another day and press on to Houton.
Now the rain was back and getting kind of heavy. At one place alongside the road on the uphill side there is the triangle of an ?enclosed orchard/garden. Certainly all those bushes and flowers pique the botanist in me, but I can see no point of entry. I mention it here because opposite is a farmtrack that looks to go to a mound behind the Bu of Orphir. So I went on down through the lush damp grass that tested my dense trousers. Didn't make it all the way down, just far enough. Coming back up I take a closer look at a small building (HY33000485) over the other side of the ditch that runs beside the track. This I do because of a strange object alongside the size and shape of a large water-tank, which I presume it to be. The sides are fine drystane walling, if a little rough. And then as a cover an irregular piece of flag like a thick standing stone, lending it the appearance of being capped by lead dropping down the sides. Looking at larger scale maps online I see a short length of track running diagonally from the corner of a house called Ne(a)land to this place. By the time I reached magnificent Grindally House, where the other end of the Bu road is, I was thoroughly soaked - so much for the showers being occasional and light ! So after a minute or two I regretfully abandoned my visit to Houton (there is no known old archaeology there, hou/how is 'headland' and the next notable NMRS is the rubble of the 'castle' of the Hillock of Hoorse-Ha way over in Clestrain).
Under the weather as I was it was impossible to resist the lure of the 'standing stones' at various spots beside the Bu road. At one point between Gridally and the Earl's Bu I think I found one of my 'flat-face aligned standing stone pairs' that I believe mark the crossover between boundaries. So here I am looking for stones on either side when just before the farm and in the space by it I see a 'standing stone' slumped over a piece of rusty machinery. And the thought passes through my mind is this the missing Petrie standing stone uprooted from all those pre-IA goodies. Or maybe it is still present - the converse of a standing stone losing all interest (to an official archaeologist leastways) if it has lost its context is that if you find something by or under a stone it is automatically read as a standing stone (the evidence adjudged necessary for the standing stone identity often seems in inverse proportion to the number of stones in a region).
Thank goodness the saga centre is open all day. Looked at the boards, watched the video. Long time till the talk, a few hardy souls. The main part of the Earl's Bu is now under the turf in front of the churchyard wall. What you can see to the left of the path is the auxiliary buildings's foundations mostly, very Romantic. Anne Brundle said that the concentric features found by survey (http://www.sair.org.uk/sair4/sair4.pdf ; EB91 Bu Lawn/ West Field resistivity) that I had believed to roughly resemble the Hillhead Enclosure could well be a broch, though I hae my doots (not under Round Church either, would have come up on churchyard survey like 'modern' church foundations did. Only overheard this whilst I was busy snapping the buildings whilst the tour was by the church, expecting the talk to be of Vikings only. Then, as an afterthought, the tour went on to the site of the horizontal mill. This is the buildings and greenspace down to the burn (the burn having water even in times of severe drought is the reason for this area's continuing popularity). What you can still see are the outfall opening and tailrace and the soakaway. It was a relief to finally have a function description to go with photos taken some time back - the report had made me think the mill lay on the other side of the road, I am a bear of small brain. So this slab-lined channel and the mill wall show where one of the burnt mounds lies.
Anne had also mentioned the double cist up the hill at Gyre; I overheard something about a ? laughing skull (probably one of her witticisms). So I mentioned the NMRS saying it still existed under a corrugated iron sheet. She checked with another of our party, Halcro-Johnstone who owns Orphir House at Gyre. Apparently the sheet went and the cist, never having been very solid when found ("thank goodness we've got the photos"), is now even further decayed. Naturally despite having been excavated in 1972 the findings still haven't been 'published' - the monuments records for 20th century are often a mere palimpsest or a foreshadowing of what still lies far ahead. Which is why the likes of TMA and the Portal are mankind's best hope ;-)
Posted by wideford
22nd July 2005ce
Menorca: Sant Agusti - 3 talaiots & a (bogus) taula
3 June 2005 - This is essentially a 'diversion' from http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817">Jane's weblog of the same date.
On our last full day in Menorca, after visiting El Toro, we decided that as Jane and the kids wanted to spend the scorching day at their favourite beach, Binidali, I'd drop them off and head off to see some stuff on my own. The promise of 2 talaiots, one of which you can (unusually) get inside wasn't attraction enough, especially when Jane found out there was walking involved….
I headed west along the road from Mao to Ciutadella, and took the main left turn towards Sant Tomas. I passed through Es Migjorn Gran and about halfway from there to the little roundabout entering Sant Tomas, there is a dirt verge-cum-layby on the right. I know it's roughly halfway because I went right past to make sure it was the right place!
This parking place is effectively on a triangular 'island' between 2 arms (the second of which was pretty difficult to spot in the vegetation) of a farm lane leading to Sant Agusti Vell.
Setting off on foot up the farm drive ('no vehicles' sign), I immediately noticed what looked like an overgrown talaiot to the right, on a fairly steep hill. I figured it was probably way too soon for the 'main' Sant Agusti stuff, but had to have a stomp up to have a look. Apart from anything else, I didn't trust the tourist map I had….
A bonus talaiot
Bonus hilltop talaiot
The talaiot was a little 'knocked about' but I got some great views from its top, boosted by its hilltop location. Also got badly scratched legs from the viciously sharp dry vegetation and incredibly sweaty! Views were especially good of some caves across a valley to the west(ish).
Caves from top of talaiot
Roughly to the south/SSW I could see a couple of very clear talaiots on the horizon a km or 2 away. Target located! (There was yet another really trashed talaiot to the north too!)
Back on track
I descended to the farm track – scratch, scratch…ooyah, owwww! – and continued along the blessedly smooth track, but by the time I reached the farm buildings I hadn't spotted an definite path to get to where the site appeared to be.
Just as I reached the first byre, there was a farmgate on the right, with a nice herd of cattle in close attendance. This turned out to be the way I wanted to go, but I played safe and walked up to the farmhouse, to ask. Looking beyond the house, over the garden, I could see the talaiots still around a km away.
Gate by first farm buildings
Seemed to be nobody about, but through a little yard I could see a woman in the house, so dripping with sweat and dishevelled, I knocked at the kitchen door. Exclusively using the words 'por favor' (a lot) 'talaiots' & finger-walking signs (much as I had at http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37799">Torre Llisa Vell!) I was rewarded. The woman couldn't speak English but was very friendly & pointed me the way I expected – back to the cattlegate and round the west side of the farm buildings, following a grassy track. The talaiots were clearly visible.
Sant Agusti talaiots (top of pic) from farm path
After about 10-15 minutes, the talaiots were very close, but somewhat obscured by shrubby bushes between them and the path. Here I got a sign that the site's definitely supposed to be accessible to the public, as it has the familiar 'official' Menorca monument litterbin. Approaching the talaiots, I even spotted an info board!
Sant Agusti at last
Poblat and taula(s)
Two talaiots in pretty good condition stand in a poblat which is quite scattered and large, but close to them is largely a rolling sea of rubble with remnants of walls poking out. Between the talaiots I could see an oval enclosure with several fairly tall uprights – I took this to be the remnants of a taula-less taula sanctuary.
Poblat from eastern talaiot (western talaiot left of centre behind trees, possible taula sanctuary right of centre by trees)
I've since discovered comments on the rather 'quaint' (frames!) but useful http://www.menorcaweb.net/arqueologia/menorca%20ing/index1.htm">'The Archaeology of Minorca' website, that this makes sense, and apparently another enclosure is taken to be a second taula(less) sanctuary.
Possible taula sanctuary
I picked my wobbling way around the edge of the rubble sea to the south of the talaiots, by a (probably) more modern wall, spotting a series of cisterns as I went.
Most obvious cistern
But then, peeping over the wall…the unmistakeable 'T' of a complete Taula!!!! How could this not be mentioned in the info we had? I resisted the temptation of elation and having seen several other taulas during the week, I adopted a cynical view – it didn't seem to be in the 'right' place in relation to the other remains & the taula itself didn't quite look right.
It looks like a taula…
Getting a foothold in the wall where it passes closest to the 'T' of the 'taula', I peered over. The taula seemed suspiciously close to one 'corner' of the only very vaguely oval enclosure. The enclosure seemed unusually 'open', not particularly oval and rather 'plain' for a taula sanctuary. Not sure it's the 'real deal'.
As mentioned above, however, there is meant to be another taula sanctuary here, without a 'T'. I suppose this could be it, but with a 'modern' T....
Also in its 'favour', the 'T' at http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817">Na Comerma) is very much in a 'corner' of its enclosure yet seems to be accepted as 'real'. The enclosure at Na Comerma is so full of rubble that it's difficult to tell what's going on, but it still manages to feel more like other taula sanctuaries than this one does.
And the final thing that makes me think I may be wrong to doubt its authenticity is that according to a taula 'reconstruction' diagram I've seen, (at least some) taula sanctuaries may have had many smaller 'T's on pillars round the edges of the sanctuary. And there is possible evidence of that here.
…I'm not sure!
Have a look & decide for yourself!
The talaiots both seemed relatively small compared with, say, Trepuco or Talati de Dalt (see http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37730">another of Jane's weblogs).
And to be honest, after a week in Menorca, the one to the west was 'just another quite nice talaiot', once I'd established that it wasn't the one that you can get inside. (It does have what look like a couple of small blocked entrances though.)
But the other is a mindblast! This was the eastern one - nearest the path I described arriving by. From the outside it's the same, but….
Eastern talaiot entrance
Once you find the actual entrance…(round the 'side', facing the 'bogus' taula)…and look in - WOW!!! Suddenly vague thoughts of the vaulting of Orcadian tombs like the http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/206">Fairy Knowe come stealing in…. (Though without the ultra-classy Orcadian flag stonework and it wasn't built as a tomb!)
Looking into eastern talaiot – rucksack for scale.
Assuming that talaiots were indeed lookout towers, presumably the inside was used as a shelter for the lookouts or was where they lived. I've read that most or many talaiots had an entrance and/or 'room' either at the bottom or near the top, but I don't think I've read anything that said anything about the use of the inside.
Inside eastern talaiot
Well worth the walk!!! Having cooled off in the shade of the chamber, I headed back to the car and off to Torre d'en Gaumes where I asked the friendly lass at the gate for directions to Ses Roques Lisses, a Neolithic burial chamber, and Na Comerma, another taula sanctuary very close by. (See http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817 ">Jane's weblog.)
I got my directions, but after about 2 hours stomping around in the heat, I still hadn't found either! I returned to Gaumes and the lass was kind enough to say that if we came back around 8pm when she finished work, she'd take us to both!!! And well worth all the effort it was too!!!
Posted by Moth
21st July 2005ce
Silbury Trip, Summer 2505
Nah, not here mate.
It's crystal clear.
You ask it, we know it.
Or look for yourself.
It's all here to be seen, through the Perspex wall lining.
A walk back through time we call it.
The further you go, the further back you go.
I always think this is the best bit, where it opens out.
We're at the dead centre.
Listen to the silence…
It's just like as if the ancient builders are stunned in admiration.
Mind you, usually it's packed in here and the kids all yell out
To see if there's an echo of some sort.
There never is though. It's sort of dull and dead sounding.
Pity you weren't here for the big show last month.
Once a year the sun shines right along to the centre.
It's as good as being outside!
I always tell people to try to be in here for that.
The beams land on King Sil gold-effect armour
In the central display-pod.
It glistens for a few seconds!
Amazing to have arranged it like that.
Really gives people a flavour to take home.
Lasting memories, that's what history's all about isn't it?
It's just that... it ain't as vivid the rest of the time.
With the striplighting.
Why was it tunnelled?
Not sure, not my field, the twenty first century.
I think they thought a previous one had got too unstable
And too small for them to get into.
So they were forced to replace it with this.
That's what it says on the original notice by the entrance anyway.
"No other option"
D'you know even that notice is protected now, it's so old.
It's become part of the archaeology!
The guidebook goes on about it's "an icon of it's period"
And how "it speaks like a testament" for it's times.
People are forever studying it, and writing papers.
Not just archaeologists mind! Language experts and that.
They reckon it's written in a special way, but I dunno about that.
Sounds like fabrication to me.
But wierdos keep vandalising it and writing B*llocks on it.
Can you BELIEVE that, EH??
No respect for history some people.
No appreciation, taste, sense of propriety or decency.
And sod what the rest of us think!
'Course, if you challenge them they look you in the eye and just say
"Oh we're just looking for something mate".
We all know what's there, near enough.
And if they want to search they can discuss it,
Not act all shifty on their own.
Anyone would think the place was theirs!
Well it aint theirs and it aint ours it's everyone's,
Right into the future as far as it goes.
Self-sure overconfident humble-lacking twats.
Imagine people in a thousand years, seeing the only mark you left.
And hating it.
Imagine your name being spoken forever
As the name of a culprit!
Anyhow, we've still got the tunnel.
That's the main thing ain't it?
Imagine the work that was involved
With the primitive tools they had then!
You can see the actual marks of the boring machine in places.
No not there, that's all infill where extra chunks fell out.
Nor there. Here's a bit, by my foot.
That's original twenty first century scraping on the actual original material that is!
And nano tools?
Nah, it was a couple of decades before those came in.
And the sub-atomic tools were mid twenty first century I think.
And of course, they clearly had no inkling technology might move on
Or that invasive archaeology would one day end.
Let alone how soon.
Too much of a leap of imagination I suppose.
Lucky for us I say.
Think what we'd have missed if they had!
Posted by nigelswift
17th July 2005ce
The 'Must-Sees' we saw on Dartmoor
2 July 2005
A long-awaited long weekend on Dartmoor found us arriving in Devon in disappointingly grey, overcast and mistly weather. But the welcome at The Ring of Bells Inn in North Bovey (www.ringofbellsinn.com) was warm and Moth and I would both heartily recommend the Inn to anyone. Dumping our bags, we headed off up onto the moor. First stop: Grimspound.
Just a short five minute walk uphill from the road brings you to this ancient village settlement. Filthy weather prevented us from exploring this site thoroughly as the fine drizzle was blowing at an angle of 45 degrees quite unpleasantly. We thought we'd try our luck on another part of the moor and began the short but tortuous drive on Devon's lanes to see Fernworthy stone circle and rows.
The huge low wall which surrounds the long-abandoned settlement maps out the extent of the compound. Despite the looming sense of abandonment it was easy for me to imagine the place in its hayday. As I walked through the ruined ground plans of many houses I imagined the bustle of women working, children playing, goats and sheep corralled, men talking - ordinary things. The layout and size reminded me very strongly of the maasai villages of East Africa today.
Sadly, no African sun here today. Indeed, so bleak did it become that we declared 'rain stopped play' and headed back to the car.
The short walk uphill on the forestry road from the car park by the reservoir took me 10 minutes (but then I don't walk fast uphill). The weather was still pretty nasty though the plantation gave us some protection. The circle and rows now lie in a clearing in the trees. This means there are no sight lines or views, but the circle captivated me, nevertheless. It is lovely here - the circle is small but not tiny and the stones are small, too, but in proportion to the diameter. They seemed to spin above the boggy ground and were watched by me and Moth and a battalion of purple foxgloves.
Another 50 minutes walking would take us to the Greywethers
, but given the climate today I had no intention of attempting it. It would have to wait.
I needed a site which we could get to pretty easily. We chose Belstone Nine Stones, which was some distance away in the car on the north of Dartmoor.
When I was 10, I remember seeing a film called 'The Belstone Fox' starring Eric Porter and Bill Travers and crying all the way through it. Now here I was in Belstone village. No tears this time.On the way towards our next site, we called in at Spinsters' Rock.Suddenly the sun came out! So reaching for my sketchbook I settled down with a cuppa and a fag and made a very quick sketch.
We'd come to see Belstone Nine Stones, a cairn circle of now only 12 stones up on the moor to the south of the chocolate-boxey village and thankfully not a long walk away. Moth had been here before and had taken a while to locate it thinking it was up near the tor. It isn't! Stay close to the field wall and when that runs out, keep walking straight and you'll eventually see it. It's very pretty and has lovely views down towards a waterfall and up towards a tor, but the drizzle was persistent so there was no chance of painting it.
It's size reminded me of a Scillonian cairn or Yockenthwaithe and it felt like it was in the 'wrong' place to be an independent stone circle. I'd guess it was a cairn.
The weather looked to be clearing, so Moth suggested we go for Scorhill.
We went back to The Ring of Bells to eat huge quantities of food and then vegetate in front of the telly and watch 'Live 8'.
A few years ago, someone sent me a postcard of Scorhill stone circle. I liked the look of its pointy stones and always wanted to see it. Thankfully, the walk is mercifully short and the impact of this monument is mighty!
Corrrrrrrrr! As you crest the hill you down onto it and it compels you completely. Severe, pointy, dramatic, free of trees, bracken and other distractions, this sky temple seems to be indelibly stamped into the landscape and has a more powerful relationship with the moor and the heavens than anything I've seen except Brodgar
From here we could just make out the Shoveldown stone rows, which we would see close up two days later. And Moth looked wistfully moorwards in the direction of White moor
stone circle, knowing that I would never be able to walk to it and he'd have to go alone.
3 July 2005
The B3212 which runs NE to SW across the moor is surely one of Britain's most beautiful routes crossing the moor with gentle determination.
As the road passes Sharpitor there is a tiny tarn and parking place and, if you didn't know to look, there's also an incredibly long stone row! Two lines run parallel about 1m apart for more than 100ms, but the stones are so small you'd hardly know. I wish they'd put information boards up about things like this, then people would notice and take an interest. I loved it up here. Right on the top. Felt like I could reach up and touch the sky!
Brisworthy stone circle reminded me a lot of Fernworthy
in size of stones, diameter and 'feel'. But whereas Fernworthy is held suffocated by trees, Brisworthy is free to breathe and today was bathed in warm sunshine. It seems to have a close relationship with a nearby tor. It's on private land and we had to climb over a fence to get to it. Liked it here!
Just up the hill from Brisworthy are the monuments at Ringmoor which unlike pure joy, we found easily. A corkingly long stone row with a rather nice cairn circle at one end. As I strode down the row it seemed to never end! We also spotted some other stuff up there, including another small cairn circle.
I was looking forward to the madness of Yellowmead
. It's not the easiest to get to though - don't expect a path and do expect to get your feet wet as you go bog-wading. And you need your megalith-antenna on maximum setting to find it- oh and an OS map, of course. It wasn't immediately clear where the hell it was, although we knew we were going in the right direction.
Suddenly it dawned on Moth that the large herd of ponies we could see had chosen it as a cool place to hang out. We approached cautiously. Though they looked cute and cuddly we were aware they are wild animals and had some very young foals with them to protect. It became clear that they weren't going to move for us and we'd just have to work round them. It meant we couldn't walk among the small stones at all but had to walk round and round to try and get a sense of what was going on between the hoofs, sleeping foals, squabbling stallions and grazing mares. Were there four rings? Was it a cairn? The ponies weren't saying.
I found the walk to Yellowmead, though not long, quite taxing because it was over such rough, boggy ground. So rather than go on to nearby Drizzlecombe with Moth, I stayed by the car so I could paint the landscape and sit in the sun. Two hours passed quickly as I painted a couple of sketches and then Moth returned triumphantly with some cracking photos, one in particular of a wheatear sitting on a stone.
Twitcher moment: The birding here is fab. Bramblings everywhere, lots of jays, a redstart (I think), larks, thrushes, meadow pipit, wagtails, wheatear, stonechat, etc, etc.
Near the great white scar formed by the china clay works at Trowlesworthy is a complex of stone rows and cairn circles not unlike those at Ringmoor. From where you park the car, you can see the rows sloping down the hill. Having sight of them makes the incredibly dull hike over to them slightly more palettable. Be careful how you go - you can access the site from either side of the canal, but there is no path so tread very carefully. The ground underfoot almost got me a couple of times! The are a couple of rows here the main one perhaps just less than 100ms long - hard to say as an artificially cut channel now bisects it. Back over the B3212 and we thought we'd take in the almost perfect cairn circle of Soussons Common before returning to shovel down huge quantities of food at The Ring of Bells.
The cairn circle is charming though and despite the fact you're overlooking an industrial landscape, I quite liked it.
4 July 2005
What a lovely place Batworthy corner is! Not only is it very very pretty, it is the nearest place to drive to to reach the stone rows and long stone at Shovel down.
The rows here seem to meander forever taking the traveller past the almighty great nearby tor and point you towards the stone circle 1km at Scorhill
. The longest stone row idles its way across the moor with two lines of small stones, some hidden under grassy hummocks. Walking the length is not an option. You have no choice but to do it. The most complete section is actually not part of the main row, but deviates off pointing back down to Batworthy.
My own personal Everest now had to be conquered. The Greywethers.
I knew I'd hate the walk which even Burl calls 'tedious'. But I did it in 50 minutes, mostly by thinking about Sir Ernest Shackleton and the fact this was surely better than being at work... wasn't it?! The weather was shite - very windy and it even hailed once we'd reached the huge circles. Damnit! They'd be no sketching here.
My notebook says: 'absolutely appalling walk which I'm not sure is entirely worth it, even though this perfect pair of large, complete circles are 'A'-list Hollywood sites.' Nevertheless, to see this pair of circles so close together, so even and so big was a real privilege. But the hike and the weather left me feeling so shitty that I couldn't even be arsed to climb the nearby rise to get some height. Moth did though and got some lovely pics.
I staggered around them like a drunkard wondering: 'why here?', 'why two?', 'why so close?' and 'how the hell am I going to get back to the car?'
Posted by Jane
10th July 2005ce
A Sussex Solstice
I don't need much of an excuse to take the day off work, so this Summer Solstice I did just that. Here's what I got up to:
Being a late riser, I really can't handle these summer sunrises, and despite my good intentions it is 6:45 am and well past sun up by the time I drag myself up Wolstonbury Hill. A glorious Solstice morning it is, nevertheless.
I do my usual perambulation of my favourite henge, and greet an early morning dog walker going the other way. When I get round to the North entrance it looks like the dogs must have killed a rabbit. It lies with it's fur wet and neck broken, a solstice sacrifice to the fox and magpie.
I play self portrait with the timer on my camera like the sad muppet that I am, and then rock over to check out a couple of the other earthworks on the hill. The cross ridge dyke, bowl barrow and platform barrow and that lie 310m to the south east of the main henge.
This linear earthwork appears to be one of the later prehistoric linear boundaries recorded from the southern chalklands. What exactly their purpose was has regularly defied interpretation. They have variously been referred to as; roads, defensive outworks, covered ways, barriers, toll bars or drove ways, 'Celtic' fields, ranch boundaries or pastoral enclosures. Even precise terminology is difficult. (I am using 'Dyke' on TMA for want of a better site type, but please do not take this as an implication of function.)
This 'dyke' cuts across the southern spur neck of Wolstonbury Hill, and this morning I find myself wondering where the main point of access was (if one originally existed) on this linear earthwork. Could it be at the central kink in the dyke, where a round barrow now sits on the Northern bank, or the area where the modern track bisects the bank? I walk down the ditch to where the dyke peters out and the slope gets steeper. The date of construction remains unknown. It could relate to a late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age period of cultivation. Or, it could represent a 'defensive outwork' to the (speculative) period of defensive remodelling of Enclosure 'C' on top of the hill. As yet, nobody knows. I turn back and follow the ditch up to the 'barrow'.
Like so many, the apparent bowl barrow on Wolstonbury has been raided and flattened by the plough. It lies on farm land just to the east of the main track that leads to the hill from the south, at the kink in the 'cross ridge dyke'.
While it seems to be sited across the northern bank of the linear ditch and so appears later than the dyke itself, this may be a false impression. The barrow has been so badly disrupted (presumably by an unrecorded antiquarian investigation) that it is possible that excavated soil has been thrown over the linear earthwork.
It is also possible that the round mound could represent the mutilated remains of a later fire beacon mound. (But let's keep that quiet until someone proves it, eh?)
This interesting specimen is also situated on farm land, just to the NW of the bowl barrow. It is a long stretched out thing that runs down the slope to the west. Again it seems badly truncated, but it is the only platform barrow I have knowingly visited, so it is worth a look.
It should also be noted that William Hamper, in 1806, noted a barrow within the NW quadrant of the Wolstonbury hilltop enclosures. No clear trace of this exists, and it is possible that Hamper mistook quarry spoil for a barrow. However, if it was a barrow it is possible that some of the Roman coins recorded by Hamper and the other prestige items and weaponry alleged to be found within the enclosure may have originated from it as primary or secondary deposits.
Later on, we go for a picnic to a place I haven't been before; Chanctonbury Ring. It is an interesting site with quite a bit of recent folklore attached to it, which always adds to the intrigue.
If you park in the car park to the NE of the ring, it is a long climb up a 'bostal' path, and then you double back on yourself as you turn left at the top onto the South Downs Way. This is a bit of a drag, but better than trying to scramble more directly up the steep, wooded slopes. We tried coming down the 'quick way' but soon realised the only way down was on your backside!
Alternatively you could park to the SW and take the South Downs Way east to the ring.
I must admit to having a slightly strange sense of foreboding as we made the climb and I am not sure why. Maybe it was the vehicles we had seen parked up on the hill, or the spooky local folklore I had read (see links).
When you get up here, you are rewarded with a fantastic view. Cissbury Ring and flint mines to the South with the blue sea as a backdrop and Wolstonbury jutting out sphinx-like to the East. An excellent vantage point.
We were disappointed to discover 3 4WD's and parked next to the Ring, with their drivers were packing up after a nights camping. When I spotted them from the bottom of the hill I was expecting a wild Solstice free festival, but it was just some SUV driving muppets who didn't even give us the time of day. Quite what these individuals were doing up here on the midsummer's eve I don't know (black magic to bring petrol prices down perhaps?), but how lazy and disrespectful to bring your stinking vehicles across an area of outstanding natural beauty and park them next to an ancient monument. Needless to say we were happy to see them trundle off and then we had the place to ourselves.
Most of the beech trees planted by Charles Goring in 1706 were indeed flattened in the storms of 1987. The ones that remain are on the south bank mostly, and provide some delicious shade. The interior of the Ring has been replanted, but is still quite scrubby and immature.
We were surprised to find a barbed wire fence around the interior, but there is a well worn entrance at the east (close to the original entrance).
I am always interested in places that the R*man's decided to build temples on. Maiden Castle is one of the most famous examples, and it always suggests an existing sacred function for the site.
I ventured into the interior and it is a bit of a creepy wood with evidence of lots of campfires.
It is so overgrown I couldn't see any evidence of the temple, which is apparently only a few inches below the surface. I did manage to get a bit lost in there and had a brief 'Blair Witch' moment when I was convinced I wasn't going to find my way out! I now put this down to the 8% Cider and an overactive imagination.
There are also a couple of interesting cross ridge dykes, bowl, saucer, platform barrows and hlaews (rare Saxon Burial mounds) Click the Magic plug in on this page for more info on their locations.
Check out the links on this page for more background and go and feel the vibes of this absorbing place for yourself.
All in all, it was a fun and sunny solstice. I am glad I took the day off!
Posted by danielspaniel
6th July 2005ce
Lost secrets found in Menorca
3 June 2005
Seeing is believing
El Toro is Menorca's sacred mountain and can be seen lurking or dominating the horizon from almost every point on the island of Menorca. It is the highest mountain on the island, measuring 358ms above sea level. Certainly we could see it from just about every talaiot tower we visited. It had to be visited. Everyone traveller to Menorca should see it, and probably does.
Bristling with ugly communications towers, it is now inhabited by nuns who run a convent up there with café and tat-shop because somebody once had a vision of the Holy Virgin up there. Frankly, I'm not surprised. Imagine climbing that after no breakfast and little water in the midday heat. Reckon I'd start seeing things, too! Thankfully visitors can now drive to the summit in air conditioned vehicles to enjoy the astonishing views of a beautiful and largely sparsely populated island.
My children tittered with glee as I read out the inscription beneath an 18th century statue of a local monk who was 'interred beneath the altar in the church'. "In holy shit, perhaps?" Cleo mused. (Interred/in turd… geddit?)
Lost and found
Moth dropped me and the sprogs back at the beach for an afternoon of snorkelling while he went off stomping. There were a few sites he wanted to suss. Among them were Ses Roques Lisses, a Neolithic burial chamber, and Na Comerma, another taula sanctuary very close to Torre d'en Gaumes. Seeing Na Comerma would mean we had seen every complete taula on the island.
Despite helpful directions from the friendly young woman ticket collector whose name begins with 'A' at Gaumes, and much sweaty stomping around, Moth failed to find them. The young woman ticket collector, impressed at his enthusiasm, volunteered to take him and me there later in the evening after she finished work.
We returned and she took us straight there. Moth had been only metres away during his earlier stomp, but the density of the vegetation and the height of the field walls had conspired against him.
Ses Roques Lisses, which means 'the smooth flat rocks', is an open chamber formed by huge flat slabs of limestone, making roughly a double square 2ms x4ms. In common with the navetas and other Mediterranean sites, the entry stone has a doorway hole cut into it, just big enough for someone to squeeze through.
The slabs sit on their own platform of rubble kept in by a wall. It was once covered entirely with stones, like a cairn, I suppose.
It seemed like a very familiar sight and we loved it.
Lying almost lost and crumbling badly just 50ms away is the remarkable Na Comerma taula sanctuary. It should NOT be confused with what Julian calls Sa Comerma de sa Garitaon page 315 of TME. What Julian is referring to is part of the complex at Gaumes, whereas Na Comerma is a site away from Gaumes, independent in its own right.
It felt as if I'd been let in on local secret. I guess it is hardly ever visited. It would have been impossible to find without local knowledge and/or an extraordinarily detailed map. Though sizeable, so hidden by trees is it, that we didn't see it until we were vitually upon it.
From a terrible higgledy-piggledy mess of masonry rises a tiny taula which by some miracle (perhaps the Holy Virgin resident at El Toro?) still has its topstone.
Its upstone is half buried in rubble. You could make out part of a wall which once enclosed the sanctuary, perhaps once as thick as the one at Torre Llisa Vell (see previous weblog.)
In addition, there were beautiful ruins of what I read to be houses, with flat dressed cross-beams still mounted on top of their supports.
And the day was made complete when we spotted a tortoise. We'd seen a few small ones playing 'chicken' on the roads, but this one was safe from becoming roadkill.
They are a protected species now, their numbers having been cruelly depleted for the pet trade up until the late 20th century.
So a huge thank you to the delightful young woman ticket collector at Gaumes whose name begins with 'A' for showing us these two ancient secrets.
Posted by Jane
10th June 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce
Two Ts, please: Torre Blanca and Torre Llisa Vell
More from Menorca...
Torre Blanca, also known as Sa Torreta de Tramuntana, is an unusual monument as it lies in the northern half of the island, above Mahon towards Es Grau. It lies on an outcrop of limestone at the point where the geology seems to change to something more slate-like.
We'd see it on a couple of basic maps and thought we'd have a crack at finding it, despite having absurdly inadequate directions, having the kids with us, it being midday and very hot, and haing to go a long way from our favourite beach….
Our initial attempt took us up to the Favortx lighthouse in the national park, too far north. Our second attempt was more successful. Follow the main road north for about 5.3 kms after the roundabout leaving the Mahon ringroad. Then turn right by a small white building with orange painted detail and then immediately fork right. This leads us down a long narrow lane which eventually turns sharp right. Here a gate finally barred us from going any further. Privado. We parked, knowing we were close. Moth went stomping off for a look around.
A car pulled up. A man opened the gate and drove through. As he closed it I asked 'Torre Blanca?' He replied in Spanish which I didn't understand. He pointed and twiddled his fingers implying that we walk in the direction he was pointing. 'Gracias.' Not having a clue how far, we set off into the midday heat. Moth caught up having also asked the man for directions. After a pleasantly warm walk perhaps 1-1.5kms uphill we reached the farm, vaulted over the gate and asked a farm labourer who pointed behind the barn. Suddenly it was there. What a result!!!
From the top of the talaiot the views stretch over the tiny fields towards a bay and down the coast as far as Mahon, rocky land tumbling into the sea. Magic.
And the taula! Wooo! Great taula! Dinky and entirely self supporting, thanks to the vertical ridge at the back as at Torralba, it has that cheese-like colouring on the front I so admired at Trepuco. We liked it here muchos.
Torre Llisa Vell
After a busy day snorkelling, Moth and me left the kids at the villa, determined to discover the truth about Torre Llisa Vell.
Travellers shouldn't confuse the real Torre Llisa Vell with So Na Caçana, as Julian did in TME. The real one is a couple of fields north from So Na Caçana, as the hoopoe flies.
We had been very kindly given a map with all the monuments on, which specified complete taulas. Studying this and the accompanying notes in conjunction with TME, revealed an inconsistency which we couldn't understand. The map clearly stated their was a complete taula sanctuary at Torre Llisa Vell. Julian's notes for Torre Llisa Vell said there wasn't. The notes with the map also had separate sections on So Na Caçana and Torre Llisa Vell. We had to find out the truth.
To find it, continue up the road from So Na Caçana towards Alaoir for about 1km at the most, until you reach a minor crossroads. Turn left here and drive 300ms until you see a gate on the left to a farm called Torre Llisa Vell. Walk down this lane for 100ms and ask the friendly old man at the farmhouse on the right for permission and directions. He doesn't speak English, but Moth got the gist.
By now you will have already sussed that the great tree-covered lump on your left is an overgrown talaoit and if you look carefully, you'll see the crest of what looks like a naveta beneath it on the northern side. Walk about 10 ms past the farmhouse and then turn left. After only a few metres the track enters an open field, but to the left is another short track only a few metres long. At the end and you'll see a gate and a break in the on the right. Go up towards the gate and through the break in the wall. Can't you already smell it? Walk 25 metres through long grass and a few trees until to th left, you see a huge wall with an archway. You'll find the taula through that archway.
The wall enclosing the taula sanctuary is very complete indeed – I have no idea if it has been restored or not, it certainly didn't look like it to me. It conforms to the standard ground plan of a horseshoe-shaped area with a slightly concave front entrance wall. In the case of Torre Llisa Vell the entrance is a beautiful corbelled arch through the wall which is an amazing 4ms thick. True!
Given that the entire sanctuary measures only – what? – 12ms in total, these walls seem totally out of proportion. They are also maybe 3ms high, so whatever went on within the sanctuary was not for general viewing. I also noted that the entrance passageway through the wall wouldn't have allowed the entry of a fully grown bull.
At least not a modern bull. P'raps they were smaller then, or they only sacrificed calves?
The T itself is a chunky beast and completely dominates the internal space. The stone forming the top of the T being thicker, heavier and wider in proportion with the vertical stone than at any other taula we saw.
From the top of the wall, you could see the poblat of So Na Caçana lying directly south, just about 400-500ms away.
This is a truly resplendent monument! We were both completely blown away and so sorry that Julian missed it. Be sure you don't. In fact, take your copy of TME now, go to pages 320 and 321 and cross out the title of the page 'Torre Llisa Vell' and replace with 'So Na Caçana'. There. Confusion over.
More Menorcan magic here...
Posted by Jane
9th June 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce
Prehistoric Bike Rides 1 (Dorset - Chalbury and Came Wood)
This bike trip took about an hour and a half, and covered a distance of about 5 miles in total.
I set off from my mum's house in Osmington at about 8:30am and turned right onto the A353.
Nothing much of prehistoric interest in Osmington itself, although the 3ft flinty stone that stands at the village crossroads should get a mention, although I have no idea of its provenance. As I crest the Osmington Hill I get a peek of the White Horse hill figure to my right. This is a rather recent carving, and a Royalist one to boot, so I'll say no more here!
Weymouth Bay spreads out to the left as I whiz down the steep hill, and as I turn the corner and come down into Preston I catch my first site of Chalbury and have to stop and take a picture. I head on through Preston, turn right at the roundabout onto the Littlemoor Road then sharp right onto Coombe Valley Road. The road climbs through the base of this valley, and large rocks are strewn about, including the intriguingly named 'Boiling Rock' (shown on 1:25000 maps) at grid ref: 694835. I reach the disused quarry and stash my bike under a dumped sofa (how quaint!) and storm Chalbury
I approached this fort from the disused quarry on Coombe Valley Road to the west of the fort.
Possibly not the best way as it involves scrambling up sheer cliffs and over a fence.
It was obvious others had come this way though, and it did give me the feeling of being an invading Roman (which I quickly shook off, with a shudder!). If you carry on further up Coombe Valley Road there are footpaths for a gentler approach.
It's a cute, roughly triangular little enclosure of about 4 hectares and was protected by a single ditch and a rampart of limestone slabs, obtained from quarry ditches inside the fort.
There is an entrance on the South East side and many hut circles were discovered inside the ramparts that suggest the site was intensively occupied around 450BC. I am just going to have a peek over the western ramparts and then get back to my bike. This fort looks cool from a distance,
and the view down the valley must have reminded the occupants that this was a land worth defending.
There are some barrows within the ramparts also, but I know nothing about them.
Back on the bike I continue the climb up Coombe Valley Road. To the SW I can see Bincombe Barrows (known locally as Bincombe Bumps).
These barrows have always meant a lot to me as they were clearly visible from the house I grew up in Weymouth. I am not visiting them today, but viewing them from this new angle it is clear they were designed to make an impact from all directions. I reach the crossroads and go straight across to my next destination; Came Wood Barrow Cemetery.
Came Wood is a feast of Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows of several varieties. The round barrows and long barrow south of the woods are generally on arable land and under cultivation, but in the wood itself there are 2 bell barrows, a pond barrow and a long barrow.
They lie at the end of the cemetery of barrows that stretch along the South Dorset Ridgeway. It has been suggested that they formed the boundary of territory based around the major Neolithic ritual monuments of Maiden Castle, Maumbury Rings, Mount Pleasant and the destroyed Flagstones and Greyhound Yard sites in Dorchester.
The two parts of this necropolis I checked out were Culliford Tree Barrow and Came Wood Bank Barrow
This tree covered round barrow lies between the road and the east side of Came Wood itself. (It actually lies to the West of the road, and I hadn't read Rhiannons folklore post so didn't listen for fairy music - it was too early in the day anyway!)
This is an atmospheric place and I feel compelled to sit awhile and soak it up. Although I have mixed feelings about the old fashion of planting barrows and earthworks with a crown of trees, they certainly add to the sacred feel of this site, encasing me in a green chamber on this June morning.
The crater in the top tells of a 'volcano' excavation;
In 1858 four internments were discovered, one of which had a necklace of amber beads, two of which had gold casings.
Look East and you face towards a line of 5 round barrows, with the bank barrow just beyond.
Many carvings on the trees here, the earliest I can spot is 1939. Needless to say, I don't add to them!
Think I'll go and have a peep through the trees at the wooded long barrow down the path to the North.
Now this is a barrow! I've just got to walk the length of this thing, and
I am rewarded when I reach the other end and a deer springs out from behind one the two round barrows that sit next to each other just to the North of this incredible monument.
She runs through the crops to the hedge while I stand, exalted, snapping away like a madman, trying to capture a moment I should just be in, but I suppose that is the modern condition!
These 2 north flanking barrows aren't shown on the OS map, but the round barrows at both ends are. The road runs between the east end of the bank and the round barrow at that end. This is Chalky Road, which interestingly runs straight up to Broadmayne and the stones/ earthworks there.
Barrows, Barrows everywhere!
An important spot,
I was hoping to get up to Dorchester to visit a few more sites, but it is June in the UK, and the rain drove me back to Osmington. I take the turning to Sutton Poyntz (left off the Coombe Valley Road) on the way back and get a nice look at the Eastern side of Chalbury and a breathtaking view of a definitive Dorset Valley. This route is highly recommended!
Posted by danielspaniel
9th June 2005ce
Navetas and poblats
Torrellonet (see page 322 of TME) is one of many talaiot towers on Menorca. They occupy positions of height or view and almost everywhere you look on Menorca, you can see one of these on the horizon. Torrellonet is a really nice example of a talaiot as it is still tall with intact walls, is uncovered by vegetation, is easy to climb and has great views of the runway.
From here we could see Talati de Dalt talaiot and others rising through the trees as well as the remains of a prehistoric house two field away.
The lane between Alaoir and Cala'n Porter where we were staying was a tortuous one we had to travel many, many times... Torralba d'en Salort (see pages 316 to 318 of TME) lay at the top of this lane and having seen the top of the taula sticking up already I was itching to see the place.
All the regular poblat features here: caves, talaiot, cisterns, houses and also a wonderful quarry area.
The place was crawling with caterpillars though so I had to move with extreme caution. Cleo and Rupes liked this one as there were tons to explore and had informative signs to help them understand what they were seeing. As ever, the main attraction for me was the taula itself.
To aid stability, this taula has a ridge carved up the back and is thicker than Trepuco's wafer thin cheese slice. I chose a caterpillar-free area to sit in and made a study.
It was time to tackle some navetas. Structures less like boats, after which they are named, I cannot imagine. 'Pyramids' is what Rupert called them. I like that because they are burial chambers, stand above ground level, slope inwards like pyramids and are made of large dressed blocks.
There are four close together just off the main road, all signposted and dead easy to find. (see page 307, 308 and 309 of TME).
Naveta de Biniac Argentina Occidental and Naveta de Biniac Argentina Oriental are a bit trashed, the roof of Occidental's has gone and its chamber is open.
They are both round. Have you ever seen a round boat? Nope. Me neither. All these navetas had beautiful carved 'porthole' doors in their entrance stones which Naveta d'es Tudons didn't.
We later saw this holed stone doorway effect again at a much earlier monument, a dolmen called Ses Roques Lisses, but more of that in a later weblog.
There are two navetas at Rafal Rubi.
Both are in magnificent condition and have huge cool chambers with whopping great slabs in the ceiling.
Very close to our villa is the poblat of So Na Caçana. It is, in fact, what Julian incorrectly calls Torre Llisa Vell (see next weblog). So go to pages 320 and 321 in your copy of TME and cross out the title and replace with So Na Caçana. Here, beneath the gargantuan talaiot lie not one but two taula sanctuaries.
Sadly both Ts are wrecked but there is still plenty to admire: the tall pillars surrounding the sacred spaces and the niches in the walls. I wondered what magical objects were once placed in these – skulls or horns, jars of oil or bull's blood, perhaps?
Binisafullet is a poblat just at the south of the runway at a road junction. It had a pocket-sized taula which was still up and probably restored because the rest of the site was a jumble of stones.
Moth really liked this one, but apart from the taula, which I loved, of course, it left me thinking Rupert's thoughts: 'it's just another pile of big old rocks, innit?'
We could see Torre d'en Gaumes from the front porch of our villa, its three talaiot towers rising up on the horizon just about 2kms away. However, such is the state of Menorcan roads we had to drive miles to get to it. This is government operated site and has had money put in to it – areas roped off, nice concrete paths, wooden walkways, even toilets. This is a rare one for which you pay an entry fee. However, the young woman working in the ticket collection booth was very helpful and gave me a poster (featuring taulas, of course) which I admired on the wall for free. This woman, who had an unpronounceable name, would later help us find two amazing monuments within 500ms of Gaumes.
Gaumes is a very complex monument which we didn't have time enough to unravel. It comprises all the usual features and them some more. Although it didn't have an intact taula to thrill me, it did have one or two other features which blew me away.
The first was to do with the taula. The capstone has at some point in antiquity been removed and inverted.
The carved socket which the upright once slotted into now lies skywards like a watertrough or font.
The second was a fabulous system of water storage cisterns, great holes cut into the rock.
On such a dry island, fresh water must have been a premium commodity and the inhabitants at Gaumes collected and stored their water with particular flair. There were six or more tanks.
Thirdly, in one of the houses the roof structure was up.
A roughly round space had a pillar in the middle from which long flat stones balanced and radiated out to the pillars in the walls like the spokes of a wheel.
Fourthly, a few intact 'doorframes', one of which is pictured here. Moth says that for him, it somehow makes the houses much more real!
Finally, the views, the views! Cor! From up here you can see perhaps half of the southern part of the island.
More Menorcan magic here...
Posted by Jane
8th June 2005ce
Taulas, talaiots and troglodytes
Menorca is only 30kms long and 10km wide, but is so littered with prehistoric poblats (villages) strewn with vast monuments that from almost any point on the island it is possible to see one lurking on the horizon. True! We had promised the kids a 'beach' holiday, but as it was, we still managed to see 23 ancient lovelies, clocking up more than 715 kms as well as all picking up a marvellous skin tone, thanks to a deserted beach at Binidali.
I was particularly enamoured by the impressive simple beauty of the taula monuments – the great T shaped structures unique to this island. In fact, I believe we saw ALL the complete taulas still standing, as well as some that are destroyed or badly damaged.
We couldn't get into our villa until later in the day, so as we picked up our hire car, we decided to see as many sites as possible on the first day.
Biniparraxtet (see page 301 of TME) is actually at the airport. It was moved from its original site to make way for a runway extension and has been lovingly restored.
Its cupboards, chambers, kennels and water storage features reminded Moth and I of Skara Brae. Although my son Rupert claims to find big old rocks 'boring', so many has he now seen that he was able to read this monument's features without even having to look at the information board.
At the other end of the island lies the wonderful Cala Morrell caves complex (see pages 302 and 303 of TME). Plenty to excite the most bored of 11-year-old boys here!
Dozens of spacious rock cut chambers line a limestone ravine apparently used originally as tombs and maybe later as dwellings.
The craftsmanship involved in cutting the rock was extraordinary. Internal pillars, decorated doorways (similar to those I saw in Turkey and Cyprus) and raised platforms vied for our attention with drainage systems, water storage features and sockets for carpentry.
Naveta d'es Tudons (see pages 304 and 305 of TME) is just off the main road at the western end of the island and judging by the huge car park with spaces for buses, frequently visited by coach parties.
Fortunately, we had it pretty much to ourselves. 'Naveta' means 'boat' and some archaeologist has interpreted the large burial chambers on the island as boat-shaped and given them this name. I can't see it myself. They are more burial chamber-shaped to my mind. Anyway, d'es Tudons has been restored according to this boat theory so you have to visit this one with a pinch of salt.
It is an impressive pyramidal type structure and beautifully cool inside its double-decker chamber. We liked it a lot, despite it being a bit overly restored.
Not far from Naveta d'es Tudons is the poblat of Torre Trencada (see pages 323, 324 and 325 of TME) which was the first Menorcan prehistoric talaiotic settlement I had seen and my first taula. (We were to see many more!)
At Torre Trencada, as at most other bronze age poblats, you get your usual shopping list of:
- a talaiot (tower) or two which dominates the site, rather like a watchtower or uninhabitable broch
- some wrecked houses
- a wall surrounding the settlement
- a cave, usually enhanced megalithically in some way
- some kind of water storage feature, well or cistern
- a taula sanctuary, the ritual heart of the site
Torre Trencada is delightfully unrestored with shady olive trees growing up through the stones.
It was rough, unkempt and a haven for birds and butterflies. Rupert also saw a snake. We wished we'd had some food as someone had built a rather lovely megalithic picnic table in the shade of some olives.
As this was my first taula monument I was deeply impressed, although I would later discover the sanctuary it once stood in was pretty much gone entirely, leaving only the great T behind.
As the evening cooled off, we took the car down the long dusty track down to Calascoves, (see page 306 of TME) a bucolic rocky inlet of turquoise waters not far from where we were staying.
Carved into the rock faces in the cliffs, overlooking the crystal sea, are dozens and dozens of caves, probably hewn initially from existing fissures and naturally occurring caves and enhanced for tomb purposes. Some are up at quite a dizzying height. Made me wonder how the hell the masons got up there to do their work. The sea was alive with fish and crabs and things, boding well for future snorkelling.
After a day snorkelling at Binidali beach we took an early evening excursion out to see two mind-blowing sites.
Trepuco (see pages 326 and 327 of TME) poblat lies on the southern outskirts of Mahón, Menorca's capital where mayonnaise may have been invented in 1756 to commemorate a victory over the English who were holding a castle in Mahón - hence 'mahonnaise'.... I digress.
The site at Trepuco is dominated by two gargantuan monuments – the mammoth talaiot tower and most sublime taula sanctuary. The talaiot was probably the biggest I saw on the island, about 8 metres tall and at least 12 metres in diameter, possibly more. I was a bit spooked when Moth started climbing it, but he took it slowly and was rewarded with great views. But the taula captivated me completely.
Glowing yellow in the evening sunlight and thin like rice paper, the great stone is carved on the front as if Canadian cheddar cut with a serrated knife. On top of this impossibly thin slab of something you'd put in yer butty, a bloody great grey horned block is somehow held aloft. I was in awe.
I should also mention the setting of this ancient cheesy wonder as it follows an approximate pattern of most taula sanctuaries.
The T stone usually stands roughly centrally in a horseshoe-shaped enclosed wall, built using giant stones. Many of these are tall pillars which appear to mark out chambers or spaces. The front, or approach end, always the only way in, is usually a very shallow concave forecourt with a clear entry point. Whatever happened in these ritual places, they were not public affairs. The space is intimate and the walls originally too tall to see over. These taula sanctuaries usually stand within just a few metres of a talaiot. And from the top of most talaiots you can see El Toro, Menorca's centrally-placed sacred hill (now hijacked by Jesus, his mum and some nuns.)
All this is the case at Trepuco. We stayed here for some time so I could make some studies.
From Trepuco we drove the 4kms or so to Talati de Dalt, another poblat quite close to the airport.
Talati de Dalt has all the usual poblat features, caves, talaiot, cisterns, houses, etc. The houses here were really excellent with lots of rock cut details. This time, VERY Skara Brae. We climbed the talaiot and watched the planes come and go.
It was alive with birds here too; tons of finches, swifts, swallows and hoopoes. I found this site very, very peaceful, and sat and made a study of the taula which has its very own flying buttress.
We wanted to try a beach over to the south west of the island, so en route we called in Son Catlar poblat (see pages 310 and 311 of TME).
Extensive and impressive though this complex is, it failed to light my fire in any way whatsoever. Rupert summed it up in his diary. He wrote: '… a huge prehistoric village but it looked like a big pile of rocks, the only good thing was the wall, and even that was boring...'
We found a lovely beach not far from Son Catlar called Bella Vista, but as I got into the water I saw that it was teeming with small jellyfish. I promptly got stung. Not wanting to same to happen to Rupert, we got out and drove to another beach, Maccaretta, which was lined with rock cut caves just like those at Calacoves. Fewer jellyfish here, too.
After a few hours, the weather turned a bit iffy – very windy, grey and even drizzle - so we moved on, calling in at Torre Llafuda (see page 319 of TME) on the way back to the villa. Another delightful poblat, where the taula sanctuary which was hidden in a dip beneath some trees had two small but complete taulas still up. (Though one of them was supported by an ugly pillar of rubble.)
It was here we saw an Egyptian vulture. Identifying it was a nightmare. It looked - by turns - like an eagle… or perhaps a gannet? a hooded crow? No! Definitely an Egyptian vulture. Lovely stuff.
More Menorcan magic here...
Posted by Jane
7th June 2005ce
Well Cross in Kernow (1)
Another week in Cornwall, and this time round the focus was to be on Wells and Crosses, also to fill in some gaps...
An early start from London as usual saw us make good time, and we approached Dartmoor around 7:30am. The first scheduled stop was Meacombe Farm and the Cleave burial chamber.
Visited 21/5/5. Noted elsewhere as 'Meacombe Cist'.
Parking is difficult. Best places seem to be the next gate up to the north, or a bit further to the south, by the farm entrance.
I couldn't get close to the actual chamber without trespassing into a field full of a quantity of bovine population with young, so I chickened out and contented myself with the long view through the herd.
We continued onto Dartmoor itself and my second target: Grimspound.
What a fantastic place! From the layby, walk up the steps then keep up the hill till the stream is heard. Keep the stream on the right until a 'stone path' is seen. Follow the path to the settlement - the path continues on up to Hookney Tor.
There's a real sense of loss here – it's easy to imagine the bustling community that once existed within the encircling wall with its three entrances.
Continuing round Challacombe Down to rejoin the B3212, I spotted the Soussons Common Cairn Circle on the right and skidded to a halt!
This is a neat little 'fairy' circle on the edge of the plantation with a stone cist in the centre. Plonkers had lit a fire within the cist. FFS why?
With time moving on, after a brief stop in Postbridge we continued the journey toward Cornwall.
The next scheduled stop was Kit Hill, and having driven up to the peak, there is just so much industrial archaeology here, mostly dated from the WW1 Tin Mine that it was difficult to identify the much earlier earthworks we were hoping to see. They were not marked on the information boards either, so we continued on, heading northwards back to the A30 and Lewannick.
Close by to the church (down past the village pub), is Blaunder's Well, an old sacred spring, but despite asking a local farmer, I failed to locate it this time round.
Although there were a few more sites in the area I wanted to see, Mikki called a halt and we drove directly on into Penzance. We've got all week!
Up early the next day, Try was the first target for the day
I parked the car at Chysauster car park and walked along the road to the footpath at SW465347. The woman at the house next to the footpath advised me to avoid the horses in the field as they can become a 'bit too friendly'. Following the footpath across the first stile (into a roped off corner of the horse's field), this was easily done by jinking into the next field through a gate (horses in field), and returning at the far corner by dodging under the fence which appears to have been designed for exactly that purpose.
After the second stile, the footpath is poorly defined, but I headed straight across the meadow as depicted on the map to a stile hidden in the undergrowth of the hedge. After this third stile, the stone can be seen on the far side of the second field on the left. I couldn't find a way into this field (the footpath carries on up to Try Farm, but is very poorly defined from here).
Sadly, in the evening I found that the photos I'd taken had mysteriously disappeared from the camera! This meant I had to return later in the week, when it was much dryer than the 8am dew flood I'd encountered this time round.
A major bugbear of mine is that I've never managed to locate the stone at Carfury, so that was our next scheduled stop. However, once again I was to be foiled! A heavy downpour (and I mean heavy) prevented much exploration as the stream had overflowed onto the footpath, making it almost impassable. To be honest, I'm not even certain I was in the right place, as the vegetation prevented use of my GPS. This will stay on the list for next time…
As the weather was inclement, we decided to drive around for a while, up around Bodrifty Mine, then down toward Lamorna.
Stopping at the Pipers, I noticed that a sign that had been placed on one of the stones last year (saying 'do not remove' and not covering anything obvious!) was no longer present. What was all that about then? Another 'mystery of the stones'…
A quick stop off to take a look at the St Buryan churchyard crosses, then it was into St Just and the 'Cook Book'. I can't recommend this place highly enough. A combination café and bookshop with wonderful home-made soups and a really friendly welcome.
As the weather broke, I decided to whizz quickly up to the Tregeseal circle to check on last year's fire damage.
It's a stiff old walk up from the bottom of the village, but just over a year on from the unintentional scorching the stones received (see News), they appear to be healing well. Most of the burnt lichen has been removed, and the stones look in good condition. I didn't notice any obvious cracking on the stones I inspected closely.
The afternoon was booked for retail therapy in Truro, but I took the liberty of grabbing a couple of sites from tomorrow's itinerary: The Ignioc Stone at St Clements, and the 'Noti' Stone at St Hilary's, squeezing in a cream tea at the Handy Shop in Sithney on the way!
The churchyard at St Hilary was incredibly poorly tended and very overgrown. Luckily, the inscribed stone and crosses lay either side of the path up to the church and are in plain view.
(more to follow in part 2)
Posted by ocifant
6th June 2005ce
Edited 17th October 2006ce
The Far Corner and The Near Post
Myself and fellow Cope fan and indeed fellow Newcastle supporter Jack had been thwarted several times in the past on trying to find The Devil's Jump Stone- always by the long grass which can easily obscure this mighty er....... 2 foot tall standing stone. However with so little in the way of megalithic monuments in the area we had been determined to find this one for some time, it was just a question of when or so we told ourselves!!
When indeed - well it went something like this "Newcastle are on Sky Sports on Sunday against Chelsea in the FA Cup; we probably don't stand a chance of winning but do you fancy coming up for some Sunday lunch and then going down the pub to watch it?" asked Jack. " Aye ok sounds good" I replied - "my house is going to be off limits to me that day due to imminent wedding preparations - bride and bridesmaids hair trials etc. But there is one condition - can we go and try to find the Jump Stone before we go to the pub?" I asked.
And so it was fortified by a big Sunday lunch we set off and with some degree of pessimism on two counts.
1) Based on past performance we neither of us held out too much hope of finding this stone.
2) Newcastle were displaying form that spelled certain relegation and we fully expected to be on the wrong end of a humiliating thrashing by the side with a very good chance of winning the quadruple.
Anyhow to cut a long story short - we parked the car on the road next to the field that had thwarted us so many times before and entered through the gate.
"It's got to be around here somewhere?" said Jack immediately
"I think that's it over there actually" I replied pointing at a forlorn figure not 20 feet away. "Is that it, that was easy, I said."You don't think that this is a sign do you? We couldn't go on to beat Chelsea as well could we?"
And so off we went to the pub where four minutes in to the game - Patrick Kluivert (also known as The Fat Dutchman) tucked away what proved to be the only goal of the game and Newcastle displayed some totally uncharacteristic good defending to seal the match sending us home happy and dreaming of FA Cup glory in Cardiff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Footnote - FA Cup Semi Final 14th April 2005 - Newcastle 1 Manchester United 4 - normal service has been resumed and I think that I'll just stick to the stone circling in future!!
Posted by Joolio Geordio
6th June 2005ce
Changing seasons on Dartmoor
On Friday charlie and myself drove from a rainy pre holiday season Torquay through thick congested traffic towards Dartmoor. The relief to be out of the way of all that traffic and up on the moors was enough to compensate for the downpour of rain that greeted us as we were looking for the The Plague Market At Merrivale. At first this proved a little difficult as the mist swept in so suddenly and we could only see a few feet ahead of us and could see no evidence of stone rows or circles as we wandered around, although there were stones everywhere. All of a sudden the mist lifted out as quickly as it had appeared and the sun broke through shining down upon one of the stone rows now stood right in front of me. i waved across to charlie and we made our way in awe walking down these amazing stone rows. the stream running between the rows was really high and made an amazing sound that i wish i'd recorded. we spent the next hour or so looking at Merrivale Stone Circle, the menhir and investigating all the hut circles, what a place! it was very peaceful, maybe it the changeable weather but there seemed to be little in the way of traffic or other people about.
Travelling with a copy of the modern antiquarian we decided to look for an easily accessible site without too much walking involved next. not usually our style but my recent poor health dictated taking it easy! So we headed off to The Spinsters' Rock. We found it easily, driving up the tiny lane to the farm at the top and parking in the lay by next to the gate. the site was well signposted both from the road and at the lay by. The field was full of sheep and a beautiful horse that didn't move the whole time we were there. the sun still graced us with it's presence only occasionally dipping behind the clouds. The spinsters' Rock looked perfect, we spent our time just chilling out and pondering on the legends of the spinsters or witches or Mysterious Old Man and his three sons putting up these stones.
The relief to be out of the way of all that traffic and up on the moors was enough to compensate for the downpour of rain that greeted us as we were looking for the The Plague Market At Merrivale. At first this proved a little difficult as the mist swept in so suddenly and we could only see a few feet ahead of us and could see no evidence of stone rows or circles as we wandered around, although there were stones everywhere. All of a sudden the mist lifted out as quickly as it had appeared and the sun broke through shining down upon one of the stone rows now stood right in front of me. i waved across to charlie and we made our way in awe walking down these amazing stone rows. the stream running between the rows was really high and made an amazing sound that i wish i'd recorded. we spent the next hour or so looking at Merrivale Stone Circle, the menhir and investigating all the hut circles, what a place! it was very peaceful, maybe it the changeable weather but there seemed to be little in the way of traffic or other people about.
we headed off to The Spinsters' Rock. We found it easily, driving up the tiny lane to the farm at the top and parking in the lay by next to the gate. the site was well signposted both from the road and at the lay by. The field was full of sheep and a beautiful horse that didn't move the whole time we were there. the sun still graced us with it's presence only occasionally dipping behind the clouds. The spinsters' Rock looked perfect, we spent our time just chilling out and pondering on the legends of the spinsters or witches or Mysterious Old Man and his three sons putting up these stones.
Posted by texlahoma
5th June 2005ce
Megalithing in Menorca (Part 2 now I kind of know what I'm doing ...)
No, we'd not had enough. When you've enjoyed the first few days so much, why change the plan?
Stick a pin in the map and that's where we'll go today. Time to check out the north east. There's something about roads with big PRIVATE signs and then gates across them that makes you think an irate farmer will appear and shout "get offa my land!" (except in Catalan or Castillian and I won't understand it). We'd already worked out that Sa Torreta wasn't marked in the correct place on our map - but then Binissafullet hadn't been either, my map reading isn't that bad! - so British guilt about being caught in the wrong place got the better of us - OK me, but I was driving and had already put the hire car through a few assault courses - and we gave up. Later in the bar, the ex-pat who offered us an aerial archaeological tour in his plane (150 euros for up to three people, in Sa Musculera (sp?) in Binibeca, if anyone's interested - he owns the place I think but doesn't work there) confirmed had we just followed the standard "if the gate's closed, close it again" rules, no one would have minded. Beardy tried to persuade me to look again on the way to the airport at the end of the trip ....
So it became the day of the naveta.
We turned off the main road at the signpost to Biniac l'Argentina Occidental and followed it round, and round, and twisty, and narrow, and ended up back at the main road but at Biniac l'Argentina Oriental. Huh!? How did that happen? Never mind!
and climbed on in!
This is the better preserved of these two sites, carefully walled off in the middle of some development.
Then back to retrace our route, narrow twisty round and round. We pulled up opposite the last (or first if you're coming in) posh villa on the road, and Beardy leapt out and followed the path between the houses. Meanwhile, I pulled TME out of the boot, seeing as the map wasn't specific (one blob for Biniacs, so no, it's not really that excessive to have taken TME with us) and double checked - 400m from the junction. I walked back up a little way, and saw two gates, one of which had a blue menorca monumental bin just behind it - ah, that's where it's hiding!
The theme of the day continued with navetas d'enterrament do Rafal Rubi.
Indeed, sponsored by Spar!
and then Sud or Meridional
with its fabulous interior.
What shall we do today? Stay local? Why not! The majority of the day was in fact spent scrambling round the rocks and remains of who knows what at the very pretty village of Sant Esteve. On the way there, we checked out the Talaiot de Trebalugeret, one of the oldest on the island according to its sign, and built on the remains of a pre-talaiotic construction.
One of the easiest to climb, there are the remains of the walls and pillars of a house at the top, though these are thought to have been added at a later date. The site has been enclosed by a modern wall, and houses are creeping up along one side.
Then on to the fabulous Talaiot de Trepuco with that taula
There's a shed on the car park, impying that when it's not siesta time, an entrance fee may be payable and information, ice creams and a range of jewellery may be available. I've got a thing about red poppies; in fact, if Beardy and I hadn't managed to arrange getting wed where we did (Castlerigg!) I'd requested a cornfield with red poppies just taller than the crop; I kind a like this place.
Where have these last few days gone? Can it really be the last full day of the holiday? Time to reacquaint ourselves with the roads round the airport and off to the Talaiot de Torellonet Vell.
This site has 3 elements:
Torello 1 - the main talaiot
Torello 2 - a second ruinous talaiot in the adjoining field
Two fields away, there's the Circle of Torello - listed in TME as a possible taula sanctuary but more likely to be the remains of a house with pillars around a central courtyard.
We did try to ask permission to cross the fields to this last one, but a lack of basic Spanish lead to much giggling and gesticulating with a wonderfully weather beaten elderly lady at the nearby farm - it seems the one word we had in common was Torellonet!
From there, onto the Taliti de Dalt, under the care of Arqueomenorca in the drizzle (see, not a beach day at all!) a fabulous site with 2 caves, a spectacular taula sanctuary, a central talaiot and at least 2 if not more surrounding it, covered rooms .....
On the way there, Beardy had spotted something else, so we went back to investigate. Some guessing of which road to take and a thirteen point turn later (still no scratches on the hire car!), we found two unloved unlabelled off-map talaiots at Curnia. If you don't get to them by road, get a window seat in the plane - they are under the flight path north east of the runway.
The better preserved one:
and its ruinous companion
And there endeth the megalithing for this trip!
We could easily have spent longer - we missed so many places we've found out about since - a week well spent and somewhere to return to in the future.
Posted by sals
5th June 2005ce
Megalithing in Menorca! (Possibly part 1)
My copy of TME has opened up the possibility of visiting a range of package holiday destinations previously filed under "nothing for me there". So on 11th May, Beardy and I got up at pre-crack of dawn and set off for Menorca. The deal was a fair bit of megalithing, some sun and sand and plenty of relaxation. 8 days and 18 locations later, there were another 500km on the hire car and miraculously no new scratches. Here's a few notes and pics on where we went:
Day 2 (day 1 being spent just relaxing) Thurs 12th
We started on the "road" to Calas Coves and after much stopping and "can we really drive down there" - we did - and were glad to see a few other vehicles at the head of the bay.
There are caves, used for burials from the Bronze Age, on all sides of the double inlet here - most secured to prevent squatters - we found one that had been reopened and admired the fantastic views.
After an hour or two scrambling over the rocks, we set off cautiously back up the track to the sanctuary of So Na Cacana, as Torre Llisa Vell seems to have been renamed (or now known to be two different places!)
It's a complicated site, only a small part of which has been excavated, and unusual with two talaiots (circular towers, possibly used for defenses) and two taula sanctuaries - a taula being the stone T.
The plan to carry on and visit Torralba d'en Salort, just a few metres up the road, was scuppered by siesta time and secure gates, so we continued on to another "show" site, Torre d'en Galmes.
Another huge site! It's all been neatly laid out with paths, ropes and signs, and seems orderly past the impressive talaiot and taula sanctuary where the top of the taula has been removed and inverted.
But further on, down the hill into the village, it's chaotic.
Day 3 Friday 13th
An early start at Torralba d'en Salort was followed by the long (by Menorcan standards - it's right the other end of the island) drive to the Cala Morrel Necropolis, with the holiday villas springing up not too cruelly around it. A magnificent series of caves along a ravine, originally used for burials but believed to have used later as houses.
Heading back to base on the south east of the island, it would have been rude not to call in at the Naveta d'es Tudons - restored and walled and a little showy but not without charm ...
... but nothing prepared me for how our next location would take my breath away.
Torre Llafuda - a talaiot with a taula sanctuary, the latter overgrown with olive trees standing in a field - maybe it was the creaking of the olive tree branches and the wind rustling the ears of corn, the dappled sunlight through the leaves, the place completely to ourselves - it was magical!
Day 4 Saturday 14th
Are we getting obsessed? Are we really on holiday? Oh yes, probably to both counts! A day off but the evening drive out in search of local cuisine brought us to the sign to the poblat (ancient village) of Binissafullet, strangely not where it should be according to the map.
and the next wrong turn brought a bigger surprise - Biniparratxet Petit, removed to extend the airport runway and relocated to by the airport terminal, was not all moved! I spotted the now familiar blue "menorca monumental" sign and slammed on the brakes literally under the flight path between the end of runway lights.
Fenced in, impossible to reach, with a talaiot almost scraping the landing gear of the planes as they come in ...
And so, half a week along, the story stops for now. Further pictures and locations can be found at my work in progress!
Posted by sals
4th June 2005ce
Edited 5th June 2005ce
Wanting some respite from urban sprawl, a longstanding mate, Andy and I drove down for sunrise at Stoney Littleton, It's a wonderful place anytime but dawn is almost magical… …Sometimes it is easy to forget to ask 'How they built these things? '… as 'Why they built them?' intrigues us all so much. With nearby Bath blinding the hordes of 'history tourists' with its Roman swankiness, for which of course Im eternally grateful, hidden away Stoney Littleton provides us with yet another serene sanctuary littered with clue's to our past.
….I'm no expert but the restoration seems to have transformed the place wonderfully since Julian's visit in TMA, many years ago and exploring inside relatively easy (next time you go don't take a torch… a lantern works wonders)
Circles…………..I love……Rock Art ….I adore……..in fact I love, as we all do ANYTHING ancient but there s always something a bit special for me when you can……….. 'GO IN'(Carn Euny, Kilmartin etc)… ….This place is perfect in everyway, the setting on this May morning, the condition of the barrow itself…… in the cramped but pretty comfy conditions the sheer physical strength and building skill involved in construction are emphasised and simply staggering…. Just stop awhile next visit and let your eyes grow used to the dark…fossils are everywhere not just at the entrance as I had read…..the sheer human endeavour in just getting it constructed is forced upon you as you manoeuvre through the chamber.
This exquisite May morning sitting atop of the barrow….really brought home the simple fact that those of us who have let these places enter our lives are so privileged.....but you lot know that anyway!
Yeah we had a cracker of a morning!!! And if you haven't been…………Go!!!!
Posted by David Milner
31st May 2005ce
(A bit) Lost in France
Walking in the rain
While Jane and I were in Brittany recently (http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37318">see her weblogs), at Erdeven, I went off walking while she painted from the car due to heavy rain. So I thought I'd better contribute the monuments I saw then to the 'tale'.
After wandering around the http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37318">Kerzerho Alignments I went off to see Les Geants. I would then carry on through the woods to see the Kerjean Alignments, the Mane Braz dolmens, and anything else I had time for and could find. The first setback was that I set off in completely the wrong direction! I walked down to the 'bottom' of the main alignments but it soon came apparent there was no path to continue on. I backtracked.
Les Geants de Kerzerho
The (signposted) path to Les Geants de Kerzerho actually sets off from very near the car park, on the left as you walk along the main rows from the car park. As I found once I was back in the dry, Julian does say in http://www.themegalithiceuropean.com">The Megalithic European (TME) that they're to the north of the alignments…. I was already soaked. Whoopee!
So, a little way down the path, there they were. And very wonderful they are too. Must have been absolutely magnificent once, as they're still fantastically impressive in their ruin. What it must've been to see them and the other small patches of alignments still evident in the woods when they were all continuous! More of that later.
Bit battered, but huge
It was here I discovered the second setback. We'd forgotten to recharge the batteries on the digital SLR. Luckily I also had Jane's 'point & shoot', so it could've been worse. And it could've been raining. (Drip, drip.)
One of the largest Geants
As they're now quite isolated a short distance from the remaining main part of the Kerzerho alignments, it's kind of difficult to get a 'handle' on just why these extra large stones are bunched together like this. Possibly if the intervening stones were still there or if there wasn't vegetation inbetween, it'd make more sense.
Unfortunately, I missed the holed stone Julian mentions, as I was unwilling to get TME out of my rucksack in the heavy rain.
Following the signs through the woods towards Mane Braz dolmens (I was to find that the web of paths throughout the woods are pretty well signposted) it was only 5 or 10 minutes before I could see the Kerjean Alignments peeking through the trees to the right of the path. Might be more difficult to spot with growth on the trees in the summer, but shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Difficult to photograph Kerjean effectively
There are a fair number of stones left here, mostly smaller than the remaining Kerzerho alignments and far smaller than Les Geants. But still well worth seeing in their disarray, and helping to get a feel of what this area must've been like when the alignments stretched for kilometres through the now wooded area.
Just around one of the next corners, there are a few stones visible to the left of the path in the woods (probably quite a few if you're up to having a thrash about in the undergrowth). For the whole walk, it's well worth scanning the woods on both sides, as there are many small 'patches' of remnants from the originally wide-ranging alignments hereabouts.
Mane Braz dolmens
All along, I was very grateful that the paths were signposted, as it was so wet that I don't think the rain would have done a map or a book any good at all. And truth be told, the only maps I had would probably have proved sadly inadequate. Plus, trying to give directions would have made this weblog even more tortuous!
From Kerjean, the walk to Mane Braz was probably around 15-20 minutes, though it has to be said that the rain lent me speed! Just before I reached Mane Braz, the path started to climb a bit, and the land began to rise above me on my left.
Probably at around this point, Julian seems to describe the dolmens as being visible from the path, but I wasn't in the mood for stopping and studying the lie of the land any more than necessary, trusting completely to the signs. (I think there's probably also a shortcut at some point here but I didn't think it was worth trying, especially with limited time and the sopping undergrowth.)
Transepted grave in foreground
Eventually, a signpost sent me to the left, a little way up onto a mound at the edge of a smallish, more open area of land with a more 'heathlike' feel – reminding me of http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/36904">St Just where we had been a few days before. And there were the dolmens.
'Simple' passage grave
Really beautiful on a thinly tree-grown, glade-like mound, there are 4 monuments here. The first 2 that I approached were a classic Brittany passage grave with transepts, and a 'simpler' passage grave. There is also a heavily denuded semi-subterranean one and, finally, the stripped remnants of another (that can hardly even be termed megalithic in its current state!)
Semi-subterranean passage grave
If only the sun had been out, what a place for a relaxing picnic, a chill and a chat!!! And the walk would be lovely in the sun! I've since learnt that there seems to be another very ruined dolmen to the SW of the mound, and a fallen menhir to the south. Ah well, next time. In the meantime, here's another photo of what I did see!
I spent 15-20 minutes at the dolmens and it wasn't nearly long enough. It didn't help that a fair bit of it was spent crouching in the chamber of the largest dolmen, juggling batteries, as those in the 'point & shoot' were now also practically dead. (Having not been fresh to begin with.)
So, all too soon, I set off to retrace my steps back to Erdeven where Jane was waiting.
Coet er Bei and La Chaise de Cesar
As I rejoined the main path, I remembered seeing signs to another dolmen, much earlier on the walk. I couldn't remember the name, but I noticed that there were signs to what I thought (possibly wrongly, in retrospect) was the same one, from here – Mane Groh.
It seemed to me that if I continued on the path, it would probably bend round on its way to 'the mystery dolmen', Mane Groh, and either allow me to see the dolmen on my way back, or just save me walking back the way I'd come.
I set off following the signs I'd spotted, onward towards Mane Groh dolmen. It soon became apparent that it didn't bend back round, but I'd come far enough that it was worth keeping going in the hope of a cross-path.
After around 15 minutes I suddenly saw a sign to my left for a 'new' monument. I'd completely forgotten about La Chaise de Cesar and Coet er Bei, but here they were! And even better, I could just see the stones through the trees.
Coet er Bei rows
La Chaise de Cesar is very impressive, and actually doesn't stand out quite as I expected, from a distance, anyway, as there are a few other stones around the same size here. It's impressive though, and its shape is indeed, very chairlike.
Interestingly, in TME Julian calls the La Chaise a "gorsedd". This seems strange to me, as a gorsedd in the sense he usually uses it is a natural rock formation (or so I always thought) whereas this is clearly an artificially erected stone.
The stones here are very scattered but impressive, and many are difficult to 'see' as rows. It's indisputable, but very difficult to imagine that they were once part of same alignments as Kerzerho, Kerjean and the various other groups I'd walked past. Especially as I'd walked, so knew just how far they once stretched!
Chaise et pouffe de Cesar(?!)
Then, as I wandered among the scattered stones, I began to get a strange feeling of deja-vu. Suddenly it dawned that I had indeed been here before – on a previous trip years ago, looking for a dolmen that I never found that time. But I had seen it only that morning. What was it called??? Ah. It was Mane Groh…! Curse my lousy memory – I'd been following signs to a monument I'd left only a few hours before!
More alignments at Coet er Bei
This meant that I was right back over by http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37318">Crucuno which in turn meant that I could call Jane on my mobile and get her to pick me up!!!
So, all was well that ended more than well. As well as seeing the stuff I really wanted to, I'd seen La Chaise de Cesar and Coet er Bei, discovered that I'd already seen them, which also enabled me to put a name to a monument I'd previously not had a name for, and I'd got a lift instead of having to walk back to Erdeven!
I'd heartily recommend spending a whole day here wandering these paths – there are more dolmens within walking distance than I had time for. Start at Mane Groh or Erdeven and just do it. Don't forget to tell us all about it though!
Oh, here's a nearly gratuitous picture of Mane Groh to end with. Hope you like it.
Posted by Moth
27th May 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce
Rainy birthday around Carnac
We'd had suchhttp://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/36663"> a wonderful time with Spaceship Mark the previous day it was going to be hard to top it. But today was my birthday and Moth had promised me more of Carnac.
It started immediately, as we had stayed overnight at the Hôtel du Tumulus (31 rue du Tumulus, Carnac, phone 02 97 52 08 21) and as I threw open the window we were greeted with this sight: St Michel Tumulus
Not a bad way to start! Today we were going to focus on sites around Quiberon, Erdeven and Crucuno.
En route up towards the Dolmens de Rondossec we spotted this dolmen at the roadside, just before Plouharnel:
The Dolmen de Kergavat has a large chamber and some sizeable stones, but like so much stuff hereabouts, unceremonially ignored. But here it is, a huge and beautiful dolmen, virtually playing chicken with passing traffic, parked at the roadside.
I do like urban monuments, so the Dolmens de Rondossec were always likely to appeal to me. Whoosh in the middle of the village of Plouharnel are a lovely pair of funnel-type passage tombs, still quite buried under their mounds. They both have low passages which widen to a larger end. In a garden just opposite we noticed a menhir which looked suspiciously original to us.
Keep on Quiberon
The thin ribbon of land known as the Quiberon peninsula is much loved by holidaymakers by the looks of it. But today, with it pouring with rain, it was mercifully free of traffic, enabling us to take in the three fabulous sites down here with ease.
Julian calls it the Roh-an-Aod dolmen but the roadsigns point you to dolmen du Roch.
This very large dolmen occupies an entire plot in a small village setting, tightly squeezed on all sides by cottages and houses. We liked this one a lot as it so clearly refuses to be taken over by the human development around it. Defiant and wonderful.
Not far away is the little seaside town of St Pierre Quiberon which is home to two fabulous monuments. The St Pierre alignments nestle comfortably like a park in the urban setting.
St Pierre Quiberon town felt very like my home town of Stratford on Avon, satisfied with itself, charming and much-loved by visitors Indeed, if you transported all the stones from West Kennet Avenue to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre gardens, this gives you an idea of the feeling emanating from this monument. The three or four rows of stones (23 in total) were very Avebury-like in size and shape. And within a couple of hundred metres of these alignments is the WONDERFUL Kerbourgnec cromlech.
Julian's instructions in TME to find this horseshoe are unnecessarily complicated. Simply follow the path at the back of the St Pierre alignments past the tennis court and turn left at the top. About 50 metres in front of you, under the massive pine trees is the monument. Thirty seven stones form an incredibly graceful arc maybe 50 metres wide, which cannot be photographed to adequately describe this place. The arc now embraces a nice middle class tennis court. Fortunately, the land immediately in front of the cromlech is clear of development, so you can stand well back and contemplate the whole thing. I loved this. I loved that there were so many stones still up and that this quiet part of town had grown up around it without encroaching on it.
Leaving Quiberon behind we travelled a few kilometers north to find the St Barbe alignments.
Blimey! There're some big buggers here. And according to the books, it's not very long ago since the fields at St Barbe were littered with some pretty complete alignments. But 19th and 20th century activities felled many of them. Despite the driving rain, I had to get out of the car and walk right up to these stones. And I'm glad I did, because sometimes it's not until you actually stand next to something you realise just how massive it is. The biggest stone of St Barbe is seriously whopping – have a look at TME and se just how teeny Spaceship Mark looks standing next to it.
I was looking forward to the sites in and around the village of Crucuno. The Crucuno dolmen is bang slap in the middle of the village, now looking more like an extension to a farm building these days, but no less impressive for it.
I made a little sketch of it while I sat in the car out of the rain while Moth went off exploring.
He was looking for Crucuno rectangle which is in a field outside the village. Dripping wet, he returned to the car and we drove down the farm track as far as we could so that I least I could stay a bit dry.
The rectangle is a mystery to me. Like the rectangle at Manio, which we saw the day before, this is something that I couldn't get my head around. Stone CIRCLES make more sense to me, partly cos I've seen tons of 'em, so to see an alternative shape is very peculiar. The stones are large here (average of five or six feet high, I'd say) and the corners very precise. Recently cleared of its gorsey undergrowth I paced round it, trying to make sense of the lines and the corners and failing.
Just about 500ms away up among some trees is Mane Groh dolmen a lovely allee couverte with four transepted chambers and lots of capstones still up. A little stone cist, not unlike a water trough for horses, stood very close by.
Not far away, around the village of Erdeven are tons of goodies. Call me undedicated if you like, but the combination of the weather being so horrible, the lack of time for painting opportunities and the prospect of a very wet 2km walk to see more stuff, didn't appeal. Moth, being a completist wasn't going to miss a thing, so he set off from the car park at Erdeven and began his walk to take in the Kerjean alignments, Kerherzo alignments, Mane Braz dolmens, Coet er bein and La Chaisse de Cesar. I stayed in car, driving it up to a place to get a good view of the Kerherzo alignments.
I lit a fag, got out a flask of tea and my sketchbook and while munching on a pain au chocolat, made this little study.
After picking up Moth, who found himself back at Mane Groh dolmen at the end of his very wet walk, we thought we'd have a go and look for some monuments we'd spotted on the map at Belz, a seaside village a few kilometers away. We had only a not very detailed map and my megalithic radar to guide us. We subsequently discovered these don't even feature in Burl's 'Megalithic Brittany', so we were pleased to have found two of the three marked on the map.
Urban dolmens! I love 'em. Forgotten but not gone, the dolmen at Belz east was actually two burial chambers.
Only one still has capstones up, the other, directly next to it, just has a few uprights left marking the line of the chamber. It is situated on high ground overlooking the sea on a village greeny area.
Driving around a bit around the village a bit, we located Belz dolmen west up to its knees in soaking wet buttercups on a patch of land occupying an entire building plot among the houses.
Despite a bit of scout around, we couldn't find Belz dolmen south at all, though I suspect we got pretty close.
I'd pretty much had enough by this time; the rain was just too depressing to go on. And my flask of tea was empty. But Moth could resist 'just a couple more.' And so it was we saw the Menhirs du Vieux Moulin…
and Les Trois Marchants which being so big and so close to each other were all part of the same complex at one time, surely?
But Moth's fiendish plot was not quite over. He insisted on detour of just 100ms off the main road to see
Runesto dolmen. It doesn't look like very much until you are right up to it, because the bulk of the structure still lies below ground level, hidden under its mighty capstone. I dived straight in, to feel the space and the height and keep out of the rain. A large, ugly snail (ugh!) had had the same idea and lurked scarily on one of the giant uprights so I didn't stay in for long.
Despite the rain I'd seen eighteen sites around Carnac. Not a bad 42nd birthday treat, was it?
Posted by Jane
24th May 2005ce
Two Different Days on Dartmoor
Having spent much of the last three years slogging my way across Bodmin Moor, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go over the border.....
Dartmoor is a BIG place...where should I start? I decided to start somewhere that was at least familiar and headed for Sheepstor on the South West side of the moor. As a young fit 20 something i had spent some great times climbing the rock face on the eastern end of the tor and knew how to get there and where to park.
DIRECTIONS: From Burrator Reservoir drive through Sheepstor village until you come to a road that turns up on the left. Take this and after winding up beside farm buildings the road comes out on open moor. After a short distance there are a couple of places on the left where a car or two can park of the road.
The only plans I had were to get to Yellowmead circle and then see what happened after that. I decided i would leave the climb up to Sheepstor until later and headed off across the moor to the east. Keeping close to the field boundary I reached the end of the wall and turned right. From here it is an easy contour cross the open moorland to the circle.
My first site on a walk that would take me to many other historic remains this sunny May day. The circle is small...and too perfect for my liking! Something in my head tells me that this originated as a simple cairn but when the restorers got here they decided to create a stone circle (or 4). I missed the stone row but as i was to see later that would tie in with the cairn thoughts.
It is a nice spot (although the aroma from the recently spread field nearby was a bit off putting) with Sheeps Tor towering over it from the west. To think I sat up there on countless occasions back in the late 80s and never even noticed this site....
On leaving the circle I headed up hill to view the cairns before carefully treading my way across the boggy valley between Yellowmead and the Scout Hut. There is no need to go to the Scout Hut and I passed behind it and decided to follow the left bank of the watercourse for Yellowmead Farm heading for Whittenknowles Rocks. I expected a natural rock formation here but I think the name just refers to the remains of the settlement.
This is just one great area of rocks...at one time placed by man but now scattered at random. To my untrained eye there is very little that can be made out but i am sure the experts know every hut circle, burial cairn etc on this hillside. It is while walking uphill amongst the rocks that you first gain sight of the Drizzel Combe complex....i wonder if the two sites are connected?
At the top end of the settlement there is a rectanguler "table" of rocks a good 20 ft long and about 2 to 3 feet high. What it is I know not, but at least it is still there...
Whilst clambering amongst the former round houses and enclosures I caught sight of the stone rows at Drizzelcoombe, my next target. I had read that this was one of the finest places to explore Dartmoor's prehistoric landscape but had not read much further…I like things to be a surprise! From my view point I could see the rows standing clear against the backdrop of Hentor, a long line of low stones with a couple of bigger ones at the end and half way along. There also seemed to be some other standing stones between me and the rows. I set off down hill to investigate.
The first stone I came to looked "modern" and I guessed it to be a boundary stone, although my map tells me that there is no boundary running through that point. The next one was a low stone sitting on the side of the shallow valley. It is not marked on the map but on my return home it is mentioned in Byng's "Dartmoor's Mysterious Megaliths" book as lining up with the western end menhir of the stone row and Hen Tor..something I did not notice at the time.
I carried on to the western stone, and slowly its size became apparent. After taking a good nunber of photos, I started walking up the row. At one point it becomes a double row and carries on this way until the cairn at the top end. This siteing of a small cairn at one end of a row, I will come to understand as usual on Dartmoor. Having only seen the rows on Bodmin Moor before today, it is not something I have come across before.
A gap now appears before the next row starts, although I believe the two rows are as one. To the north another standing stone attracts me to a third row running more or less parallel with the one I am about to follow. It is not as tall as the two other menhirs but its row is possibly the longest of the three.
Before making my way to the upper row I wander to the right to view the Giants Basin. This is a BIG cairn! Climbing up it I find the centre has been hollowed out, (should I have expected otherwise?) and the discarded stones cover the west side of the mound.
The menhir at the end of the upper row still does not give away its height as I approach it. From the west it is a large fat stone and it is not until I get right up close that I realise I am standing beside a huge monolith.
The stone row that leads from the menhir carries on up the hillside to a barrow. The barrow is one of three that sit here in a row, this being the right hand side one. The middle one is the termination point for the other stone row whilst the left hand side one seems to be the odd one out with no stones leaving it in any direction.
I carry on climbing, a gentle slope that goes through the remains of cairns and pounds. The view down slope is fantastic; the three rows stand proud, their size once again lost in the sheer scale of their surroundings. The city of Plymouth can be seen in the distance and beyond that, through the haze, I can just make out the sea. I wonder if, on a clear day, Dodman Point or even the Lizard can be seen from up here?
Eventually I reach Higher Hartor Tor, a collection of low granite rocks that netherthe less offer shelter from the chilly east wind. A new view of Dartmoor now opens up; that to the east. It is a barren wasteland, an area unknown to me, so I head north to Eylesbarrow.
Passing through the Victorian mining remains of Eylesbarrow Mine (where an old shaft is still open for all to see, but fenced off) I turn right and follow the old miners track through the workings for a short distance before branching of to the left and climbing the hill to the summit. More mining remains are passed through, open cuttings where tin was extracted using water, before the summit cairn is reached.
The hill takes its name from the two large cairns that sit atop the summit. Both have been much altered by travellers seeking shelter over the years...and I for one was welcome of the little circular shelter on what was a sunny but cold day.
The views up here are superb, looking down to the Cornish coast (and home) to the south west whilst to the east the barrenness of Dartmoor is there for all to see.
In 1240 a perambulation of the Bounds of the forest of Dartmoor was undertaken by 12 knights summoned by the Sheriff of Devon, under the orders of Henry III. Included in that perambulation was Elysburgh.
Lunch is spent in the company of a mother sheep and lamb, sheltering from the same wind as me. At 454 meters this is the highest point of the walk and the views are superb, sadly it is also starting to rain, so I pack my remaining chocolate hob-nobs away and head off towards my next stone row.
But something is not right….I have not seen a sole all day..but down in the valley, gathered around the stone row there are people! Lots of people! How dare they!
I deviate away from my route and head for the tin workings to the east of the stone row. If I give them a bit of time they might move on and I can have the stones to myself. I explore the tin workings, usual stuff, scattered stones, areas of bog, startled sheep…. And climb out on the north side and head towards a cairn marked on the map.
Beside the cairn is a enclosure and with the group making no attempt to move I decide to look at this. I fail to notice that one man and his dog have broken away from the pack and I soon hear a cheery voice telling me they are French. The voice introduces himself as a local and explains that he is doing the same walk as me but the other way round. He tells me all about standing stones and stone rows and how they all tie in with the sunrise on midsummer day. We exchange pleasantries for a while before he heads off after his impatient dog.
By now some of the group have decided to move….and they are heading my way! I take some photos of my end of the row before they arrive and then move of in their direction hoping to pass them halfway. This I do exchanging "hello's" as we pass, but I notice that not all the group have left the circle at the western end. So I deviate again…this time over to the barren hillside left of the row. There is nothing to look at but if I kill enough time they just might disappear.
Everytime I look back they are still there…one of them is standing in the centre of the circle pretending to be the central stone, arms tight to his side, gortex jacket glowing in the sunshine. I give up!
A local tells me that the sun rises in line with this row at Midsummer...It is not facing due NE but taking in to account the dip in the hills to the east he may be right. The row dips in the centre as it crosses the hillside rising to the cairn (Stone Circle) at the western end. I did not get to look at the cairn as it was full of French people standing bolt upright pretending to be stones...
I head across the hillside to the Cuckoo Rock, passing through a settlement of well preserved hut circles on the way. Burrator Reservoir shines in the trees below me. At Cuckoo Rock I sit and have snack, once again free of people intruding on my day on the moor.
This huge rock sits on the southern slope of Combshead Tor and is a popular place for walkers to the area. It is I would guess 15 ft high on the shortest side.
Just to the north of it is a wonderful walled settlement featuring about a dozen hut circles in reasonable condition and beyond them it is a short walk to Down Tor stone row.
The rock is easily reached up the Deancombe from Burrator Reservoir.
My next quest is to find the Potato House, mentioned in Crossings 1909 guide to Dartmoor. He mentions it as being in the valley to the east of here and is an underground shelter used to store potatoes and illicit alcohol. There is nothing ancient about it, it was built by the farmers who lived up here in the early 1800's, but I want to see if I can find it.
It takes a while, the directions in the book are not good. It certainly would have been a good place to hide things. The entrance is only about 3 ft high with a mound of earth infront making only about 1 ft visable. Once through the entrance, the "cave" open out into a rounded chamber about 7ft high. There is room for about 4 people to sit in it comfortably and a little shelf has been cut out on one side to allow a candle to be placed (the remains of a tea light bear witness to this).
After all that excitement it is time to head for home. From here in the bottom of Deancombe it is a long slow climb up to Sheepstor. Pace fastens when I realise the French hordes are in persuit! Sacre blu! Is their no escape?
I reach the top of the tor and scramble up onto the summit. 20 years on from my climbing days it is a tired, overweight 40 something, that sits on top and gazes out over the moor. Gone are the days of hanging off the rock face searching for a handhold, it is the easy grass covered bank that now leads me to the top. Down at Yellowmead, the French have arrived. The circle has disappeared beneath a melee of gortexed garlic gnosshers. Up here it is just me and the skylarks…I leave them the crusts of my last sandwich and head off back to the car.
A week or so later, bitten by the Dartmoor bug, I find myself once again on the moor. This time I am not alone. My friend Karen, over from Canada, is with me. She has never been on Dartmoor before and I have decided to show her the Erme valley. It is not an area I know, but having studied the map, I have planned an eight mile walk taking in some great scenery and a multitude of stone rows and cairns. Trouble is, it is very misty and there is rain forecast.
To Be Continued….
Posted by Mr Hamhead
20th May 2005ce
Edited 22nd May 2005ce
Barbrook 1 (Dark peak)
Its good to see plenty of reference to Barbrook (*one) on this site. It has to be one of the most beautiful small circles in the north of England.
I recall my first trip up to Barbrook(1994); it being one of the coldest days of winter some years ago... After tottering around (feeling) somewhat aimlessly misguided with the O/S range-finder map, its a great place to stumble upon; with a mild suprise of ever having found it.
Just adjacent to the (@ the time very icy pathway); I feel Barbrook lies in a great position... Similar vista to the also hidden (but much grander) nearby temple of Arbor low. I always (upon return here) find it very thought provoking as to, the people that used this site; it always seems more open to the elements than many other places... then again, it is always winter when I visit somehow!
I usually always follow up a trip to this site with an amble over the Burbage brook estate, and up to Higger Tor; which also just has to hold some significance (prehistoric > Iron ages?)
Yep, a trip-ette up to the peaks is a great day out; not forgetting Mam Tor, Thors cave, The Nine ladies circle on Stanton moor... I have never quite made it to Robin hoods stride or Kits coty house... maybe next time around...
Posted by mooncat
9th May 2005ce
S'ain't-Just no ordinary place
Saint-Just, a very ordinary and comfortably pleasant French village, is the guardian to a wild and wacky ribbon of monuments which will have me scratching my head quizzically for the rest of my life. Nothing here makes any sense at all as the path to the west of the village leads you on a megalithic mystery tour.
Each monument on its own is intriguing … beguiling … but together, so close together they become a megalithic headf*ck. Sorry for using such language, but no other words quite explain it!
We parked to the west of the village and followed the ample and informative signs which led us under the pines towards the Cojoux heathland glowing golden with gorse and ringing with birdsong. Apart from us, there was no one else around at all. The monuments - and the birds - just kept on coming. Warning: this weblog is quite a long shopping list of goodies
The first monuments you reach are the Moulin-de-Cojoux alignments. There are three sets of alignments. The first, northern row is a long row of white, quartzy, sugar lumps.
The second which runs parallel just metres away, are an elegant series of blade-shaped menhirs of various different sizes, colours and types of stone.
Some 50 metres away are the third, western alignments which consist of the same white, quartzy, sugar lumps as the northern alignments.
And next, following the path west (I didn't go up towards the old windmill to see the gorsedd) snaking its way through the dense, tall gorse forest for about 400 metres we reached the stones of Les Demoiselles Piquées the 'worm-eaten women'. Not a very nice name, but you can see why they are called this. These are big stones, too. I stood next to one and felt like a midget. A novel feeling for me.
And next 200 metres on, is Chateau Bû, I paused to admire the numerous pink-breasted linnets and listen to them sing. I spotted a bird of prey in the distance and I knew it wasn't a buzzard it was too lightly built. This had a different outline, but I could identify it. Briefly it landed on the tallest stone of Chateau Bû, but had already swooped off by the time we got there. We were to see it again later in exactly the same place.
Chateau Bû! What on earth is it??? Chateau Bû! is caged up. Straight-jacketed. Probably for its own protection because it is INSANE. Without being able to get right up to it, walk round it, get into it, it's hard to make any sense of it. It has a mound, perhaps two metres tall, with a chamber in it like a cairn. Then it has four uprights on top of it.
And then a bit of a cromlech at one end. I've seen a lot of old crumblies in my time, but this one I can't fathom. You'll have to see it for yourself.
And next, 200 metres westwards over the health from Chateau Bû lie a whole pile of monuments, some -quite literally- within spitting distance of each other. The first set you encounter are three nice-but-nothing-to-write-home-about burial chambers called La Croix de St Pierre. Two are now little more than ground plans and the other is just a stone cist.
And next, immediately adjacent to these is the La Croix de St Pierre Tertre Tumulaire, a 20 metre long mound surrounded by small kerbstones marking out its shape. Not much height left to the mound though.
And next, again immediately adjacent to the previous feature is La Croix de St Pierre cairn (which Julian calls Le Dolmen West.) I loved this. It's very restored but it has a style and character, clarity and sharpness which I found very appealing.
And next, still within shouting distance rather than spitting distance, is Le Tribunal cromlech. This wide horseshoe of stripy zebra stones swings around from the south of the path. Each stone is so carefully chosen and positioned they each invite special consideration.
Having recently seen all the crazy carved stones at Gavrinis a couple of days before it occurred to me that the ancient builders of this site, instead of laboriously carving all those motifs into the rock, instead went out and sought stones which already had a natural decoration.
The position of this arc of stones, within metres of the graves of revered ancestors and with a name hinting at tribal law, felt like a very important meeting place within the Saint-Just complex. But this isn't the end of the affair. There are more monuments just beyond.
Next, up on the hill, about 30 metres away we spotted this…
…unnamed burial. Not indicated on any of the literature we had at the time.
And next, only 20 metres away up a bit on a rise lies the charming but a bit crumbly allee couverte of La Four Sarrazin
It had one or two underwhelming cup marks on it, but no intriguing carvings of swirls or zigzags, 'breasts' or chevrons. From up here there are some magical views back over the heath, with the tallest stones of Chateau Bû poking up from above the gorse.
Twitcher moment: As I walked the mile back to the car, I took time to admire the skylarks, crested larks, linnets, greenfinches, goldfinches, thrushes, tits and chaffinches darting all around, filling the air with song. We also got a good view of that bird of prey again, which we later identified, thanks to Moth's wonderful photograph, as a juvenile peregrine falcon.
As we left, I took a moment to make a quick sketch of the alignments.
Apart from the string of monuments out to the west of the village, Saint-Just has a couple of other interesting sites. As you drive north out of the village, directly opposite this crazymadbonkers Christian grotto (which I had fun leaping around on rather disrespectfully)…
…. we saw these three very tall, slender standing stones Les Trois Collonades on the same side of the road as the cemetery.
We were about to leave Saint-Just and as I looked on the map, I noticed another monument marked very close by but not featured in any of the literature we had. We had to go and see if we could sniff it out. Without having a clue what it would be, we picked up a sign to a 'dolmen' and parked. Scrambling up a steep bank into some woodland punctuated withamazing natural rocks, we followed the path until … WOW! What a find! Treal allee couverte.
An absolute beauty to end the most wonderful and megalithically perplexing day.
Posted by Jane
4th May 2005ce