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

Gallows Hill

Round Barrow(s)


This is a reasonably upstanding round barrow sited upon Gallows Hill - as you might expect - overlooking the busy A505 at Odsey Corner, below to the north. The iconic, attractive copse of trees engenders a somewhat 'Minning Low' vibe, although a trashed red brick building footing of some description encroaching upon the mound to the north-west, together with an ugly concrete shell of a building to the south, the latter preceded by remnants of a large fire, ensure this is (nowadays, anyway) not exactly a classic location. Not to mention aerial and large, linear compost mound to the east. Then again, I've always been a sucker for woodland, especially a tree line viewed in stark profile against a glorious early Spring sky, the viewer bathed in sunlight, perched upon a Bronze Age barrow whilst drinking tea. How very English... what could possibly be wrong with that?

Clearly nothing. Unless you happen to be one of the occupants of Heath Farm, standing below to the south, that is. Checking the map, I was pleasantly surprised to see Gallows Hill ascended by the 'Chain Walk' public footpath, said route passing literally within a whisker of the round barrow's unfenced eastern arc. So, allowing a violent shower to pass overhead, I set about attempting to make sense of the site. Suddenly a rather comical labrador appears and decides to noisily confront me. Ha! Now don't get me wrong, I like labradors - why, the Mam C used to own one, and Ceri was one day literally mauled by the cat at the top of the street, the pathetic creature. Some light relief, then. Except this dog's owner was far from pleasant, the woman seemingly a cold, acerbic mixture of overbearing pedantry juxtaposed with ignorance of the significance of her own surroundings. Yeah, she is very hostile, completely unable to comprehend why I - why anyone - might feel the need to take pictures of 'her' hill top. Apparently I'm trespassing, despite the public footpath being literally a few feet from the mound, grossly ignorant for not walking all the way down the hill to ask permission to deviate a few feet from an unfenced public path. I beg to differ, the traveller consequently only able to feel pity toward what would appear such an unhappy soul.

Needless to say I won't be rushed and, happily, my perseverance is rewarded when Nature decides to take a hand, the rain clouds duly dissipating to a pristine blue sky, the round barrow illuminated in a golden glow. A wonderful moment well worth all the aggravation. And at least the landowner's wishes are now on record, should any other member happen to be passing by. If so - and why not? - arguably the best place to park is within the layby leading to a petrol station just north-east of the Ashwell junction of the north carriageway of the A505 (hey, why not pay a visit to Arbury Banks as well?). Needless to say, please, please be careful when crossing the road... and beware of the landowner!
20th March 2012ce
Edited 20th March 2012ce

Comments (8)

You've got to laugh haven't you? Presumably her predecessors in "ownership" were okay to plough the bloody thing though. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
20th March 2012ce
I find it hard to get angry at women in those situations. Naive of me - and a bit sexist - perhaps, but I tend to assume they will act in a better manner than the male landowner, who, it has to be said, is more often than not fine. 'Technically'... in the strictly legal sense... I guess I was trespassing. But come on!! GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
20th March 2012ce
Lovely light in your photos. Is it called Gallows Hill because people used to be hanged there? Miserable landowners perhaps? Emma A Posted by Emma A
20th March 2012ce
Apparently so. There's also Deadman's Hill, with a couple of barrows, to the south. I'd guess it would be peasants such as I that would have been strung up in those days, not the land owner. Incidentally there's a gibbet (replica, of course - duh!) upon the long barrow on Inkpen Hill (Combe Gibbet), Berkshire. Perhaps quite a common thing owing to their prominent position in the local landscape. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
20th March 2012ce
How fantastically wearing it is to hear your story. I wonder what she'd have said if you'd offered her a fiver in recompense for her affront and all the damage you'd caused. Really, what is the matter with some people, what sort of miserable git have you got to be to be like that. You'd think she'd be glad for finding someone appreciating the countryside. But it's not 'the' countryside is it. It's actually her countryside. And you are just a peasant sullying the view. Perhaps she should put a couple of barbed wire fences either side of the footpath so no-one strays. It's not even as though there were crops or animals. Really really tiring.

rant over.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st March 2012ce
It's exactly this sort of attitude from landowners that really gets my goat, and I've experienced it myself on a couple of occasions.

I really wish that landowners would except the fact they are merely stewards of that piece of land for a transient moment in time, these ancient sites have been here long before them, and hopefully will still be here a long time after the end of their miserable and joyless existences. People should be proud that they have such heritage in their care and welcome visitors so long as no damage or nuisance is caused, as seemed to be the case when we visited Brittany where we encountered many home made signs erected by landowners to help people to locate and visit megalithic remains.

Well done to you Gladman for keeping your cool and handling things in such a sensitive way, and not being deterred from continuing your visits (and the excellent fieldnotes!)
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
21st March 2012ce
After leaving Ivington Camp (Herefordshire) on Saturday, I approached a big house called Gattertop along the public bridleway, and noticed a sign pointing off to the right saying "permissive footpath". It's not on the map, so I ignored it as the bridleway will take me all the way to Upper Hill where I can catch the bus. As I approach the house, a bluff, well-spoken voice calls out "Hi-hi! Where are you walking to and from?" I'm greeted thus by the owner of the house. Rather than saying "What's it go to do with you?" I say that I'm off to Upper Hill. He then tells me about the permissive footpath. I tell him that I had seen the sign but as I didn't know where it went I ignored it. We talk briefly about the weather (it's stopped raining again) as polite English people do when they've nothing else to say.

As I went to head off, I realised that the bridleway wasn't signposted there and I'm about to go into his garden if I carry on. So I ask him where the bridleway actually runs. Sounding a little put out, he says "seeing as you're here now" (i.e because I'd ignored his alternative route), if I wouldn't mind taking a route beside some outbuildings and then I'll be back on course. I assume he's being helpful and giving me a short-cut as I must have missed the bridleway, so follow his advice. It's only when I get on a bit further and look at the map more closely that I realise I was on the bridleway the whole time, including the "short-cut". Ha! So where Gladman gets berated for straying off the right of way, I'm being told I should have left a right of way and taken the "permissive" path instead because it goes less close to the guy's house!
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
21st March 2012ce
As I recall Oscar Wilde said 'Forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them more'. Or something like that. Not sure I completely agree with the great man (well, great in my opinion), but I think it is vital that we all continue to act with the moral integrity our chosen interest demands. Difficult sometimes - tell me about it - but satisfying your indignation with a violent outburst could well make access much more taxing for the next visitor. Which is what TMA is, I think, all about.. keeping these places as much in the public consciousness as we can, not about our own brief 'escapes'.

My motto is... Make friends with the landowners wherever they are receptive. If they are not, keep calm, state facts politely and refuse to be intimidated. Ask for proof of identity. Why is it wrong I'm here? Explain please so I know better for next time. And carry on. If things turn nasty use the camera phone, dial 999 and get the hell outtta there!!!

21st March 2012ce
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