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

North Down

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


This site covers a large area with the busy A361 Beckhampton to Devizes road running through the middle. Sections of this road may well be pre-historic and if you follow lay-lines through long barrow orientations, the pre-historic mind set would suggest this to be a major route into Avebury.

Dividing the area up into walkable sections, the most convenient place to park is at SU 05894 67518, marked on the O.S. map as Three Barrows. Although not an official parking place, (the official one being a mile or so further east towards Beckhampton), this spot would allow you to walk and view the cluster of barrows around the original Long Barrow. This field is usually pasture and the barrows can be viewed up close without damage to a crop. Bare in mind this is not public access land. The barrows in this cluster have been excavated by different people over the course of hundreds of years with the result leaving them much reduced in height and shape. The same is true of the barrows on the opposite side of the A361 to the north, which stand out as islands in a sea of corn.

The barrows to the west of Three Barrows are easier to view due to the byways that run across the area. Following the byway that joins the A361 at Three Barrows north, turn right when you meet the Wessex Ridgeway trail and walk up to the plantation strip. On the left are the remains of a ploughed out Bowl barrow, Bishops Cannings 16. In 1951, a large sarsen was removed from this barrow when it was ploughed up. This may indicate that the barrow was built over the top of an earlier site, which was the case of Hemp Knoll Barrow, on the other side of the A361.

Once you reach the point where the Wessex Ridgeway trail meets the Roman Road, SU 04829 68005, turn left and follow the old Roman Road up in the direction of Morgan’s Hill. The barrows here are very impressive and well preserved but alas we know nothing of their contents. They were thought to have been dug into by Hoare and possibly later antiquarians but no firm records exist.

By now your mind will be on your car and the contents. When I travel around this area I usually do so on a bike and don't have to worry about parking or re-tracing my steps. You will find that the fields have large unploughed headlands and you can easily make your way towards Baltic farm and the byway back to Three Barrows.

An alternative parking place would be the Small Grain Picnic area, next to the North Wilts Golf Club SU 01949 67148. Although a safer place to park, the walk down to North Down is much longer but covers many more sites. If you decide to explore this side of the hill, check out Furze Knoll which is an unexcavated flint mine. On the North of this area is Ranscombe Bottom, a natural fold in the chalk and the source of the River Marden. This would have been a very sacred site to the ancients and a source of pure water for both them and their cattle. Worth viewing but not listed on TMA.
Chance Posted by Chance
17th August 2013ce

Comments (1)

Ooh I've been to the spring too, Chance. It's a lovely peaceful spot isn't it, and you can sit right by where the water comes out. I got there by following the footpath on the north side of the combe, but this sort of disappeared into the undergrowth and I had to clamber through the hedge in the end, classic tma outing style. And Ranscombe Bottom is quite strange, all valleyed but without the water. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2013ce
You must be logged in to add a comment