|We chose Oxfordshire for our first outing following a minor operation on my shoulder and Mikki's removal of an ingrowing toenail that had made movement for both of us, and particularly driving for me, difficult. I planned a quick (circular) road trip to take in some of the barrows and stones of Oxfordshire that I'd not seen before.
Staying away from the motorway, we decided to take the A41 to Bicester then cut across country to our first destination.
Sadly, we made the mistake of stopping in a Little Chef for breakfast. Why are they so damn slow? It really shouldn't take the best part of an hour to serve up two basic breakfasts. Having made a late start anyway, we found the best part of the day had passed when we finally got on the way toward our first stop, The Hoar Stone at Enstone. Despite the warnings about missing the stones, we had no difficulty in locating them first time. I found this a delightful place, with a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere, despite being within feet of the road.
Incredible stones! So peaceful, despite being so close to the road, an oasis of calm.
As is my wont, I laid hands on the stones, and it was only later that I noticed my hand had been dyed bright green by the lichen which was rampant on the main stone.
Next stop was the Thor Stone at Taston. I'd forgotten about the mention of the spring, so we missed that this time round…
The Hawk stone was next on the itinerary, and I found this a fascinating site. I felt strongly that the notched top should have some significance, but despite walking all around, I was unable to identify any visual alignments.
Knollbury was next, before moving on to Lyneham Longbarrow, where parking was extremely precarious on the main A361 Formula 1 racetrack.
An interesting site, if only for the lack of features. What we have here is a square embanked enclosure, approx 200 yards on a side, with (entrance?) gaps at the corners on the eastern side. I didn't enter the site itself - there are no information signs and the gates to adjoining fields were locked - although the wall is easily surmountable as a section is being repaired completely out of keeping by the application of a slab of flat concrete on top rather than drystone.
The enclosure commands excellent cross-country views to the south and east, but the ground rises to the north obstructing the view in that direction.
A quick phone call to the Cornbury Park estate and we'd obtained permission to look at the barrows in Wychwood Forest. We spotted Leafield Barrow on the way to the Forest, but decided not to stop for photos. Judging by the number of people walking through the forest, I'm not sure the permission was essential, but better safe than sorry. I'm not altogether sure I would have found the Slatepits Copse Long Barrow without my trusty GPS, but it was certainly worth finding. Even stood just 10 feet away, it was difficult to make out there was a barrow there at all, until the stones came into view.
Time was moving on, so I left the rest of the Wychwood sites for another day as we still wanted to pop up to Chipping Norton for a look around before heading back to London.
Posted by ocifant
13th April 2003ce
Edited 2nd August 2004ce
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