A short distance north of the Addington and Chestnuts long barrows – east of Trottiscliffe. As this is a National Trust site a small (free) parking area is provided. Another site in this area where an O/S map comes in handy – at least you only need the one map!
From the parking area, myself, Dafydd and Sophie walked down along the obvious wooded path and out into the open fields. It is a lovely walk in this weather and we strolled along with not a care in the world. Unlike the local land owners who clearly have concerns judging by the proliferation of ‘private’ ‘no trespassing’ ‘private road’ type signs we have seen in the area – welcome to Southern England. An Englishman’s ‘home’ may be his ‘castle’ – although the drawbridge always seems to be raised!
Anyway, the path is well sign posted and after about 10 minutes we reached the N.T. info board at the bottom of the rise on which Coldrum stands. At this point we could hear the beating of a drum and it was obvious that someone was already at the site. We hurried up and upon reaching the summit were met by several people who were watching a lady sat within the wooden fenced off area playing an African drum. The lower branches of the large tree at the top of the rise were covered in clooties. I also spotted the remains of a fire which someone had made next to the stones but other than the grass appears to have made no damage.
Once she had finished most of the people wandered off although we ducked under the fence to have a closer look of the stones. The stones are enormous and many wouldn’t look out of place at Avebury. The two square ‘walls’ are particularly impressive, some of the best standing stones I have seen. Although I note they have been concreted in to help keep them up.
Whilst the children played around the stones I got chatting to the lady with the drum. She explained all about the drum and how she liked to visit Coldrum to take in the atmosphere and try to ‘connect’ with the ancestors. She said she also liked to visit Stonehenge and Avebury at the solstices but preferred Coldrum for the equinoxes. We spent quite a while chatting about all things ‘old stones’ before I left her to get back to her drumming. I did say that the music certainly added to the atmosphere of the place and there is a fair chance music would have been played at that very spot when the barrow was in use. As I looked down the valley across the farm land it was comforting to think that these were the same fields that the ancients would have farmed.
With these thoughts and with the sound of the drum it was quite easy to form a ‘connection’ with the past. It is surprising how music can help bring the stones to life. Stones can often seem quite sterile places.
Before I knew it we had already been gone an hour and I am sure Karen would have been less than happy sat in the car waiting for us. ‘I won’t be long’ being my usual last words before disappearing into some field or other. I suppose she is used to my definition of ‘long’ by now! However, we did have a long drive back to Cardiff ahead of us and we both had work the next day so it was time to retrace our steps.
Coldrum is a place I have really wanted to visit ever since seeing the site in Neil Oliver’s wonderful Ancient Britain series – I am so glad I finally got to visit. This was the last site of our long weekend in Kent and my favourite place we visited. Coldrum is a ‘must see’ site - particularly given its current status as the oldest long barrow in Britain. As Neil Oliver said – ‘It all starts here………..’ ?
Posted by CARL
31st May 2016ce