|I never learn.
Trying to fit too much in never works.
The initial idea was to visit some of the sites around the Avebury complex. Then "oh, it's only a little further to Glastonbury. We could stock up on well water and visit the bookshop. And see some sites on the way there and back".
We made an early start, and after breakfast on the motorway (and the hilarious sight of a pheasant taking a leisurly stroll across to the central reservation without a care in the world, with cars breaking and swerving all around), we were approaching Chippenham by just after 10. Having done a quick recalc of the map on the way down, Lanhill Longbarrow looked a good bet, and so it turned out.
Approaching from the East, Lanhill Farm is on the left. Shortly after this, there is a pull in to a gate for a field, with a footpath sign present. I managed to pull off the road, out of harm's way here.
Instead of doing the intelligent thing and taking the footpath, I walked along the road until I saw the barrow through the trees, then navigated the knee high nettles and jumped over the fence.
The barrow was an absolute delight, covered in buttercups. No livestock in sight. It certainly pays to circumnavigate such things as I wouldn't have known about the chamber on the southern side if I hadn't. Taking some photos, I had the fright of my life when I nearly stepped on a pheasant resting in the long grass. It took off like a rocket as I stepped backwards, framing a shot.
Looking in the chamber, some remedial work has obviously been carried out, as iron girders are holding parts of the roof in place.
A nice barrow, in a pleasant setting, on a glorious day.
Thanks to a friendly local, we had little difficulty in locating the 'car park', and the walk up the hill didn't seem that far either.
First view is amazing as you come to the stile and realise it's just there in front of you!
I had remembered my torch, and crawled inside, but found the external light was sufficient to see what I was doing. But, being a wuss in confined spaces, I didn't go all the way in - just past the first side chambers was far enough for me to explore.
I tried a couple of basic chants to test the acoustics before I left, but found that the sound was just absorbed by the stones (the 'eggbox' effect).
Sitting outside and facing the entrance I noticed that the hills behind the barrow seem to surround and 'cuddle' the barrow itself. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just my imagination? I was reticent to leave, but with Mikki waiting down below, I reluctantly returned to the car.
Moving on, I had the Devil's Bed and Bolster as next on the list. Unfortunately, a call of nature meant I wouldn't make it up the path, and the pub wasn't open to use, so we carried on to the next services to avail ourselves of the facilities. Never mind, we'll be coming back this way...
And so to Glastonbury. The tower on the Tor is still shrouded in scaffolding for the remedial works, so we went straight to the Chalice Well to replenish our stock of well water for the next week or so before hitting the bookshops in town. Back in the car, a quick check of the map, and "hang on, we can route back to Avebury via Stoney Littleton..."
Finding Wellow was straighforward. Luckily, a local saw us poring over the map, guessed right and gave us precise directions to the barrow.
I'm not normally one for churches (I tend to burst into flames!), but I couldn't pass this one up.
Therer's a delightful old wooden 'turn'-stile into the field containing the church, which is contained in the middle of a field.
As juamei says, there's a trapdoor to the right inside the church proper, and a sarsen can be seen here. There's what looks like a drill hole, at least 6 inches deep into the stone, and the end nearest the door looks as if it's been sheared at some point - very flat and angular. Sadly, the other trapdoor cannot be opened due to staging being constructed over it - I'll try writing to the church conservation people to find out why.
It was a very peaceful and cool place to rest on a warm day though. And there are information leaflets available about the church (which don't mention the sarsens at all).
Time was now against us, and I still hadn't seen any of my Avebury targets for the day. Heading straight back to Devizes (and ignoring the sign to Rode and the Devil's Bed), we made for Alton Priors and the underfloor sarsen.
Driving past Adam's Grave and associated sites was difficult, but I carried on up to the Ridgeway at the Sanctuary, as I wanted a crack at the Polisher, if at all possible. I gave myself 20 minutes as Mikki was flagging fast. This was plainly not enough time, I headed back to the car after the allotted time, bowed but not defeated. We still had a 2 hour (turned out to be 3 and a half with Bank Holiday traffic) journey home.
Next time, I'll plan a more compact journey, with specific targets in the Avebury area, and stick to the plan...
Yeah right, like that'll work!
Posted by ocifant
27th May 2003ce
Edited 2nd August 2004ce
ocifant's TMA Blog
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