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

Tan Hill

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


According to Kathleen Wiltshire in her 'Wiltshire Folklore' the valley below Tan Hill was within living memory supposed to stand 'a miniature stone circle of 9 upright sarsen stones about 4 ft in height, in the centre of which lies a prostrate stone about the length of a man'.

Leading up from the circle was a path, to a chalk figure of a horse - or a donkey - on the hill above. 'This pony or donkey is 75ft from nose to tail, which stretches down much like that of the Uffington horse, and its head is very large.'

'Tan' is apparently an ancient word for 'fire' (it certainly means fire in Welsh) - perhaps indicating that this hill (the highest in Wiltshire) was used as a beacon? Also a festival was held on the hill on St Anne's day every year (geddit? - St Tan's) in July - given official status by Royal Charter in the 1300s, but effectively died out in the 1930s (though I suspect people will still be gathering up there). John Aubrey said: "On St Anne's hill, vulgarly called Tan Hill, every year is kept a great fair within an old camp.. the commodoties are sheep, oxen and fineries." His mention of a camp might have been a confusion with the earthworks of Wansdyke. (quote reproduced in 'The Marlborough Downs' by Kenneth Watts, 1993)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th May 2003ce
Edited 8th September 2005ce

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