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

Belas Knap

Long Barrow


Belas Knap, 1 Dec 2001: A deeply impressive site and gratifyingly well signposted on the lane that leads from Charlton Abbots to Winchcombe. You can park by the sign, (don't forget to briefly admire Sudeley Castle) and walk up the sunken path from there following the Cotswold Way. And what a hike uphill! Just when you think "it's gotta be there soon!", it is, looming out of the trees. Oh, and by the way, if you're going up there in the winter, or in the damp, wear grippy waterproof shoes/boots!

Climbing to the top of the mound the views are impressive - it's no wonder that the builders of the Knap chose this place. It certainly seems to be the highest, most strategically important point hereabouts. We got there at 3pm, the sun sinking low in the sky, casting deep, sculptural shadows over the smooth, curvacious surface of the longbarrow. The wind was biting on the top, though and so we retreated into the cosiness of North West chamber with a flask of tea. Had it been dry I would have crawled into the low chamber on the other side.

I struggled to find a place from which to photgraph her. I took some shots, (I'll upload shortly) but she is so big, and the site so small you can't get back far enough. JC was right to illustrate it with an aerial shot.

I was very happy to see that the site is so well cared for - neat drystonewalling shoring up the edges. But it almost felt too new, too cosmetic in a strange way. There was no sense of discovery, like when one "stumbles" across Wayland's Smithy for example, so secretly hidden among the trees besides the Ridgeway. Nevertheless, there is such a delicious feminine vibe given off by Belas Knap. You really do feel that those who were buried here were returning to Mother Earth, from where they came. Looking forward to returning when it's less cold and I can hear the breeze rustle the corn in the neighbouring field.

Anyone know who was Belas?
Jane Posted by Jane
1st December 2001ce

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