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Moth flies south - part 1

Leeds to Burnham (with a couple of stops en route....)Where the hell's Burnham on Sea?...Is what I would've said up until about 9 months ago.

But around that time, a chain of caravan parks offered me, my then partner, and our little boy, Callan, a dead cheap Monday-Friday deal. We had a choice of Parks and went for the one that looked good for both sea (for her & him) and stones (for guess who)!

As many TMA regulars will know, that partner and I then split up (not long after booking the holiday, actually... I wonder if that should tell me something?) so I invited the stone-loving Ginger John along for the ride.

A 'new acquaintance' and some 'old friends'
Monday 15 September 2003
Picked John up from his home in south Leeds. M1, A42, M42, M5. As we'd be passing close by, I had intended dragging John to Belas Knap and Hetty Pegler's Tump - particularly the latter, as my previous visit had been spoilt by revolting weather. But sometimes plans change!

We'd set aside Wednesday to meet up with Jane at Avebury, but when I discovered John was an Avebury virgin, I figured we'd need more than one day for that little lot! Out went Hetty & Belas, in came some Avebury stuff.

This being so, I can't remember why we left the M5 on the A417 rather than the M4, but we did! And very glad I was too!

When I visited Hetty & Belas back in July (see my Glos 'n' Oxon weblog) I'd driven straight past Cold Slad on Crickley Hill partly due to the inclement (!!!!) weather conditions and partly as I was still seething about scraping my car earlier in the day.

So it was a nice surprise to recognise the road up the hill past the village of Cold Slad - and take advantage of the beautiful weather we were blessed with this time to go and have a look at Crickley Hill's finest!

Cold Slad On Crickley Hill — Images

30.09.03ce
<b>Cold Slad On Crickley Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cold Slad On Crickley Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cold Slad On Crickley Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cold Slad On Crickley Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Cold Slad On Crickley Hill</b>Posted by Moth

Cold Slad On Crickley Hill — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access sorry to say I can't really remember, but here are my vague impressions.... It's got a big car park and I reckon you can have at least a bit of a look around without having to go up steps or over stiles.

There might possibly be a gate or 2 that could be a bit awkward for wheelchairs. The ground is certainly fairly uneven in places and being a hillfort, there are some reasonably steep bits. The one thing I DO remember is that the (pretty helpful) info boards about the fort & settlement are on a raised platform that I'm pretty sure can only be reached by steps.

Monday 15 September 2003
I'd better start by saying that I know even less about hillforts, settlements and enclosures the like than I do about other stuff. And I don't regard myself as very knowledgeable about the other stuff!

I must admit that they don't interest me as much. I'm sure I'm missing out, but try as I might I can't find the same 'glamour' and 'mystique' as at a stone circle or stone row, a long barrow or dolmen.

I do like 'em though!!!

Probably the least surprising and certainly the first thing that struck me was that the views are stunning - looking out as Crickley Hill does, over miles and miles of plain, the Severn Valley and on to the Malverns. (Yes, it has those boards to show you notable places in the landscape, otherwise I'd not have known what I was looking at....)

The earthworks of the enclosure are fairly impressive, but I have to say that the mounds and dips where the settlements were left me fascinated but bemused. Couldn't really work out what was going on there, even with the help of the informative info boards. Perhaps it was just me.

I ended up simply enjoying wandering around for half an hour, looking and wondering. It's good for you sometimes I think - much better than giving yourself a headache trying to get your head round stuff that just won't sink in.

Certainly a highly significant and interesting place and I'm heartily glad to have been there! Wouldn't mind going back for another look sometime.

Zipping back out of the car park we headed to Marlborough, and Marlborough Mound.

Marlborough Mound — Images

01.10.03ce
<b>Marlborough Mound</b>Posted by Moth<b>Marlborough Mound</b>Posted by Moth

Marlborough Mound — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access as it's in the middle of Marlborough College, the areas leading to the Mound are all pavement and tarmac. Other than if you want to climb the Mound it doesn't necessitate any steps, unless you wanted to view it from the chapel that backs onto the road.

Monday 15 September 2003
Visiting for the second time (this time when the students/pupils were about) I get the impression that most people'd only stop you if you were acting exceedingly suspiciously. Walking purposefully probably helps as may (in this context) carrying a camera!

This time I had time to climb the mound, and as Baz has said it's well worth it. It seems even bigger from the top, and apart from owt else, you can see the (from here, rather small) 19th century Marlborough White Horse.

Also had time this time to walk round the mound and found that there are some quite nice views of it from the side nearest the college churchy-thing.

Still a bit of a shame it's covered in trees. And a hell of a shame it's surrounded by the bl**dy college buildings! I'm surprised they didn't build the college gym on top of it! (Ah, but then where'd they have put the water tank...?)

On to Clatford Farm and the familiar parking place for the Devil's Den.

Devil's Den — Images

01.10.03ce
<b>Devil's Den</b>Posted by Moth

Devil's Den — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access I think the gate at the bottom of the track opposite Clatford Farm is OK, but it could be a kissing gate. Think the main gate might've been unlocked anyway though (sorry, I don't seem to have had my useful-observation head on that day...!)

The walk is not terribly long (15 minutes for me and I'm reasonably fit) but the track is pretty rutted and often very muddy. The final part of the path is overgrown (not too badly this time...) and access to the field is over a (low) bit of a barbed wire fence/stile arrangement, so not very handy! The dolmen can be seen fairly clearly but not closely from the path.

Monday 15 September 2003
Nice to see the dolmen again, but without the strange (to me) chest high 'bean-like' crop it had in July. I do like this spot and could return again and again. It's such a short walk I'll probably come just about every time I visit Avebury!

Worth reporting that in common with some others, my friend John felt that the concrete 'repairs' spoil the site. It doesn't really bother me that much. It'd be better if it had been done more subtly, but it's such a nice place and a wackily distorted dolmen that I still like it very much.

John loses his Avebury 'cherry'
Our next stops were(for want of a better phrase) the central Avebury 'monuments'.

First was the Sanctuary, for John's first 'half-glimpse' at just how extensive the Avebury complex is, and my second crack at getting my head round this particular site.

The Sanctuary — Images

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<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by Moth

The Sanctuary — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access through kissing gate. Well kept and smooth grass area around the markers.

Monday 15 September 2003
Ha! Got my head a lot further round it this time! For some reason (no other visitors, maybe) I could visualise and imagine the whole thing much better.

Was also able to spend a while spotting the other visible Avebury 'monuments' properly this time! Still missed the West Kennett Avenue which I didn't realise you could see. (Thanks FourWinds! I'm in a huff now!)

I'd had a good look at Saerfon Barrows before, so John crossed the road while I stayed and pondered the landscape I'd somehow not managed to really see last time!

Then it was onwards to West Kennett Long Barrow and views (and sadly views only of course) of the still amazing Silbury Hill.

West Kennett — Images

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<b>West Kennett</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett</b>Posted by Moth

West Kennett — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access kissing gate I think. Slightly rough path up to barrow, but path is being re-jigged at the moment. Walk is around 10 minutes if you're reasonably fit I guess.

Monday 15 September 2003
Haven't been up here for years. Only took about 3 photies before, as I was only just getting interested in stones 'n' bumps. Unfortunately had a frustrating time with the camera this time, as our visit coincided perfectly with a (small but big enough!) coachload of tourists....

Must admit I was probably a bit less impressed this time than I expected, having seen numerous other barrows and burials of many kinds since that first visit. It remains an absolute classic though and seems quite a bit bigger than East Kennett (I know it's not).

So, here follow some banal comments, for the record. It really is a very long barrow, isn't it? And I suspect it takes quite a few visits to get used to the sheer size of the entrance stones. Smaller inside than I remembered. Oh yeah, the skylights spoil it a bit I think.

Silbury Hill — Images

01.10.03ce
<b>Silbury Hill</b>Posted by Moth

Silbury Hill — Fieldnotes

30.09.03ce
Access none at present due to well documented subsidence and English Heritage's inability to get its finger out. May be able to walk around it at ground level. Can view from road. (And various other points around the area!)

Monday 15 September 2003
This is one of those 'what the hell can I say that hasn't been said?' places isn't it? One thing I have to mention however is that my ass is numb from kicking myself for not walking up the damn thing back in 95 or whenever it was....

What the bl**dy hell DO English Heritage think they're playing at?

Most impressively viewed (in my opinion) from the hill above and to the west of East Kennett Long Barrow, the field below West Kennett Long Barrow, the bank of the Kennett on the way from Avebury, from Windmill Hill and, best of all, coming round the top of Waden Hill from Avebury.

Heading back along the A4, I was a little frustrated by my suspected lack of worthwhile photographs of the long barrow and, perhaps as a result, missed the the lane that runs with the West Kennett Avenue to Avebury. Suffice to say we turned around pretty sharpish.

But of course I might have missed it because there's no signpost and because I've never been to the Avenue before, (other than the stones right at the Avebury end)!!!!

The reasons are 'shrouded in the mists of time', but on my first visit to Avebury about 8 years ago, we walked from Avebury to West Kennett long barrow and back along the river Kennett in both directions, rather than along the Avenue. Weird and unlike me, but a fact!

I'm glad to say that this is now rectified, as John and I entered Avebury by walking up the Avenue....

West Kennett Avenue — Images

01.10.03ce
<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by Moth

Tigh Na Ruaich — Images

26.08.01ce
<b>Tigh Na Ruaich</b>Posted by Chris

Arriving at Avebury via the WK Ave really does make it more special, though I suppose you could argue it makes the circle stones themselves marginally less spectacular. But I'd now rather not do it any other way.

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With time pressing we walked back up the WK Ave to the car but then nipped up the track on the other side of the road, right opposite the end of the Avenue to check out the remains of Falkner's Circle. I was certainly glad I knew what to expect, or I may have been a tad disappointed....

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Time was still drawing on but as the reception process at the caravan site sounded really painful (meet in 'Jester's Funhouse' or summat like that) I was quite keen to arrive after the time when all you had to do was to report to 'security'! Another factor was John's plainly stated desire - "I wanna see some more rocks!"

So, off to Winterbourne Bassett we went, though I had intended to 'save it' until meeting up with Jane on Wednesday, as I knew she'd not been there before. Never mind, I'd take her there on Wednesday anyway.

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Perhaps inspired by the pleasant surprise of Winterbourne Bassett, or by the quick bite of bread & cheese, we decided to stop quickly at the Longstone Cove before leaving for Burnham.

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As we prepared to leave Adam and Eve behind and hit the road, John suggested a quick squint at Beckhampton Long Barrow. So we squinted.

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Finally the moment to head for Burnham could be postponed no longer, so onto the A4, past Cherhill Down (closer look next time) and away we went.
Moth Posted by Moth
1st October 2003ce
Edited 1st October 2003ce


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