|News of the Devil's Quoits henge reconstruction at Stanton Harcourt
After a wild night seeing Mr Cope (and our very own Holy McGrail) perform at the Lyric Theatre, a gentler, quieter, less barking mad interlude was required on Saturday before returning to see Mr Cope (and our very own Holy McGrail) perform again that evening. Something Riot Gibbon said to me the day before inspired me to suggest to Moth that we should go and check out the Devil's Quoits in Stanton Harcourt, just 3 miles from my home. Unusually, this is a site I had been to but Moth had not.
It was a year since I had last visited though try, try, try as I might, I have not had any response from the Oxford Archaelogical Unit (who are supervising its rebuild) about its current state or what was going on. Bugger it, it was time for a bit of trepass to see for ourselves.
When I walk through the land of fear
The site has been systematically trashed over the years but the greatest damage was done in the 1940s when Churchill ordered a bloody great airstrip built there, wiping out nearly half the henge. Since then the site has found itself surrounded by gravel extraction and now lies in the middle of the waste disposal centre.
As we approached the car park opposite the entrance to the dump on the edge of the lake we wondered whether we should 1) do the right thing and ask at the weighbridge/reception hut for permission to wander over to the site and risk being told we couldn't, or 2) just park the car and leg it as fast as possible to the site before we were seen. We chose option two.
Does my berm look big in this?
The reconstruction of the earthwork is now complete and the ground has been smoothed ready for seeding with grass in the spring.. The two semi-circles of the outer bank rise just over a metre from the level ground. Inside this is a very wide berm, maybe 6 metres, and then the inner ditch, which dips into the ground in two semi-circles about one metre deep. We mused on it's width and figured it was just a little smaller in diameter to Thornborough Central, although Thornborough's banks are much higher.
Three big old rocks, the original Devil's Quoits, lie sad, but not forgotton, at the entrance nearest the lake ready for re-erection, in exactly the same position as I had seen them the previous year.
...Thy will be done On earth...
We began to walk round, amazed and glad that this site had somehow escaped total destruction and that someone, somewhere had the mustered the political will, energy and money to have it reconstructed. I stopped to take some photos but the batteries ran out - a sure sign of our luck changing. So far we were getting away with it, but I spotted a woman walking over on the other side of the henge up on the bank, towards us ...Forgive us all our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us...
Woman: Hello. What are you doing here?
Me (innocently): Hello. Just looking at the henge. It's remarkable!
Woman: Did you know this is private property?
Me: Is it? I'm very sorry...
Woman: My name's Abbey Williams and I'm the site manager. It's very dangerous to have people wandering around here. Didn't you sign in at the weighbridge?
....but this was what I wanted to hear!
Me: No, I'm sorry, we didn't know we needed to....
Site manager: I don't mind people visiting. All you have to do is sign in just so we know who's on site and that they are aware of the dangers here. That's all.
Me: Oh, OK, I'll definitely do that next time, thanks!
She got a bit snotty and 'jobsworth' about us taking photos, but after she'd gone, Moth continued snapping away anyway. What bloody harm can it do?! Ms Williams told us that they are hoping to open it next year but she gave no indication as to when, nor when the stones would be re-erected.
It has to be said, this will be a gem - a real good news story - when it finally re-opens. But you can go there now. Opening times are given in a 'Miscellaneous' post below.
Access: when you get to the end of the lane, turn left and park facing the lake. Get permission to visit the henge by signing in at the weighbridge/reception building behind you and walk off round the right hand side of the lake for 400 ms. You can't miss it.
Dix Pit Waste Disposal Centre, Stanton Harcourt is open Mon-Sun 8.30-5.00 (winter) and 8.30-8.00 (summer).
Oh, and wear wellies!
Posted by Jane
2nd November 2003ce
Edited 3rd November 2003ce
Jane's TMA Blog
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