I like approaching sites on foot, so I parked in the village and walked. Marden is special amongst its similarly monumental friends (Avebury, Durrington..) because it uses a stream as part of its boundary; its banks and ditches only surround it on three sides. Crossing the stream and entering the henge I was fairly disgusted to see the meadow by the stream had been sold and houses are to be built on it. Surely a nationally important place should deserve more protection?
It's a further walk than you think to the banks on the far side of the monument. I felt pretty confused about their layout to start with. But when you get there look for the stile hidden up in the hedge (almost opposite the big trees, where there is a tiny spot on the road you could park in) - that's where you'll find the plan on the EH board that's in Earthstepper's photo. I then realised what a tiny proportion of the place is under the EHs guardianship.
Now I could see where the Silburyesque Hatfield Barrow had been. It was too cold to keep still, so I jumped back down onto the road and started to walk back towards the spot. A car heading for the village slowed next to me. "Can you tell me how far Marden is?" a coiffeured woman enquired. I restrained any sarcastic remarks. As she drove on I reflected on how the huge henge could go unnoticed in the modern world. I thought on: the Hatfield Barrow itself would have been a locally famous enigma, something in local people's consciousness for literally thousands of years. I felt really outraged. How could somebody just come along and ruin it?
I stood there mentally grasping for clues, trying desperately to understand what the mound would have been like. I probably looked bizarre: a shivering figure staring at an empty field. As the wind dropped and the sun finally appeared I got something of it in my mind. It loomed up in front of me. So ok, to some Marden isn't more than a few low banks and an empty meadow. But to me, just to visit the place and exercise my imagination, it was well worth it. I felt really pleased to have been in the same place where this huge mound once stood.
Swanborough Tump lies at the t-junction of two long straight roads, in the edge of a wood. To be quite honest it didn't look like much, and I couldn't make out what was supposed to be the 'Tump' itself. I think you're on it as soon as you climb up from the road. This could be significant, if you look at the 'miscellaneous' entry.
An inscribed stone marks the site:
"Swanborough Tump - Swinbeorg c850
Here in the year 871 the future King Alfred the Great met his elder brother King Aethelred I on their way to fight the invading Danes and each one swore if the other died in battle the dead man's children would inherit the lands of their father King Aethelwulf."
Hardly recommended by the Plain English Campaign, I think.
(also - on my way here I was entranced by the nearby 'Picked Hill
' (also given as 'Pecked Hill' on the OS maps) - if this (like its neighbour Woodborough Hill) aren't natural inspiration for round barrows - or for Silbury hill, for that matter - then I'm surely a monkey's uncle.)
I can't help wondering if the name of this hill implies that it was supposedly thrown from somewhere - pick or peck are apparently both old words for pitching or throwing, and the hill is known by both versions. Maybe thrown from Knap Hill
or somewhere else along the nearby escarpment? This is pure unfounded speculation but the shape of the hill cries out for a mythological explanation. It seems a natural inspiration for a barrow or even for Silbury
On second thoughts, I suppose the name sounds a bit like 'peaked hill'.