...but climb it and it seems even larger still. Phew -whee! As you climb, its spiralling terraced design and construction become more apparent and from the top its bulk is quite overwhelming and makes the ugly school buildings seem tiny. Lurking in a dip at the top of the mound is a huge ugly water tank and a kilny/chimney thing. I wondered if it was a rudimentary crematorium for disposing the bodies of schoolboys who'd been thrashed to death by an over-zealous master. Maybe not. But perhaps it should be.
For those unable to get up to the Mother's Jam
, here's a great way to see how the landscape up there is littered with massive stones. Why this little valley escaped field clearance is not apparent, but it did and very impressive it is, too. And we're not just talking about a handful of big stones here, there are hundreds
of them lying exactly where the long-forgotten glacier dumped them as it melted into history. Fantastic.
It feels like it's on the edge; crouching, clinging like an animal to the very crest of the hill, on a threshold between the known world of the Marlborough Downs and beyond, between land and sky, between the earth here and now and the heavens. And what a view! Leaning heavily into the wind, I watched the low winter sunlight fade fast producing weak yet dramatic shadows on the very sexy figure of Knap Hill
I never expected this long barrow to be so dramatic and frankly so bloody big. I never expected to see a bank and ditch running round it, today providing welcome relief from the howlin' wind. I never expected to like a place so much in such foul conditions.