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Heading East from Ilfracombe - Knap Down, Kentisbury Down, and Culbone Stone & Rows

Date Visited Saturday 6th May 2000
Knap Down Standing Stone (Devon)
Grid Reference SS602469

Heading east from Ilfracombe, through Combe Martin, along the A399, an unclear left turn is needed! If I remember correctly, there was a signpost for Silver Dale Nurseries, which takes you along the required road. As is often the case, the road is steep, narrow, and very bendy! After a while, there will be two lanes either side of the road, in short succession. First to the left, then to the right. Very soon, there will be a gate to your left, with a field dividing hedge to the left of that gate; this is the only point of access for this stone, and the stone is situated diagonally right (NE) at the pinnacle of the field.

If using the 1:25000 scale map (recommended) the stone marked may be difficult to see on the map at first, as it sits just within the broad green line denoting Exmoor National Park. This stone stood near 5' 5" tall, and unusually, was very red in colour. On this beautiful spring day, its presence was like a the jewel in a crown of beauty - a field with green grass, innumerable daisies speckling it everywhere, hills to the north (a cairn was clearly silhouetted on the tallest), and a valley below, to the south. A local I spoke with, informed me that dowsers find this a particularly powerful stone; that in the legend which speaks of Jesus visiting England in his youth (ie Glastonbury etc), he visited this site; and that UFO actvitity has been witnessed in the area near the stone!

Kentisbury Down Standing Stones (Devon)
Grid References #1 SS637440 #2 SS637441 #3 SS639441 #4 SS639440
#5 SS638439 #6 638440

SE from Combe Martin, along the A399, west of Parracombe, lie a group of standing stones. Off the A399, turn right onto Down Lane, which has a broad green strip up the middle for as far as you can see. We parked in front of gate, (a wind pump should be to your front left) to allow for space for other vehicles; however, we were there some 40 minutes (Helen remaining in the car), and did not see one other vehicle!

Going left through the gate, head NE staying about 20 feet out from the hedge bordering the lane on your left, and to your right, a row of trees pointing SE acts as a very good point of reference. A tall stone should soon come into view; before this one, you will come to a lone stone (nothing more than a very large pebble, really, being only a few inches high). I believe this is the first stone, due to its location near the the larger stone. The row of trees should be to your rear right. Then, the larger stone is 5 feet tall, with a slight tilt eastwards, and inevitable indications of sheep grazing.

NE from there, not far off the main road, is a small, triangular stone, about a foot high at its point. The row of trees will be behind you, as you face the road. Heading towards the row of trees, a fallen stone, 2 feet in length (height), and then, to the front right, another large 'pebble'. When you reach this, between you and the row of trees, is a pond. When I visited, it was completely dry, but within its NW edge was a sizeable piece of stone, which I am convinced is a fallen stone, but perhaps was not visible to the cartographers due to its previous immersion in the pond.

Not an overtly impressive site, but due to the number of stones marked, I thought it of interest. It must be said, but I find stone hunting in the beauty of rural England in the beating down sunshine, one of the most sublime pleasures of life! Even if the stones are not high on the 'wow!' factor, it gives such a buzz, and makes life seem bearable!

Culbone Stone
Date Visited Sunday 7th May 2000

Heading east on the A39 Lynmouth to Porlock road, you will see a pub (Culbone Inn?) to your right; imminently, there is a left hand turn onto a minor road, as the main road veers right. Take this left. Soon, to your left is a parking area, with a little sign and information board for the Culbone Stone:

"The Culbone Stone is an early medieaval standing stone approximately one meter in height, which was discovered in 1940. It lies in woodland close to the parish boundary, and features an incised wheeled cross, the style of which suggests it dates from 7th to 9th century. The stone is legally protected as a scheduled ancient monument. It is situated on private land over which there is no right of way but the owner has given permission for members of the public to visit the area in order to visit the stone provided they do so entirely at their own risk. Please keep to the marked path."

Well, some of this visit was most bizarre. We pulled up in thick fog, I got out of the car with my gear, following the path marked towards the stone. The path is easy and clear to follow, going through very low, dense trees either side. When I reached the Culbone Stone, set in a tiny clearing, the sun was beating down, just 5 minutes later! Given heavy rain the previous night, and then sudden hot sunshine, much of the wood was shrouded in evaporating water. The stone was a little overshadowed by a fallen tree, its enormous root ball, and a black gaping pit, and the other strange thing which uneased me most, was the complete lack of buzzing insects and birdsong. I was in the wood for half an hour in glorious sunshine, and do not recall encountering any other life apart from the trees, grass and plants. Call Mulder and Scully, I say!

The Culbone Stone is quite a curious little thing. The information says it dates from circa 7th century AD, but I half wonder if it was an attempt at the Christianisation of a Pagan monument, as it is literally 60 feet from the stone row? I do not by what criteria it was dated, but I think it's perhaps an idea to bear in mind.

Culbone Hill Stone Row

Date Visited Sunday 7th May 2000

Due to the explicit request not to go off the path, I did not get much evidence of the stone row. This was maddeningly frustrating, given its imminent proximity! However, having studied the map, I went back to where the car was parked, turned left further up the track, and then left up another track, where it intersects the stone row (fenced off with barbed wire). Two stones were just visible to my left through the dense overhang of the trees, and further back up the track from where I'd came, to the right, across open land a few more stones could be seen in the distance. If I visit again in the future, I intend to contact the landowner to request permission to go into the woods to further look at the row.

ShropshireTraveller Posted by ShropshireTraveller
16th November 2004ce

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