The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Murtry Hill

Long Barrow


From Proc Som Arch Soc 21 for 1875:
Prebendary Clutterbuck, the vicar of the parish, stated that after digging at the foot of the larger stone, to a distance equal to its height above the ground, the labourers were unable to reach the bottom of it, so that the actual length of it is not known, nor is it worth ascertaining at the risk of overthrowing it.
This was told to a group of antiquarian daytrippers. One wonders if it was told 'as folklore' and the poor old souls got the wrong end of the stick. Or perhaps Preb. Clutterbuck was just trying to put them off digging? The stones had possibly only recently been dug up, as v57 has the following information:
Mr F Clarke (head gardener at Orchardleigh house) says that when a schoolboy at Buckland Down he went with other excavations on this site about 1872. He distinctly recollects three holes. He does not know if anything was found, but he says there was the common tradition about a gold coffin being buried on Murtry Hill.
Volume 57 (early 1920s) also describes the contemporary excavation of the stones. They found a lot, including other largish buried stones. The book has a photo of the site laid bare. "Our excavations.. told a very different tale [to Clutterbuck], and showed how necessary it is to check the statements made by antiquaries of the middle of last century." The stones only go down about 1 1/2 ft below the surface, quite boringly. So they are about 11.5 and 7.75ft tall. The excavator described a tradition from 1875 (v21): "a modern tradition [is] that these stones are not ancient at all but were erected by a former owner of the estate." So perhaps - although they are clearly ancient - maybe they lay prostrate for a long time, but were erected.

Also from the 1875 journal:
The natives of the district to this day have a dread of passing near the stones except in broad daylight, as if there were still remaining the notion that they marked a place of burial, or perhaps of Pagan rites, in which Satan may have taken an active part.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce
Edited 17th August 2005ce

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