Our first stop was The Grey Mare & Her Colts - the remains of a once-mighty Neolithic long barrow. Sheep were basking like lizards in the winter sun as we arrived. They hardly even budged as we climbed over the gate and over them to get into the field. The Grey Mare & Her Colts is a bit of a wreck but I have seen enough trashed burial chambers to be able to 'read' what is left of the stones. The swelling of the barrow is very pronounced and the portal stones are very large indeed. Up here the views stretch for miles and sounds of the countryside quietly seep into your soul...
Just two fields away from The Grey Mare lies Kingston Russell stone circle. The world's leading authority on stone circles, Aubrey Burl, didn't put this circle in his definitive field guide to British stone circles which has caused much puzzlement in the amateur antiquarian community over the years. I wanted to see the stones for myself, especially as Moth said he liked it so much.
Sadly not one of the stones stand any more, but there are lots of stones to see, perhaps 18 of them, some really quite big lying on the ground next to the place where they once stood. The circle's diameter is about 15ms (I'm quite bad at guessing these things). This would have been a real beauty. And actually, it still is. The internal space is still clearly marked out and although the drama and life was destroyed by whoever pulled the stones down, the circle is not yet dead. I liked it a lot. The farmer had just been and mowed carefully round the circle and the place smelled fabulous.
Re-erect them stones!
I do love a dolmen. The Hellstone is one I'd wanted to see for some time as in the photos I'd seem it looked so tortured and in a very unusual position. When I actually saw it yesterday it all made sense at last. On a field boundary, near a gate and a pond, this dolmen has been horribly mucked about with during an ill-considered restoration. Stones huddle together like fingers in a clenched fist supporting a single lumpy capstone. It's all wrong! But it's all right, too, because at least it's up. It's up and someone actually gives a toss. The monument still has power.
Like all ancient monuments with chambers I have to get inside. This one is tall enough for me to stand up in with loads of headroom. Some tosser had scrawled graffiti on one of the stones inside the chamber- a reversed swastika. A pox on them.
As Moth whizzed around taking photos, I made a very quick sketch before my hands got too cold to continue. The more I drew the more it reminded me a lot of Crucuno dolmen in Brittany.
We took to the sanctuary of the tiny Nine stones stone circle, sheltered beneath the branches of a spectacular mature beech tree, with massive fungus colonies sprouting from its roots. It's a very sweet stone circle which was perhaps used by both local people and travellers using the trackway that is now the busy A35.
Some tosser or tossers has chosen to decorate the monument with flowers. One bunch, still wrapped in its sellophane, had been left at the base of the tree. Another bunch had been placed in a log vase in the centre of the circle, around which was arranged some twigs to form the arms of a reversed swastika. Perhaps the same tosser who did this scratched the graffiti at the Hellstone?
Two things: 1. How come the people who apparently have enough 'respect' to lay flowers as some kind of offering at an ancient monument, can't be arsed to respect the 1. environment by taking their sellophane wrappings aways with them? and 2. the feelings of other visitors for who the swastika means nazism and is therefore deeply offensive? You can be sure that the swastika twigs did not stay very long! Moth unwrapped the flowers and took away the sellophane to dispose of correctly.