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Oakley Down

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Another visit to this place, this time minus the sheep, so I felt it was o.k. to walk on it. The large bell barrow at first dominates the site, it has a large cleft in it's top, and has clearly been excavated. The real stars of this cemetery are for me the four huge disc barrows (there are actually five, one is now obscured by a nearby wood), two of which must be two hundred feet or so across. The best view I had of the central, largest one was from the top of the big bell barrow. Only from this extra height can a shortarse like me get a full view of the size of this thing.It has two small mounds on it, one central and the other close to the eastern ditch. The outer bank now stands about two feet high with the inner ditch being about twice as deep.
Just to see one of these close up is unusual in Dorset but there are four to see here, one of which has clearly had it's ditch cut through by the bank of the Ackling dyke. This is the rarest one as it is not round, but oval in shape , it also has twin mounds. The romans were obviously no respecters of ancient burial sites. A smaller example, perhaps seventy five feet across, has three small mounds within the banks.
Another of the more normal looking bowl barrows has a two foot deep ditch surrounding it very close to it's base, this again is fairly unusual in these parts , as most have had the plough too close to them or it's silted up.
Something must be said about pond barrows here, as there were three I could see, although at this time of year the long grass makes them hard to spot. They may well be the oldest burials on this ground, but are probably the most overlooked features in any landscape.
The added bonus to being on this site today, with nobody else about, were the half dozen or so hares I saw running about the place. Normally with dog walkers about , these shy creatures have long since legged it. Unlike rabbits these non burrowing native animals don't knacker these old places by digging great big holes in them , the normans have a lot to answer for.
This must be one of the best preserved, most varied barrow fields in Dorset, it's only rival for different types, is the Winterbourne Poor Lot on the south Dorset ridgeway.
formicaant Posted by formicaant
17th May 2007ce
Edited 18th May 2007ce

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