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


Long Barrow


An account of a visit to the barrow in 1931, post-excavation but pre-recovering:

"There is no mound now, or only the wreckage of one. Its stone chambers, left roofless and open to the sky, prove that it was once a great tomb, planned like a church, with nave and double transepts, placed on a site that belonged as much to the heavens as to the earth. But the stones were meant to remain unseen - we have uncovered them and let the wind swirl in their empty spaces. The tomb looks desolate in decay, yet it still holds something of the serene and simple impressiveness which must always have hung about it. There must be more than earth and stones in a form that, destroyed, can fill the mind with the peacefulness of the eternal and make it seem no greater and no less than the living quiescence which keeps the hills stable and puts the wind which sweeps over them into place as a ripple on the surface of time. ... perhaps they saw as well the symbols of permanence in the untroubled lines of the hills, and when they had set their stone chambers on high, covered them with a long mound contoured like a hill, hoping that the hills would take it into their keeping and preserve it. We have not yet discovered a more certain way to immortality. Their works speak of aspirations as high as ours; their works are also as permanent - if we would but handle them with nature's restraint."

Elsewhere in the chapter:

"[The barrows] hold these hills with time, not against it; they look across the valleys and see no enemy but the man who levels their crouching form, sunders their stones, and, in a few days, leaves them more marked by decay than the wear of four thousand years. The least we could do after opening them - for age does not diminish the sacredness of the tombs - would be to pile up the earth again and restore the forms that nature would soon reclothe with turf and the turf-loving upland flowers. This is not a sentimental plea - it is what we owe to the memory of people from whom we got our love for downland and wold, the people who, unknowingly, left their works to entice us back to the spaciousness of ridgeway and hilltop after too much living in stuffy cities."

From "A Cotswold Book" - H.W. Timperley (1931 Jonathan Cape).
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th February 2009ce
Edited 8th February 2009ce

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