|This site has two entries listed on Keys to the Past. One cites the cairn/barrow/cists at the top of the hill. The second cites the three ring features around this cairn but lists the date of these as "uncertain" stating they are probably "tree rings" and therefore not ancient. I'm less certain of this interpretation and list a number of the features here in support of this. This is one of the most interesting sites I've visited and given its closeness to Alnwick and the A1 I'd recommend others visit - if only to comment on my interpretations!
Have a look on Google Earth and a number of interesting features stand out; three ring features on the hill top ranging from 50m to 70m across, rock outcrops along the west side of the hill and large stone features to the north and south of the hill.
Park off the Alnwick to Eglingham road near White House farm and walk along the right of way to the west of the site going north. Cut east through the trees and approach the hill top from the south west. The first things you see are the rock "gate" (photo) to the south of the site and the rock overhangs (photo) in the forest plantation to the west of the site.
There are lots of rock outcrops in the slope before you reach the summit but only one I looked at (I didn't check them all) had an interesting feature. This is vertical sided "bowl" (photo) around 15cm across. Pass this and climb to the top and you meet the first ring feature.
The main features of the site are:
1) Rock "gate" to south of site. This is probably made by a fallen overhang but gives a very dramatic "entrance" to the hill from the south.
2) SE Ring, this is the most prominent of the three.
The ring is around 50m across and lies on a slight slope towards the SE, to the SE of the Trig Point. There is a clear raised rock circle but no obvious ditch inside or out of this. There is an entrance on the SE (150 deg) and a flat "platform" (photo) inside the ring next to the tree and the NE of the ring. This platform has a semi-circle cut into the bedrock around 4m across and facing east. None of the rings look defensive in nature.
3) Cairn, Cist, Barrow, when you reach the top of the hill it's obvious that the Trig Point is not at the highest point on the hill. The reason for this being the long (20m) rock cairn just to the north of the TP.
Multiple cists were opened here in the early 1800s.
4) NE Ring, largest of the three (around 70m) but less distinct than feature 1. Again with a raised ring (some rock showing) but no obvious ditch. Lying to the NE of the TP this again is on a slight slope, this time to the NE. Again there are "platform" features inside the ring, offset toward the TP from the centre of the ring. There are at least 2 of these but they are less clear than the platform in the SE ring.
5) NW Ring, this is the least distinct on the ground an unlike the first two has been cut by field boundaries so the whole ring is not clear. Construction appears similar to the other two. The exception being that there is a central rock "cairn" feature which looks disturbed. This is the only ring of the three to have a central feature.
6) Rock overhang outcrops along the west side of the hill. After looking at the rings I retraced my steps back to the south and descended the western slope to cut across to the first (from the south) overhang. The outcrops are in a forest plantation with young trees so is easy to view and access but will become less so as the trees grow. In 5-10 years or so the outcrops may not be visible.
There are about 5-6 major rock outcrops (photos). All have some form of overhang on the west side and offer both protection from the elements and great views to the west. The level of protection gets better as you move north.
6a) "Hole" feature (photos). This is in the second major outcrop from the south end of the plantation, slightly higher up the hill and north of the first outcrop. A crack in the rock face seems to have been enhanced by the addition of a deep horizontal hole in the rock face at the top. The whole thing could be natural but the possible sexual connotations are none too subtle. This hole feature is almost identical in size and context (west facing vertical face of rock outcrop) to one at the Beanley Plantation Site (see link below to photo there).
6b) "Cup" features (photo). These are on the top platform of the 3nd major rock outcrop on the west side.
6c) Potential vertical "Peck marks" (photo). One of the rock faces has twin vertical lines cutting directly downwards, offset from the natural grain of the rock. These could be natural weathering, I don't have enough experience to tell.
7) The final feature is to the North of the site on the slope of the hill down to White House Folly farm. A large "standing" stone (photo) sits next to a pillbox. I wasn't able to get close to this as it was lambing time and the field was full but this is an impressive piece of rock and shows up well on Google Earth.
The earliest maps in Keys to the Past show a circle of trees where the SE ring is now and this may be one reason for the interpretation given for the features. It is however interesting that the old northern boundary wall (since moved) for the site on the same map seems to respect the curves of the most northern part of the two rings north of the TP. Hinting that the rings pre-date that boundary wall?
Overall the whole site is fascinating and worthy of a visit. There is so much exposed rock that I probably looked at less than 5% of the total in the 2 hours I was on site.
One I'll go back to again soon.
Posted by mascot
19th April 2009ce
Edited 20th April 2009ce