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Fairmile Down

Long Barrow


This long barrow lies on the side of a hill above the village of Collingbourne Kingston. Very easy to reach, it appears to have escaped any serious excavation, although the uneven surface suggests partial excavation of the site, probably in the 19th century.
The B road running along the crest of the hill, named fair mile, seemed to me to be as ancient as the long barrow itself and could be traced running for miles through and past many Neolithic sites. This is worthy of a separate blog in it's own right.
To the east of the road lies another long barrow, Tow Barrow and a km south, the Grafton disc barrow group.

I cycled the area and came in along the fair mile. There is no sign for any of these barrows, but a byway sign and a convenient pull in off the road marks the track leading down the hill and past the long barrow. I cycled down this and left the bike by the fence just before the wood. I climbed over a fence and walk along the field boundary until I reached the field with the barrow in it. Gates have been provided to access the barrow and the land owner should be praised at the level of upkeep this barrow affords.

The barrow itself is fenced off but a gate is provided and access could not be easier. The only problem I encountered was a herd of bullocks who where over friendly and came a bit to close for comfort. I armed myself with a big stick and kept the at arms length as I made my way into the barrows compound. Once inside I made a little offering to the ancestors in the form of a cap full of water anointing the barrow. It might sound a bit daft to some people but I fell it is a mark of respect and I always like to make an effort to get into the right mind space when visiting these burial sites. I don't know quite what happened next but something spooked the cattle and they all turned and fled to the furthest part of the field and left me in peace for then on.

As you can see from the pictures, the long barrow survives as a substantial earthwork, a length of 41.5m, is 20m wide and 2.5m high at the higher east-end. The orientation is east-west and is ovoid in plan.
Flanking ditches, from which material used to construct the mound was quarried, run parallel to the north and south sides of the mound. The northern ditch adjoins the barrow mound and is 7m wide and 0.75m deep. The southern ditch, which is separated from the mound by a narrow berm 2m wide, is 9m wide and 1.5m deep.

A very fine, mid to late Neolithic long barrow and one I would highly recommend visiting, along with the other barrows mentioned above. I would suggest winter or early spring the best time as the pasture would not have become so dense and the cattle in the field.

Chance - June 2009
Chance Posted by Chance
16th August 2009ce

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