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

Tennyson Down, West High Down and The Needles


This is an intriguing little strip of land which extends some 3 miles from Freshwater Bay in the East to The Needles in the West. At the Freshwater Bay end you'll encounter a cross dyke and then, interestingly, a 'Neolithic Mortuary Enclosure'. This is quite faint but just about discernible although there's nothing at this end to tell you what it is, you get the information if you walk to the end of the 'Tennyson Trail'. The trail is named for Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet, who lived in the bay and stolled daily on the Down. About a mile from the bay stands a monument to him which replaced a landmark for channel shipping called 'The Nodes', a replica of which now stands forlornly in some bushes a few hundred yards further West. Near this are also a couple of barrows largely worn down with age and the feet of countless hordes of tourists.
As you get closer to the Needles there are more and more barrows and a lot of unidentified earthworks, some of which may be attributable to the defences built over the centuries up to the time of the Cold War in the aftermath of WW2. Here, unbelievably, was a 'rocket testing station', where 'Blue Streak' and 'Black Knight' rockets built for the British government in East Cowes were tested, but not launched, before being sent to Woomera in Australia for launching. There's also an interesting and free museum there to tell you all about it.
A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
1st September 2009ce

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