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

East Kennett

Long Barrow


East Kennett and West Kennett couldn't be much more different really, not in our century at least. I wondered whether to write these fieldnotes, it's like drawing unnecessary attention to something that's quite happy nice and quiet and unknown, despite its proximity to the show sites of Avebury. Not to mention the fact it's off the footpaths and I shouldn't really have been there at all. But your tma-ish type values EK for what it is. And most normal people don't want to trudge to an overgrown hillock somewhere up a muddy track. Besides, there's nowhere obvious to leave a tealight. So maybe EK's ok.

Even as you walk up here, you can see that the place is massively, surprisingly, tall. I thought it was an optical illusion until I got very close up and then I had to believe it. As you're walking up the track, the barrow glowers ominously above you. But on arriving, the near end seems like the less important back, it shuns the view of West Kennett's fancy frontage and Silbury hill. With the wintery lack of undergrowth I could walk along the barrow's crest, to the far end which is higher and more sheltered. That has a much more enclosed feeling. There's a kind of amphitheatre effect, with the skyline at a single level all around. But curiously the skyline isn't consistently close, some of it's made up of much further away bits of landscape, but it all overlaps to give this constant line. It's totally different to the open feel of the other end, with its distant views to all sorts of places that make you go ooh! when you recognise them.

It was very quiet indeed at the far end. It's riddled with burrows. Flakes of chalk and pointy flint nodules are everywhere (as are spent shotgun cartridges). A rabbit sprang out of one of the holes just in front of me and I don't know who was more startled. Partridges muttered in the field below but otherwise it was just that distant treetop noise like the sea. My crisps ruined the atmosphere really. I liked the distorted writing on some of the beeches and all the tiny snail shells with their strange little umbilical holes.

On the way back (after another guilt-ridden dash silhouetted against the sky) there were loads of yellowhammers to be seen and heard along the White Horse track. If you keep going straight down, the path comes out where the road crosses the Kennet. It's amazing to watch, a beautifully crystal clear chalk stream with its vegetation waving about in the current. It was a nicer way to walk back to where I'd parked near the church.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th March 2010ce
Edited 16th March 2010ce

Comments (2)

A very atmospheric account of this mysterious barrow; on the edge of the Avebury complex, it is astonishing that it has never been excavated (except by badgers). Along with West Kennet Long Barrow it is the oldest monument in the area - may it hold onto its secrets for a few thousand years more.

Beautifully written up Rhiannon.
tjj Posted by tjj
17th March 2010ce
Really really proud of you ( trying not to sound condescending), sneaking about on farmland ? Trespassing ? Yeeeaaah baby !!
Somewhere else I must to return to, if not East barrow then certainly Avebury as a whole, never been on the ridgeway, or up windmill hill, or the greywethers.

Footpaths? where were going we don't need footpaths.
postman Posted by postman
17th March 2010ce
You must be logged in to add a comment