|Choosing a site of comparable form and vibe to follow Tilshead Old Ditch long barrow is a pretty tall order, it has to be said. A return to the wonderful Adam's Grave was perhaps the obvious - if rather too obvious - choice. And indeed it was the Giant's Grave upon Milton Hill, overlooking The Vale of Pewsey, which called the louder this time around. Hell, as much as I love Walker's Hill, I do love to stand up for the underdog! Not that Giant's Grave exactly has to punch above its weight to impress. No sir. Not one bit.....
In retrospect I would say the best, or certainly the most dramatic approach is via a public footpath from the Pewsey Hill road which follows the edge of the excellent escarpment towards Milton Hill Clump. However I end up walking down the same farm track to Milton Hill Farm that I traversed during my only previous visit here some years back, incidentally then in torrential rain (as described in Chance's notes). Verge parking is possible near the entrance to this byway... and also recommended, since these tracks are used by farm vehicles - and, judging by the completely OTT signs, the owners of Down Farm are extremely walker-hostile. What is it with these Wiltshire farmers. Something in the water?
Some way along this track the visitor is faced with a choice of routes in order to reach the long barrow.... if in doubt, head a little to the left of the prominent trees of Milton Hill Clump to your left, which have [what I take to be] an obvious round barrow standing before them, unfortunately the field in crop. Approached from this direction, the long barrow is initially somewhat of a disappointment. Hey, I was sure it was more upstanding than this? It was. It is. View the monument from the north and this is as impressive a long barrow as you could credibly wish for... it really is.
Complete with quarry ditches, this great long barrow also possesses that indefinable quality only the truly great sites have. Aye, atmosphere, vibe, the freedom to think, look... just empty your mind and simply breathe, even, without the distractions interacting with other members of the species automatically bring. Not that I don't enjoy interacting, you understand, but I do think these periodic 'benchmarks' are essential to keep in perspective what kind of creature you REALLY are. In short it is quiet here. Very quiet... with no additional visitors in some three (I think) hours.
The views are superb, courtesy of excellent Neolithic positionning a little way back from and above the escarpment edge. Perhaps not near enough to score a perfect Gladman '10' in this respect but, hey, that's just being picky! The Marlborough Downs crown the skyline from left to right (or right to left, if you prefer) towards the north, with Martinsell, Rybury and, I assume, the multitude of other monuments all visible if you've the ability to pick them all out. But it is the simple act of reclining upon something so damn old, something which clearly meant so much to a number of people way back then... but can still be appreciated today... that really makes my evening. I think I kinda understand why those people, probably not too dissimilar to you or I in basic outlook, I guess, chose this small - but not that small(!) - strip of hillside to pile this mound of chalk 'n' earth upon. Perhaps not the exact reason why they needed such a long mound, perhaps, but why it had to be HERE. Maybe, maybe not. Whatever, this just feels as if it is the 'right' spot, you know?
As Chance mentions, a myriad lynchets [field systems] are visible upon the surrounding hillsides. If only the landscape could speak. What tales! But hang on... I fancy it can and does. You just have to listen.
Posted by GLADMAN
31st July 2010ce
Edited 31st July 2010ce