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

East Kennett

Long Barrow


Sitting upon the Barrow Copse long barrow, wondering where to go next... as you do... it suddenly dawns upon me that I've never been to East Kennett. Eh? How did that happen? Ah, that's right... access 'issues'. But now I've thought of it it'd be rude not to go say 'hello' to arguably the most mysterious and enigmatic of the area's prehistoric treasures - I mean, even Silbury's been excavated, if only to generate a myriad further questions..... not to mention almost destroy the monument in the process. But that's another story.

Parking near the 'no coins accepted' 'phone box - a paradoxical sign of the times in 'timeless', chocolate box East Kennett - a short stroll past the church and patrolling 'guard geese' and ducks gives access to a byway, this bisecting the 'White Horse Trail' a little further on. Turn left at this point and the majestic tree-line, which I assume must cloak the long barrow, becomes the primary focus now. There are no signs forbidding access from the main track and no fence. How refreshing. Logical, too, since the visitor can skirt the bountiful crop with ease by following the field boundary past a particularly gaunt hawthorn. The retrospective is of the iconic Silbury across golden fields of wheat, or barley. No, I think it's wheat. Where's Sting when you need him? He'd know.

The long barrow is completely shrouded by it's green canopy of high summer, as if Nature is reluctant in the extreme to grant an audience with her monument. No, you're not gonna destroy THIS one, too, you swine that you are! A glance back across the Downs to poor West Kennett Long Barrow swarming with figures and I know exactly what Rhiannon means upon reading her own excellent account. But what if the great Boyne tombs hadn't have been excavated? And look what happened to The Thornborough Henges, quietly bought up by a commercial company when nobody was looking. Sadly it would appear that precious treasures cannot be 'left alone' in this cynical world in the hope that things will stay as they are. People will take advantage, sooner or later, with an eye on the eternal 'profit', methinks. In my opinion East Kennett must be highlighted, celebrated for the exceptional monument it is and the message sent out that 'we are watching'. It was never designed to be the beautiful sister of WKLB hiding away at home. Surely?

I wish I could say that this was a perfect visit, but the noise from a nearby speedway meeting (I kid you not!) competed with the wind in the trees for a time. In the centre of a World Heritage Area? What is it with people who couldn't give a monkey's about any one else? The contrast when the tannoy announces which respective muppet has 'won' and they all go home is, well.... Rhiannon's notes say all I wanted to say about the barrow itself, except a pair of overtrousers is a good idea to brave the head high (!!) nettles which colonise the massive mound in summer. The trees add much atmosphere, particularly when acting as foreground to a very large barrow marooned within crop to the SW. According to the map there is another example the other side of the long barrow.

A walk around the site emphasises just how massive East Kennett is. Will it ever be excavated? Apart from by the numerous beasties which call it 'home'. It is an exciting prospect, although things will then never be the same again, will they? Then again the current status quo would not appear to be the intention of the original builders. Something this substantial was clearly meant to be seen, not hidden away for the personal enjoyment of the few! Yeah, you shall go to the ball! EKLB wears an exclusive shining gown of white chalk by established designer M Downs..... not available in the shops for another six millennia.
1st August 2010ce
Edited 1st August 2010ce

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