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

Combe Gibbet

Long Barrow


I'm in two minds.... which is pretty good actually, since it's often more.... whether the gibbet which surmounts the long barrow upon Inkpen Hill adds to, or detracts from a visit to the monument. Now I guess we all possess a certain interest in the macabre, something which needs to be satiated every now and then (hopefully not too often) by reminders of how brutal society once used to be. Still is in certain countries, of course. Perhaps this represents remnants of the relish ordinary people had for gladitorial games, public executions, even bear baiting and other completely uncivilised activities. Sure, we like to think we are well past that... but also perhaps worry that it still resides within to some degree. Dunno. Yeah, I know the massive public execution device which looms above this monument to the dead isn't original - not unless one thinks in terms of 'original' as applied to Trigger-out-of-Only-Fools-and-Horses' broom (with five new heads and ten new handles) - but what it represents still has the power to unsettle/disturb the visitor. Even if the only thing currently 'strung up' is a half empty cola bottle. Perhaps some wag is making a very witty, cutting point? Perhaps not.

Now - unlike the Mam C - I've been here before, but the impact is still intense, particularly with a biting wind swirling around the hilltop and mist beginning to do likewise as dusk starts to close in. Clearly the fact that the long barrow was chosen as the base of the gibbet was no accident... being situated upon the most visible part of the hill, and no doubt the object of much local folklore for millennia, there really was no other choice for maximum deterrent value. Just try NOT looking at it and imagining what went on here. Which is precisely the problem.... people come here to do just that, drop their litter, let their dogs do what dogs do and generally not give two hoots that this is actually a rather fine Neolithic long barrow.

Aye, that it is. Set in a perfect position in the landscape, with stunning views to north and south, the rather impressive Walbury Hill hillfort to approx south-east and - surely - an ancient ridgeway track to west, it is only the aforementioned litter which detracts from a great hang at what is a fine, substantial example of such a monument. Ha! I've just got the pun, which was actually unintended, believe it or not... of course the greatest distraction of all - by far - is the wacking great reminder of past judicial systems towering above one's head. Hmm. With darkness upon us we decide to beat a hasty retreat to the car.... not that we're scared or anything, you understand?
17th April 2011ce
Edited 17th April 2011ce

Comments (2)

Was listening to "Fried" yesterday, seems sort of relevant ("The Bloody Assizes" anyway). Funny, you never really think of these things as being so tall. I'm guessing this was a wayside reminder to would-be highwaymen types, probably a bit out of town for the average execution connoiseur?

All of which has apparently distracted me from the long barrow too.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
17th April 2011ce
Take it you didn't look at the caption for the 2009 image with me in? Same wavelength? Go and see a doctor, my friend. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
17th April 2011ce
You must be logged in to add a comment