It had been a good out in Gloucestershire, on perhaps the last summer-like day of the year? On the way home we happened to be passing the Air Balloon Inn - somewhere he pass often but never get around to stopping. Although early evening the sun was still shining and the children wanted a go in the [playground while we could enjoy a drink in the beer garden. Karen had her usual latte and I had a glass of local cider.
I had wanted to visit the Barrows across the road and now, at last, was my chance.
The road outside the pub is extremely busy and despite Karen’s concerns I managed to get across unscathed. For those old enough to remember the video arcade game ‘Frogger’ – it was a bit like that!
Once safely across I followed the public footpath (signposted) into the trees. Before too long I located the spot where the Barrows reside but due to the dense undergrowth could make out very little.
I guess this is one of those sites where a winter visit is the order of the day.
As TSC says 'don't bother coming in high summer!'
Time to get back to the pub and finish off that cider………………
Like nearby Crickley Hill, my last visit here was in a worsening snow fall. The contrast couldn’t be more extreme today, coming to the barrows in lovely spring sunshine, every footfall releasing the scent of wild garlic.
The disadvantage of a spring visit, even after such a late winter, is that the barrows are quite overgrown and much of the vegetation is of the brambly kind, trying to trip me up and making even a walk around the two barrows quite a challenge. Don’t bother coming in high summer! Actually the barrows repay the effort, the larger of the two is as fine an example of a sizeable Bronze Age burial mound as you will find in these parts.
Safely across and into the trees, the next barrows of the day are before me. Mutilated in the usual way, the largest of the Emma’s Grove round barrows is still an excellent example. I remain surprised that I seem to be only TMAer who has visited. Unfortunately this visit is hampered by snow that has turned heavier still, and I’m nearing my furthest point from home. But I’ve one more site to visit today, and as Macbeth would have it, I’m stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er. Besides which, I never really like to retrace my steps, there’s always something new to see up ahead. Except today, when there’s precious little to see in any direction.
Visited in freezing temperatures (1.2.09). The largest barrow is impressive, pretty much as per the dimensions quoted by L.V. Grinsell (see Misc). The hollow in the top is clearly visible. One of the smaller barrows was apparent to the NE, but I couldn't see the SW barrow as reported by W.L. Cox.
The barrows are situated in a small clump of trees adjoining the east side of the A417, which is incredibly busy. Access is from the Gloucestershire Way, which runs through the trees to the SW of the barrows. The path hits the road directly opposite the carpark of the Air Balloon pub (also worth a visit!).
Well worth a visit during the autumn/winter, but I imagine that the barrow will be lost in foliage and vegetation in the summer. Could easily be incorporated in a visit to Crickley Hill (as I did today).
Info about the site from "Gloucestershire Barrows" - H. O'Neil and L.V.Grinsell (1960) Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Arch. Soc., listing three barrows, the largest of which, based on 1959 measurements, is 12ft high from W, 6ft high from E. On top is a hollow 10 yards diameter and 3.5 ft deep. The mound is surrounded by a ditch 11ft wide and 3.5 ft deep and there are slight indications of an outer bank.
In 1981, W.L. Cox ("Prehistoric and Roman Sites of the Cheltenham area" (1981 2nd ed)) recorded the site as:
"One large round barrow and the remains of a small one, the latter being difficult to see SW of the former. They are situated in a small plantation alongside the B4070 from the Air Balloon to Birdlip and opposite the entrance to the car park of the Inn. The large mound is taller (12ft) from the west, than the east (6ft), owing to the slope of the ground.
Without investigation it is difficult to date these mounds but the siting below the ridge would suggest a Bronze Age date 3000 years old"
In 1987, a "clandestine hole" was dug into the largest barrow, revealing a "limestone cairn structure" (Gloucestershire Barrows: supplement 1961 - 1988" - T.C.Darvill and L.V. Grinsell (1989) Trans of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Arch. Soc.