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Vernditch Chase North

Long Barrow

<b>Vernditch Chase North</b>Posted by formicaantImage © Mike Rowland 30/04/10
Also known as:
  • Broad Chalke 11
  • Monument No. 214286
  • Kitt's Grave
  • Cotel's Barrow
  • Cotelesburgh

Nearest Town:Wilton (12km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   SU034211 / Sheet: 184
Latitude:50° 59' 19.35" N
Longitude:   1° 57' 5.59" W

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<b>Vernditch Chase North</b>Posted by formicaant


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At last I've managed to find this elusive long barrow, after about the 5th attempt. It is in dense beech woods north of the other long barrow nearby. This barrow is generally listed as Vernditch Case long barrow, the other is usually listed as "long barrow south west of Vernditch Chase", but what's in a name?
The barrow itself is quite slight and difficult to see, I'm happy that this is it, as it is in the right place. However there are various bits of Grim's Ditch in this area and I have seen photo's that purport to be the barrow which look more like the ditch, i.e. much too long and thin. This is one for completists (like me, I suppose) as it is small and has probably been ploughed in the past.
formicaant Posted by formicaant
30th April 2010ce
Edited 30th April 2010ce


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Another version of the story:
Kit's Grave. A copse on the county border is said by some to be named Kit's Grave after a highwayman, Kit, who was hung and buried there. However, Herb Lucas, the chauffeur at Upwood, said that Kit was an old woman, possibly a Romany, who lived a nomadic life between the parishes of Bowerchalke and Ebbesbourne Wake, and died on the boundary. No one knew her well. Those who found the body approached the authorities of both parishes, but neither would meet the funeral expenses or claim the body. Kit was therefore buried where she was found, and the copse was named after her.
The Folklore of Sixpenny Handley, Dorset, Part I
Aubrey L. Parke
Folklore, Vol. 74, No. 3. (Autumn, 1963), pp. 481-487.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st October 2006ce
Edited 6th January 2016ce

Two similar versions of the story, from Edith Olivier / Margaret Edwards' "Moonrakings - A Little Book of Wiltshire Stories" (c1920).

"Some time, before the memory of living man can definitely fix, a suicide was buried [here].. Legend has it that a girl from Bowerchalke, finding life too sad, drowned herself in a well near the churchyard.," the lane by the well being called 'Skit's Lane'.
"No bird is ever heard to sing there [at Kit's Grave]."
This version, told by Mrs John Butler, seemed confused as to whether the girl was buried there because she was a suicide and required unconsecrated ground, or whether it was because no parish would claim her (even though she'd specifically mentioned Bowerchalke!) so she was buried where three parishes met. Whatever, the theme of the weird nature of 'boundaries' clearly comes through.

The second version (p74) tells that "An old gypsy woman who used to frequent the Chalke valley was found in a well near Bowerchalke church. It was thought she had committed suicide, so she was taken and buried at the crossroads at night, with a stake through her heart. An avenue of trees leads to the spot, and no bird is ever heard to sing there. (This is indeed a very weird, eerie spot)."

Rather extreme measures (stakes through the heart at midnight) but I suppose you can't have these dead people wandering. I wonder whether there is any significance in the well being near the church: is it too much to read into it that it was a holy well? An inconsiderate and strange place to pick to kill yourself in.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th September 2005ce
Edited 6th January 2016ce


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Details of long barrow on Pastscape

SU 03412114. Broad Chalke 11, a long barrow west of Vernditch Chase, found by Grinsell in 1937. Orientated E/W with good side-ditches, 76ft long x 52 ft wide and 4ft high. SU 03412113: A rather small long barrow 28.0m long NE-SW, by 18.0m transversely. It averages 0.9m in height with side ditches up to 0.4m deep and 5.0 m wide. The area is now afforested and the southern ditch has been almost entirely obliterated. Re-surveyed at 1:2500. (3)
Chance Posted by Chance
5th June 2014ce

It doesn't seem an unreasonable spot for a suicide burial, because it is very much on the boundary of things. It is at the point where three parishes meet (Bowerchalke, Martin and Pentridge) - which is actually where three counties meet (Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset). It was consequently once the place where three monastic estates met too.

In WAM v55 (1953/4) it is explained that 'Cotelesburgh', a place mentioned in a charter of 945, is very probably this spot; burgh implying mound. The barrow that was here is pretty much ploughed out, but "The former existence of a long barrow at Kitt's Grave is attested by persons whose memories go back to the last century."

It was probably the site of some gallows too (adding to its unnatural reputation) - the Abbess of Wilton complained of trespass into her woods in the 16th century, and rather uncharitably for an abbess, put up some gallows. The Abbot of Glastonbury wasn't that impressed, and there is a document of his protest in 1518. When the monasteries were broken up, William 1st Earl of Pembroke got the land. A description of his new estates included "A certain barrow called Gallows Barrow", presumed to be the same place.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2005ce
Edited 6th January 2016ce