Archaeological mish-mash or what? Shame about the bloody great ariel & waterworks giving it a sense of foreboding but still...
Does anyone have any idea what the circular banked feature is in the hillfort? lt looks like some sort of fancy barrow, eg a saucer barrow or something, except that its in a remarkably good state of preservation. I cant find any refenence to it anywhere so maybe its just some sort of modern nonsense to do with the civil war or summat?
The hillfort does seem to have a few other slightly out of the ordinary features-any suggestions?
Cracking views from the top of this hill. It did leave me wondering why the Iron Age fort wasn't built on the site of the Neolithic causewayed enclosure. Reverence for long-distant ancestors, or was it just that they required a greater area?
It was interesting to see the continuation of use of the causewayed enclosure from the Neolithic into the Bronze age, with the number of round barrows on the top, near the edge for visibility from the valley. One in particular was quite high. I also noticed that at the westermost point of the hill, the edge containing a few round barrows, has started collapsing, into what looks like an old quarry site. Did any of the barrows fall in?
The Bronze Age cross dyke seems to separate what was later the Iron Age "side" of the hill from the Neolithic/Bronze Age "side".
Pick a sunny day and you definitely won't have the place to yourself.
A word of warning:-
Don't park in the parking area halfway up the track, as it's a bit isolated, and you might get your window put through, like we did. We had loads of cds in the car, but they didn't take anything - either they were after credit cards, or our taste in music isn't up to much.
Whitesheet Hill is a powerful place, and is of major archaeolgical importance. The causewayed enclosure references not just Long Knoll but the land all around. Apparently prior to Alfreds Tower being constructed there had been standing stones there. Thats interesting because if you look from the edge of the causewayed enclosure and barrow, Alfreds Tower is in exact alignment to the enclosure. My guess is that the stones were placed there to reference Whitesheet Hill and the importance of the causewayed enclosure which was then referenced again later by the bronze age barrow built at its side. Whitesheet Hill does have a long and deep history because even prior to the causewayed enclosure being built mesolithic hunter gatherers were using the area as flint scatters have been found in the surrounding landscape.So, when the Iron Age Hill Fort was constructed Whitesheet Hill had been a place of importance for thousands of years. It really is an ancient landscape and was important as a place even 8000 years ago.On a clear day from Whitesheet Hill you can see South Cadbury Hill and Glastonbury Tor in the distance to the west. I reckon all three places reference each other in the landscape (and three is a special number is it not?) Would like to hear some more feedback on these ideas. Cheers!!
An extremely draughty place to be (we were reduced, old person stylee, to eating our sandwiches in the car). If you can tear your hair away from your eyes you'll find the top of the down (?) is riddled with all manner of bumps and ditches. The far (east) end of White Sheet Hill is a pretty small Iron Age site - but with triple? banks and some fairly steep ditches (as we discovered, all angled either to funnel the wind straight at you or, if sheltered to be disgustingly soggy so you can't sit down - excellent defence or what). There are Bronze age barrows half way along the down (mind the reckless model plane fliers here).
But! at the western end - a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure, no less. It has a single causewayed ditch and it sits out on the spur of the hills. It could be 5000 years old.
Now for my speculative bit. It's not overly convincing from the map, but when you're up there it seems that the Neolithic earthworks directly address the hill 'Long Knoll' across the valley. And it's my opinion that Long Knoll looks like a recumbent figure. I have to buy a digital camera to take with me everywhere.. Anyway, this would fit in so well with similar ideas about recumbent images of the earth god/dess being sighted on by Neolithic sites, that you can read about in TMA and in here. The nearby village is called 'Maiden Bradley' (Maiden + Bride-lea?) which seemed highly significant in my enthusiasm to prove my new discovery.
Please visit and tell me your opinion! Turn up the lane at the pub on the B3092 between Maiden Bradley and Stourhead. There's a car park half way up the hill, but if you want to skid in the gravel you can drive up to the top where there are a range of enormous potholes to park in. Don't bother following the track down the other side - it just gets ridiculous unless you're in a landrover, and if you're in anything remotely lowslung you simply have to turn round.
I believe that Jack's Castle barrow is very close to Alfred's Tower (shown in the above photographs). Would it have been visible without the trees? And did Colt Hoare deliberately put his tower next to it?
Immediately on ascending the hill called Whitesheet, we find ourselves surrounded by British antiquities. The road intersects an ancient earthen work, of a circular form, and which, from the slightness of its vallum, appears to have been of high antiquity. Adjoining it is a large barrow, which we opened in October 1807, and found it had contained a skeleton, and had been investigated before.
On a point of land near this barrow are three others, all of which, by the defaced appearance of their summits, seemed to have attracted the notice of former antiquaries. No 1, the nearest to the edge of the hill, had certainly been opened, and appears to have contained a double interment. The primary one was an interment of burned bones deposited within a shallow cist, in an urn rudely formed, and badly baked. Above it was a skeleton with its head laid towards the south, and which from its position and perfect preservation appears not to have been disturbed. Its mouth was wide open, and it "grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile," a singularity we have never before met with.
At the beginning of the 19th century, a Mr Fenton (friend of R Colt-Hoare) excavated (or more likely, demolished) 'a low mound' and found the crouched skeletons of a large man and a 'younger person'. Near the left side of the man was a copper dagger, a slate wrist guard, a bone tool, and a beaker.
Two round discs were found, 1 1/8th inches in diameter, and made of thinly beaten gold. They each had a cross design and two holes in the centre. sound a bit like buttons! I think they (or copies) might be in the Devizes museum - the illustration I saw seemed to ring a bell.*
gleaned from 'An introduction to the archaeology of Wiltshire' by M E Cunnington 1933.
*a similar gold disc was found further north at Jug's Grave.