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Giant's Cave

Long Barrow

<b>Giant's Cave</b>Posted by tjjImage © tjj
Also known as:
  • Luckington
  • Giant's Caves

Nearest Town:Malmesbury (12km ENE)
OS Ref (GB):   ST820829 / Sheet: 173
Latitude:51° 32' 39.04" N
Longitude:   2° 15' 34.54" W

Added by Rhiannon

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Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
Visited 20.3.11
I liked this site a lot.
Easily spotted from the road and very easy to access via a metal field gate.
Three sides of the cist survive along with two large flat stones standing next to each other.
The pile of stones mentioned in a previous post has now grown to 15.
Perhaps someone is trying to 'grow' a Long Barrow?!!
This site is well worth stopping off for when in the area.
Posted by CARL
21st March 2011ce

Another fine long barrow which was a lovely surprise for me today, I totally have my Cotswold Walking friend to to thank for this. Had just visited Sodbury Camp hillfort and visited this longbarrow, which was comparatively close by near the village of Luckington, on our way home.

Rhiannon's fieldnote has it covered - a fine long barrow in an elevated position; looked peaceful in the long shadows of winter afternoon sunlight. No evidence of restoration to this one and no English Heritage information boards - just the remains of a chambered long barrow. Large moss covered limestones at the centre of the barrow and - curiously (as Rhiannon pointed out) about five neatly stacked limestones to one side of the barrow. Perhaps some reconstruction work planned for the future - would now doubt preserve barrow for prosterity though in its present natrualised state it has loads of 'ancient' atmosphere.
tjj Posted by tjj
10th December 2010ce
Edited 10th December 2010ce

It's a long time since I was last here and it wasn't quite how I remembered it. There are some huge stones here. One good thing about the masses of vegetation at this time of year, is that you can spot strangely flat areas that probably hide more stones. But mostly the nettles and the grasses hinder movement and stop you seeing the stones. But it's a great spot, and clearly visited by others as you can tell by the trampling of the plants. It was soothingly peaceful and shaded from the hot sunshine. I sat near a superbly large stone on its edge right in the middle of the barrow. Below it there was an intriguing dark hole veiled by another smaller stone and a spider web.

But I found it kind of concerning that there were loads of large flat stones kind of stacked up at the far end. They looked strangely unmossy/licheny as though they'd been uncovered or moved quite recently. Surely no-one would bother moving stones from the barrow? I felt confused. I've posted a photo, if anyone's familiar with the site and can comment.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th July 2010ce

What a wonderful site. Majestically ancient and mysterious, with a couple of resident horses who didn't pay me any attention whatsoever.

I guess we're lucky that the Victorians didn't take all the stone. It's still possible to make out a couple of the chambers from the stone peeking through the earth, although they're covered in moss and I would guess will be impossible to see in high summer.

I loved this site, and will treasure the memory of it for a long time to come.
ocifant Posted by ocifant
27th April 2003ce
Edited 27th April 2003ce

This is also known as Luckington Long Barrow. It's refreshingly dilapidated and covered in trees, but the stones of the side chambers still poke out of the earth, and around there is a typical cotswold drystone wall of little flat stones. Apparently the ends of the barrow were ripped out for road making stone in victorian times and there used to be an old boy in the village who kept a skull 'for a momento' (Exploring Ancient Wiltshire - George Osborn). It was such a calm place when I visited, only the sound of the rain dripping through the leaves. It did have a real atmosphere and you feel like you're exploring as you climb up onto the mound.

My twenty year old book suggests you ask the farmer at Allengrove Farm to the north before you hop over the gate (but I didn't know this at the time honest guv).

There are detailed plans of the long barrow in Wiltshire Arch Mag v65 (1970).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th April 2002ce
Edited 6th July 2005ce


Add folklore Add folklore
Six late-4th century bronze coins were found around one of the chambers of this barrow. Now it's always possible that this was the result of a visitor with holes in his or her pockets. And there's also a traditional idea of a 'hoard' of coins, where people stashed them intending to come back. But according to this article*coins of this era have been found at various prehistoric sites... as though they were left as some kind of nod to the local ancestors - perhaps a gift, or a payment for something, or you know, just your vague 'votive / ritual activity' type thing. I suppose one question would be how much were the coins worth? Another thing could be what the coins symbolised to their owners - was having money a flashy thing? and leaving money (rather than leaving a different sort of thing) a way of showing your status to the dead/living, - or was cash just the way their society worked by that time, and the obvious thing to leave? Questions questions.

*'Roman Wealth, Native Ritual: Coin Hoards within and beyond Roman Britain' by N. B. Aitchison, in World Archaeology, Vol. 20, No. 2 (1988), pp. 270-284.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th March 2009ce
Edited 17th March 2009ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
In the edge of this Shire [Wiltshire] between Luckinton, great Badminton (the seat of my noble Lord and Master, the Lord Herbert) is a place called the Caves; and by some the Giants caves, according to the language of ignorance, fear, and superstition. They are upon the top of a rising hill, a number about [??]. And some of them are (or were formerly) cemented with lime. Some of them are deeper and some shallower; some broader and longer than others. They lye altogether in a row. The manner of them is two long stones, set upon the sides, and broad stones upon the top to cover them. The least of these Caves is four foot broad, and some of them are nine or ten foot long.

This is the account, which I have received from some neighbour Gentlemen touching them with which I was fain to content my self, because the Earth and Rubbish is now so fallen in, that (without digging) nothing almost can be seen, but the place where they are the cavities being all filled up, and bushes over growing them. I presume these [??] are nothing else but the tombes of so many Saxon or Danish Heroes, (or it may be Romans) slain in a battle fought not far from the place.

The curiosity of some ingenious men (as it is reported) within these 40 years, tempted them to dig into it, and make a search for some Antick remains, but they found nothing, but an old Spur, and some few other things not worth the mentioning. The broadness of the stones is not at all strange, since the whole Country hereabout is slatty, and in many places affords stones altogether as large as these.
From 'Britania Baconica: or, The natural rarities of England, Scotland, and Wales', written by J Childrey (1662).

Some of it's a little unclear on the scan I read, hence the [??].
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd January 2011ce
Edited 3rd January 2011ce

From Castle Combe I took a northerly direction, in order to investigate another fragment of British antiquity, recorded by Mr. Aubrey in his manuscripts. He distinguishes it by the name of Long barrow, which is situated in the parish of Luckington, Wilts, adjoining to the Lord Marquisse of Worcester's parke at Badminton: ["] it is long, and some oakes and other trees and boscage cover it. ["]

"Here were accidentally discovered, since the yeare 1646, certain small caves, about five or six in number; they were about fower foot in height, and seven or eight foot long; being floored, lined and rooft with great plank stones, which are plentifull hereabout."

From the experience I have lately had in similar antiquities, I can with safety pronounce this to have been a long barrow with a kistvaen (as at Lugbury), placed at the east end; and it is very probable that the oblong stone enclosures on the sides of the barrow may have also been appropriated to sepulchral purposes..
From Richard Colt Hoare's 'History of Ancient Wiltshire', online at Wiltshire County Council's website:
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th January 2007ce
Edited 2nd January 2011ce