Sadly this is the last of the trio of "show" sites that I've got time for today, and even sadder is that I've got the least time to spend at one of them. But, it was quite easy to tear myself away from this little beauty because a noisy family had set up camp for the day no more than twenty feet from the chamber. Strangely there would be no one at all at the Halangy down settlement down the hill.
But my ten minutes with the stones were very productive, that's not the right word, rather, this place is about three hundred miles from my house but I'd prefer to be here for just ten minutes than at home all day watching crap on TV. A very worthwhile ten minutes, I found the place to be very beautiful, the light on the water, the distant beaches, the pinky red heather, the green grass, of course grass is green, but right now, it's, just more. Even the gorse has shed it's new sweary name.
The burial chamber is now my new lost love, we had just ten minutes together, a brief encounter to be sure, but not on a stinky railway station but on a pretty sunlit island, a ten minute rendezvous that i'll always remember. She was beautiful, showing more naked stone than the other two sites I fancied, check out those capstones, you can see it all. Inside the tomb was light, airy and a cool place to be.
From outside the tomb looked like a spaceship to me, Cylon maybe, or the attack UFO's from Independence day.
But is she beautiful? can a burial chamber, which is after all, an arrangement of stones, be beautiful?
Naturally speaking, shouldn't only the opposite sex be beautiful, why rainbows, why a tiger, a diamond, a car, are they all linked, why do we find so many things to be lovely ?
Answers on a postcard to.........
Walking around the coast path from Harry's Walls, we emerged right next to the chambered tomb - like Jane, our first one on the island. Wow! I was grinning like an idiot when I saw it, after all the pictures I have seen of these tombs, it's nothing like actually being here in, in lovely sunshine, next to this amazing monument.
The slabs on the top are each enormous. Even though the tomb has been restored to some degree, it really is in a great state of preservation. It is possible to stand hunched over in the chamber, it's not a crawl job. It sits near the top of the slope (but not on it) and looks across to Halangy Down, as well as west to Samson, Bryher, St Helen's and Tresco. It seemed perfect, but there were better to come!
My first Scillonian chambered cairn - and what a place to start! Much restored, this lovely kerbed, stepped cairn nestles into a wall, facing east at the northern end of the island, overlooking Tresco. The four capstones are all exposed and the chamber is about 5 metres in length. There are a lot of stones lying about which were once part of it, but never properly replaced after its early 20th century excavation and rebuild. Nevertheless, this is a real beauty and very evocative.
I sat and marvelled at it in the sparkling light and found myself, Francis of Assisi-like - surrounded by birds: song thrushes, mistle thrushes and to my sheer delight, a male stonechat swooped and sang.
Bant's Carn - St.Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 3rd October 2003
Given that just by getting to St.Mary's, and presumably having a map, you have shown a lot of initiative and commitment, I won't try to describe the minutiae of getting to sites on the island (but might just make a few comments). Most major sites are signposted, but I was disappointed (in general) at the poor signposting of paths, especially given that I have read others say that Scilly sites are well signposted, and the general fact that tourism is the main economy of the islands.
I have to say again that I was disappointed at the footpaths in the area. There doesn't seem to be a coastal path from the east, which was a disappointment. It was signposted from the large pylon but it was a shame to have to come inland and via a scabby pylon (and past a road that said 'Private Road') to get to one of the most important multi-period sites on the islands.
Like the tomb at Higher Innisidgen, this is a real 'show grave', despite being eaten into the surrounding field walls. What a great place and great location. The chamber is higher than most and I can imagine that the entrance would have been pretty special in its full glory.
Located above the Halangy Downs courtyard house settlement and about 1500 years older, Bants Carn is a round cairn surrounded by a low wall. The entrance passage is 14ft long leading past two portal stones to the central chamber. Very easy to find from the cliff top footpath from Hugh Town.