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Heston Brake

Long Barrow

<b>Heston Brake</b>Posted by thesweetcheatImage © A. Brookes (26.3.2012)
Nearest Town:Chepstow (6km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   ST506887 / Sheets: 162, 172
Latitude:51° 35' 40.03" N
Longitude:   2° 42' 47.64" W

Added by zoso


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Fieldnotes

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Visited 28.11.10
Directions: drive through Portskewett (heading east) and take the turning on the left signposted Leechpool. The barrow is about 100 yards on your left, behind a house. Easy to spot on the hilltop. Parking is on the grass verge as best you can.
My previous visit to this site was with Dafydd a couple of years ago when I stopped in the lane to give him his bottle/change his nappy. This time I was alone so a more thorough visit was possible! Parking near the spot I stopped last time, I noticed a public footpath sign and a new(ish) looking wooden gate which looked like the top had been gnawed by the horses housed in the field. Although technically speaking the footpath doesn't go to the Long Barrow it goes close enough not to worry about it.
Despite all the snow we had had in Cardiff the night before I was surprised that there was no snow here, although it was bitterly cold with the wing coming in from the river Severn. I walked up to the largest stone and viewed out across the Severn. Although not a particularly high point, it was surprising how commanding the view was. The largest stone is about 5 ft high with the square shaped stone next to it about 2 ft high. I was pleasantly surprised by how well preserved the small stones (all about 1.5 feet high) forming the rear of the chamber were. I would have liked to have stayed a lot longer but the icy wind cut right through you and it was time to leave the horses to their peace.
This is a site well worth making the effort to see when in the area.
Access is very easy – 2 minute walk from the lane via the wooden gate.
Posted by CARL
1st December 2010ce

I visited this site last year during a day out 'old stoning' with Dafydd. Dafydd was due a feed and a nappy change so I parek up on the lane near the house. The O/S map doesn't show public access to the site and as it was cold I decided to view from the road. This was very easy as the stones are on the brow of the hill and easily seen from the road. I would imagine you would need to ask for permission at the house to get a closer look? Posted by CARL
25th May 2010ce

There's parking for one car only, seeing as Iv'e only got one car this made little difference to me.
It's so much easier to see the winter rather than the summer solstice, ok its colder but come on three extra hours in bed.
Or alternatively three extra hours to drive somewhere remarkable, I hadnt been to Heston Brake till now but I could tell by its position that it would be a good place for a sunrise. I was dead right, although the chamber and portals are aligned just ever so slightly north of east, (but then it was a cheap compass) which would make it a perfect place for an equinox sunrise.
Or it could have been aligned on something across the Severn towards Hetty Peglars tump(god rest her soul), one thing is sure without the last millenia this would be a fantastic place, looking across the river from a well positioned big knoll, but the last millenia did happen and the surroundings have suffered somewhat, the bridges I can take, I came over one to get here (bastards charged me a fiver though) it's all the damn pylons I cant take, not now not ever.
The chamber stones are very low are they stumps of larger stones or was it a really low chamber, I dont know, but I do like the hole in the southern side stone, perhaps for spirit exit/entry. Or, go on put your arm through and touch the ancesters..........goosebumps.
postman Posted by postman
22nd December 2009ce

This sadly neglected long barrow/chambered tomb has the most commanding of locations on the Welsh side of Severn estuary overlooking it's two beautiful bridges.

I parked in Leechpool (not a place where you'd want to paddle, unless you were a medieval quack, perhaps?), climbed over the stile and walked up the field to the barrow, its outline unmistakable on the skyline, with it's two east facing portal stones jutting out above the horizon. It sits atop a little rise, giving it enough height to be described as impressive. I rather think its hillocktop location is the very fact that has saved it from destruction. The view is wonderful - two glorious modern gleaming bridges engineered to span and link this gaping physical divide between England and Wales. Sadly, not much peace here though, the traffic noise constantly swishes in the background. I wondered about the longevity of this modern engineering I was looking at compared to the the ancient engineering on which I stood. No contest. I had a bit of a scout round, and was surprised to see that the stone outline of the chamber, on top of what is left of the barrow, is still in pretty good condition (underneath the thistles and weeds) and realised that at one time the height of the barrow would have covered this lot - and some! It must've been a wonderful sight!
Jane Posted by Jane
24th July 2003ce
Edited 25th July 2003ce

I parked in a field gate, by the house is a stile. I followed what seemed like a footpath, but it was a sheep track and went away from the stones, so I got my feet wet in the long grass. This place commands great views over miles of open country and over the Severn estuary. Peaceful atmosphere that is usually found in these places. hamish Posted by hamish
12th November 2002ce
Edited 12th November 2002ce

This is the remains of a chambered cairn.It was excavated in 1888,there were skeletons in the chamber,Tony Robinson would have been ecstatic. hamish Posted by hamish
22nd September 2002ce

Heston brake Dolmen is situated on the brow of a hill near Black rock,and consists of the remains of nine upright stones. Posted by zoso
26th May 2002ce

Miscellaneous

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Proceeding from the present landing [Severn crossing] at Blackrock north-westwards, this road is first diverted to the south-west by the "Rough Grounds" in which is a Mount called HESTON BRAKE, raised artificially on the edge of adingle, and having a seeming elevation very much increased by natural slopes towards the north-east.

It has a flat summit, and commands a view of the Severn towards Aust, and is covered with a venerable shade of oaks and yew trees. In the centre of this summit is a space about 27 feet long by 9 in width, surrounded originally, as it seems, by thirteen rude upright stones, now time-worn, mossed over, and matted with ivy. One is at the east end, two at the west, and three remain at each side, with spaces for the four which have been removed. Unless it is a sepulchral memorial, connected with [a] massacre [..], no conjecture as to its object can be offered.*

*On revisiting it in 1851, it was nearly inaccessible, from the growth of the coppices; but the taller of the two stones at the east end was seemingly between five and six feet. The rest was hid by coppice and briars.
From p56 of 'Memoirs Illustrative of the History and Antiquities of Bristol' by the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1853), which you can read on Google Books.
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5ToQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA54
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
29th April 2008ce

Links

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Clifton Antiquarian Club


This article from the 1888 Proceedings has a detailed plan of the stones, and marks where there are "two holes in the upright stones on either side of the chamber, which are very remarkable."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th June 2009ce

Scrapbook of William Henry Greene


"The Barrow at Portskewet."
Sketch by William Henry Greene
6 May 1893

Online at 'Newport Past', along with his many other local sketches, courtesy of Pontypool Museum and sponsor Steve Thomas.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd December 2005ce
Edited 23rd December 2005ce