I would never have known about this place without the handy ‘sites nearby’ drop down on the TMA website. I’d been looking to see if there was anywhere to combine with a visit to the Druids Circle at Ulverston, and being only a couple of miles away this seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I’d done a bit of Google Streetview scrying before we set out and located what looked like a suitable layby to park up in on Hooks Lane just to the south of the village on the way towards Little Urswick. Being too busy scanning the fields for the chamber we initially overshot the site, and if you reach a crossroads on Hooks Lane you’ve definitely gone too far. Managing to turn the car around in the narrow lane we eventually made it to the pull in, and walked back down the road looking for the chamber.
It’s difficult to spot from the road but soon we reached a likely looking gate with pubic footpath sign, directly opposite a small stone building and noticed that actually there was space to park the car right next to the field gate. It’s always nice when a site can be accessed via a public footpath as it just makes the whole visit more relaxed, allowing you to enjoy the place without feeling like an intruder. So crossing the field we soon reached a stile over a stone wall with the slope on which the burial chamber stands behind it.
The burial chamber is cunningly concealed by a tree, which not so much as hides the chamber but erupts from it, pushing aside the stone orthostats as if in a time-lapse arboreal explosion. From the blocky stone facade the burial chamber resembles the result you’d get if you asked someone to build a chambered tomb in Minecraft, chunky stone slabs of grey stone forming the proud remains of a frontage, whilst behind the chamber layers of limestone outcropping rise in a wide shelf.
It’s really peaceful here, a few cows going about their business cropping the grass in a nearby field, and I squeeze into the remains of the chamber and sit in the dappled shade soaking up the atmosphere and writing some fieldnotes. Although small and ruined this is a lovely place. It’s certainly an unusual site, of what I’m sure antiquarians would have referred to as a ‘rude’ construction, and reminded me a bit of the Brane burial chamber all the way down in Cornwall. The top stone of the chamber seems to support a little ecosystem of its own, with various mosses, ferns and even a small tree growing there, and standing back from a certain angle the chamber resembles a giant turtle, the bushy greenery of the central tree forming the shell.
Decamping over to the limestone ridge to survey the view the sun is out, and the chamber blends nicely into the landscape, almost as if it’s a natural feature. I could happily stay here all day, I just wish we’d got a picnic with us, as it’s getting late into the afternoon now and we’ll need to move on soon to find somewhere to eat.
Crossing the field back to towards the car we encounter a couple of walkers examining an O.S. map, ‘Don’t suppose you know where the burial chamber is?’ they ask, I point them in the direction of the tree hiding the stones, they initially look at me askance, probably having expected something more along the lines of West Kennett, but head off anyway another two visitors for this engaging little site.
Ooooh, this is a fab site! The first time I headed out here I was alone and it was bucketing it down - trying to drive through torrential rain whilst looking over hedges on a windy road isn't my greatest skill, so what I didn't realise is this; you can see it quite clearly from the road!!!
I can't think of a similar site anywhere else in this area, it looked like it should be in Cornwall or Wales or Ireland.
Although somewhat destroyed, there is still a sense of how this would've stood in the landscape and if you scrabble between the fallen stones and the prickly old hawthorne you can look through the remaining stones towards an obvious dip in the hill opposite. I loved the fact that the natural stone surrounding this chamber made if feel like it was part of the landscape. Fab.
I wasn't really expecting much of this site - I'd previously seen a sketch of the chamber and was expecting more of a ruin. The chamber is in almost complete collapse, but the stones remain roughly in place so it is pretty easy to get an idea of the original construction. The setting impressed me most - oddly reminiscent of a few Welsh sites, Din Dryfol in particular, in its seclusion. Facing the site is a low, tree lined, limestone shelf with a natural break forming a kind of entrance. Here is a great example of a site obviously placed to compliment a naturally formed sacred, ritual landscape.