Like many of the long barrows marked on the Cotswolds OS Map there is not a lot to see. This long barrow is situated between Upper and Lower Swell. It can be accessed by walking out of Lower Swell along the quiet road which connects the two villages; is visible from the road within a beech wood/plantation. Although no open access or RoW, today we walked around the field edge of the sloping crop field leading up to it - the stone wall along the field edge is broken in a few places so access is quite easy. The view from this barrow before the beech trees were planted would have been quite something - as it looks directly towards the hill-top town of Stow on the Wold. Stow is on the Fosse Way and probably began its existence as a hill fort or perhaps an even older settlement. According to an information leaflet in the small part Norman church at Lower Swell (which is situated on the old Roman road of Ryknield Street) there are five neolithic burial chambers in the local vicinity although today we only visited this one.
Note of interest to walkers:
Also in Lower Swell you can pick up the Heart of England Way - "a green route, for 100 miles, the length of the West Midlands region. Linking Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Staffordshire, with the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Gloucestershire, with much mileage in rural Warwickshire."
The last long barrow on my walk today (6.3.2009), I arrived from Pole's Wood South at a fair clip, as the shooting around me made lingering not seem like an attractive option. Following the main path eastwards through the wood, startling yet more deer and pheasants as I went, the barrow is an obvious mound on the south side of the path. It seems to be intact, a nice smooth whale-back with no obvious excavation scars. However, it is covered in a thick layer of leaves and I wasn't hanging around to investigate further.
From here I joined the road to Upper Swell and made my way the couple of miles to Condicote Henge.
If you didn't know it was a long barrow, you wouldn't notice it. It's a large unmarked hump, slowly being reclaimed by beech trees, today lying under a thick carpet of leaves, providing fantastic cover for the wildlife now being hunted around us. I thought I could make out the shape of the horns of an entrance way, as at Belas Knap.
From "Companion into Gloucestershire" - R.P. Beckinsale (1947 5th edition Methuen):
"Upper Swell parish has many things of interest for the archaeologist, and for the person who likes rediscovering objects that are not easy to find. The name Swell is probably derived from the O.E. 'Swelgan' meaning a spring, and it was to the waters here that the Neolithic herdsmen drove their flocks and herds from the dry pastures near Condicote and Kineton Hill. Buckle Street along the heights is dry as a bone, and the Dickler and Ey afford the only running water on the wolds east of the Windrush. The valleys of these two streams are dotted with Long Barrows and entrenchments, or to be more precise there are thirty Round Barrows, ten Long Barrows, and three camps. Roman remains are equally plentiful, and, although in many cases the barrows are merely grass hummocks, there is much pleasure in coming across these ancient sites."
The 'official' name for this barrow (GLO 24) is 'Pole's Wood East'. The wood is Pole's Wood (believe it or not) and there is a well preserved long barrow (Pole's Wood South) just over the field. Darvill also lists a 'Pole's Wood West' but it the map ref doesn't seem to tie in with anything an it's not marked on the OS maps unlike the other Swell barrows