I think we must have visited Gatcombe Lodge too yesterday; all down to friend with map - I can take no credit apart from tagging along gamely. Just across the road from the Minchinhampton Long Stone there is a tree covered long barrow, and yes we were passed by a couple of landrovers which we, perhaps naively, ignored. From here we continued into the estate, no-one challenged us; we walked up (and down) some steep slopes to eventually reach Hazel Wood in search of another long barrow. According to the map this barrow is in a field at the top of the wood - which had restricted access. Couldn't make out more than just a raised curve to the land so must be mostly ploughed out.
The route we took was marked on OS Explorer 168 as a footpath (apart from the Gatcombe Park bit) so I guess it was ok to walk there.
When I visited I was happy to view from the road junction. Despite the encouragement from my better half - 'why don't you jump over the fence for a closer look?' - I stayed where I was and pointed out the sign which said the fence was electrified!!!
Visited - well, passed - after a trip to The Longstone of Minchinhampton. Having read the others' accounts of their visits, I was definitely sticking to a walk-by only, especially when a police helicopter landed in the next field!
The barrow is of a good size and from the SE (seen through the trees) looks pretty intact. It sits in the corner of a field and is surrounded by a fence. From the west (from the footpath) it becomes clear that the barrow has suffered extensive damage through excavation, like the corpse of an animal that's had its innards eaten but the head and torso have been left intact.
The republican in me wants to point out various things about the age of the barrow compared to the age of the monarchy, etc. but what's the point?
[visited 4/2/5] Foolishly I failed to read the pages here before visiting this barrow. I'd allready failed to find the burial chambers in Avening and bombed straight past The Tinglestone. So as I headed back towards Avening, I passed the longstone and stopped on the verge of the track leading past this barrow.
Seeing no-one about and not really aware of the danger, I strolled to the barrow and had a good root about. 2 stones are standing at one end and one chamber is visible though almost buried. The barrow is in a bad state but better than some about these parts.
And then the landrover arrived. So I pegged it back to my car expecting an irate farmer and instead met 2 nice police officers, who ran the full police check on me as well. I was then informed that the tinglestone is on the same estate and isn't visitable either...
So, access is prohibited and inadvisable if you have any outstanding warrants. There was no-one about when I went but they apparently have cameras and very efficent coppers. You've been warned.
14th September 2003:
On a trip down to the Cotswolds today, I visited the Longstone of Minchinhampton. As Gatcombe Lodge long barrow is only a couple of hundred yards away, I thought I might as well go and have a look at that, too.
Gatcombe Lodge long barrow happens to be on the Gatcombe Park estate (Princess Anne`s home). There`s a footpath which runs close to the barrow and I only meant to walk past and have a look. Anyway, I couldn`t resist. I went through a gate and onto the barrow. An estate worker spotted me as he went past in a Discovery; he blocked the entranceway and phoned the police.
A Land Rover duly arrived with two police officers, who did a full security check on me and my motor. They could see that I was an unlikely terrorist, with my sandals, shorts and Stonehenge Tshirt. When the all-clear came through, I was allowed to go with a rollocking.
The barrow itself is overgrown with stones from the chambers scattered over it.
Tumuli and Buried Treasure. - On the opposite side of the road to the Longstone, in what was also once part of the Common field, is Gatcombe Tump, a long barrow, of which the following story is told. I got it from a middle-aged woman who keeps a small shop; her mother, from whom she heard it, knew the heroine of the story.
"There was an old woman in Minchinhampton who used to charm ailments; she was called Molly Dreamer, because her dreams came true. She dreamed she would find a pot of gold in Gatcombe Tump and she and her husband dug there many times. Once she actually had her hand on the pot, and was saying,- "Come up! Labour in vain!" when a spirit rose up and frightened her. At another time a spirit appeared to her husband there, and asked him to name five parish churches, [apparently as a condition of getting the gold], but he could remember only four."
One old inhabitant, who lived as a child at a farm quite near, lays the scene of Molly's search at the Longstone itself, and adds that, just as she was lifting a stone that hid the treasure, there came a flash of lightning on to it, and Molly was never the same again. Some say, however, that she did find the gold..
From: Cotswold Place-Lore and Customs, by J. B. Partridge, in Folklore, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Sep., 1912), pp. 332-342.
There is a very remarkable tumulus a few 100 yards south of the Long Stone, which on being opened in the year 1870 was found to contain a sepulchral chamber 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet 6 inches high, with an entrance porch 3 feet square and covered by a massive stone 9 feet 6 inches long and 5 feet 6 inches wide. In this sepulchral chamber was found a skeleton in a sitting position at the furthest end.
From 'A history of the parishes of Minchinhampton and Avening' by Arthur Twisden Playne (1915).