[visited 21/10/06] Back here again, sans pain, but still with the mud. We walked towards the farm from the West pondering where the cist is and found a helpful sign just before the farm which directed us straight to it. Reading the miscellaneous notes here, it seems a round barrow mound covered the pile of rocks now lying in a muddy field. There isn't much to see now beyond that, but I think its still worth the effort. Does make me wonder what is at the bottom of the other few thousand barrows around the south...
Access is fineish. We parked in the pub between the third priddy henge and the incomplete henge and then walked along the road to get to the path to the east of Pool Farm. There are "No Parking" signs up there, so I suspect its the closest point. Just before you get to the farm this way, turn left across 2 fields and you'll see the cist. Best bit about walking this way is you can walk through the farm and back along the road to the West of the farm past the field with the incomplete henge!
Oh and chalk up another victory for the evil cows, we were chased out of the field to the West of the farm. Yet more proof of the Bovine threat, how long before our govt moves to combat this evil????
[visited 28/11/04] The lure of a concrete copy onsite lured me here, but I kinda failed to find it. I think I saw it across a field, but pain & mud put me off till the spring.
For those who are tempted in the meantime: Starting on the B road, head west to east along the footpath that goes past Pool Farm. On the other side of the first field on your left is what I think is the remains of the cist.
Access is unknown but looks like being across a muddy field.
Didn't make it to the cist itself, but I did visit the slab in its new home at the museum. IronMan's photo really captures the lighting where it's displayed, which highlights the surface texture of the slab and its carvings rather well. I couldn't help surreptitiously dabbing at the stone with my hand (I felt quite guilty but if it was in a field rather than a museum you'd feel quite differently - must be years of museums instilling Do Not Touch).
The accompanying label states that the slab formed the south side of the cist, and that the cremated bones of an adult and a child were found by the large and small foot carvings near its base. There is something quite affecting about the strange long-toed/fingered carvings.
It also mentioned that parallels are known mainly from Scandinavia, although The Calderstones and a roundbarrow near Alwinton in Northumberland apparently have similar carvings.
'A remarkable slab decorated with seven foot carvings, ten cup-marks and a horned device ... formed part of a sealed stone cist containing two cremations dating to the first quarter of the 2nd millenium BC. The motives from Pool Farm are largely without parallel in Britain, and most similar to Scandanavian examples (eg Bornholm), though it has been suggested that the destroyed Calderstones passage grave (Liverpool) is a comparison.'
(from here http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/swarf/themes/neoeba/index.cfm)
By walking Men's reversed Feet
I chanc'd another world to meet;
Tho it did not to View exceed
A Phantom, tis a World indeed,
Where Skies beneath us shine
And Earth by Art divine
Another face presents below;
Where People's feet against Ours go.
Shadows in the Water, Traherne 1903
Taken from Richard Bradley "An archaeology of Natural Places"
I was delighted to find out that it was my favourite, LV Grinsell, together with a CS Taylor, who discovered the carvings on the cist slab. They spotted them in 1956, and the slab was immediately transferred to Bristol Museum.
Although I previously thought this was a bit awful, it's probably been the best place for it considering the history of the site.
The mound was one of maybe hundreds that used to be clustered on the north heights of the Mendip ridge. It had just been made a Scheduled Monument in 1927 when the farmer on whose land it was requested permission to remove it. 'It interfered with his farming' apparently. As you'd expect (?), permission was duly given as long as it could be excavated first. The original excavator found 53 stones laid 'crazy paving' style in the centre of the cist, but missed the carvings completely. In 1931 Clutton District Council removed the bulk of the earth for use in road widening.
The cist itself was left in situ, unprotected from the weather. Grinsell and Taylor noticed the carvings on the inside of the SW slab (some were below floor level). The slab itself is very rough shelly-fossilled stone which has been ground down. One corner looks like it's been reground. There are many cupmarks in addition to the carved feet shapes. You can divide the feet into large and small sizes - and then maybe it's tempting to romantically link these with the cremated remains that were found in the cist - of two people, one a 30-40 year old adult and the other a 3-8 year old child. The bones were dated to 1920-1735BC.
(info from 'A Bronze Age Decorated Cist from Pool Farm, West Harptree: new analyses' - Coles, Gestsdottir, Minnitt. Som. Arch Nat Hist 2000 v144)