Just over a month later, and happened to be near the Round Hill again under a burning hot August sun; so thought I'd pay it a visit, now we're acquainted. What a difference to early July! All the vegetation had died down, or been eaten by the cattle, and the barrow was clearly exposed to view.
It's much bigger than I'd previously thought, and neither is it entirely 'round'. There seems to be an additional bit of barrow to the most circular, raised bit; and I wonder if it had originally been a long barrow rather than a round barrow. Standing on top of the highest bit, and looking eastwards, this would certainly appear to be the case, as does looking side-on from the south. I measured it approximately in paces; the circular part of the barrow is about 54x48 feet, and if one adds on the the slightly flatter long bit, is 114x54 feet. I would say that this longer measurement makes it something in the region of half the length of Wayland's Smithy. But sort of all flopped out, like an exhausted spaniel.
Interestingly, if it is a long barrow, it also lies on an east-west axis, with the high bit in the west. This west face also looks straight across to Wytham and Hinksey Hills (which were steaming gently like a Javanese rainforest in this unseasonal August heatwave), so therefore offers a pleasant view from the broad expanse of the meadow. I wondered about Goddess in the Landscape stuff.
This is another thing that made me wonder if it's a melting longbarrow; it lies on a water meadow which is home to free roaming grazing cattle and horses since before the Domesday Book. Is it possible that it has sunk due to erosion and flooding?
It's still gorgeous and lovely, and tugs me back every time I try to leave.
I had entered the World of Anoraks at the end of May, but this was proof positive that I am now a seasoned megarak. To anyone else, this was a scrubby mound in the way of the track (which runs straight over the barrow); to me, it was a quickening of the pulse, and the discovery of something special.
Although half covered in thistles, grasses, sorrel, clover, and copious amounts of buttercups, it was obvious that beneath this fecund vegetation, there was still a reasonably well maintained Bronze Age round barrow. It was quietly exciting. I had finally reached this place that had gnawed at the back of my mind for years; until now, it was nothing but a starry mark on the OS map.
After walking its circumference, I stood atop the slightly depressioned barrow, feeling very satisfied, and gazed at the scene before me.The sky was a mix of shredded, ribboned, brushstroked cloud and blue patches, beneath which huge dark grey cumulonimbus clouds began to build, threatening rain later. The sun shone whitely through the clouds, glinting off the Thames across the meadow to my right. Dinghies from Medley sailing club floated up and down the river; dog walkers did the usual evening stroll; skylarks sang fit to burst; two attractive girls walked past me, deep in conversation – and all the time, I was stood on a Bronze Age barrow at the hub of today’s life, and at the hub of life 4,000 years ago. How bloody cool is that? :o)
'This is apparently the only archaeological site on Port Meadow recognised prior to 1933; it is marked on the map as Round Hill. It consists of a low irregular mound, 1? ft. high and 115 ft. in diameter, somewhat disturbed on the E. side. Round it is a circular ditch, which shows on the ground on the S. side only; the complete circle has been proved by probing. Placed on the W. edge of this mound, and overlapping the ditch, is a second, smaller mound, some 45 ft. in diameter, with steep sides rising to a height of 4 ft. above the surface of the Meadow. At the top is a small crater, traces of a previous opening about which nothing is known.'