Probable barrow.. This photo was taken 4 years back, it shows large stones caught underneath a root plate of tree brought down in a storm. The trees on Kelston Hill are probably an 18th century planting, the barrow must have been flattened and the tree grew into the remains. There is evidence of stones round the hill, which only appear during the summer when the soil dries out. A mystery and not certain but perhaps it should be recorded for posterity.. Checking today 1/10/05, there is a definite bowl (the stones have since gone for walling) of about 15 foot diameter. The barrow would have sat atop of a small bank/ridge on top of the hill, which rises to the south west. Its focus or alignment is Stantonbury hill fort...
Rhiannon visits all these places from my childhood, when I was unaware of any ancient history! I lived in Upper Weston, close to Lansdown, for many years and it is a beautiful area. It's also favourite dog walking territory and apologies in advance if you visit the Racecourse, Prospect Stile, or Kelston Round Hill areas and you come across 4 mad pointers bombing around thinking they are tough - that will be my mother's dogs! One ex-dog has his ashes scattered on the Round Hill as it was his favourite area.
I've found some old photos of the area. On a very fine day the original Severn Bridge can be seen (not checked more recently for the newer one) as can the Welsh hills in the background.
Two round barrows - human cremation plus "fused copper" and gold-plated bronze "sun-disc" 200 yards North-West of the Lansdown Camp.
[ST 7116 6896] TUMULI [O.E. - two shown] Bronze Disc found [T.I.]
About 200 yards north-west of the Roman Camp [ST 76 N.W. 19] on Lansdown are two round barrows 28-30 ft. in diameter.
The excavation of one revealed a circular cist near the middle, containing cremated bones, sherds from at least two urns, and some fused copper, A fragmentary gold plated bronze sun-disc was found in the other.
These are two ditchless bowl barrows, 0.6m high. Surveyed at 1/2500. 1/2500 survey of 3.3.66 filed with ST 76 NW 16.
A few days ago someone who is writing a book on Lansdown race course asked me about the Bronze Age 'sun disc' that was found in one of the barrows. It was in fact gold over bronze (most of the gold having disappeared) and was in such a terrible state and in so many fragments that its reconstruction is a matter of drawing the complex pattern on paper, which both Rhiannon and Mike Aston have done.
Having delved through what little information there is, I was struck by the fact that the term 'sun disc' might be a misnomer for some of these artefacts. These Irish sun discs are buttonlike almost....
a few miles from the Lansdown, here we are in Wessex kingdom land of course, where gold is occasionally found in the B/A barrows. So was the 6 inch Lansdown a bigger version of a sun disc, and are the smaller ones more like ornamentation for horses or people, And not to forget the Trundholm Sun-Chariot a gold/bronze depiction of a mare pulling the sun, the disc has a certain similarity to the Lansdown one...
On the Lansdown sun disc, from volume 11 of the Proceedings of the Bath Nat.Hist. and Antiq. Field Club (1906).
We collected with the greatest care every piece, however small, that could be found. Much of the gold plating, notwithstanding all the precautions we took, was blown away or lost, but enough at any rate remains even now to establish the fact that it was so plated.
So the disc was actually gold-plated bronze (contrary to my misplaced understanding that it was pure gold - still at 6 inches diameter that would have been unlikely..). It was found in one of the barrows about 200yds NW of the 'Roman Camp'.
Littledown Fort sits on a promontory overlooking the villages of Northstoke and Kelston. Bronze age barrows (3) have been ploughed out in the centre of the fort. There is also a barrow at its entrance, though the farmers seems to use the barrow as a turning point. The entrance from the racecourse side faces due west to Wales. The field in which the fort sits was an old B/A burial place, and yet the iron age fort hardly seems to repect this. Use of the word fort, of course with its military rings gives a false idea of its use; defensive yes on occasions, settlement might be, also place for securing farm animals. Its very similar to Stantonbury fort, in that its seems to have a central dividing bank. Littledown fort sits on the opposite side of the river Avon to Stantonbury, as does Little Solsbury to Bathampton and the theory has been put forward, that these four defended the area round Bath and the river...
Kelston Round Hill; to quote Rhiannon "which begs for pagan significance" what about this...
Kelston could be translated thus; taken from saxon glossary of words. Ton is probably wrong it means enclosure or farm, but dun (hill) would make sense. The K is changed to C (K is not a letter in Saxon) making it Cel = Celsdun or the Hill of the Celts.
It was probably called this by the romans when they occupied Bath..
There has been plenty of evidence found up here on this plateau for the Mesolithic era onwards: flints, Bronze Age barrows, the Iron Age fort of 'Little Down', remains of a Roman town.. There were 20+ barrows but many have been ploughed out or otherwise destroyed. However, in one of them (officially titled 'number 3' though I am yet to find out where this is) a gold disc was found. It was labelled a 'sun disc' by archaeologists, and similar designs have been found across Europe from the Bronze Age. It's probably languishing in the British Museum now and I had to make do with a drawing in the Bristol Museum.
It is a nice area to stroll in - cross the racecourse and admire the view from 'Prospect Stile', including the weird tree-crowned Kelston Round Hill (which begs to have prehistoric pagan significance, though I don't know if it does), and walk along the edge to Little Down fort.