To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect here. Sure, the extended environs of Canterbury reveal a number of the seemingly ubiquitous 'Tumuli' marked upon the 1:50k map... many more than I deemed possible but a few months ago, prior to a visit to Bigbury, that is .... but is it not true that travel broadens the mind, raises expectations, fuels the hunger for knowledge? (Discuss in not less than 2,000 words, essays on my desk by Wednesday next week please). However I must confess that I 'toy' - rascal that I am - with the notion of revisiting the not too distant long barrows at Bodsham or Chilham... but that would be too easy. No, Iffin Wood it has to be, if only to see where the urns mentioned in Rhiannon's post were placed. You know, to feel that 'connection'? Something personal, real, relevant. Something, I have to admit, I've never experienced at those great, overwhelming power centres such as Avebury, Stonehenge and the like. Yeah, despite the magnificent architecture I've always sensed too much 'politics' at those places, the experience too 'scripted', too theatrical, too controlled.. what with their tended lawns and EH information boards. Too many half-interested people going through the motions to truly breathe deeply.
The same can not be said of the well preserved round barrow which lies within the northern section of Iffin Wood. Now I guess my admiration for the works of the Ordnance Survey is obvious; however there is no substitute for simply 'being here'. Or there, as the case may be. Consequently I take the A28 toward Ashford from Canterbury city centre, veering left for Chartham at a prominent roundabout. Beyond a church (as I recall) a minor road, named, appropriately enough, 'Chartham Downs Road' heads east (left) offering some rather splendid panoramic views before the traveller must divert north to skirt the western flank of Iffin Wood. I park just beyond the entrance to Upper Horton Farm and contemplate the treasured map, the latter declaring the elusive monument to lie just south of a prominent track starting.... well, where? Yeah, of the track there is no obvious sign.
It is there, of course, more or less opposite the aforementioned entrance, but submerged within the wood and heavily overgrown. More to the point, the road is unfenced at this point rendering access easy, if blind. So, picking up the line of the track I trend to the right and soon come across a rather substantial round barrow hidden beneath the summer canopy. Not bad at all.... OK, the northern flank has been somewhat truncated by the encroaching track, but other than that I've seen much worse. Nature has complete control here, from the spiders' webs which envelope my face as I negotiate my way around trees, the creators no doubt much more pissed off at my presence than I am of theirs... to the rotting stumps and branches which surmount the ancient barrow, organic structures which crumble at the slightest pressure from my boot, their demise in turn allowing the flourishing of the woodland which rises above. Yeah, everything feels so right here, you know? Everything has its place. I recline upon the natural chaos and drink my tea, senses in overdrive, straining at the proverbial leash.
A woodpecker does his - or her - headbanging thang near to hand. More worryingly - I hate guns - shotgun reports ring out every now and again also... note that there is no public footpath affording access here... hence on several occassions I tense up in anticipation of a challenge... but it would seem no one has used this track in ages. Hey, even the sunlight struggles to penetrate the scene here. The vibe is truly exquisite.
N.B - there is another 'tumulus' depicted upon the map further to the south. However barbed wire impedes access... and to be frank I wanted to leave with the vibe intact. Wonderful.
Posted by GLADMAN
21st August 2012ce
Edited 23rd August 2012ce