This is one of those sites that I have wanted to re-visit for a number of years. The last time I came here it was one of the first sites that myself and Karen visited together. She was new to driving down the narrow country lanes that we all know and love and it was terrible day weather wise. The rain was pouring and the road resembled a river as the water poured down the hill. In fact, part of the road was completely flooded. To be fair to Karen she stuck at it (and has done ever since!) and here we are, years later, for another visit.
This time the weather was much more kind. Warm, no wind although hill mist had descended on the peaks opposite. Unsurprisingly there was no-one else at the burial chamber and it was pretty much as I remembered it. One thing I had forgotten was how large the capstone is – it’s massive – despite being broken in two. I peered underneath it and noticed that someone had put a blue ribbon around one of the supporting stones.
The last time I visited, due to the weather, I wasn’t able to appreciate the tomb’s location. This time I was able to stand and admire the view out across the valley. It really is splendid. It is no surprise they built their burial chamber here – wonderful.
This is a site that I am sure I will return to again one day. Hopefully next time I will have more time to sit and contemplate. Unfortunately on this occasion the children were due to finish school so it was time to head home…………
If you every get the chance to visit this E.H. site please do.
You won’t be disappointed.
The setting for this site is really quite breath taking! I visited on the 4th of December 2012, The view of the surrounding valley at dusk as I arrived was awe inspiring. The stones themselves are very interesting and the ease of accessability is a massive bonus (literally six feet from the small car park). I sat here, as you do, contemplating until the sun finally passed behind the mountains opposite.
And suddenly it's right there, the capstone the first thing to appear over a little hump in the road. There's a small motorhome parked up alongside, and a chap sitting quietly by the chamber. We say hello and then I get on with being utterly impressed with this place. First, the monument itself. What an astonishing size the capstone (now broken) is, what a feat of engineering it was to have built this. It's supported, table-top like, on a number of upright slabs, which look barely big enough to cope – but obviously do. A couple of upright stones at the south end may mark a false portal, while an entrance passage (roofless) leads away from the north of the chamber before turning to the west. As I do, to be even more awestruck by the views. I don't think the photos and descriptions I have read really prepared me for the views from this monument. The Black Mountains north-eastern escarpment fills the horizon, from Ysgyryd Fawr (The Skirrid or Holy Mountain) to the south, right up to Hay Bluff (Pen-y-Beacon) at the northern tip. Wow. No-one is telling me that this monument wasn't sighted with this in mind – particularly when you realise that the western curve of the passage faces Hay Bluff and the orientation of the chamber faces Ysgyryd Fawr.
Obligatory photos taken, I chat to the guy with the van. He tells me he's staying here tonight, with the prospect of sunrise and sunset to look forward to across this wonderful landscape. Lucky man. He lays a bet that I will be the only person he sees here today. As I haven't seen anyone but him for about three hours (cars excepted), I'm prepared to believe this. Then, while we chat, another couple come in a car, take some pictures and leave. Then another couple, who tell us that they've just been to see the lovely (and very pagan inspired) Saxon church and Kilpeck. They also come and go. It rains and the chamber makes for a neat shelter for a few wet minutes. The sun shines again. Van man tells me he intends to spend to summer in his van, crossing Wales to look for interesting places. Maybe we'll meet again!
When I visited it was pouring down with rain and the road was like a stream. Eventually found the site thanks to directions from a farm house. Also, a special mention must go to the chap who stopped us in his 4x4 telling us the 'road' we were about to go down was flooded to a depth of 3 foot!. Despite this, it is a cracking site right next to the road. If only the weather was better!
I think I must just be a rubbish navigator (see most of my other field notes!).
Mind you, when Mark drives at 40mph down windy little roads and I'm looking for tell tale signs of stones or trying to follow the (usually excellent) directions left on here by others, what do you expect?
To be fair, the weather was atrocious; when we left Kington it was OK but as we started driving up here, the mists descended and we could barely see 50 yeards ahead at most times. Our frustration was growing and then, out of the mists, emerged an elderly gent with a waterproof OS map - fab!
We got our barings and set off again and eventually came across this beauty. We didn't get to appreciate the views across the valley but we did get to see the cap stone rising out of the mist as we approached. Awesome.
If you follow IronMan's directions you should find it OK
(Find it hard to believe that any drug user would come all the way up here to shoot up and saw no evidence of nocturnal passions either!)
Fantastic site, picture postcard views and a moving air of peace. My visit was all too brief on a stifling summer Saturday in 2005. If only young lovers had decided to take their contraceptives home. I have also heard reports of addicts leaving their needles here too so please be careful!
Following the Dorstone road, don't be fooled by the 'first' right. It's into a farm and a bugger to reverse out on quite a steep slope. Look out for the site sign on the left directing you to the next right. There is a layby to park actually at the site. Stunning views down the valley.
We took a short walk down the footpath across the adjoining field and not 50 yards downhill there's what looks like a robbed out /demolished burial chamber. Could I guess be a quarry site but it looked pretty much long barrow shaped with chambers. On the other hand could just have been a dump where the farmer had left some cleared rubble.
Nothing marked on the O.S (Streepmap) might check the SMR
What a fantastic site! There's so much to enjoy here: still plenty of barrow mound left and the huge capstone of the once-covered chamber, fractured now, juts out from the earth, looking rather like a breaching whale. The side stones of what once was a curious curved entranceway snakes off to the north.
I can't comment on how the monument fits into the landscape as we couldn't see it. It was p*ssing with rain and the cloud hung very low indeed. There may have been mountains, dales, volcanoes and glaciers all round us, but we missed them all, the weather was so gloomy. However, I liked the site massively so I sat down on my handy bin liner, put up my umbrella and made a quick sketch.
The exquisite Cheryl had been most insistent that I see this site – and I’m damned glad she was; although we only had ten minutes or so there, and the weather was poor, I was deeply moved by this broken, hugely impressive burial chamber. It’s utterly fascinating, and must have been awesome in it’s heyday.
What particularly interested me was the curving entrance passage, and the size of the chambers. In addition, the capstones are massive great slabs of rock; truly amazing. This somehow comes across as a splendid cross-section diagram; odd, as they are all like that, these broken chambers. But one really gets a sense of it here.
The views were also wonderful, and I wanted badly to spend some time sitting contemplating the universe, life, and women, despite the crap weather. But time was pressing, and we had to return to Oxfordshire. With a heavy heart, I threw my pack in the back of Nicole, and we drove away. The stereo was on, and Led Zeppelin’s ‘In The Evening’ filled the car – the most apt, moving, and beautiful music for this stupendous site. Thank you, Cheryl, for being so bloody insistent.
Situated deep within the wonderfully named 'Golden Valley' this was a haven of peace. The stones appear to occupy a position of some influence, but fail to dominate the true summit of the hill, which extends for several hundred metres away to the north east, before giving way to the most exquisite and all encompassing viewing point.
The site itself appears to seek some shelter from the ridge behind, and appears almost 'cosy'. Certainly, despite its appearance, I feel sure that some degree of shelter could be afforded here should the weather change rapidly.
The capstone is breathtaking, resting gently upon the supporting stones in an almost illusory manner of weightlessness.
Sitting within, a feeling of claustrophobia begins, as the sheer psychic weight of the structure feel as if it is bearing down upon you. Again, dampened acoustics add to the feel that sound played a part of the rituals here, irrespective of the fact that the tomb is not complete. Coughs and conversation soak into the stone that gives nothing back.
Crawling back out into the sun the oppressive mood lifts and spirits rise. A check of the cracks and joints reveal the customary offerings of coins and flowers, and a small corn doll ties with a pretty pink ribbon flutters in the light wind. Peace and contemplation are on offer here, but be prepared for questions.
By car, you can drive within 10 yards of the stone. Peaceful car park with stunning views, easy access to the site apart from a clamber over a stile.
Visited these on May 10th 2003, a bit rainy and we had a bit of trouble with the directions at first even though there was a sign and everything, it's simple when you know how. There were other visitors - a couple reading in a car enjoying the stones, and a family turned up as we left.
It is an enjoyable view from the stones and has that familiar feel that you get at other sites, is it almost a Deja Vu thing? Who knows, who cares, nice wine this...
It rained a bit but cleared wonderfully later on, wish I had stayed a couple of hours now, what a waste.
Anyway, it is another good site, and worth visiting Hay on Wye afterwards (the town of books).
Visited 4th November 2002: I pursuaded Louise that this was a minor detour on our way back home from Edinburgh. In practise the roads were a lot slower than we expected, and we nearly ran out of light before we got there. Fortunately the chamber is aligned (approximately) to the south west, with beautiful views across the Dore Valley and towards the setting sun. The evening light contrasted dramatically between vivid sunshine and deep shadow.
The capstone is enormous (none of the photos here do it justice), and even though it's now broken into two pieces, I was in awe of it. I tried to find the cup marks that are supposed to be on the outlying stone*, but all I found was a relatively modern carving of a star (see photo).
This was Alfie's first visit to a prehistoric site, but we got no reaction out of him (other than the usual 'give me milk mummy!'). William was very pleased with the burial chamber, and decided to pretend it was a shop. Well worth the extra miles!
As an aside, access for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs is unnecessarily hampered by a narrow gateway in the perimetre fence. This is all the more annoying because the site is so close to the road. Visitors with limited mobility on foot will probably have relatively little difficulty getting in through the gap.
* [I figured out later on that the cupmarked stone is not part of this site, but a seperate stone]
It is relatively easy to get up here, the roads are good enough for any car really. From the Red Lion pub in Bredwardine take the road immediately to the right of the pub, leading up behind it. Follow this road right up, do not turn off at any point - this will lead you straight to the site. Following these directions the site cannot be missed, it lies on the side of the road.
The site is enigmatic. The two capstones, and the fallen one below are a real puzzle. Did they all at one time form one large capstone, the one lying on the floor being a huge flake from the one above? Or, are they separate stones, the one below having been moved from the end of the tomb?
Worth a visit, but quite out of the way. The nearest site is Old Radnor & the Four Stones (about 20 minutes away), and Hay-On-Wye (book capital of the world) is also pretty close.
Visited Arthurs Stone whilst on family holiday in the area. So called because this area is rumoured to be the site of an Arthurian battle. The day was warm but overcast. Two families were already there but they did not stay for long - the obligatory photo shoot and on their way. It is a burial chamber that has collapsed on itself but is still srtiking none the less. The countryside around here is awe inspiring and the chamber is set on high ground for whcih must have been an inspiring site for our ancestors. There were some flowers left on the stones but I could not tell what sort - only hope they were not wild flowers! Children spotted some field voles in the grass by one of the fence posts. Tempted them out with some apple. If you go you will see their track marks in the grass. What a nice place to live.
This is my second visit here - previously back in 1995. Nothing has changed and that is very satisfying. Time will always stand still at Arthurs Stone.
There was a local belief that the stones were gradually sinking and shrinking. When the Rev. Francis Kilvert visited the site in 1878 he noted in his diary:
Joseph Gwynne told me that when he was a boy the great stone called Arthur's Stone was much longer than it is now. A hundred sheep could lie under the shadow of it. Also the stone stood much higher on its supporting pillars than it does at present, so high indeed that an ordinary sized man could walk under it.
Across the green lane and opposite the stone was a rock lying flat on the ground on which were imprinted the marks of a man's knees and fingers. These marks were believed to have been made by King Arthur when he heaved the stone up on his back and set it on the pillars."
No, I don't think the last bit quite makes sense, but there you are. I suppose it does imply people thought it was originally part of the main tomb? Diary quoted in Jacqueline Simpson's 'Folklore of the Welsh Border' (1976).
Janet and Colin Bord, in their 'Atlas of Magical Britain' explain that King Arthur killed a giant (or maybe a rival king) here. And, (also confusedly) Arthur or maybe the Giant is buried here.
If you look under a hedge nearby you might spot the 'Quoit Stone' which has hollows in it - these were made by the giant's elbows. Or maybe by Arthur's knees when he stopped for a quick prayer. Or maybe the heel marks of some people who were playing quoits.
The site appears to have been known by the name "King Arthur's Tablet" - From "The Beauties of England and Wales" Vol VI - Edward Wedlake Brayley and John Britton (1805):
"The view eastward from Dorstone is impeded by a range of bold eminences, extending about ten or twelve miles in a north-east direction, and known by the appellations of KING ARTHUR'S HILL, STOCKLEY HILL, and MAWBACH HILL. On the summit of the former is an interesting memorial of British customs, called KING ARTHUR'S TABLET, a large and peculiar kind of CROMLECH, the incumbent stone of which, now broken nearly in the middle, measures 18 feet in length, and from seven to ten feet broad; its thickness is about two feet; its form more closely resembles an ellipsis, than any other determinate figure. The number of upright stones that originally supported this slab, appears to have been eleven; but several of them are now fallen; and the top stone has a considerable depression at one end; a portion of it has also separated, and the fallen mass fills up some of the vacuity beneath. Other smaller stones are scattered near the Cromlech; and on one side is a small mound or embankment of earth and stones: on the other the ground seems to have been hollowed into a somewhat circular form."
Pretty comprehensive description from a pair of 200 year ago antiquarians.