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Fieldnotes by IronMan

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Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor (Stone Circle)

Only my second visit here - last time I came it was in a big group (8 of us in total), and was a nightmare visit from start to finish. The site itself seemed gloomy at the time, and after reading all the horror stories, I thought I'd seen enough of the place. This time we had been staying with friends in Sheffield on Saturday night, and so the four of us visited here after seeing the Andle Stone and Doll Tor. My mind is now totally changed - the site seemed so much bigger. The sky was clear above and so we took the opportunity to sit by the site and take it all in. It was quite peaceful with the distant rumble of traffic barely audible. I'm now definitely a Nine Ladies convert!

Rowtor Rocks (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

This is a truly amazing site - from the moment I entered the site I felt transported. Each turn around the huge boulders offers something new - at times it's like being on one of the original Star Trek sets. The subtle movement between the natural and the artificial is the most incredible thing here - cave entrances turn out to be man-made, passageways to higher and lower levels of the rocks open up before you. The actual prehistoric rock art on display (what little we could find of it) is just a small part of the attraction here - these rocks seems to have been drawing human attention forever. An incredibly magickal place.

Rhiw Burial Chamber

A bit of a surprise to me this one. While on our way back from walking in the Snowdon area we decided to visit Maen-y-Bardd, and to take advantage of the good weather to get a few black and white shots. While there I remembered Frances Lynch mentioning this other chamber nearby, and decided to hunt it down. This didn't take long as the two are intervisible. The site itself is definitely worth seeking out when doing the Tal-y-Fan sites, and was much more impressive than I had been led to believe.

Directions: From Maen-y-Bardd head roughly ENE for 100 metres, crossing one of the many ancient drystone walls - a distinctive fallen tree and huge boulder can be used for orientation.

The Hellstone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Muddy is really just an understatement. It was also freezing cold. Mrs IronMan decided to stay snug in the car with the heating on while I tramped out across the fields to find the site. A few minutes of picking my way through the least muddy parts of the track were swiftly cast aside as I shouted out an almighty "F*CK THIS" and waded through the thick ankle-deep sludge.

The Hellstone is in quite a location, and from here it was easy to pick out the barrows in the surrounding landscape. There seems to be some concern over the accuracy of the reconstruction of this site, but my main problem was with the muddy duck pond in front of the tomb!

I hung around for a while, till the sun began to set, then made my way back through the sludge.

Brean Down (Round Barrow(s))

I was last here a few years ago, on a bit of a random day out, we just stumbled across the place. A few weeks later I read about Brean Down in Ronald Hutton's excellent 'Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles'. In the book the focus is mainly on the Romano-British temple that once stood here, but very close by is a Bronze Age barrow, and there may well have been more. The temple fell into ruin and was built over with a christian shrine. This too has now completely gone. So in terms of sacred sites, there isn't a lot to see. However in terms of the sacred landscape this place is completely awe inspiring - I can't think of many places I have visited which are quite so elemental. You really do feel on top of the world gazing over the edge. The vastness of the sea stretches out before you, and behind the flat marshy plains of the Somerset levels with Brent Knoll clearly visible in the distance, itself the home to an Iron Age fort.

As we left Brean Down the wind howled and a storm was starting to blow in from way out at sea. This is a truly heathen place.

Ashleigh Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

A couple of months ago, while doing a bit of reading on my local area, I came across a reference to Ashleigh Street, Darwen, and the barrow that had once been here. I thought about walking down to Ashleigh Street, it being a 15 minute walk away from my house, but ended up sidetracked and thinking there would be no point anyway, as I was under the impression that this was now the site of a building. Today (23/1/3) I decided to pay a visit with my camera, on my way to the supermarket, if only to capture the location of this site. On arriving I was pretty surprised to find that the place had a facelift in 1990 (the book I had read was from the mid eighties) and was now partly restored/reconstructed by the Ashleigh Conservation group. Since 1990 the site must have been left a little, as it did look a little bit shabby (could be the time of year though) and slightly vandalised, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

Winter Hill (Cairn(s))

The boiler had broken at work and we were sent home, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to satisfy my growing curiosity about this place. Last time I was up here it was raining and the visibility was very poor, so it being a clear and crisp winters day I just had to come. It seems to me that Winter Hill and Rivington Pike are the focal point for most of the monuments in this area. Cheetham Close and Round Loaf have an uninterupted view, as would Pikestones if it wasn't for the forestry commission trees. Other cairns and stones dotted all around are either in plain site of the hill or actually on it.

This visit was excellent, a friend from work came with me, and we strolled around the top of the hill, looking at all the TV masts. As much as they definitely ruin the hill, a part of me can't help digging the Star Wars feel they bring to the place, especially in the snow. I even got to thinking about the unbroken lineage of this place - from neolithic sacred hill (if my thoughts are correct) through to beacon hill and on to TV broadcasting... a definite thread there I feel!

While walking around the top we couldn't help noticing a hang-glider hovering around between the masts. One time as we walked past the guy, we were close enough to see his face, he shouted down to us:

"What time is it?"

"Half past three", I replied.

"Cheers!", he responded.

We had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Only round Bolton, we concluded.

Mayburgh Henge

Visited with MushroomSi and Ursula on a tour of a few of the Cumbrian sites at Winter Solstice. This hadn't been a planned visit, we were driving past when I pointed it out to Si, who as it turned out hadn't visited before. The car was quickly turned round and we paid a visit. It was worth it just to hear how delighted Si was to be here! I've been here quite a few times now but am always amazed as the inner bank comes in to view. Once again I found my mind racing with interpretations of this site in it's original use.

The Cop Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

31/12/02ce A return visit - again I was initially disappointed, I'd once again got it in my head that this stone was bigger! Why I was so bothered I just don't know. One of my shots shows it to scale, and looking at it now it doesn't seem that small... The view did again, however, impress me. From here the ugly chimneys of the Shap granite works, belching great plumes of smoke, serve as a reminder of just how close you are to a lot of the other Cumbrian sites, all within pretty easy walking distance.

Cheetham Close (Stone Circle)

05/01/03ce A return visit on a beautiful crisp clear winter day with about an hour of sunlight left. The snow on the tops served as a great visual aid, somebody had been here earlier and trodden out the rough line of the circle. Being able to visualise the size and position of the site makes the sad state of the circle all the more poignant. Seeing the size and location of the circle, along with an approximation of the height of the stones, when they where still in situ, brought The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor to mind...

The Great X of Kilmartin (Stone Row / Alignment)

On the way up to Kilmartin I vowed not to get distracted and stop off, just get to the B&B and wait till Sunday to explore the sites... this place stopped me in my tracks! It still had me spellbound the next day - the central stone's carvings in clear definition. I sat waiting for the sun to move and bring new detail to the stone, a totally captivating experience.

White Brow (Cairn(s))

This site is just about discernable in it's overgrown state, but not worth the effort to come here for it's own sake - the view however is something else.


A great monument, which along with the Great X forms a centre piece to the sacred landscape of Kilmartin. If you're spending a few days in the area, it's definitely worth coming back here a few times, at different times of day and in different light and weather conditions, this site seems to change more than most sites...

Dunchraigaig Cairn (Cairn(s))

Yet another great cairn sitting on the plateau above the sites immediately surrounding Kilmartin village. The cist at the N side of the cairn lies open to the side, giving the impression of a low chambered tomb - this would have been closed off with a slab, access being original from the top. I got the usual urge to crawl inside... a few minutes later a family of german tourists struggled to reconcile their urge to do the same with the damage this may cause to their pristine jeans - the teenage daughter eventually gave in, and got down on her belly to peer inside, much to the horror of her mother!

Baluachraig (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Arriving here it really struck me that walking from The Glebe Cairn to Ballymeanoch (or vice versa), picking off each site in order you'll always see the last site from the next... The carvings here are great, just a bit more subtle than at some of the other sites in the valley and the setting - wow!

Ri Cruin (Cairn(s))

This place gave me goosebumps as I approached - there is so much more to the place than meets the eye. The setting is difficult to place in relation to the other linear cemetry sites, as unlike the others it is completely surrounded by trees. This does give it a unique feel though - something like Wayland's Smithy. I took a long break here as the sun streamed through the trees.

Nether Largie South (Cairn(s))

The sun was just starting to melt the frost making this cairn glisten in the clear, bright morning sunlight. The chamber looks great.

I moved to a safe distance while a group of kids played around the chamber for 10 minute, and just took in my first taste of this incredible sacred landscape. Later on, in the pub, I overheard a group of local kids playing pool, talking about 'the tombs'. A mother of one of the kids, sat chatting with two american tourists, spoke of how 'the kids round here really love their stones!'

Nether Largie Central (Cairn(s))

This was probably my favourite of the cairns in this group. It's ruined and the cupmarked stone is difficult (to say the least) to see, but the shape and condition of the whole site is wonderful. Again, the frost made this cairn look amazing. I felt so lucky to be here, completely alone and at peace - what a day!

Nether Largie North (Cairn(s))

A great example of a modern reconstruction of a site, done well. The main feature, the slab cover, is fantastic and once sat down in front of it, studying it's decorated surface, was a real bind to leave. Opening the wooden door and descending into the cairn is quite an experience, too!

The Glebe Cairn (Cairn(s))

This site is definitely worth seeing! Okay, like landells says, it is a pile of old stones, at the end of the day - but seen up close and in context with the other sites in this group it completes the picture. This is more like the other sites would have looked in their final stages of development, after all. The cairn looked wonderful in the frost.
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