The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Miscellaneous Posts by GLADMAN

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Hunter's Tor (Hillfort)

According to Pastscape this aesthetically pleasing site located, with far ranging views, to the immediate approx south-east of the crags of Hunter's Tor, represents the remains of a:

"Triple-ramparted hillfort of stone with shallow ditches, widely spaced with level berms 12m-15.5m wide between each rampart in the ttradition of SW England. Entrance is from the SE with the end of the middle rampart inturned to form an embanked entranceway which joins the innermost rampart. Entrance through the outer rampart and ditch via a causeway. The outer rampart and ditch are obscured on the slopes to the north and west. condition good despite the removal of much stone for field walls by farmers."[sic].

Access is excellent since the hill fort is traversed by a public bridleway... however please bear in mind that car parking, if approaching from the north, is non-existent. I therefore left my car roadside at the nearby hamlet of Barnecourt and walked back down the road, ascending via Peck Farm.

Black Hill (Stone Row / Alignment)

According to the Devon & Dartmoor HER (HERMDV8076) the stone row upon Trendlebere Down (SX76600 79239) is:

"Probably a double row, much robbed, and many fallen stones; one undoubted pair of set stones left standing 940mm apart, face to face. It starts at the south end with a ruined cairn, now reduced to a mere ring-cairn. Terminates at north end in another ruined cairn, also reduced to a ring. At this end there is a mound which looks like an independent cairn. Its centre 15.24m to the west of the line of the row. More probably the remnant of the row cairn, turned back by the roadmen, who have despoiled both terminal cairns. The distance between the centres of the terminal cairns is 125.61m...."

Off road parking is available a little along the road to the north-west.. incidentally a short, stiff pull from here will reward the curious visitor with an audience with the quintet of large cairns upon the summit of Black Hill. Well worth the additional effort. But then I would say that, wouldn't I?

Also worth mentioning is that the stereotypical 'don't visit in summer if you can avoid it' caveat most definitely applies here.

Riddon Ridge Field Systems (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

According to Historic England:

"The irregular aggregate field systems on Riddon Ridge are amongst the most extensive recorded on Dartmoor. Their relationship with the Dartmeet coaxial field system is of particular interest. The settlements and cairns provide useful information on the character of occupation in this area during the Bronze Age and together with the other Bronze Age remains, this monument represents an important and relatively rare instance of an area containing good examples of the major settlement and land division types found on the Moor...."

So, this sleepy, low ridge near to the tourist bustle of Bellever would appear of much more significance to students of Bronze Age domestic life than I assumed... as I chanced upon a very fine, solitary hut circle en-route to the funerary cairn.

More here:
https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1018930

Wooston Castle (Hillfort)

Occupying a north facing spur between Marston Down and the course of the River Teign this complex promontory fort is, for me, by far the finest of a local triumvirate also including Prestonbury Castle and Cranbrook Castle, consisting of a pretty standard defended enclosure supplemented by a massive outer cross bank. This latter feature is much more powerful than the inner defences and, unusually in my experience, sited a substantial distance beyond, anticipating, perhaps, the 'aggressive defence' of medieval concentric castles. There are further earthworks covering the approach to the site, these including a 'hollow way' which Pastscape would appear to regard as contemporary and not, as I assumed, a later stock control feature - a proto-barbican, if you like. Clearly the architects of this 'fort had big ideas and, furthermore, were not afraid to put them into practice.

This intriguing, sleeping behemoth of a site is suitable for family visits as well as the dedicated hill fort head since it is serviced by its own woodland car park reached via a minor road north of Wooston Farm.

During my visit local volunteers were engaged in a geophysical survey... so chances are Wooston Castle may soon reclaim its former standing amongst Dartmoor's elite Iron Age enclosures.

Black Newtake (Cairn circle)

Prospective visitors looking to track down the monuments set within the environs of Black Newtake - that is the area to the south west of Bellever Tor - are advised:

1) Do not attempt to do so in high summer since the - in places - waist high grass renders identification of monuments a serious challenge. Not to mention very physically demanding.
2) Make sure you possess the 1:25K OS map. The 1:50k version does not possess the required detail.

Due to the above I've only listed the damaged, yet seriously evocative cairn circle sited here. However for what they are worth I've included further images of two 'cists' I believe I located within the Interpretive Section. However these are very much subjective and open to correction.

Beacons Down (Round Barrow(s))

According to Coflein these barrows were only (finally) discovered - from the air - in 2013:

"Pair of well-preserved round barrows, discovered during Royal Commission aerial reconnaissance under snow on 24th January 2013. The barrows sit 60m apart on the northern edge of common land, which also preserves wider-spreading remains of ancient field systems. The smaller western barrow.. (SS88847580)... measures approx. 14m diameter and stands 0.6-0.7m high preserving its smooth, conical shape. The larger, flatter, eastern barrow (SS88927583).. measures approx. 21m diameter and stands 0.6m high...." Toby Driver, RCAHMW, Feb 2013

Warren Farm (Round Barrow(s))

Well seen by visitors to Sugar Hill to the north-east, Pastscape has this to say:

"A Bronze Age bowl barrow is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork. Classified by Grinsell as Aldbourne 14 the barrow has since been ploughed out and is now visible as a cropmark of mound and outer ditch with a diameter of 40m. In the centre of the barrow is the mark of a pit possibly the result of excavations. When Greenwell excavated in 1878 he discovered a primary cist with a cremation and associated scrapers. The barrow may be associated with the two possible Bronze Age round barrows to the east (SU 27 NW 101; SU 27 NW 171)."

Aldbourne (west of Giant's Grave) (Round Barrow(s))

Two round barrows, one more or less ploughed out, the other pretty substantial stand some way to the approx west of The Giant's Grave. According to Pastscape:

"The larger and more complete of the two barrows, at SU 2433 7642, measures 30m in diameter and displays no sign of an outer ditch. In the centre of the barrow the soilmark of a pit is visible. The smaller of the two, at SU 2431 7643, measures only 20m, but is barely visible as it has suffered damage from ploughing. [RAF 106G/UK/1415 3312 14-APR-1946]"

Aldbourne 'Cup Barrow' (Round Barrow(s))

It would appear folks have got a little confused over time as regards what was found at which of the many barrows in the vicinity of Aldbourne. However I believe the following, taken from Pastscape (MONUMENT NO. 225145) refers to this example, well seen from the ridge west of The giant's Grave:

"Aldbourne 6, (WG 280) 30 paces in diameter x 5 1/2ft in height, (2) no trace of ditch (3). Excavation by W Greenwell revealed a primary cremation on a plank of wood in a cairn beneath the barrow, surrounded by wood ashes. Associated
objects found include an Aldbourne cup with lid, parts of a bronze dagger, two bronze awls, beads of faience, amber, shale and encrinite, a shale ring-pendant and ring, a V-bored button, the cast of a cardium shell and a polished haematite pebble. A secondary (?) burial of scattered burnt bones was discovered to the north with a lidless Aldbourne cup, inlaid with white material, two flint arrowheads, one barbed and tanged, the other triangular. In the material of the barrow were nine sherds (1 of beaker) and many flint flakes. (2 & 3).
Wessex grave 33 (4). Finds went to the British Museum (2). (2-4)"

Moel y Garnedd, Gwastadros (Cairn(s))

With such a prosaic name... it doesn't take a visionary Citizen Cairn'd (luckily for me) to suss that here, crowning this (relatively) low hill top overlooking the northern aspect of Llyn Tegid (incidentally Wales' most copious natural lake), we have the remnants of a prehistoric cairn.

Coflein is curiously non-committal... but not so The Ordnance Survey, depicting the monument immediately to the east of their triangulation pillar upon the 1:25K version of their unsurpassed mapping. The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust complicate matters somewhat by additionally citing a monument a little to the north-east at SH89633551:

"(PRN 6239) Low flat-topped cairn... to North East of cairn on summit. Site completely turfed over apart from eroded area around a large boulder on South East. Cairn pock-marked with several holes (now completely grass grown). Erosion on South East side reveals small stones and earth. Stones max. 0.2m (apart from 2m long boulder)... Material excavated from largest hole appears to be very strong (Smith 2001)."

So... perhaps we have more than just the one monument, then? Whatever the truth, for me the 360 degree unrestricted panorama of mountains and hills is instructive - in short, the positioning is classic, nigh on perfect. Yeah, on a clear day the views would be breathtaking, taking in The Arans, Arenigs and associated wonders; my visit, dictated by a lowering cloudbase obscuring the encircling summits, was hostile, to say the least. But nevertheless well worth the effort.

Skelpick Long (Chambered Tomb)

Interesting notes from a Victorian gentleman... featuring the archetypal, somewhat self conscious arrogance... that are nevertheless priceless scraps of detail relating to the 'opening' of the wondrous Skelpick Long Cairn:

"NOTES OF CROMLECHS, DUNS, HUT-CIRCLES, CHAMBERED CAIRNS, AND OTHER REMAINS, IN THE COUNTY OF SUTHERLAND. BY JAMES HORSBURGH, OF LOCHMALONY, ESQ., FIFE, F.S.A. SCOT.

At Skelpick, close to the farmhouse, are two round cairns, one nearly demolished, and the other has apparently been opened. Beyond this, on the right bank of the Skelpick burn, there is a long cairn, 80 or 90 yards in length, which I opened, and came upon a polygonal-shaped chamber, 11 feet diameter, the sides consisting of large stones 6 feet high, one of them 7 feet by 4 and 1J feet thick, placed at a distance from each other of 3 or 4 feet, the intervals being built up with long square stones. The roof had been formed by very large flags overlaying each other. The chamber had been opened from the top, and the whole inside was filled with stones and rubbish, so that I only cleared it out. Before I commenced operations, however, there was no appearance of it having been meddled with, and I dug it by chance, where the cairn appeared to be highest. Nothing whatever was found in it."

So much damage. So little applied science... "I dug it by chance". Nevertheless it survives as (in my opinion) one of the Uk's finest Neolithic long cairns. Come see it if you get the chance.

Cnoc-Na-Cnavan (Cairn(s))

Field report to complement Carl's:

'A few miles from Durness, on the road to Gualan House, there are two cairns. One of them was opened many years ago and I was told that the bottom of a brass candlestick was found in it; this was no double an elliptical Scandinavian brooch. The other was opened by Professor Worsaae, who took away a skull from a small kist that was in it. The kist was full of bones when I saw it and I took a thigh bone out . . . it was remarkably fresh. The hillock on which they were placed is called Cnoc-na-cnavan.'

J Horsburgh 1870.'

Source: Canmore

Cnoc Bad A' Ghille Dhuibh (Cairn(s))

Wasn't sure about this at the time.... however in retrospect my thoughts concur with the Canmore record:

"...amongst the stone clearance mounds of a field system is a probable cairn. It differs from its neighbours in that it is appreciably larger, 10.0m N-S by 9.0m E-W and 0.8m high, and is of regular rounded form. No cist or kerb is exposed; the mound like the adjacent clearance is completely obscured by peat...

Visited by OS (N K B) 26 April 1977."

I've also included a couple of shots of what would appear to be a small clearance cairn.

Higher Hartor Tor (Round Cairn)

I stumbled/blundered upon this well sited, reasonably substantial cairn when more-or-less dead on my feet following sensory overload - and, OK, physical overload - at Langcombe Brook. I therefore only lingered for a short while, which, in retrospect does the monument a disservice. It is worth more, featuring significant upland vibe...

Located upon the south-western slopes of Higher Hartor Tor, Pastscape has this to relate about the monument:

"...It comprises a 9.5m diameter and up to 0.6m high ragged 3.0m wide ring of stones and small boulders. In the disturbed central area which is about 0.5m deep one slightly off-centre upright slab is visible : it is 0.2m high and 0.6m long and it could represent part of a robbed cist."

Twyn Garreg-Wen (Cairn(s))

Two attempts to locate this cairn in Feb 2016 - one in appalling weather with mist at road level, the other with the additional assistance of the Mam C - proved inconclusive. Coflein has this to say:

'A round cairn is located on a south-east facing slope at 470m above OD. The slightly oval, flat-topped stony mound measures 8m (N-S) by 7.1m with a height of about 0.3m.... From the rim, on the east and north, there protrude a number of upright and leaning slabs, probably the remains of a kerb. In particular, on the east side there are two inward leaning slabs with exposed lengths of 0.7m and widths of 0.5m and 0.6m.' [David Leighton, RCAHMW, Feb 1985]

We did, however, locate two interesting features... images of which are posted. Hopeful that other members may be able to succeed so we can return and enjoy the vibe here once again.

Foel Darw, Y Mynydd Du (Round Cairn)

From a purely archaeological perspective it is unlikely, in my opinion, that the low, circular feature crowning the deceptively spacious summit of Foel Darw will raise the pulse of any save the die hard prehistorian. However, if exquisite views... and a sense of occupying a special place in the landscape for an hour or two feature in your bag, a visit to Foel Darw's something for you, too. Schedule a visit as a prelude to the great Nant Tarw complex - or even the twin cairns upon Garn Las across the valley - and I reckon you've got yourself a classic day. Dirty white vest optional.

According to RCAHMW (Dave Leighton 20/2/01: 'On the summit of Foel Derw a low turf-covered stony ground swelling probably marks the remains of a cairn. It measures 11m in diameter and no more than 0.2m high'.

Achaoh A'Chuirn (Chambered Cairn)

Since this chambered cairn stands within private property prospective visitors might wish to plan ahead to avoid potential disappointment. Yeah, do it properly rather than replicate my farcical - albeit ultimately successful - attempt.

If so contact e-mail address is: fiona@crofting.org

Harvieston (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Located near to the fine chambered cairn Carn Richard this settlement, well positioned overlooking the River Helmsdale, consists of seven round houses, two of which are particularly well preserved... and an enclosure to boot.

The site was "found during field investigation in 1961 on a south facing hill-slope where RCAHM in 1909 had reported a field system. A further hut at NC 83773170 was discovered in 1968"

[RCAHM 1911; OS (WDJ, 1961; AA, 1968]

Meldon Burn (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Anywhere else but here - set above the Meldon Burn between the towering hill forts of Black and White Meldon - this would be a headline monument worth a substantial trip in its own right. As a bonus site... well... the abundance of the archaeological and aesthetic riches available in the immediate locality takes the breath away as comprehensively as the brutal slogs to the aforementioned summits. Ideal as a less demanding - in a physical sense, at least - alternative visit, or as a post-exertion evening chill-out, proving the idiom that things aren't always black or white..... (sorry).

Anyway, according to the RCAHMS 1967 (visited 1959) the settlement consists of:

"Two stone-walled enclosures, one of which has been built inside the other are situated on a broad natural terrace near the foot of the W slopes of White Meldon Hill. The earlier.. (is)... 220' by 180' ... surrounded by a heavy wall, 12' in thickness... The later..... 165' by 120' within a wall consisting of a rubble core faced with heavy angular blocks....the collapsed debris indicate a thickness of 10'."

Ben Uarie (Cairn(s))

Standing sentinel over Glen Loth, where the road begins its descent to the megalithic cornucopia of the Strath of Kildonan, Ben Uarie, at 2,044ft (623m) is way, way down the list of Scotland's highest peaks. In fact it's not even the tallest in the area, that accolade bestowed upon neighbouring Beinn Dhorain. It is, however, a striking mountain, dominating the upper reaches of the glen by sheer force of profile.

Although not currently featuring upon Canmore's database, Ben Uarie is crowned by the remains of a significant cairn, significant in terms of size of embedded footprint - if not height - and featuring an OS triangulation pillar within a modern, circular shelter. In addition there are - to my mind - clear remnants of a former kerb still in situ strongly suggesting an ancient origin. It would appear the aforementioned Ordnance Survey people agree, the cairn featured in antiquarian typeface upon the latest 1:25k map (but not the 1:50k).

It would also seem that Ben Uarie is woven into the tapestry of local folklore, Sinclair (Stat, Acct of Scotland, XV. 191) relating how the imposingly statuesque Clach Mhic Mhios - otherwise known as Clach Macmeas - 'was hurled to the bottom of the glen from the top of Ben Uarie by a giant youth when one month old'. The fact that the nearer - and, as mentioned, higher Beinn Dhorain was not name-checked as source of the monolith is surely significant, reflecting an association with the mountain stretching way back into the mists of time.
Showing 1-20 of 198 miscellaneous posts. Most recent first | Next 20
Hi, I'm Robert ... aka Citizen Cairn'd. I've a passion for attempting to understand the lives of the pioneering prehistoric inhabitants of these British Isles, seeking out the remains they left behind in order to ask myself "why here ... why did it matter so... why such commitment?". Needless to say I'm still pondering such intangibles. Just as an empty house appears to retain echoes of past humanity... so does the stone circle, the chambered cairn, the long barrow and the mountain top funerary cairn. Visiting them, I think, helps engender a certain 'connection' with this land of ours, with ourselves - our past, our present and our future; a reference point for those of us perhaps struggling to make sense of this so-called 'computer world' Kraftwerk warned us was a'coming in 1981.... danke, mein herren.

I make no claims for my contributions except to state that I've done my best to relate what I've seen. Yeah, enjoying the moment has always taken precedent. If you like what you see why thank you. But please do your own thing. Think for yourself.

So cheers... to Mr Cope for being his inspirational, annoying, confrontational self, showing that field archaeology can be FUN! - hey, who'd have thought it? ...to my sister (the wondrous Mam Cymru) for using her female 'micro' vision to help me see the detail throughout an ongoing re-exploration of the South Walian uplands, albeit upon dodgy ankles, knees etc... to my own mam for insisting 'young men should have adventures' (that was a while back, now).... and my Dad for unwittingly inspiring a profound love of high places. Oh, and to Aubrey Burl for those pioneering guides BC.... 'Before Cope'.

For what it's worth some of my other inspirational people are:

Charles Darwin (for his humanity... amongst, er, 'other things');

And then, in no particular order:

George Orwell; Michael Collins (things are not often black and white...); Winston Churchill (for all his many profound faults... since without him I would not be here now); Martin L. Gore; Big Steve Chamberlain (sorely missed); Mr Beethoven; Giorgio Moroder; Richard Dawkins; The Pogues (for my North Walian soundtrack); Sophie Scholl (words fail me); W A Mozart (ditto); Michel Faber; Manic Street Preachers (the true spirit and voice of South Wales); Alan Pearlman; Nigel Kennedy; Will Shakespeare; Kraftwerk; Harry Hill; Claudia Brucken; Marc Almond; Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; Christopher Hitchens; Mulder and Scully; John Le Mesurier .... and anyone who has ever asked 'Why?' - the true legacy of punk. Thank you Mr Lydon.

Oh, last but not least, Gaelic beauty Karen Matheson... the Scottish trips wouldn't have been the same without that voice. 'The call is unspoken, never unheard'.

George Orwell - '...during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act'....

Truman Capote - 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour'.

W E Gladstone - 'Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic'.

William Blake - 'A truth that's told with bad intent; Beats all the lies you can invent'

John Lydon - 'It is a reward to be chastised by the ignorant'.

Christopher Hitchens - 'Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.'

Margaret Thatcher - 'It pays to know the enemy – not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.'

Jo Cox - 'We have far more in common than that which divides us'.

Sarah Cracknell - 'I walk the side streets home; even when I'm on my own...'

Winston Churchill - 'KBO'.

My TMA Content: