suaveharv in Ireland pt 1
My first time in Ireland, fresh(ish) off the ferry, and I'm whizzing down the lanes at a courteous 40mph. . sun out, Elvis shades on. . look at them mountains! Top banana! it's seven at night and I have several hours light before I find a b&b. I decide to drive as far as I can towards that mythical stone circle festival that is the Rosscarbery region.
So, I drove all the way to West Cork, ('hell, it's sunny, warm and I'll sleep in the van if I don't find a b&b' I thought). Unfortunately, by the time I got to Rosscarbery, it was pissing down, cold, and one-o-clock in the morning.
See, this is a fault of mine. If you pick up the discovery series OS map number 86, you see stone circle after stone circle. . about twelve in a three mile radius. In my small mind I gazed at that map and thought "I just want to be THERE!", giving little thought to food or sleep or any comfort whatsoever, (men you see, we can't multi-task).
I had no blankets, and couldn't sleep anyway because of the thundering rain on the van. I found an apple under my seat and munched it, wondering if I was parked somewhere illegal. I honestly couldn't see a thing, but I knew I was somewhere by Reenascreena stone circle.
So, when it got light, about 4.30ish I think, I decided to start stone circle hunting. I was half asleep actually, (I had driven for about eight hours already that day).
But, undeterred, I started looking. Didn't find Reenascreena, and my fantastic idea of taking a fishing brolly as cover in case it rained just proved comical. When the wind got under it, it damn near took me up into the clouds! I'll bet Irish farmers were killing themselves laughing as they eat their breakfast, they saw this curly city-boy in his moleskin jacket, walking the wrong way to a stone circle, wrestling with a 8ft wide fishing brolly and being lifted off his feet and deposited unceremoniously into the nearest hedge.
Did I mention I was hungry?
I looked for four stone circles and found none. I began to wonder if an Irish stone circle was a myth, but at least I now knew where 'Fourwinds' got his name!
To be continued>>
A Welsh prelude
"You're going to Ireland for five days. . on your own???" people asked incredulously. . "what on earth for?"
"to look at stone circles" I said.
". . and drink guiness and look at the sea, and enjoy listening to music in me van"
(puzzled looks. .)
"erm . . we went to Benidorm for our holidays, it's lovely there. . "
On me way to Ireland I decided to stop over a night in Newport , (the one by Fishguard, which is were I was to catch the Ferry mid-day Monday). I had a look at Pentre Ifan on the way. It's signposted from the main road so pip-rah! I found it easily (it says it's hard to find in TMA book. Oh well. .)
As you approach the monument, you are walking down a leafy lane. There, before you, you see the top of Pentre Ifan, through the trees, like a magical place beyond the gate, I felt like Sgt Howie in the Wicker man as he passes the stone circle on the way to Lord Summerisle's House.
It's a very dramatic site, and on this day, a late sunny Sunday afternoon, I had it all to myself. What a wonderful start to my five day megalithic road trip! I drew a sketch, made some notes and sat in the sun, looking at the sea.
After a while I found a pub with b&b, and as if by magic, it was right next to the road where Carreg Coetan Arthur lives! I checked this site out twice, (before beers & after). It's a Dolmen in a little cul-de-sac of new houses. It seems quite happy there, and well looked after, if you know what I mean!
Bats flew, and late at night I could hear the roar of the sea as I sat under it. A little hip-flask of whiskey kept me warm, and I felt quite cozy and excited.
Gors Fawr stone circle seemed a good bet, as I had read there were two outliers that were aligned to the Summer sunrise. I got there about ten am, and there were a couple of girls there dishevelled from a night in the stones. They told me a few people had been there that morning to see the sunrise. (I found out later one was Kammer!).
The rocky out-crop on the hill could have been, I was told, where they took the bluestones for stonehenge from. I noticed the stones in the circle decrease in size as they point towards the outliers. . which are directly in line with the rocky out-crop.
The scenery is wonderful, you are right amongst the Preseli mountains. There is a signpost adjacent to the circle by the road-side. The circle is then a very short walk.
Another trip to Pentre Ifan on the way back (it was packed with school-kids, artists, hippies and dog walkers, not a problem though, it was sunny and everyone was happy and friendly).
These three sites were a wonderful taster for the megalithic delights of Ireland. . and as I stood on the ferry, watching the UK shrink, making sure me hat wasn't blown off into the foam, I felt excited, empowered and joyous. My mood however, was to change a little after I spent my first night in Ireland.
TO BE CONTINUED> > >
The Corndon Group
Re-visiting sites is vital I reckon. Scurrying round the country, ticking off sites on a list, and moving on to the next is all well and good, and it ensures your credibility in pub megalithic chats, but to appreciate the landscape & 'greater aspect' of a place, re-visits are a must.
On this re-visit to Shropshire, I was able to see how much Corndon Hill featured in the megalithic landscape. It's covered with cairns for a start, and all three stone circles (Hoarstones, Mitchell's Fold and the Whetstones (destroyed)), are overlooked by the brooding presence of Corndon Hill.
I can't add directions better than those on this site, and I can't add any better pictures, but I can add a link to my pictures of some rocks I thought might be the remains of the Whetstones.
But it's likely they are not... although differing grid references at least put them in this area.
Without doubt, the Whetstones are the closest circle to Corndon Hill, the Hoarstones are about 2 mile away.
But you can't help but think the ancients had this hill in mind when they erected the stones.
Soup and Circles. . . the Rollrights again.
Wow! The Rollrights are only an hour and twenty minutes away from Wolverhampton! I never realised!
Summer Garland made some proper tomato soup and took me to Oxford(shire) in her new posh Ford Ka. Although I've been to this site a few times before, I never fully appreciated now near it was. Cool (and groovy)!
The surroundings to the site have changed since my last visit about five years ago. The little hut is a bit of a mess, with timber and bits of tat outside. There are three new fences, which act as a kind of walkway to the circle. Quite a nice touch I thought, as your first view of the circle proper is a little more dramatic as you peep 'round the fence.
And the circle itself? It's a joy as always. After visiting quite a few circles in Derbyshire recently, I was struck by the differences in the stone. This circle is quite unlike any other I've visited. These gnarled corroded limestone monoliths give the circle a eerie, almost unfriendly aura at first. After a while in the (almost perfectly symmetrical) circle, you begin to feel at home... as 4,000+ years melt away and the only sound you can hear inside the monument is the distant hum of traffic on the A-whatever half a mile away. I stood by the tallest stone in the northern part as the winter sun set. I'll be back again soon!
The Whispering Knights were conspiratorial, the King's Stone was majestic and twisted, and the weather was November. Maaan, that soup was good!
More Derbyshire Circular Treats...
Just got back from Derbyshire, and a single day stone circle-fest!
We had a great time, took in the Nine Ladies, Doll Tor and Barbrook one.
The Nine Ladies looks splendid again now the railings have gone, the new grass looks natural and there were quite a few folks there. A nearby tree is adorned with offerings, wind-chimes and suchlike. It's a lovely site once more.
Doll Tor is simply one of the most gentle and charming sites ever. I found the quarry not far away - be careful! - and was quite surprised at how much the stones had been repaired over the years. I never noticed this before, one stone in particular looks pieced together from many different segments. I'm glad of the restoration, Doll Tor is enchanting, nestled in woodland with the late summer sun throwing shapes through the foliage.
My first visit to Barbrook one... I was glad I found it... but whether it was the bleak moor, the rain, or just the fact that I wish I'd have bought warmer clothes... I couldn't quite 'connect' - u-know!
Tried to get to Hordron Edge circle too, but the only seemingly reasonable route had a 'private land no entry' type sign, and locked gate. It was getting late, and neither Summer Garland nor myself wanted to incur the wrath of some farmer or whatever... so we didn't visit the site.
This is the first time I've had trouble reaching a site, I must admit to feeling a little cheated, by all accounts this circle is a delight.
I must recommend the 'Rock Around The Peak' book to anyone wishing to delve into Derbyshire's treasures. It's a valuable resource.
some favourites -
From Wolverhamptonshire UK, (where there are no circles).