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

Fieldnotes by juamei

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Gardom's Ring Cairn

[visited 2/10/11] This was a side thought for me, a visit purely on the way to the standing stone and the rock art. So I was surprised to find The Prehistoric Peak had an entry just for it. After I got here though I understood entirely, this thing its a brute. It's got a big diameter and a well defined bank together with several surviving stones feeling analogous to Barbrook II. This would have been worth the trip onto the edge all on its own.

Its position is slightly weird 100 yards further on and its views would have been increased dramatically. Instead it just looks out to Beeley Moor where Hob Hurst's house etc are. Interestingly it is completely out of site of barbrook which is on the other side of this hill.

Access is ok for a moderately healthy person but may be hard for wheels due to a stile and a thinish gate/opening. It is hard to spot in summer and if I hadn't been looking for it I wouldn't have seen it from the path. As you approach up hill you can just see a stone poking out of the bracken to the left of the silver birch.

Whaley Bridge Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

[visited 28/4/11] This is a pretty little stone located with cracking views. I was slightly surprised it wasn't bigger, but as with many "head of valley" stones, it is about waist height or so. If this were here just for the views, as FlopsyPete points out, it could have been sited less than 20 metres away and got much more. So, this is presumably here to be seen from the East, where it can be seen from a fair way away, possibly as a marker to a track towards the Goyt Valley.

Interestingly, it's shape as you face Eccles Pike reflects the Pike. Angles and lengths are not exact, but topologically they seem the same. Eccles Pike being a barrowless spine of a central hill surrounded by farmland and hills, all of which have barrows.

Access is a pleasant 1/2 mile walk along a bridleway then across a field up a medium slope from the Whaley to Disley higher road.

Kiln Knoll (Round Barrow(s))

[visited 28/4/11] This is one sorry mutilated cairn, but still recognisable as such. I presume this was robbed either for treasure or for stone years ago. As you can see from the photos, they took the very centre out and left just surrounding mounds.

In its day it would have been large and would have been a dominating presence across Furness Vale. The views stretch from the North West right round to the South East, 15-20 miles is probable on a good day. Manchester is certainly in sight now.

Access is 300 metres or so down a footpath from the Whaley to Chinley higher road.

Ladder Hill (Round Barrow(s))

[visited 20/3/11] What a lot of pain for what is actually a very easy to find site. For any future seekers, the site is to the North of long lane, so there really is no need to get right up on the top of the hill which is South of long lane. This sits in a very similar landscape position to Green Low, overlooking a clough to the left facing downwards and some way down from the top of the hill it sits on. As such I view them in a similar light.

A clear circle, but relatively small, any stones are mostly buried. I see this as a ring cairn ahead of the embanked circle classification, though they do have a tendency to meet in the middle! Great views looking North and definately worth a visit.

Access is not difficult in a small field next to a rocky track. I parked down in Horwich End and walked about a mile up hill to the site, but temporary parking might be possible at the end of long lane.

Roosdyche (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

[visited 22/4/11] Widely accepted by academics as glacial but a vocal minority insist its man made and prehistoric, so I thought I'd have a walk about, over and round to see what I could see.

So er, this is not a hill fort at least not in any classic sense. I've been to a couple of the Peak forts and quite a few more in the rest of the country and not one looks like this. However, there are parts and hints which point to this being more than a glacial feature. I should say though, I am no expert on or amateur obsessive of glacial features...

I started on the Chapel road and headed for the new cricket pitch (nice and level). The end of the Roosdyche (henceforth known as RD) starts not long along the footpath, I followed it to the new cricket ground and then along the footpath which runs parallel to the RD (which is private property keep out!), up to the Northern end of RD. The overriding fact of walking this part is that the land to the West drops off and that the land to the East on the other side of RD from me, rises appreciably. A couple of peaks over the 5'8'' stone wall as I walked revealed no bank on the western side of RD, the land on the western side going up to the edge. These facts lead me to categorically believe any fort or defended enclosure cannot be to the West and so the conjectured map on here is wrong. Another discrepancy to hillfort normality is that the sometimes large undulations of the floor of RD do not follow the contours of the land and so are perhaps symptomatic of bedrock changes being reflected in the erosion caused by water.

However, I then continued the walk starting at the Northern end of RD heading east to Mosley Hall Farm, then past the old cricket pitch (on a slope), onto a sneaky 30 yards of RD, to the lane by the new cricket pitch, up the lane past Horwich House and Horwich Farm, then finally back down the road to my car by the Chapel road. This where the weirdness and hints of prehistory start.

As I crossed the RD I am sure you can detect a hint off a bank on the Eastern edge, though certainly not all the way along. Nothing sprung out at me until Mosley Hall Farm, there the track to the North East of the farm follows a ditch, then as you are given the option of the farm to the right, look left and what could be an earthworked rampart looks at you. Back at the RD, on the track that heads East past the new cricket ground, on the East side of RD, there is what seems to be the spitting image of a mutivalate hillfort entrance. Looking south through the barbed wire fence along Dingle Wood a bank ditch bank combo can be seen, but not accessed. East of Horwich house a track runs North to South, in a ditch. Finally on the West side of the road which heads South from Horwich Farm, a bank could be veering West back towards the Southern end of RD.

So, what's going on? Certainly any of the ditches and banks to the east of RD taken individually, with the exception of the possible entrance, could just be geology or sunken ways or all sorts of other later features. But taken together I think there is a real possibility, that this was enclosed at some point in the past. Issues would be geography and size. Frankly the high ground further west would be much more likely for a hillfort, even with Eccles pike looking over it. Size-wise, the area enclosed would be larger than (say) Maiden Castle, so this would be a massive enclosure. Another issue is that Castle Naze is only 2-3 miles to the South East and the peak's forts don't tend to be that densely located.

Personally, I think this could be a status symbol, a great and effectively undefendable folly, aimed to the North. Using the existing glacial RD to enhance the front which would be well protected whilst it's sides and back could be a small bank and palisade. It does lie on or near a tribal boundary and would be clearly visible from the North for several miles. It also sits on the Goyt, one of the major tributaries of the mersey.

Harrod Low (Long Barrow)

[visitedish 13/3/11] Apparently not much to see here, but as genuine earthern long barrows are rare in these parts, I headed over for a shufty. I only got as far as the field next door though. From there the barrow is clearly flattened from what it was but surviving and obvious as a raised bank in the field.

Then I met the friendly son of the farmer who owns the land and was politely told I was off the footpath and I should ask permission from the farm if I want to see the barrow close up...

Access is either across fields from sparrow pit or via Harrat Grange farm which is within clear site of the barrow. *whistles*

Gautries Hill (Round Barrow(s))

[visited 13/3/11] My overriding thought as I reached the summit of Gautries hill was how small the hill was to merit a cairn on its top. I guess being one of the northern most of the limestone hills was enough. Great views in all directions but the North where the looming hills of Dark Peak are starting to form.

Another reason for placement was presumably the fact you could have seen Harrod Low and perryfoot from up here.

The cairn itself is well formed and small befitting perhaps the small hill, but obviously worked over by an antiquarian or two. Definitely make the effort to pop up here is you are visiting Harrod Low.

Access is across a few fields from Sparrow pit, through a bit of mined wood and then up a (dare I say it again) small hill.

Lady Low (Round Barrow(s))

[visited 20/2/11] This is in better nick than its near neighbour, Cow Low, presumably due to the additional effort required to get up to the ridge top. It does have a big chunk missing however so has been had at. The snow was a foot deep in places and its fair old bitter up here in winter but I'd say this was worth the effort. However I could only see 50 metres or so due to the mist, so the panorama sometimes on offer didn't open up for me.

Access is over a gate and up a steep field so probably not for the unfit unless they have a while. Its on open access land.

Cow Low (Round Barrow(s))

[visited 20/2/11] Not much to see here but worth a look if you are trawling the peak barrows. Its quite denuded now and has obviously been hacked apart presumably by treasure seekers in times past. Some stones are visible poking out the top. I came up in the deep mist with snow on the ground so saw very little of the surrounding cast, but should have a clear view down to the Bullring and several hilltop barrrows to the east.

Access is up a field from the nearest road. This is on private property and permission should be sought from the farm at the end of the track.

Green Low (Ring Cairn)

[visited jan 2011] As the current holder of the dubious title "closest site to my house", I've been eyeing this up for a while. Stupidly I failed (again) to read tma before hand and completely missed the other smaller circle nearby. This one though was plenty for the effort, the view alone meaning I'll be back here in the summer for a picnic.

Its a weird site and I can see why opinion had been divided over the years. Personally I'd say ring cairn, but it is reminiscent of the disc barrows in Dorset in that with not too much work it would be a small henge. Saying that the bank is very small in comparison to the larger disc barrows. Also what's with the bit in the middle?

Plus, its large for a ring cairn, so large in fact as stu says, it would be the best in the peaks. I can't recall any stone walls about, but in my mind there is a real possibility this was an embanked circle and the stones have been pinched.

Access is ok. I picked seemingly the easiest route starting from the chapel to castleton road where there is a large layby by the bridle path. Walk along the path for 15-20 mins or so then its a 30m scramble up the slope to the site.

Perryfoot (Long Barrow)

[visited jan 2011] This is a weird melange of an earthwork added to by the somewhat surreal landscape immediately behind it of what's left of eldon hill. The focus seems however to be to the west and south as that is where the landscape opens up.

According to the HER this is a bronze age round barrow on top of a neolithic long barrow. Both are obvious upon inspection, the long barrow very denuded, the round barrow somewhat damaged presumably by excavations in the 18th and 19th century. Without guidance though this could be a round barrow simply spread out in one direction. The round barrow is large and I saw a few larger stones poking through on top, presumably from the two cists which were found in the 19th century.

The barrows themselves seem similar to the injected barrows at various henges about the land including the one at Arbor Low. A new religion interposing itself onto the old perhaps.

Access is over a stile, through a gate and easily accessibly from the nearest road along a muddy track/footpath.

Bamford Moor South (Stone Circle)

[visited 6/11/10] This is a delight, especially in the late autumn sun casting long shadows with the pheasants adding a symphony of noise about me. I was released from my own nest for a few hours out to enjoy for my birthday and picked this as it fulfilled 3 main criteria; away from the masses, still in very good nick and, unlike most now in the peaks, it was new to me. I've been to Seven Stones of Hordron Edge a couple of times but hadn't realised anything else this good was on the same moor. Really should finish reading through "Stone Circles of the Peaks"! Next up for me on here is a nice long walk taking in this, Seven Stones of Hordron Edge with hopefully Moscar Moor and Bamford Moor North as well.

Access is across wet peat bog and up a moderately steep hill, without decent paths. Many many thanks to Postman without whose instructions, I would no doubt still be struggling to find this delightful little circle. For anyone else following the instructions, two amendments may be helpful; firstly after crossing the stream follow the trees up the hill and secondly head in a North-North-Easterly direction from the modern stone, not North east as stated...

Castle Naze (Hillfort)

[visited 2/10/10] I can only agree with what the others say about the effort to reward ratio. Fantastic views for not that great a climb. I was surprised to only see a cross bank, the other 2 sides presumably steep enough to not need extra protection.

The cross bank defining the fort area looked denuded to my eye, presumably to obtain the stone for all the well maintained walls along the edge. Though the outer ditch was impressively deep nevertheless.

Also, I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the climber who poked his head up at the top of his climb to find me there admiring the view.

Access is up a steep ill defined path and so not easily accessible unless in reasonable health.

Stokeleigh Camp (Hillfort)

[visited 25/04/10] This is a peach of a fort. Very well preserved banks, with lovely views, in the middle of a walk in a wood and no massive hill to climb. The latter of which meant my belly didn't thank me but I cared not.

Massive bivallate defenses stand out through the trees as you approach from the south-west. We traced the elongated horseshoe but mostly strolled near the cliff edge after going up and over the inner rampart which must be 3 metres high and maybe 6 from the lowest point of the ditch between the banks. Inside it's grassy with several trees to stroll between.

The thing that stands out for me is just how close Clifton Down Camp is on the other side of the ravine. I had wondered whilst stood at Clifton Down Camp, not knowing where Stokeleigh was, whether they could have easily communicated. Standing at Stokeleigh you can see they could have shouted and just about be understood. They could have definately fired lines across attached to arrows and passed stuff back and forwards. It seems hard to believe the two camps were not occupied by the same tribe, unless it was some kind of iron age Joint Security Area. Of course Burgh Walls is just across the ravine to the South East as well. Whilst on the subject of inter-visibility of hill forts in the Avon Valley, from here you can also see North Stoke, Freezing Hill and Stantonbury, whilst Maes Knoll is possibly visible through the trees (definately visible along with possibly Tunley from Clifton Camp). As an aside, is Clifton Suspension bridge the only suspension bridge in the world you can see at least 6 hill forts?

Access is along well defined paths through a light forest. Its mostly flat and less than 1/2 a mile from where we parked (ST 555 730)

Dolebury Warren Hillfort

[visited 20/2/10] What an amazing hill fort! Its a massive bivallate fort with views stretching all the way to Wales, Exmoor and if someone took the trees out of the way probably Lansdown. With palisades and a clear tree line, this fort would have dominated the upper reaches of Chew valley and the northern Somerset levels.

I did my normal trek about the ramparts, clockwise for those keeping count, struggling up to the western entrance. The fort was built sloping down from the highest point on the hill to where the land dropped away on the eastern end. The interior earthwork noise is believed to be mostly from a pre medieval rabbit warren, with possibly some additions during ww2. Presumably the small circles formed from the loose stones near the northern ramparts are probably ww2 picket posts.

Access is for those who like hills. The Eastern entrance has still got a reasonable track coming up from the A38. If you are approaching from the west, be prepared for a long muddy walk which out of summertime might be difficult with a pushchair. I trekked up from the A38, parking at a pub down a small lane on the other side of the A road.

Bury Wood Camp (Hillfort)

[visted spring 2009] Oddness abounds here. As I approached on the a420 I expected a massive hill to be appear, contours on maps clearly not my strong point. What I got instead was a tight V shaped valley wrapping its way around the two open sides of the promontary. This means that even without the tree cover there are no long views out across the land. There are very few hill forts in Britain where the next hill in all directions is but a tight valley away.
The fort itself is off the public footpath, but I got slightly lost and stumbled upon it by accident, officer. The interior seems to be grass now, used as a circuit for horses. Generally its survived quite well.
Access is for those who like walking up and down and up and down footpaths through woods. Twice the normal effort for half the joy.

Burledge Hill (Hillfort)

[visited 22/03/09] This is a pretty little promontory fort with well defined ramparts, certainly to the East, South and West. Not sure about the North however. I finally made it back here after making it within half a mile along the ridge a few years back and discovering nowhere to park at the top of the hill.

There are beautiful views in 3 directions, but you'll need to trespass to see them. This is my least favourate type of hillfort, that where the only public access is straight across the middle. Of course the rest of the hill is covered in pasture so locking gates and thus stopping curious and lawabiding visitors from actually seeing much of this fort, is slightly annoying. Though the nature of the owner becomes clearer when you realise its nigh on impossible to get to the Open Access land which the North rampart is supposedly on. I gave up after fighting felled bushes, hedges being grown in the way and a scrambler track making it v. hard to proceed.

Access for me was straight up the hill using the footpath that starts at the West end of Bishop Sutton. I wouldn't recommend it if you are very unfit though. I presume you could get a wheelchair from somewhere on top of the ridge. The bridleway is not passable by a car...

All in all, worth visiting if only to annoy the farmer, otherwise go to Maes Knoll.

Cup marked rock (Cup Marked Stone)

[visited 18/10/08] Spang! I found these littleuns whilst looking for a spot to perch and watch the hills. On the edge of a hill covered in heather, peat bog and old mine workings, two massive boulders look out towards Fallinge Edge and Raven Tor Triple Cairn. The one further up the hill has 3 cups on the top of it.

Not sure whether these are recorded or genuine but I have seen 'a few' certified grade Aaa ones before and they stand proud beside them.

Access is for the intrepid via Hob Hurst's house. The paths are barely sheep tracks between ankle to thigh high heather and come and go as they please. "Watch every step" is the best advice I can give. Oh and watch out for the random small boulders, the bog pools and mine pits.

Pech Merle (Cave / Rock Shelter)

[visited May 08] Wow oh wow. Once in a while a visit to a site created by our ancestors lifts me well out of the mundane and into a state unlike any other. The glorious paintings here did just that. I've seen a lot of Neolithic and bronze age rock art in the UK and I've seen the 11,000 BP engravings at Cresswell crags but this is a whole different ball game.

Photo taking is banned so you'll need to have a look at the link to the attached visitor's centers website. [edit] Or look at the Public Domain images....

I walked about in a state of disbelief looking at paintings of human representations pierced by a spear, mammoths, bison, 'female symbols' aka triangles, a bears head and amazing dotted horses which were carbon dated to 25,000 BP. There is also very old animal bones and unbelievably 10000 year old footprints. The paintings range from 25,000 BP to 10,000 BP.

Oh and then there is the geology, this cave would be renowned for that even if the paintings weren't here.

Superb to see something that puts the mere 3-4000 years back to stonehenge into stark perspective.

Access is down stairs and occasionally slippery under foot as you walk on the floor of the cave system.

Wick Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

[visted 08/07/07] Another failed site, this time through not wanting to turn up unanounced at a Nuclear Power Station and asking to see their barrow. I did get to the gates and could see the barrow just inside the gates in a fenced off tree covered enclosure, but it was the other side of some (open) security gates and a large barbed wire fence. Call me overly cautious but in the current climate I figured discretion really was the better part of valour. There is a number for them on the British Energy website so I might give them a ring next time I'm heading that way.

Access is after sundown wearing ninja suits and night goggles.
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