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

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Arthur's Stone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

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!

Tinkinswood (Burial Chamber) — Fieldnotes

Not the easiest place to find, going downhill park up in the small layby on the right and walk through the gate and beyond the trees, taking care not to stumble (d'oh!) over some tufty grass. Despite its location Tinkinswood seems popular with walkers and those who just want to chill for a while.

Whilst the overhead powerlines and unflattering brick support pillar don't let you forget the 20th century, there is enough peace in this part of the world, and enough presence in the enormous capstone to kick back and engross yourself in the experience.

Devil's Den (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Take out life insurance before visiting. The A4 is treacherous at the best of times, the track towards the dolmen can be sodden with deep puddles (even during the height of summer as my visit was) and if they don't get you the miserable farm workers will. Okay, I had crossed a field of crops, albeit down the tramlines.

My overall sense of the dolmen was one of power. It looks as if it could crash down on the visitor; its size and bulk left me in awe of those who constructed the barrow that once stood there.

Cnoc Fillibhear Bheag (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

My favourite place in Britain ... through the figure decorated gate, across the bog and up to the most atmospheric stone circle I have encountered. Wet, cold and rough around the edges, but from the right angle stunningly beautiful and jaggedly perfect. I need to post my photographs of the place.

A year on I'm still bitterly disappointed that time didn't allow a return trip at night to sit under the moon within the circle. The goat skeleton near by suggested that this is a place where few visitors tread apart from in the summer.

It was a strange pleasure to look across to the main Calanais stones and how the visitors had started to explore it in numbers. They're much less interested in Calanais III and I hope it stays that way.

Callanish (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Living in the south west of England, Calanais represented the one pilgrimage I felt desperate to make ... so we did it for our honeymoon. It's a long trip by car to Ullapool then across to Stornoway on the ferry. This was in April 2005 and on the calm, quiet but chilly afternoon of our visit we were the only two visitors at the time. A fantastically powerful setting, but at the same time there was an air of touristy Avebury or Stonehenge about it. Not a criticism, just that I find my favourite places off the beaten track. I've fallen in love with Calanais and Lewis as a whole. I can't wait to go back.

Cold Slad On Crickley Hill (Causewayed Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

Although it's very close to home it was only yesterday that I finally got to visit Cold Slad, bizarrely enough with kids on a trip from the school at which I work. The earthworks left me underwhelmed but the sense of place is fantastic with views as far as the Black Mountains.

Adam's Grave (Long Barrow) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Adam's Grave</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

The Four Stones (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>The Four Stones</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

Arthur's Stone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Arthur's Stone</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

Cerrig Duon & The Maen Mawr (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Certainly not the easiest site to locate, as suggested in the book an Ordance Survey map is needed. I should have paid attention. Alternatively I should have asked the hill hermits to the local goat dung heap.

Having got hopelessly lost we ended up travelling south on the A4067 and turning off on the right turn signposted towards Crai & Trecastle (if you reach Craig-y-Nos country park you've gone too far). After approximately two miles down this narrow road it finally runs direcly alongside the stream as indicated in an earlier posting. I kept driving until the road and stream parted and made a hasty three point turn. There in front of us was Maen Mawr, clearly visible about fifth of the way up the hillside on a plateau. Again, as stated earlier, this site is not visible when approaching from the south.

The stream proved a little treacherous to cross and the walk up the hill towards the plateau was equally difficult underfoot. One twisted ankle and one fall later we got there (be careful as there are stones littered everywhere). The elements clearly didn't want us there as the wind began to strengthen and dark clouds began to roll in.

The site itself? Sad to say that having become tired from a long morning's drive first thing I noticed was the huge quantity of sheep shit and the remarkably spongey ground underfoot. Back to the point. As someone from the south-west of England the Rollrights, Stonehenge & Avebury are only shortish drives away but used to the dramatics of these sites the small stones of Cerrig Duon seemed humble and unspectacular but equally magical in feel. Call me daft I've started to assess places on their feel rather than the eye candy. Wind aside it is stirringly quiet on the plateau and the quality of the air is something I've missed since moving away from the country.

Something made me not want to touch Maen Mawr - whether it was its imposing stocky form or the abundance of goat turds that surrounded it I'm not too sure.

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Stonehenge</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

The Tinglestone (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Not the easiest to find: on the minor road linking Avening to Minchinhampton. Travelling from Minchinhampton pass the stone bus shelter in the Hamlet of Hampton Fields and pull up in the wide mouth of the track that is the next right turn. The Tinglestone is a couple of hundred yards downhill, clearly visible in a field on the right. Being a summer visit the barrow on which the Tinglestone sits was very overgrown with nettles and a little rough underfoot. Be warned that this stone is on royal property and keen eyed locals/estate workers tend to be suspicious.

The Tinglestone (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>The Tinglestone</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>The Tinglestone</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>The Tinglestone</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe<b>The Tinglestone</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

The Longstone of Minchinhampton (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>The Longstone of Minchinhampton</b>Posted by Laughing Giraffe

The Whispering Knights (Burial Chamber) — Fieldnotes

I found these beings far more magical than the Rollright Stones when I visited in summer 2001...you can view them without having to walk on plastic mesh & without the knowledge that some warden is watching you from a hut!

Enclosed by an iron fence on the edge of an otherwise unassuming cornfield they make lonely but inspiring figures. Turn up on a summer evening, sit down & put 'In the Wake of Poseidon' by King Crimson on yer discman. Magic!

The Longstone of Minchinhampton (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I was taken to this site a couple of times by a now deceased relative as a child & remember having infinite fun sticking my hands through the holes! As Stargazer has mentioned, the local legend is that the Longstone & Tingle Stone uproot themselves & take a trek to nearby Minchinhampton to drink from the spring. Never understood that one myself, but then again why do the people in the nearby village of Avening also celebrate Pig Face Sunday on 14 September each year? Do make your visit coincide with a visit to Avening church at the very least as it remains the only church in England founded by a queen - Matilda, wide of William I.

Belas Knap (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Finally got around to visiting Belas Knap yesterday, even though it is fairly local & it was well worth the effort! Just be warned that the climb never seems to end; after getting up the slippery mud bank you're faced with a trek through two fields & woodland before the barrow suddenly appears from nowhere behind a stone wall.

Unfortunately you can't get inside the chambers proper as restoration work has blocked them off. I also agree that whilst this was probably necessary, it has also detracted from the feel of authenticity. The obligatory 'tourist info' board was pretty lacklustre in terms of information - being new to the subject I had no idea the shape of the barrow was supposed to represent the female form. My 11 year old bro-in-law seemed in awe of the thing & we grabbed five minutes sat in what there is of one of the chamber entrances...I haven't experienced calm & stillness like that for a very long time. The view from the top of the hill is equally memorable, just make sure you wear the appropriate footwear as the Cotswold Way is notoriously well-trodden!
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