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Cairn Y (Passage Grave)

Barring Cairn T on Carnbane East and Cairn L on Carnbane West, it can be said that most of the passage tombs in the Loughcrew complex have been mildly to severely damaged down through the ages. Most of this damage was done at a time before modern archaeological practice had come into effect, and not all of the serious damage was done by sheer vandalism – a lot of the damage happened during investigatory work carried out under the instruction of our antiquarian antecedents.

Of the four hills of the Loughcrew complex, Patrickstown Hill seems to have fared the worst (Newtown Hill/Carrigbrack has only one cairn on its summit and it looks to me like it’s never been opened). Of the three X cairns on the western shelf of the hill there remains but a few scattered stones, with the sundial stone at X1 the main reason for a visit. Destroyed Cairn Y was the purpose of our visit today. The tantalising, but sad entry on archaeology.ie is worth quoting in full here:

This cairn (Y) is on a rise of the fairly broad summit of Patrickstown Hill. It had already been removed when Conwell (1864, 376; 1873, 23) described it as the most conspicuous of the entire cemetery. It had a diameter of 33 yards (c. 30m) but its stone was used by the owner, E. Crofton Rotheram, in building field walls. Although Rotheram had antiquarian interests this cairn was not investigated prior to its removal. The monument is now an irregularly oval area (dims c. 30m N-S; c. 20m E-W) defined by an earth and stone bank (Wth 3.5-5m; int. H 0.4-0.6m; ext. H 1.16m), the irregular shape and form of which suggests that it might be quarry spoil. There is no evidence of any stones in an original position. It remained unplanted but overgrown within a coniferous forest that was harvested c. 2015.

On my two previous visits to Patrickstown I had approached from the car-park at the viewing point on the east side of the hill. Opposite here is a track that leads through the mixed forestry, the early part of which is a welcome change from the ubiquitous pine plantations. Sun dappled through the young beech trees as we set off, having first visited the standing stone. The track heads around the south and east of the hill before turning north and terminating in the meadow with the three X cairns. X1 and X2 were visible here today, but X3, a single kerbstone from what I remember, has been inundated by gorse and brambles.

Turning our back to Carnbane East, we headed up towards Cairn Y. As it says above, this area was harvested in 2015 but the terrain becomes steadily more difficult as you head up towards the broad-based summit. This boggy area was re-planted and there are saplings, as well as brambles and the left-behind detritus to navigate before any discernible cairn footprint can be found. Short trousers are not recommended attire for traversing this area.

And then on to the remains. I’ve visited all of the other cairns in the cemetery over the four hills, so this was a bit of a pilgrimage (there may actually be a fifth, elusive cairn in Patrickstown – for another day). What is left here is very discernible, and would be even more so if there was a bit of care taken. I got quite emotional standing in the middle of the remains, breeze blowing through the grass at the centre of the cairn as the sun beat down. Rotherham left enough for us to be able to make out the circumference, the earth and stone bank mentioned above visible, but whether there was ever a passage and chamber, we don’t know and can’t tell from what’s left. Conwell’s assertion that it was “the most conspicuous of the entire cemetery” is some claim and given the enormity of Cairn D on Carnbane West, I have serious doubts.

I’m glad I came here and I’ll probably never return. Cairn Y hasn’t much to show for itself, but you can tell yourself your own story. It’s one of those places where it’s hard not to regret what might have been or what once was. Indeed, of all the places I’ve visited in Ireland on my own megalithic odyssey, Loughcrew has had the biggest emotional impact on me. The whole of the landscape, the monuments therein, the exertion to reach some of them – all have contributed to a sense of wonderment and awe. It’s not a place that I decide to come to – the decision is already made for me, drawn back time and again. Cairn Y doesn’t need to have been the ‘most conspicuous’ for us to imagine that its builders knew what they were doing, showing a reverence for their environment that we have since struggled to re-find.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
2nd June 2020ce

Patrickstown Standing Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The most easterly of all the monuments in what you could call the Loughcrew complex. Park at the parking spot on the Kells to Oldcastle road where it crosses over the back of Patrickstown Hill.

The stone, 1.7 metres tall, is at the back of the grassy area, to the right of the forest track. It's hidden from view in summer, but if you continue along the track to the end of the grassy area, there's a slight track on the right. Go up here for 20 metres and the stone is on the right.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
31st May 2020ce

Slieve Beagh (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Slieve Beagh is a low, ridge-back hill in north Meath, close to the Louth border and north-west of the town of Slane. Indeed it can be seen from the top of the Hill of Slane, amongst a larger group of hills and aligned west-south-west, east-north-east. A road traverses the northern side of the hill in Rathbranchurch townland. Between that townland and neighbouring Creewood, in an area about 500 metres by 250 metres, is the Slieve Beagh barrow cemetery, mostly to the south of the road.

The updated record at archaeology.ie says there are 26 barrows here, along with 3 raths, 6 houses of indeterminate age (presumably bronze-age) and 2 hut sites, one of which was excavated in the 1960s and given a date from the neolithic.

I’ve been here twice before and on both those occasions was impressed by the views, especially from the road below the cemetery. It reminds me of Tara and the way the ground falls away to the west and seems to go on forever. There are also extensive views to the east but these are blocked in places by a large gorse hedge. The land on that side of the hill is cultivated whereas most of the barrows are hidden in the gorse in a sheep pasture.

The actual monuments are increasingly difficult to identify as more and more gorse takes over. Walking up the track from the gate, the first you see are two enormous, conjoined and flattened round barrows, their banks visible but their ditches are gradually filling. After that it’s more difficult to identify anything, except what seems to be a central, focal bowl barrow, over two metres in height. The graffiti-carved stone still sits atop this, but the carvings are weathering and the whole of the barrow might soon be inundated with gorse.

I like this place. Most of fertile Meath is under cultivation, but this hill stands out, wild and wind-swept. The mystery of the barrows drew me back and retains enough pull to make me want to return. Maybe some day the landowner might cut back the gorse, or it may catch fire, and reveal some more of monuments.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
25th May 2020ce
Edited 26th May 2020ce

Crockaunadreenagh (Passage Grave)

Saggart Hill/Knockananiller/Crockaunadreenagh/Knockandinny sits at the western end of the chain of south county Dublin Hills, the northern edge of the Wicklow mountains. Have a glance at the bottom of Sheet 50 of the Discovery Series OS map and you’ll see that this chain is quite the megalithic playground, peppered as it is with a fair smattering of red monument dots. It also happens to be on the edge of the city and consequently is a favourite spot for non-megalithic adventurers, both benign and malign.

It’s almost exactly 14 years since I last visited here and I was looking forward to seeing the slight remains of the passage tomb and the neighbouring cairn. From back then I remembered a large, overgrown Knockananiller cairn, with the Crockaunadreenagh passage tomb remains over the usual countryside fence. What I encountered today made my heart sink. The forest walks on the hill are increasingly popular and there are mountain-bike trails running through them. More and more people use the hill as an amenity and as a drinking place. As a consequence, there is now a concentration camp-like electric fence separating the cairn on the public land from the ruined passage grave, not 15 metres away on private land in the neighbouring townland. The message here is plain and simple – fuck right off.

It’s not often that one feels like giving up on a place – to do so would be to give up on humanity and the little bit of love that we get from the passion we have for these places, but the absolute, complete wreck that is Crockaunadreenagh and the disdain shown for its neighbouring cairn by the outdoor drinkers and the mountain bikers, almost makes one want to. If you’re going to be that mean-spirited to erect the aforesaid fence, however you may feel about the lumpen attitude of the general populace, well keep it; in fact shove it so far up your…

I remember a short debate a few years back with Fourwinds about the derivation of Crock in Crockaunadreenagh and I think Julian mentions it somewhere in one of the books, and Fourwinds saying it’s an alternative to cnoc, or knock, meaning hill and that that’s where he reckoned the phrase crock o’ shit comes from – as more and more of south Dublin gets opened up and landowners get more and more paranoid, it’s in danger of becoming just that. Apologies but I can’t say anything better.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
23rd May 2020ce

Fairy's Chest (Natural Rock Feature)

Visited 17.04.09

There is a Car Park at Embsay Reservoir. Follow the road NW, parallel to Embsay Reservoir towards Crookrise Wood. Go straight on at the end of the road following the path N rather than an obvious track E. The path veers NW towards the corner of the wood and follows NW between the moor and the wood. After nearly 1 mile you will reach the Trig Point of Crookrise Crag. The Fairy's Chest lies 300 yards further up the path, on the slope of the moor. It is a large cuboid erratic which looks like it has been shaped by man not nature. It measures approximately 10m x 3m x 3m and has unusually flat surfaces. There are several other large stones around it however the flat top will give it away.
Posted by markj99
17th May 2020ce

Crooksling (Round Barrow(s))

The SMR entries for Dublin on archaeology.ie have improved over recent times. There are three barrows clearly marked now in Crooksling townland. These do not include the mound in my previous shots from 2013.

I did a flying visit to this barrow, on the eastern side of the Kiltalawn to Brittas road, opposite the aforementioned mound. It's quite clearly a round barrow, with bank, ditch and central mound, though with lots of interference and overgrowth.

Not exactly spectacular, but worth hopping the fence for a quick nosey.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
14th May 2020ce

Cunard (Portal Tomb)

Cabin fever struck around 8pm last evening so I made a quick dash for the Shed Stone, slightly beyond the 5 kms limit set by the powers that be (6 on the odometer), but still a local monument. It is quite hard to believe that it's been 14 years since I was last here.

There's a parking space on the Upper Cunard Road, south after the brook (Trumandoo?) that you must follow to reach the 'tomb'. I parked here, changed into my boots and headed down. The first time I was here (taken to it by Fourwinds - it's not marked on the map) I'd gotten my feet soaked, the boggy ground of Glassamucky Brakes/Cunard unforgiving in Spring, but not today. The recent good weather made for easy hiking.

The monument is hidden from the road, maybe 350 metres down and on the northside of the brook. The beauty of the location, so close to the city, brings a gladness to the heart. And it's ultra-quiet now, a few sheep farmers hereabouts tending to their essential work. There's deer on the Brakes tonight, venturing further down the Dodder valley than might normally be their wont.

And then to the stone. It's nestled above the brook on what seems like a levelled out platform, but there are a few of these on the way down and they may be natural. In fact, everything about the Shed Stone may be natural. The debate is still ongoing as to whether this is a tomb at all. The supposed entrance faces roughly south, towards the brook that babbles not 5 metres away, portal tombs and water being a generally accepted conjunction.

The capstone rests on two of the three stones beneath it. Healy says that these are three pieces of the one stone, split by the weight of the glacial erratic capstone, and I can see why he believes that. However, the underside of this capstone seems to have been worked to flatten it, though not into one sheer plane; there are two sections, the major one towards the ‘front’ of the stone. The rear of the ‘capstone’ rests on a fourth stone. There is the possibility that this small arrangement of stones were in situ and then the ‘capstone’ was placed on top of them, the assemblage being some sort of ritual monument and not a tomb. Maybe a fanciful theory, but an explanation for the working of the underside of the ‘capstone’. The natural groove around the ‘front’ of the ‘capstone’ adds to the theory that this stone was chosen, as opposed to to it being an accident of nature.

I spent a while here, drinking in the place. The colour of the day was leeching out as I headed back up to the road. Deer were heading south above me, back to the wilder hinterlands of Dublin county, and then the sun broke out over the back of Ballymorefinn, lighting up the hillside in an orange glow and I didn’t want the day to end. And then it was back to ‘civilisation’, and TVs and laptops, and pandemics.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
9th May 2020ce

The Three Brothers (Natural Rock Feature)

I visited last year - the paths to the stones have been "shut" by whoever "owns" the land. kingrolo Posted by kingrolo
15th April 2020ce

White Cairn, Honeyhole (Cairn(s))

Visited 06.07.19

White Cairn, Honeyhole is a grassy cairn, 3.5 miles WNW of Thornhill. It lies in an elevated field above Honeyhole farm.
Canmore ID 65238 states it "survives as a partly turf-covered stony mound 32.5m E-W by 29.5m and up to 1.7m high with no significant features."
Nothing has changed since the 1977 survey. The flat field contrasts with the cairn's modest elevation. Some scattered small stones are visible amongst a grassy thatch.
Directions: take the Sanquhar road off the A702 in Penpont. After two miles bear L for Scar Water. After 0.5 mile you will reach Honeyhole farm. Continue for c. 300 yards to a gateway on L with space to park. Head uphill SW, towards the corner of the wood. After 300 yards climbing steeply cross into the adjacent field. Walk SW for another 200 yards to reach White Cairn, Honeyhole.
Posted by markj99
4th April 2020ce
Edited 11th April 2020ce

White Cairn, West Skelston (Cairn(s))

Visited 28.08.19

White Cairn, West Skelston is a partially robbed cairn, reused as a dump for field clearance stones and old farm equipment. It is 3 miles W of Dunscore in an arable field overlooking West Skelston farm.
Canmore ID 65098 describes the cairn in 1991 as follows: "This cairn is situated on the crest of a spur and measures 23m in diameter and 3m in height; it has been partly robbed and has been supplemented by large boulders relatively recently."
There are original stones with an aged white patina but there are also a large central robbed out void, large field clearance stones and some old farm equipment on this cairn.
This seems to be the fate of cairns in proximity of farms where the temptation to exploit a natural resource is too great.
Posted by markj99
4th April 2020ce

Fleuchlarg (Cairn(s))

Visited 07.04.12

Fleucharg Long Cairn has certainly been abused over the millennia, most probably in the last centuries. However, it is still a significant presence in the landscape worth visiting.
It was archaeologically excavated in 1937. Canmore ID 65063 states it "measures 150 ft NNE-SSW by 44 ft across the N end and 85 ft some 25 ft from the S end, and has a maximum height of 14 ft."
Of particular note was "a setting of three boulders, possibly part of a kerb" according to Canmore ID 65063.
There are also large voids in the cairn due to stone robbing.
It is identified as White Cairn in OS 1:50k maps.
Posted by markj99
4th April 2020ce
Edited 5th April 2020ce

White Cairn, Gelston (Cairn(s))

White Cairn, Gelston was a cairn 1 mile W of Gelston, a small community near Castle Douglas.
Canmore ID 64467 says the "remains of this cairn consist of two large stones set in line east to west with an indeterminate scatter of small stones to the south. The west stone is 3.0m long by 0.6m wide and 1.0m high, the other being approx half this size." This entry dates to 1968 and things have changed since then. On 14.09.19 two large stones corresponding to the 1968 entry were piled in the corner of a field with an old tyre at the expected grid reference. There is a third small stone beside the pair of stones but the scattered stones have been removed. The destruction of the cairn has been completed. The remaining two large stones were thought to have been part of the cist originally.
It was more of a practical exercise to find the site of the destroyed cairn than a walk to an existing cairn.
Posted by markj99
3rd April 2020ce
Edited 4th April 2020ce

White Cairn, Clatteringshaws (Cairn(s))

This is one for the completists. The Stoners who will leave no stone unturned. The pictures have been on my hard drive since August 2015 so I have had to resort to OS Maps Aerial to describe the final steps to the cairn.
White Cairn, Clatteringshaws is hiding in the forest half a mile SW of Lillie's Loch Car Park on the edge of Clatteringshaws Loch. Take Lillie's Loch/Loch Dee turn off the A712 just S of Clatteringshaws Loch. After almost 1 mile Lillie's Loch Car Park is on L at a sharp corner. Follow Lillie's Loch track SW for 400 yards crossing over a forest road into a wide forest ride. Continue W for 300 yards, bear L at a fork, head W for around 120 yards. Turn L into a narrow forest ride heading S. Follow this path for 200 yards approximately, look for a forest ride to your R. Follow this for 120 yards into a large clearing. Turn L for around 60 yards heading S. Look for a forest ride on your R, follow it for 40 yards and the cairn will appear (hopefully).
White Cairn, Clatteringshaws has its private pine enclosure giving it a sense of isolation. However the ruined state of the cairn detracts from the spectacle. According to Canmore ID 63797 "White Cairn has been circular, 40' in diameter, but it has been almost completely destroyed and small sheep shelters have been built out of its material on the site. The interment has probably been disturbed long ago."
The remains are a confused jumble of stones. As I said, this is one for the completists!
Posted by markj99
3rd April 2020ce

White Cairn, Bargrennan Burn (Cairn(s))

White Cairn, Bargrennan Burn lies in the middle of unimproved grazing, 0.5 miles north of Marberry Smokehouse on the A714 near Bargrennan. It is defined as a "kerb cairn" by Canmore ID 63008.
Many will have visited its more famous companion, White Cairn, Bargrennan which is in the forest near Glentrool Village, almost 1 mile SE.
White Cairn, Bargrennan Burn has fared better than its illustrious neighbour perhaps due to its relative inaccessibility. "The White Cairn is 50 feet in diameter and 7 ft high, slightly robbed on the south. There is a small circular excavation about 2 feet deep in the top but there is no evidence of a cist or chamber." (Canmore ID 63008)
This White Cairn is one of the few to show a glimmer of white, some of the exposed stones having an aged white patina.
A GPS is almost essential for this hidden cairn, however, walking 700 yards N from the sheepfold should allow you to find the cairn.
Starting at Newton Stewart take the A714 Girvan road for 12 miles to Bargrennan. Stay on the A714 for a futher 1.25 miles until you reach Marberry Smokehouse on the R. Parking is possible at NX 33840 78648, a mast at the end of a fast straight stretch of the A714. Walk back along the road until you reach the sheepfold then head N over rough ground for around 700 yards to NX 3422 7910. You should be able to see the cairn as a raised grass mound with some scattered stones from this approach.
Posted by markj99
3rd April 2020ce

White Cairn, Crouse (Cairn(s))

It would be foolish to visit the Hole Stone near Crouse farm without taking in White Cairn, Crouse on the way. There is room to park in a gateway at NX 36446 55806. Walk SE towards the gate in the dry stane dyke. White Cairn, Crouse lies 20 yards E of the gate. At first glance it looks like a field clearance cairn however there is a classic raised bank underlying structure. It is likely that the cairn was robbed of its original stones to build the neighbouring dry stane dykes and field clearance stones were subsequently piled up randomly.
Canmore ID 62871 gives the dimensions of the cairn as "28.0m N-S by 27.0m E-W and 2.0m high".
Return to the gate, walk 40 yards S into the next field to visit the Hole Stone. It is already listed on TMA and well worth a visit. Canmore ID 62872 includes a wealth of information about a second stone and marriage rituals.
Posted by markj99
31st March 2020ce

Barrhill White Cairn (Cairn(s))

Visited 17.09.19

Barrhill White Cairn is 1 mile W of Barrhill wedged into the corner of a field in forestry. Canmore ID 62561 gives its dimensions as "about 25m in diameter and varies in height from 1.0m to 2.5m".
The grassed-over cairn has been extensively robbed with few scattered stones remaining but the underlying structure is intact. A modern cairn, 10 feet high has been constructed at the summit of the cairn and a sheepfold built nearby. This would account for the missing stones.
Park at Barrhill station and cross the tracks following a farm road N. Walk past Cairnlea farm following the farm road until you reach a sheepfold, about 200 yards on the R. Turn R into the field adjacent to the sheepfold and follow the fence NW across fields for 600 yards until you reach the edge of a forest. Walk NW along the edge of the forest for about 500 yards until you reach a sheepfold. Go through the gate ahead into a large field, the cairn is in the R corner beside the forest.
Posted by markj99
31st March 2020ce

Laggish White Cairn (Cairn(s))

Visited 05.10.19

Laggish White Cairn lies in a pine forest 4km S of Barrhill. Canmore ID 62463 indicates that the cairn was extensively robbed by 1955 however the tree planting round the cairn has caused further disruption. It also describes the "remains of the White Cairn, grass-covered and measuring 19m in diameter and 1m in maximum height." The current dimensions of the cairn are around 15m by 1.5m. The cairn is still grass covered though pine needles are encroaching. There is a rock outcrop on the N side of the cairn as indicated by Canmore ID 62463.
There are no stones in the centre of the cairn however there is a large recumbent stone 5m W of the cairn, approximately fitting the dimensions of the central recumbent boulder. It could easily have been moved during the tree planting.
The subdued light of the clearing and the unnatural quiet of the pine forest add to the ambiance of this hidden cairn.
Take the New Luce road out of Barrhill. After 2.25 miles you reach a forest. Park up at the lay-by for Dochroyle & Laggish. Follow the track for 0.75 miles to reach Dochroyle, a tiny forest community. Pass through Dochroyle, through a locked gate turning R down the forest track. Turn R into a forest break after 500 yards at NX 23079 78656 which leads into a large forest break. Turn L and head over boggy ground for 50 yards, turn R into the forest for 20 yards to the cairn at NX 2298 7860. The above directions are approximate and a GPS is almost essential to find this cairn.
Posted by markj99
30th March 2020ce

White Cairn, High Aires (Cairn(s))

Visited 01.12.19

White Cairn, High Aires is situated 7.5 miles NNE of Glenluce, amid forestry and wind turbines. It is a grass covered round cairn, around 20 yards in diameter & 5 yards in height. The summit of the cairn is unexcavated and the stone structure appears to be intact.
Take the Dirnow road off the A75 near Kircowan. After three miles you reach a crossroads. Head straight onto a forest track to wind turbines. After 1.75 miles park beside a turbine at NX 26547 68071. There is an access road to the L. Walk around 300 yards S to a track entering a field. Turn R along the perimeter of the field following the curve until you reach a fence. The cairn is visible 10 yards into the adjacent field.
Further information is available in Canmore ID 62297.
Posted by markj99
29th March 2020ce

White Cairn, Markdhu (Cairn(s))

Visited 08.12.19
White Cairn, Markdhu was a small cairn on a natural knoll which had been removed by 1911 according to Canmore ID 61791. A sheepfold has been constructed on the knoll but it is now in ruins.
The site is shown on OS 1:50k maps and can be visited in conjunction with Cairn Kenny, a more impressive cairn, which lies around 400 yards NW.
Given their proximity and their relative isolation in rough moorland it makes sense to visit both sites together. See Cairn Kenny page for directions.
While little of the original cairn remains, the location of the knoll in flat moorland may explain the creation of the cairn.
Posted by markj99
29th March 2020ce

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle)

From the Grey Mare and her colts go back to the bridleway over the stile then turn left and keep going on a north westerly heading, when the track takes you to two hedges either side of the track and there is two gates on your right look for the Kingston Russell information board. The stone circle is through the gate away from the information board. Pretty easy, what went wrong Carl?
Hopping over the gate I stroll as nonchalantly as I possibly can, i'm even typing this carefully because that is one big herd of cows over there, and I'd appreciate it if they stayed there. During my nonchalance I extended the tripod for another bout of hoicking. So a hoicking I go, walking round the outside of the circle clockwise, noticing as I go, my only companion, Hardy's monument.

It looks like none of the stones are still standing, the largest stone has erosion marks on it like none of the others, like it was pulled out of a river. The immediate area is very flat, which is why I'd chosen this site as an equinox sunrise for this morning, but I'd have gotten here too late. Which is a maddening shame because it is a perfect site for a sunrise, or sunset, someone closer should get onto that.

It's not a great stone circle, but it is a good one and having been there gives me a warm feeling inside, it's now half past midday and I'm behind schedule, and very hungry, it's time to seek out another sort of warm feeling inside, en route to site number seven, strangely in the middle of the town of Dorchester.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow)

From the Valley of stones, a very aptly named place, I head south west on Bishop's Road until the road forks and I go right, and park at the gate with cattle grid. Take the right hand path to the Grey Mare and her Colts, a very inaptly named place.
Follow the path with the hedge to your left,in the corner of the field go through the gate for another twenty yards then left over a stile follow the hedge that's right in front of you until you get to a gate, go through it and there she is, looks nothing like a horse.

I immediately take shelter behind the stones away from the biting cold, I am no longer using the dog blanket as a cloak but instead have wrapped it round me then put my hoodie over that, it's more practical and less stupid looking, still cold though, wish I'd brought my coat.
Sat behind the tallest stone i'm right next to what is left of the chamber, one stone is still in situ as it were, the rest is a bit of a jumble, I was unable to tell if the larger stones were chamber side stones or capstones or a dollop of both. Also right next to me in my hunched up position is a low stone with a hole in it, the significance of which utterly evades me.
Out of the cold I extend my tripod to its fullest, then emerge from the comfort of the nook I'd found and circle the tomb a couple of times taking photos from 11 to 12 feet in the air, it's not easy and may take a few tries and if anyone sees you you might look a berk, but it is I think worth it. The pursuit of a new angle and all that, speaking of new there's a stone circle a little over half a mile from here that I've never been to, Kingston Russell, lets go.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce

The Valley of Stones (Natural Rock Feature)

After having been to the Hellstone and Hampton down stone circle I drove north and parked at the space by the junction of Bishop's Road and National cycle route 2 Road. Not as eloquently named that one.
Passing through the gate, or was it a stile? I can't remember, just get into the field with an information board then head down hill following the most worn path you can find. The Valley of stones is on your left just another stile and your there, you are entering the valley from it's north east.

I mostly pass by the drift of stones passing the curious circular structure higher up the east slope until I cant take it anymore and dive straight down into them,
Among the most notable stones in the meander are large flat boulders with cup like erosions on the surface, boulders with coffee or rose coloured flint extrusions, a stone with a hole in it, and a stone circle, of sorts.

I've not been here before, clearly my one and only trip to Dorset twenty years ago was a bit of a rush job, a cursory glance at best. I passed the Valley of stones by in favour of the Grey Mare and her colts.
This is much better, time to wander and time to ponder, and the wind cant get me down here, but the dog blanket is still being my cloak 'cause it's still cold. After having sat and stared at the "stone circle" I get up and walk the stone arc back and forth, in the end all's I can say is one stone in the circle is a boulder practically bristling with rosy caramel flint, it's just about the prettiest stone I've ever seen, and I didn't get the stone circle feel from it, more of an enclosure of some sort, it has an entrance, and no where for the western arc of stones to go. I guess it could be Iron age.
Also, this is the place people came to to take stones away to build stone circles, it would be like going to B&Q and building your patio right there in the shop. Or perhaps not.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce

Hampton Down (Stone Circle)

After having retraced my steps from the Hellstone back to the car, it is straight across the road following the footpath sign saying Abbotsbury hill fort. Unfortunately the fort isn't on my itinerary but this is also the way to Hampton Down stone circle. Improvised cloak wrapped fully round me and with the hedge to my right acting as wind break this is as pleasant as walking has been this morning. Following the hedge on my right, leads to a gate with a sign on it, the sign is for the stones which are now at my feet. That was easier than I anticipated.


Most of the stones are pretty low but hefty boulders, made of the same flinty stone as places I've yet to see, the two at the south are largest. In past years summer growth drowns the site completely, so I'm pretty lucky to see it in such good apparel. The view south reveals Chesil beach again, and north once more to Hardy's monument.
With less wind because of the close by hedges, I remove my cloak and get the tripod out. I've not yet been to a stone circle that didn't benefit from an elevated photo of the site, so I hoick it up and try to keep it still in the wind, not easy, but always yields good results. This was site three out of the hoped for twelve, and my first site of the day that I haven't been to yet. I liked it.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce

The Hellstone (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

The path to the Hellstone has indeed changed, I parked in the aforementioned layby, left the road opposite the farm going through a gate, there were cows in the field so I kept to the left side of the field. This leads to a stile, which in turn leads to a path between two fields, when one whole field has passed on your right, turn right, over the fence at a makeshift sort of stile. then it's up the gentle hill to the stones.

Even though it looks like it's been restored by someone who clearly didn't have a clue what it was supposed to look like, the Hellstone is still a pretty awesome thing to see. From on the mound by the stones you can see Chesil beach, Chesil means shingle, pebbles, it is the longest shingle beach in Britain. In the other direction a heath covered hill has a tower on it, Hardy's monument, Nelson's mate, not the poet, the monument is a handy orienteering wotsit, you can see it from almost all the sites i'm getting to this morning.

My coat hasn't magically appeared before me and it is terribly exposed on these hillsides so I have wrapped the dogs blanket off the back seat round me in an effort to fend off the icy winds. But it really is too much so I retreat into the dolmen and take a seat huddling for warmth. Boy do I not like the cold.

After having a long look round the tombs interior, there is nothing else for it but to brave the weather outside, I didn't spend more than ten to fifteen minutes here, I really am a plonker. The wind is making a mockery of my improvised cloak, whipping it up and over my head, rediculous.
But the Hellstone is awesome.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce

The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas (Stone Circle)

It's surprising how quickly three months can pass, it's already equinox time again and I thought I'd make a proper long old day of it. Twelve sites in twelve hours, a touch ambitious possibly, but I've neglected to bring either of the kids, which will help, and the car though small and slow has been faithful so far.
The plan, such as it was, was to witness an equinox sunrise from Kingston Russell stone circle. There's just two small problems with that, the actual equinox was yesterday, and I'm apparently a slow driver, because i'm not going to get there in time, I blame the poor state of British motorways, roadworks for mile after mile. Poop!

So I pull over early at the Nine stones, I haven't been here since before the big tree came down, it is not the only difference.
I parked at the farm building fifty yards down the road, walked back to the stones down the not dangerous at all road, and found no way to get to the stones. The stream was too wide to jump easily, the bridge is gone and the gate, there's no way in this way.
Back to the car and I drive a bit further down the road away from the stones, there is some new work going on, a housing estate possibly, I parked by the road. Passed through the fence with the red sign that says something like footpath closed and made my merry way off through the field.
It's about now I should make note that I have once again forgotten my coat, it is windy and cold, I really don't like being cold.
Having crossed the two fields, I arrive at the stones, here among the trees it is at least less windy. The circle is as lovely as I remembered it, with not much deviation from the original I reckon.
The two big stones, being entrance stones perhaps, meaning the stone between them is not in it's proper place, are two simply stunning stones, with huge amounts of chocolate rose flint showing, and a small colony of Harlequin ladybirds. Nice.

It's not easy to get the moment of sunrise and all the stones into the picture, first of all you have to be on the other side of the enclosing fence and there is a hill side in the way as well. So, not good for equinox sunrises, or winter ones, the hill would be even more in the way, but summer solstice would be fine, if you can cut down a few trees. I did say I was going somewhere else for the sunrise.

After failing to see a sunrise, staring closely and intently at the tall flinty stones, and walking round in at least a dozen circles, and this and that, it was time to go get my next stoney fix. So off I go to Hell, there is a stone there.
postman Posted by postman
25th March 2020ce
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