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


Circle henge


The rain is getting heavier (possibly becoming a theme for this week's visits?) and the long grass is now very wet. I tramp through it to see the remaining stones of the largely vanished central circle/horseshoe, which seem rather lost and unsure of themselves. Still, the larger stones retain a gnarly grandeur in the misty drizzle. To the NE of the Cove, in the middle of the NE quadrant a single hefty stone is the northernmost survivor of this largely lost setting. From here I head to the eastern entrance of the henge itself. Near the entrance, there is a semi-fallen slab (Stone 73) – presumably this square-ish stone marked the entrance in the same way that the Swindon Stone marks the north. It has some interesting weathering, circular depressions eroded by the rainfall of centuries suggesting that it has been fallen for a good long time.

To the north a solitary stone remains of the eastern arc of the great outer circle here. It occurs to me that, Cove excepted, this quadrant is rather less 'busy' than the other three, with by far the fewest remaining stones. This makes for a great feeling of space and peace that is perhaps not so evident elsewhere inside the henge. I climb the enormous bank itself to take me round to the northern entrance of the henge. The comparative lack of stones draws the eye easily to the earthwork. Despite being more than two thirds filled in, the ditch is still an incredible testament to the man-hours involved in its construction.

A plump pigeon sits on top of the final, northernmost stone of the NE quadrant and a dog walker crosses the open space below me. Between them these are the only living creatures I've seen in the circle since arriving. But the northern entrance heralds a return to the 21st century, as the traffic roars freely into the henge with scant regard for wayward stoneheads out in the rain. I stop again at the Cove, in awe of these wonderful stones, before crossing the road and then I'm up to the enormous diamond of the Swindon Stone. The NW quadrant is an odd mixture of "normal" sarsens, concrete pillars and Picasso-esque sculpture in the form of smashed stones that have been reconstituted. The rain turns much heavier and attempts at photos become futile, so I scurry off to the church porch for shelter (lovely Romanesque door by the way).

Rain reducing, I head to the SW quadrant, and after another weird piece of sarsen sculpture I'm into a much more complete section of the outer circle, including the notorious "Barber Stone". Across the road the SE quadrant boasts a complex arrangement of stones, making it difficult at first to work out what I'm looking at. The huge stones 1 and 98 mark the southern entrance (and another risky road-crossing). Inside the quadrant, some impressive stones remain of the southern circle and then there are Z Stones, the ring stone and a whole lot more concrete pillars. The slightly dryer spell is marked by the emergence of a Spanish family under a vast brolly, braving the weather for some photos amongst the sheep.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th August 2010ce

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