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

Devil's Den

Chambered Tomb


After parking next to Clatford Farm, and crossing the busy A4, the delightful Jane and I finally made it to the small footpath that leads about a half mile into fields and the only true dolmen in the area. The farm track was quite overgrown and very muddy in places, so involved much scrambling along the verge, getting covered in chickweed and grass seeds, pricked by particularly tough thistles, and being stung by the abundance of nettles that grew tall and lush all about. A hare loping ahead of us, and a small rainstorm added to the experience rather splendidly.

Finally, though, I could see over the verge top into a field of green, fat, waist-high wheat; and there, almost dwarfed by the landscape stood a wonderful dolmen. 'Dwarfed by the landscape' seems an odd phrase to use, because when this was originally a long barrow, it would have been huge. Clambering over the fence into the field, avoiding stingers, thistles, and barbed wire, we stood on a large stone, originally part of the barrow, that lay recumbent at the edge of the field. Following the 'tram lines' through the wheat, we made our way up to this magnificent dolmen.

Hemmed in tight by the wheat, totally on our own, we were completely dominated by this wonderful structure, big enough that a megalither could sit inside it comfortably. I had to move back through the tram lines to be able to take a picture (difficult even with the wide angle lens on), and my trousers were soaked with the fresh rain that clung to the wheat. Not that it mattered. This place was magical, serene, and spellbinding. I don’t know what it is about Wiltshire, but it’s the one place in this country that I feel so very close to the Goddess and the whole Mother Earth belief. Not that there aren’t others; but this place just emanates it in all-embracing waves.

We rested by the dolmen, reluctant to leave. I found a small, flat, squarish piece of flint on the ground, just the right size to use as a base for burning a vanilla cone. Lying it on the dolmen, I sat inside and let the smoke waft past, feeling wonderfully safe under the massive, softly rounded, three-foot thick capstone. It was like sitting in the heart of the stone, a symbolic womb. They certainly knew what they were about, these Neolithic builders.

After a while, we had to leave, and sadly we made our way back down the path, yet enriched by the vibe offered by the ‘Devil’s Den’, a misnomer if ever I heard one. It’s certainly a place I would like to return to in winter, or when there isn’t quite so much arable in the field – although wheat is such a symbol of fertility and abundance, perhaps it was entirely the appropriate experience.
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
31st August 2003ce

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