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Moth flies south - part 3

On the Thursday I'd been hoping to meet up with HH & TMAer Nat (and maybe flog her some more megalithic photies). Unfortunately her boss had other plans, so it was just me and John again.

This was about the only day when we weren't blessed with bright sunshine, but it was dry and fairly warm, so that wasn't a problem at all. In fact, John found the slightly cooler weather a bit of a relief.

To the Land of the Giant Thursday 18 September 2003
After a quick detour to Yeovil for John to meet up with an old mate of his (and - incredibly subtly - see if he had any work going), we headed for Cerne Abbas and the Giant.

The detour had put us a little late (not a complaint Mr John) so I stepped on it a bit, esp on the road heading east from Holywell (hmmm?) on the A37 to join the A352. John' s knuckles looked a little white at times, but soon we were safely in the car park looking up at Giant Hill and scoffing lunch.

Cerne Abbas Giant — Images

<b>Cerne Abbas Giant</b>Posted by Moth

Cerne Abbas Giant — Fieldnotes

Access hmmm, didn't actually go up to 'the man', but I guess this might still be useful to someone.... Tarmac car park is signposted from the A352, on the left heading south. This is the best observation point for seeing the Giant on his hillside, which is of course the only way to really see the figure properly (other than from an aircraft!).

Thursday 18 September 2003
I'd been looking forward to seeing ye-probably-not-quite-so-old-as-perhaps-was-thought-but-who-cares Giant for quite a while. Pretty damn impressive the old boy and his Belisha beacon are too!

Although I still find the evidence not completely conclusive, I'm quite happy with the notion that it's a later figure on a long-significant hillside. And even if the theory that it's supposed to represent Ollie Cromwell is right, it's still a cool sight/site.

Although not quite steep enough for perfect observation from below, Giant Hill gives a pretty good view from the car park. We didn't bother climbing the hill, as we were on a pretty tight schedule and wanted to see quite a few sites on our only day in the 'far' south.

Trunk Road Stone Circle
Our next stop was the Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas - another much anticipated site for me.

For some reason despite being passionately in love with stomping around the countryside miles from anywhere, I'm often perversely fascinated by sites that are 'urbanised' in some way. I think it all started at Leys of Marlee....
<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by Moth

The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas — Fieldnotes

Access difficult. We parked at the Little Chef, as suggested by Julian in the big papery TMA. What he fails to mention is that it's a fair distance (mebbe 300-400 yards) along the very narrow verge of the pretty busy A35. So add my voice to the others saying 'park at the layby'!!!

The very small layby is on the opposite (north) side of the road to the circle but much closer. To actually get to the circle, you have to cross the road and a roadside ditch by a short but rather narrow concrete 'walkway'. Once into the trees surrounding the stones, the ground is fairly uneven.

Thursday 18 September 2003
It might be me, or it might have just been the day I was there, or maybe I was uncharacteristically fazed by the running of the A35 'gauntlet', but I can't agree that this circle had any peace to it!!!! At all.

Which is a shame, because it's a cool little circle of wildly differing stones, the largest of which is a great example of the weird 'gravel-and-flints-welded-together' stone that appears in some of the other 'monuments' in the area. (That's the geological name for it, honest.)

I think I'd be saying that the trees ruin it anyway actually. Don't get me wrong though, I liked it and it's still certainly WELL worth a visit.

Heaven and Hellstone
Having had our fill of the Nine stones, we walked the perilous walk back to the Little Chef. Resisting the culinary temptations and the urge to yell "WTF are you looking at" at the clientelle gawking out at us, we set off to the Hellstone dolmen.

We didn't stop at the Valley of Stones as we had a busy 'itinerary' (nothing so grand really!) and the weather looked distinctly changeable. Another time maybe.

The Hellstone — Images

<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by Moth

The Hellstone — Fieldnotes

Access a bit of a walk, maybe half a mile, with a few stiles. We parked in a layby on Portisham Hill, next to the farm at SY601879. Phil's map and description would have been very helpful, as we only had a Landranger map and would've been helped greatly by knowing where the site is in relation to field boundaries.

Dunno how everybody else seemed to find it so easily!!!

Other than using Phil's map or an Explorer/Pathfider map, the easiest way to find the dolmen is simply to follow the path leading east from the layby.

Although strictly speaking, the Hellstone is in the third field on the right, after passing into the second field, start watching the (near) horizon on the right and you'll see the dolmen and it's companion tree.

There is a stile (though on our visit no signpost) and you can reach the Hellstone by crossing or skirting the field towards it. The way is up a fairly gentle hill at this point and obvious once you spot the stones. Annoyingly we didn't do this and missed it, reaching it by a far more haphazard route!

Thursday 18 September 2003
In a pretty good spot at the crest of the hill, this is a nice dolmen, if slightly unusual (due to the reconstruction perhaps?) and the extent of the original mound is much more evident than at many similar sites.

Interestingly, to me anyway, the actual stones of the dolmen themselves seemed to be on quite a raised platform. More so than most dolmens I've visited I think. Although I guess this could also be a legacy of the reconstruction.

'Duck pond'? That's a bit grand. I'd read 'big muddy puddle'. And the ducks were right back way down the hill as if giving it a wide berth.

Hmmmm(pton Down)
Crossing the road on our return from The Hellstone we headed towards Hampton Down stone circle. Burl's description sounded interesting but confused, confusing and not altogether encouraging. So we went not expecting a great deal.

This is often a good thing, as it avoids disappointment!!! So it proved in this case....

Hampton Down — Images

<b>Hampton Down</b>Posted by Moth<b>Hampton Down</b>Posted by Moth

Hampton Down — Fieldnotes

Access Walk of around half a mile. Leaving the car in the layby next to the farm at SY601879 on Portisham Hill (same as for The Hellstone) we crossed the road and entered the farm gate on the west side of the road. We followed the track through the farm past docile cattle.

I'm pretty sure that at the far end of the farm itself there may have been a stile, but I think when we visited the gate was unlocked anyway. Up a fairly gentle hill, the stones are in a little fenced off area at the top of the hill, to the left of the path where it crosses a(nother) stile.

Thursday 18 September 2003
As mentioned by Burl and other people on this website, it has been considerably 'messed-about-with'. It's quite pretty despite that and the views must be great (though it was too misty when we were there).

Definitely worth a look for so little trouble, especially if visiting other sites in the area, especially the Hellstone.

They shoot horses, don't they?
Back at the car, we made the short drive to park for the Grey Mare and her Colts. I must admit there's often an extra tingle of expectation when I'm visiting a site covered in the big papery TMA.

Julian's descriptions are usually so involving and personal that they pique my interest. The Grey Mare was no exception, and because he's had to be pretty selective, most of the sites in the book are pretty damn special.

But for once, neither Julian nor the site quite 'did it' for me.

The Grey Mare & Her Colts — Images

<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by Moth

The Grey Mare & Her Colts — Fieldnotes

Access getting on for a mile walking I guess. Fairly flat and good going along a bridlepath. Could get fairly muddy. OS map helpful.

We parked at a junction between lane, farm track and bridlepath at SY499868. Dickie gives good directions here.

Thursday 18 September 2003
Hmmm, must admit to being a little bit underwhelmed with this one. I felt it was very reminiscent of a trashed Waylands Smithy.

This may have been because the although by no means bad, the weather wasn't conducive to sitting and chilling and it was a bit too hazy for good views of the surroundings.

Had a good go at trying to see or hear (trying to cause echoes by shouting and tapping) whether any chamber was vaguely intact under the collapsed capstone. It seemed unlikely.

Another 'well worth seeing', but for me, it turned out to be an 'incidental' on the way to Kingston Russell Stone Circle a bit further along the path.

What do you call a royal megalith in a paper bag?Kingston Russell!!!!!!
"Shall we go have a squint at this one a bit further up the track?" I asked John, pointing at the map. We were both a bit doubtful, but it was on the same track as the Grey Mare and her Colts so it seemed silly not to bother, and would've gone right against my grain.

Right decision!

Have since read on this website, that the hut circle nearby at SY578881 is well worth a look too. Curses!!

Kingston Russell — Images

<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by Moth

Kingston Russell — Fieldnotes

Access getting on for a couple of miles walking I guess. Visit Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. Fairly flat and good going along a bridlepath. Could get fairly muddy. OS map helpful.

We parked at a junction between lane, farm track and bridlepath at SY499868. Dickie gives good directions here. (The barrow he refers to is of course, the Grey Mare and her Colts.)

Thursday 18 September 2003
We weren't expecting much. After all, it's not even in Burl...!

WRONG!!!!! Having since read the reports on this website, I know we're not alone, but we thought this is an unsung marvel. I'd not researched it, just spotted it on the Landranger earlier in the day while doing a bit of 'on the hoof' planning....

So OK, all the stones are down, but they're BIG, there're loads of them and they form (get this) a BIG CIRCLE!!!! Looked like the views would be superb on a clear day too!!!!

Where we got lucky was that the field was well stocked with (stop reading Ocifant!) stubborn but placid, big but hungry cows. And the reason this was lucky is that they had obviously been grazing here for quite a while and the circle was not overgrown AT ALL, making viewing it much easier!

After stomping around the circle taking photos, our bovine friends finally took the hint and left the circle, meaning I had the opportunity to take the same photos without the friesian ornamentation. Which, of course, I had to do.

For the record (in the absence of Burl providing statistics) and as a shock for anyone who knows me, we paced out the diameter of the circle and made it around 26-28 yards across. I also uncharacteristically counted the stones and made it 18 OR 19 - diplomatic huh? (See other fieldnotes below.)

We did however wonder if some of these stones were broken parts, and reckoned that the original circle may have 'only' been 16 stones. As the vast majority, if not all, seem to have been around 5 feet or more high, this wouldn't have taken away from what would have been a pretty spectacular circle!

Another one that I'd love to see re-erected!!!! I'm soooo glad we didn't miss it!!!!

'Half-mile' stone circle
Having seen everything we'd planned, we headed back via Winterbourne Abbas for some 'on spec' sites that looked close to the road to maximise what time we had left.

So next was the Broad Stone (we thought)....

The Broad Stone — Images

<b>The Broad Stone</b>Posted by Moth<b>The Broad Stone</b>Posted by Moth

The Broad Stone — Fieldnotes

Access pretty easy to see if you park in the layby on the left of the A35 travelling west, at approx SY598904. The stone we saw is over the hedge just a few yards further west from the layby. Just need to walk a few yards on the reasonably even grassy verge. The 'Broad Stone' itself is right by the roadside, in the verge....

Thursday 18 September 2003
So is this the remains of the circle that, according to Julian and Burl, John Aubrey mentioned as 3 stones, half a mile west of the Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas? It's in about the right place.

There's only one small stone visible in the field, but the grass was in just the right state that we could clearly see a number of slight tussocks forming what looked distinctly like a circle extending towards the road. The circle looked to be around the same size as the Nine Stones just up the road....

Unfortunately, the dense and vicious looking hedgerow and lack of time meant that we couldn't enter the field to investigate further.

So anyway, I probably shouldn't mention that we totally missed the Broad Stone itself. (See Juamei's picture.) Or that we thought this possible circle stone must have been it. Which it wasn't. QUITE.

BECAUSE I do also now notice that Juamei reckons that this stone AND the Broad Stone could have both been part of Aubrey's circle - which makes sense. And means that we must have virtually have stood on the Broad Stone itself. Ooops! And we'd been doing so well all day!

Forgive us our trespasses....
Next up was a standing stone marked on the Landranger, the name of which we knew not (yet)....

The Helstone — Images

<b>The Helstone</b>Posted by Moth

The Helstone — Fieldnotes

Access depends whether you take notice of signs saying things like 'private'. If you didn't, you could drive quite close along a tarmac access road. To walk to the stone from there, you'd just need to cross the intervening hundred or so yards of field - depending whether in crop or not.

Otherwise you could follow">Juamei's instructions

Thursday 18 September 2003
Juamei's fieldnotes say just about everything. All I want to add is that something about this site, maybe the openness of the valley that Juamei refers to, made me feel quite strongly that it may originally have been a circle.

No evidence. No signs. But then the field has so obviously been ploughed and cultivated for so long that once any stones had gone, there'd be no evidence. And then again, why leave this stone and clear the rest? So perhaps it's just me.

Traffic traumas
Fairly nearby was a place (unusually for this particular sheet) marked on the Landranger simply as a 'Burial Chamber'. We found this vaguely stood out simply due to the plethora of 'Barrows' and 'Tumuli' along with the occasional 'Long Barrow', so we thought we'd have a look.

Travelling west once again along the A35, this proved more difficult to get to than we expected. Not for any accessibility reason inherent in the site, however, but due to 2 bloody great coaches performing a precarious back-and-forth dance at the entrance to the right turn we needed to take to approach the site. Traffic in all directions was forced to halt for some time for the duration of their manoeuvres.

We were just on the point of giving up and heading for home when the opposing coaches managed to resolve their predicament and head off in their desired directions. So we were finally able to head off in ours....

West Compton Down — Images

<b>West Compton Down</b>Posted by Moth

West Compton Down — Fieldnotes

Access can be seen easily from the road at approx SY554938. We left the A35 at SY555917, heading north towards an aerial mast near West Compton. We took a left at the first t-junction and after about 100 yards, the stones were around 50 yards away in the field to the north of the road.

Depending on the state of crop in the field, it lies around 100 yards from a path that leads north from the road around 100 yards east....

Thursday 18 September 2003
We didn't have time to investigate closely, but this looks like around 3 or 4 large stones left from a collapsed burial chamber, but collapsed in such a way as to be recognisable.

Like to get a closer look, but goodness knows when I'll be back in these parts and there's just so much to see!

Homeward bound Leaving the burial chamber behind, we headed back along the A35 for home, leaving the main road for a while on reaching Winterbourne Abbas once again.

I'd spotted a farm selling some wares that I fancied, and we needed some snap to sustain us on (what certainly proved to be) the long journey back to Burnham. Quite handily this took us past the - pretty spectacular even from the car - 'back' end of Maiden Castle. Another one for 'next time'!
Moth Posted by Moth
5th December 2003ce
Edited 27th July 2016ce

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