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Old and New Friends in Wiltshire

The last trip of the year, and the first since our trip to Cornwall in October.

I was seriously in need of a recharge, so Wiltshire was chosen as the destination, taking in some old and new (to me) sites.

Leaving London at 7am, and after our traditional breakfast stopover on the motorway, we were approaching Marlborough by 9am. To start the day, I diverted to Ogbourne St Andrew to take a look at the Round Barrow in the churchyard.

Ogbourne St Andrew Barrow — Fieldnotes


The weather was wet. Raining and misty all at the same time. We parked outside the church, and like a div, I still hadn't spotted the barrow.

When I did spot it, looming large next to the church, covered in trees, it was like , Wow!

It's big, and the immediate impression I got was of darkness, as if it resented the church being there. Maybe that's why the children mentioned in Rhiannon's Folklore entry avoided the place?

Next on the list was the Devil's Den, but the idiots driving at high speed in poor conditions on the A4 meant that I'd passed the Clatford Farm turn-off without spotting anywhere safe to park. So I continued on to say hello to the Sanctuary and Seorfon Barrows at the start of the Ridgeway before turning to park by the start of the West Kennet Avenue.

West Kennett Avenue — Images

<b>West Kennett Avenue</b>Posted by ocifant

My target was Falkner's Circle.

Falkner's Circle — Fieldnotes

I was amazed I'd not seen this before given how close it actually is to the road. On return to the car, I found that the remaining stone of the circle can actually be seen from the road. I'd expected it to be much further up the hill toward the Ridgeway for some reason.

I'd parked at the end of West Kennet Avenue and just followed the new signpost to "Falkner's Circle 1/4 mile".

On the way I saw the hedgerow stone pictured by stubob, but devoid of the vegetation in his photo (see my picture). Oh, and there was a crop circle just to the south, but it looked a bit 'amateurish' to my eye, kind of incomplete...

Falkner's Circle — Images

<b>Falkner's Circle</b>Posted by ocifant<b>Falkner's Circle</b>Posted by ocifant

Backtracking, I crossed the road, and followed the footpath signs in the opposite direct, up Waden Hill, from where I could see both Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow

Silbury Hill — Images

<b>Silbury Hill</b>Posted by ocifant

We then went into Avebury itself, where we failed singularly to spend any money in the Henge Shop, and I got back in touch with the stones - it's been far too long! It was a shame to see so much erosion on the banks, but they are now roped off to allow the grass time to recover, so here's hoping more drastic measures aren't required.

The Cove — Images

<b>The Cove</b>Posted by ocifant

Next on the list was another new site for me: Winterbourne Basset circle.

Winterbourne Bassett — Fieldnotes

Easily found, following the map, and the NW outlier at the junction tells you you've arrived. We pulled into the No Through Road on the left, and parked on the verge (the pull-in that Moth mentioned was gated, and very muddy).

A real mystery, this one. I scaled the ladder stile and entered the field, to find 5 stones in a parabola, suggesting an ovoid 'circle'. And unusually, a central stone. Plus of course, the two outliers. None still standing, and the possibility that this wasn't the original location of the stones anyway. Lots of questions and very few answers. I could get no real feeling of what was what, so had to leave somewhat unsatisfied.

Winterbourne Bassett — Images

<b>Winterbourne Bassett</b>Posted by ocifant<b>Winterbourne Bassett</b>Posted by ocifant

Returning back through Avebury, I decided to give the Devil's Den another try, but still couldn't find a safe parking place off the A4 at Clatford. Quickly referring to the map, we spotted a car park marked at Manton House, with a footpath/bridleway which led around to the Den. This did the job, and I'd completed my list for the day despite the weather, and it was still only 2:30pm!

Devil's Den — Fieldnotes

Unlike just about everyone else on TMA, I declined to park on the A4 verge due to the madness of various daredevil drivers. Instead, we headed for the car park at SU159699, and I took a longer, leisurely walk along the bridleway at the opposite corner to the entrance to the car park.

The bridleway is bounded on the left by a white topped, electrified fence. I didn't test to see if it was on, but after about 500 yards or so, the Den appeared on the near horizon. It seemed a long way away, and following the fence, I wasn't sure if I'd actually be able to get access, but the fence and bridleway headed left eventually, and down into the dale. A gate at the bottom of the hill led to the overgrown footpath, about 500 yards away from the barbed wire 'stile' near the stones. This last stretch was muddy, and I'd imagine could be quite overgrown in high season, unlike the lush grass track I'd taken thus far. The round trip took me an hour, and I'm not as fit as Moth, so it's probably a comparable distance, with no difficulty parking.

The location itself is stunning, but I kept asking myself, 'why here?' Surrounded by hills on all sides, there is no obvious view or alignment for the 'barrow'. The stones lie on a distintive mound, but I suspect most of this is field clearance, as the restoration is is quite obvious, and the concrete was, for me, quite off-putting. I'll be back though, if only for the views from the approach.

Devil's Den — Images

<b>Devil's Den</b>Posted by ocifant

But the Polisher will have to wait for another day!
ocifant Posted by ocifant
30th December 2003ce
Edited 31st December 2003ce

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