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

Fontburn Dod Wood

Stone Circle


Placed deliberately in view of Simonside. if this little four-poster type circle were a few feet further north or south, the hill wouldn't be half as visible. The long hillocks to the east and west frame the plateau with Simonside as the definite focal point, almost due north. You simply can't miss it, with it's distinctive shapes being silhouetted quite precisely, none of the curves of the lower foothills of Simonside can be seen, which adds to the visual impact of the setting. It would be such a sight if viewd at night with the aurora borealis flickering behind it.

There are more than 4 stones, but the largest roughly describe a rectangle. All the stones are on a low mound, with many small boulders dotted about, possibly they once covered the larger stones. Burl declared this site a four poster, and the mound certainly seemed to hint at a burial function that would fit with the four poster label.

Stan Beckensall states there are cups, and some of these were clearly visible on the tops of two of the stones. But the ringed motif on the vertical side of one eluded me.

Growing from the south side, there's a hawthorn of great age, most of which has broken off, the depth of the lichen on the split wood indicating it was a long time ag. Yet happily, the tree survives in reduced form. The strange hillocks framing the miniplateau upon which the sire sits are very conspicuous, that to the east having revetted stone walls, with traces of a ditch. The western one has some pretty hefty boulders as grounders of two parallel linear earth/stone banks, each of which is runs the length of the hillock. No excavations, no dating evidence, no idea. Though cattle droving suggested itself.

It's not particularly accessible in any way, requiring a scramble up from the footpath to the south by the burn, or a trudge across bracken infested bog to the north, moss-trooper territory, with hidden hollows, steep sided cleughs and mossy, peaty moorland. Shame about the pine plantations.

This site is not marked on the OS map, nor is it scheduled, which seems a poor show. There surrounding area is littered with intriguing lumps and bumps, such as the circular ditch on the path from Newbiggin farm, just before the trees.

The place to ask permission is Newbiggin Farm, and though there are carparks on the eastern side of the reservoir, it'd still be a hike of a mile or so across some burns, through quite a bit of mud, along some pretty basic trails. If coming from the west, from Harwood forest, beware the recent tree felling has blocked some of the footpaths and bridleways, many of which might be easy enough on horseback, but are a right pain on a pushbike, even without the trees.
Hob Posted by Hob
13th July 2004ce

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