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Mendip mischief

Another chapter (previous ones unpublished :) in a good hard look at zummerzet's ancient sites, this time with a relative newbie to the area, so a couple of classics for good measure. Unfortunately due to damaging my knee walking a couple of weeks ago, not as many sites as I'd have liked.

Starting in Bath, we had the obligatory stop off at Stoney Littleton first and then onto a newbie for me.

Faulkland — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] Yet another possible trashed ancient site, I'm not that picky me, so I popped along. I counted 5 medium sized stones (4ft+) scattered on or near the village green including the two set up either side of the stocks. They certainly had the look of very weathered stones to me, covered in lichen as they were. I didn't go looking for the cottage called "The Cove", but I do think the evidence weighs in favour of this being the site of an ancient monument.

Access is excellent, you can park within 20 yards of the stock's stones, on the edge of the green.

Heading west and back to the classics with the second largest circle in britain/europe/world at Stanton Drew. Being more of a longbarrow man myself, I was pleasantly surprised that my companion prefered Stoney Littleton...

Now the true aim of my day kicked in, a few of the monuments about Priddy and the edge of the mendips.

Pool Farm Cist — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] The lure of a concrete copy onsite lured me here, but I kinda failed to find it. I think I saw it across a field, but pain & mud put me off till the spring.

For those who are tempted in the meantime: Starting on the B road, head west to east along the footpath that goes past Pool Farm. On the other side of the first field on your left is what I think is the remains of the cist.

Access is unknown but looks like being across a muddy field.

Priddy Henges (incomplete 4th circle) — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] Yet to get into the field to have a close-up look at this, but through the hedge and the gate its little more than a ripple in the grass. The barrows in the henge are semi-visible but as with the henge, clearly ploughed out. The whole site has that fuzzy look about it. Sadly there is also a hedge across the henge so you can't even see the whole thing in one go.

The field containing the henge is on a country lane with 70mph cutthroughers, so if you keep your wits about you access is good as they don't come along that often.

Ashen Hill Barrows — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] I'm loathe to include this as a seperate site from priddy nine barrows (PNB), but as it is seperate on other websites and an extra eight or nine barrows would make PNB very badly misnamed... However, these should almost certainly be counted as the same cemetary, being less than 10 minutes walk from PNB and highly inter-visible. But maybe then the idea of a barrow cemetary is fundamentally flawed when you are talking about barrows. Where do you draw the limits?

Moving on, this is a nice linear cluster, acting almost as a counterpoint to PNB who's line lies slightly further to the east. They are all in relatively good order and a fair size for todays barrows. One thing that did puzzle me were the ditches either side of the barrow line expecially as the Northern ditch had large stones within it. Whether this is a mendip thing I'm not sure, there is a solitary large barrow at 545492, with 300 metre long ditches either side of it. The ditches look newer than bronze age however...

Access is a 100 yards down a track then 200 yards across a muddy muddy field.

Priddy Nine Barrows — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] This is really only half a barrow cluster, there being another line of barrows (Ashen Hill) 1/2 a mile to the North. One thing I noticed when up here, besides the fact its cold on the edge of the mendips in late November, is you can't actually see the levels from here. In fact they are a touch oddly placed imo.

I presume the sight from the Priddy Circles to the North would have been unimpeded 3-4 thousand years ago and this lovely linear cemetary would have visible shining white on the horizon.

Access is across a few fields, but you can see these beauties from a fair way off in most directions (except North).

Deerleap Stones — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] These caught my eye a few months ago and finally I've had a chance to visit. The view was gorgeous and well worth the trip to these parts all by itself, but the site itself, hmmmm. Lets start with the dead badger lying close to the stones, not their fault I will admit, but it really didn't add to the ambience of the place, though did provide a useful comparison for the photos.

Onto the antiquity of the stones, I've seen a fair few standing stones now about these parts and they have all to a rock, been considerably more weathered than these two. They've had much more lichen and are on the whole darker. These stones stood out lighter from a distance, which is never the best of signs.

Perhaps they've come from a barrow hereabouts, the roundbarrows round here contain cists after all, or perhaps they are a more modern introduction.
Reading the site notes, one stone should defn be less weathered, presumably the upper stone as its lighter.

Access is via a 10 minute walk from one of two ebhor gorge car parks, along a road for a bit, then in a field.

Pen Hill — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/11/04] Apart from the Priddy henges, this is the one I've been wanting to visit longest in this area. I got the OS map of the area and then had to drive past the mendip main tv transmitter everyday, knowing there was a longbarrow I'd not visited right underneath it. Finally however I got to it, having picked our way across a sea of mud, the barrow is in its own little enclosure.

Its positioned perfectly, running along the crest of the hill and the view across the somerset levels is gorgeous. Of course most of the land you see now was underwater in the neolithic, but the distant hills were certainly occupied and the gods are always watching.

The barrow is in fairly good nick but is clearly denuded, I couldn't see any sign of stones around or on it, so this is presumably an earthen longbarrow. Unless someone has nicked them all of course. I'd recommend this site, though the huge transmitter may put some people off as it really is hard to forget about it towering above you.

Access is up a metalled track to the transmitter, then round to the left, through the gate and the barrow is in front of you enclosed in fencing.

One more thing worth looking at is the weird linear feature to the east of the barrow which you'll probably see before the barrow itself. This is the 'bank barrow' Rhiannon mentions. I'm not convinced it qualifies to be in the same league as the dorset ones. Its just not enough of a brute for that in my opinion, its too small in width and height.

It does however look similar to the weird tracks leading up to the Barrow above the long man of wilmington. I'd bet someone elses house on it being as old as the barrow.
juamei Posted by juamei
11th December 2004ce
Edited 11th December 2004ce

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