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

Belas Knap

Long Barrow


8.1.2010: Following the heaviest snow in Gloucestershire since 1982 (apparently), a trip up here seemed like a good idea. I had hoped to get here for sunrise, but the Winchcombe bus didn't turn up, so I ended up getting a bus to Prestbury and walking from there, up and over the southern part of Cleeve Common in freezing fog, which made a visit to Cleeve Cloud seem a bit pointless, so it's eastwards to Belas Knap, past the empty shell of Wontley Farm. Approaching the barrow from the west, the fog suddenly started to lift and the sun came out - wonderful! The barrow emerged from the gloom and was lit up in the early morning rays. Looked as if no more than three or four people had been up here since the snowfall three days previously, and there certainly wasn't a soul to be seen up here while I was at the site.

A good wander around the perimeter, then into the two larger side chambers. Temperatures were in the minus figures and my fingers were numb from taking pictures with a glove off. This is great barrow, anyone who complains about it being restored and therefore somehow not authentic should visit all the ploughed down, wrecked barrows around Gloucestershire and realise how lucky we are to have this superb site. After about half an hour or so, even the shelter of the side chamber started to seem pretty cold and I headed off back the way I had come. Walking along the Cotswold Way and then along the track towards White Hall Farm (quite some distance to the SW) the barrow is still visible and its lofty position becomes more noticable. It is pretty high up (300 metres above sea level - the highest point of Cleeve Hill is only 330 metres) but never seems to be because it lacks views due to trees to the east and Cleeve to the west. In theory the barrow was surrounded by trees in the Neolithic period, so the fact that it can be seen so prominently from the SW would not have been apparent, which is curious.

A wonderful place to visit in the quiet and beauty of the white coated landscape. The whole walk of about 8 miles took me well over five hours, at times through knee deep snow, but was totally worth the effort.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
10th January 2010ce
Edited 10th January 2010ce

Comments (3)

I was in England earlier this year and visited this site for the first time. Great place where the restoration has not been over done in my opinion. TheStandingStone Posted by TheStandingStone
10th January 2010ce
I think it's a great job - compare the disaster at Notgrove! thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
10th January 2010ce
Yeah we stopped there by chance on the way when we saw the sign on the side of the road. It was so overgrown and littered I couldn't make sense of it at all. TheStandingStone Posted by TheStandingStone
10th January 2010ce
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