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Giant's Grave (Milton Hill)

Long Barrow

<b>Giant's Grave (Milton Hill)</b>Posted by ChanceImage © Chance
Nearest Town:Marlborough (11km N)
OS Ref (GB):   SU1882958286 / Sheet: 173
Latitude:51° 19' 22.12" N
Longitude:   1° 43' 47.12" W

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Choosing a site of comparable form and vibe to follow Tilshead Old Ditch long barrow is a pretty tall order, it has to be said. A return to the wonderful Adam's Grave was perhaps the obvious - if rather too obvious - choice. And indeed it was the Giant's Grave upon Milton Hill, overlooking The Vale of Pewsey, which called the louder this time around. Hell, as much as I love Walker's Hill, I do love to stand up for the underdog! Not that Giant's Grave exactly has to punch above its weight to impress. No sir. Not one bit.....

In retrospect I would say the best, or certainly the most dramatic approach is via a public footpath from the Pewsey Hill road which follows the edge of the excellent escarpment towards Milton Hill Clump. However I end up walking down the same farm track to Milton Hill Farm that I traversed during my only previous visit here some years back, incidentally then in torrential rain (as described in Chance's notes). Verge parking is possible near the entrance to this byway... and also recommended, since these tracks are used by farm vehicles - and, judging by the completely OTT signs, the owners of Down Farm are extremely walker-hostile. What is it with these Wiltshire farmers. Something in the water?

Some way along this track the visitor is faced with a choice of routes in order to reach the long barrow.... if in doubt, head a little to the left of the prominent trees of Milton Hill Clump to your left, which have [what I take to be] an obvious round barrow standing before them, unfortunately the field in crop. Approached from this direction, the long barrow is initially somewhat of a disappointment. Hey, I was sure it was more upstanding than this? It was. It is. View the monument from the north and this is as impressive a long barrow as you could credibly wish for... it really is.

Complete with quarry ditches, this great long barrow also possesses that indefinable quality only the truly great sites have. Aye, atmosphere, vibe, the freedom to think, look... just empty your mind and simply breathe, even, without the distractions interacting with other members of the species automatically bring. Not that I don't enjoy interacting, you understand, but I do think these periodic 'benchmarks' are essential to keep in perspective what kind of creature you REALLY are. In short it is quiet here. Very quiet... with no additional visitors in some three (I think) hours.

The views are superb, courtesy of excellent Neolithic positionning a little way back from and above the escarpment edge. Perhaps not near enough to score a perfect Gladman '10' in this respect but, hey, that's just being picky! The Marlborough Downs crown the skyline from left to right (or right to left, if you prefer) towards the north, with Martinsell, Rybury and, I assume, the multitude of other monuments all visible if you've the ability to pick them all out. But it is the simple act of reclining upon something so damn old, something which clearly meant so much to a number of people way back then... but can still be appreciated today... that really makes my evening. I think I kinda understand why those people, probably not too dissimilar to you or I in basic outlook, I guess, chose this small - but not that small(!) - strip of hillside to pile this mound of chalk 'n' earth upon. Perhaps not the exact reason why they needed such a long mound, perhaps, but why it had to be HERE. Maybe, maybe not. Whatever, this just feels as if it is the 'right' spot, you know?

As Chance mentions, a myriad lynchets [field systems] are visible upon the surrounding hillsides. If only the landscape could speak. What tales! But hang on... I fancy it can and does. You just have to listen.
31st July 2010ce
Edited 31st July 2010ce

Field Notes

Giants Grave Long Barrow - SU 18925819 - Sep 2007

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 130 - Scale 1:25000
Salisbury & Stonehenge inc. Wilton & Market Lavington.
ISBN 978-0-319-23599-7

Visited this long barrow before seeing the Everley barrow group.
I travelled up the B Road from Pewsey to Everleigh. Pewsey hill is very step and Pewsey's White Horse looks down upon the valley from up here. It has numerous drovers' tracks running up it from ancient times and the whole area is criss-crossed with byways and bridleways. All the traffic stopped using these routes when the military moved onto the Plain a hundred or so years ago. The tank training station at Tidworth lies just a few miles to the south and the area is accessible but very churned up.

Once you have reached the top of Pewsey, travel along the flat plateau until you reach the track marked for Milton Hill Farm. (SU 185570) Turn left and travel down past the farm until you reach the tree lined hedge (SU 195580). There is a well used bridleway leading across the field and out to the top of Milton Hill Clump. The path round the back leads to the Long Barrow. An extensive ancient field system can be seen stretching across the hills, indicating it's rich agricultural history. The area must have provided for a lot of people back in the Bronze age.

Giant's Grave Long Barrow sits on the crest of Milton Hill overlooking the Pewsey Valley. Built of chalk, it measures 90 m long, 20 m wide and 2 m high.

It is very similar to Adam's Grave Long Barrow, on the other side of the valley.

If you have time, check out the Everleigh Barrow Group at SU 184561.

Chance Posted by Chance
9th July 2008ce


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Dr Thurnham wrote:
During the summer of 1865 I had an opportunity of opening a long barrow of great extent on Fyfield Hill near Pewsey, Wiltshire, locally known as the 'Giant's Grave'. A moderately wide trench runs along each side but is not continued round the ends of the barrow. On the natural level near the east end a heap of 3 or 4 skeletons was found, the only perfect skull from which is of a remarkably long and narrow form.. One of the other skulls had been forcibly cleft before burial. The only object of antiquity with the skulls was a finely chipped arrowhead of flint of a beautiful leaf shape. The point of its more tapering extremity was broken off when found. It has been measured 2" in length by 9/10" in breadth.
quoted in 'The Vale of Pewsey' by H W Timperley, 1954.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th September 2005ce
Edited 28th October 2007ce