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


Six Hills

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery

<b>Six Hills</b>Posted by ocifantImage © Alan S>
Nearest Town:Stevenage (2km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   TL237236 / Sheet: 166
Latitude:51° 53' 48.13" N
Longitude:   0° 12' 7.24" W

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<b>Six Hills</b>Posted by ocifant


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Visited 24.5.15

Next to Six Hills roundabout, near junction 7 of the A1 (M).

I would guess that parking is tricky here during the 'working week' but as it was evening time on a bank holiday Sunday I had no such problems. We parked in the empty Kings Court office complex.

I am pleased to say the cycle tracks across the top of the barrows previously reported are no longer there. All six barrows are fully grassed over although four of them are suffering from rabbit burrow damage - one in particular. I know rabbits are cute but something needs to be done here before too much damage occurs.

The barrows are very impressive, approximately 3 metres high x 10 metres across. Most have the tell-tale depression in the top of earlier excavations.

It is amazing that the barrows have survived. This is a very built up 'modernized' area with office blocks, DIY centres and duel carrigeways. we should be thankful that planning permission now (for all its faults) offers far more protection than it ever used to, otherwise these fine monuments would be but a memory.

I wonder what the builders would think if they were transported forward in time until today and see how much has changed - yet their monuments remain.

This is an excellent site to visit although I would suggest a weekend / evening visit when parking will be a lot easier.
Posted by CARL
25th May 2015ce

I was quite surprised when I found out where these were. A few years ago, before my TMA interests, I’d attended a job interview in the modern office block that overlooks the mounds. I remember assuming at the time that they were just a modern landscaping feature…

Antiquarian descriptions state that the mounds were once all surrounded by ditches and outer banks, but these are no longer visible. What are visible today are the inevitable cycle tracks across the tops of the mounds, which are situated a short walk from the shopping centre. The mounds are fairly evenly spaced, on a N-S line. Only one is undisturbed, three having large depressions indicating where shafts have been sunk, and the two most southerly have been tunnelled from the sides.

All in all, a bit of an anachronism in the modern(!) town, but I’m glad they’ve managed to survive.
ocifant Posted by ocifant
17th August 2003ce


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W B Gerish's frustratingly brief "Folk-lore of Hertfordshire" (1911) says 'Huge black dog seen near "The Six Hills" and Whomerly Wood, also in avenue leading to church.

The Luton Paranormal website has more, which sadly makes it sound mundane.

In 1910 W. B. Gerish, a local historian received a letter telling him of a local encounter with a massive black dog. The tale involved a gamekeeper who was heading home in the direction of Whomerley Wood after visiting a friend. As he passed a field gate which led onto a byway to The Avenue he saw the same black dog. The dog is said to have rushed passed him and through the closed gate heading in the direction of the Six Hills. The gamekeeper continued on his way but as he neared the woods the dog reappeared and seemed to be following him. He described the dog as having its nose to the ground and its tail bent back. The gamekeeper became very afraid so he turned round and headed back in the direction of his friends house.

But even so, it's nice to think that a Black Dog could be associated with the two sites in the other folklore (below). The website also suggests the hills are haunted by a whole pack of Black Dogs. Now isn't that just over-egging the pudding a bit. Don't be greedy.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2009ce
Edited 27th September 2012ce

Ok so these are 'Roman' and they do run alongside a Roman road. But keep it quiet, keep it quiet. It is suggested in the smr that they are the graves of native British aristocrats who "chose to perpetuate aspects of Iron Age burial practice" so I think they're kind of allowable.

By the way - the earth in them comes from neaby Whormerly Wood (TL247236):
Near Stevenage are six barrows by the roadside. My father, John Emslie, was told, in 1835, by Mr. Williams, baker, of Stevenage, that in an adjoining wood are seven pits and one barrow. The devil, having dug out six spadefuls of earth, emptied them beside the road, thus making the six barrows. He then returned to the wood, dug another spadeful of earth (thus making the seven pits) and, walking along with this spadeful, dropped it and thus made the solitary barrow, which, I was told in 1883, had long since been cleared away.
(from Scraps of Folklore Collected by John Philipps Emslie, by C. S. Burne, in Folklore, Vol. 26, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1915), pp. 153-170. )

If you're passing through Stevenage on the train you'll be able to see them if you look east through the buildings just south of the station.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th March 2004ce
Edited 30th September 2006ce


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According to Magic these barrows are of a type contemporary to the Roman occupation of Britain, of which only 150 or so remain in the UK. Apparently the earliest accounts of the Six Hills describe them as having surrounding ditches and outer ditches (now gone). Originally they would have been steep sided conical mounds. Kammer Posted by Kammer
20th October 2003ce