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




<b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by formicaantImage © Mike Rowland 30/03/09
Nearest Town:Shaftesbury (9km W)
OS Ref (GB):   ST951218 / Sheet: 184
Latitude:50° 59' 41.97" N
Longitude:   2° 4' 11.39" W

Added by Rhiannon

Show map   (inline Google Map)

Images (click to view fullsize)

Add an image Add an image
<b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by formicaant <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by formicaant <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by formicaant <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Winkelbury</b>Posted by formicaant


Add folklore Add folklore
Berwick St John, Winkelbury Hill: golden coffin said to be buried on this hill where there are several barrows. (Landlord of the Talbot Inn to L.V.G., 1951).
Barrow Treasure, in Fact, Tradition, and Legislation
L. V. Grinsell
Folklore, Vol. 78, No. 1. (Spring, 1967), pp. 1-38.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st March 2007ce

Another version of the folklore:
OLD THORN-TREES (clxxxvi. 106, 129). In the parish of Berwick-St.-John, there was an old encampment with a tumulus in the centre and on this tumulus there used to be an old thorn scrag, which was cut down by the then owner and used as firewood.
Thereupon, a blight visited the whole village : no cow would have a calf, no duck nor chicken would lay an egg, and no woman would have a baby. This state of affairs continued for about three years, until a petition from the villagers was sent to the man who cut down the old scrag.

On hearing the complaint, he said, "Oh, I'll plant another thorn-tree." This he promptly did. Whereupon, every cow had a calf, ducks and chicken laid eggs and every female had a baby within six months. Wonderful—but true!
From Notes and Queries 186 (7): 166. (1944). Online at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th August 2006ce
Edited 14th August 2006ce

Kathleen Wiltshire's story below apparently harks back to when General Pitt Rivers excavated a round barrow here. Winkelbury was his first full season of serious, well-recorded excavations of enclosures and settlement sites, in winter 1881-2. He removed a dead yew tree, known locally as a 'scrag' from the round barrow. 'The villagers were troubled by his disturbance of the dead and removal of the ancient tree which they believed protected them from malign influences; they were only placated when another dead yew was 'planted' with all due ceremony some time later.'

From Martin Green's book 'A landscape revealed - 10,000 years on a chalkland farm' (2000).

Yews and hawthorn obviously figure prominently in people's lists of important trees. The idea of a dead tree being protective seems quite strange? but maybe it's not uncommon. It reminded me of the anecdote connected with Big Tree longbarrow in Somerset.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2005ce
Edited 18th August 2005ce

If you march round Winkelbury Hill seven times, cursing all the time, the devil will appear on a white horse, and grant you a wish.

Kathleen Wiltshire heard this from a Michael Wheeler, who went to school in Salisbury in the 1940s. It's printed in her 'More Ghosts and Legends of the Wiltshire Countryside'. I don't know if he'd tried it. Your success would be limited by how polite you are I suppose.

The Bords, in 'Secret Country', connect Winkelbury with tales of a hidden golden coffin.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th October 2003ce
Edited 26th April 2005ce

Kathleen Wiltshire, in her 'Ghosts and Legends of the Wiltshire Countryside', mentions an infamous thorn bush which was - and is? - to be found on the top of Winkelbury.

"It was planted some years ago to mark the situation of an earlier thorn known as the Witches' Scrag Tree. Witches were said to have become entangled in its thorny branches as they rode low over the hill on their broomsticks. It is said that at the time of the full moon a spate of them would litter the hill with their corpses - thus preserving the village folk from their nefarious attentions."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th October 2003ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
Pitt-Rivers excavated the site in 1881/2 and deduced that the fort was developed in the early Iron Age (and added to later). The fort cuts off a promontory in true defensive style, but elsewhere on the hill there are a number of round barrows, surely of an earlier date. The NMR does not yet list any details on the site. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th October 2003ce