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


Stony Littleton

Long Barrow

<b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postmanImage © Chris Bickerton
Also known as:
  • Wellow Longbarrow
  • Wellow Tumulus

Nearest Town:Radstock (5km SW)
OS Ref (GB):   ST735572 / Sheet: 172
Latitude:51° 18' 45.87" N
Longitude:   2° 22' 48.92" W

Show map   (inline Google Map)


Add news Add news

Damage to Neolithic monument under investigation

English Heritage and Avon and Somerset Police are seeking witnesses after vandals daubed graffiti at Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, a 5,000 year old Neolithic chambered tomb at Wellow near Bath.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of English Heritage... continues...
moss Posted by moss
2nd December 2020ce
Edited 2nd December 2020ce

Images (click to view fullsize)

Add an image Add an image
Photographs:<b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by postman <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by carol27 <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by carol27 <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Billy Fear <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Supermacintyre <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by juamei <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by sammie <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by tjj <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by tjj <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by tjj <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by moss <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Mustard <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Mustard <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by handswithenergy <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Hob <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by juamei <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by CianMcLiam <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Snuzz <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Snuzz <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Snuzz <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by texlahoma <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by texlahoma <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by texlahoma <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by moss <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by jimit <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by jimit <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by jimit <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by moss <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by David Milner <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by David Milner <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by treehugger-uk <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by treehugger-uk <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Earthstepper <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Earthstepper <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Moth <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by treaclechops <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Kammer <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Kammer <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Kammer <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Kammer <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by ocifant <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by ocifant <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by broen <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by broen <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Jane <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by IronMan <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by IronMan <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by pure joy <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by pure joy <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by pure joy <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by juamei <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Chris Collyer <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Chris Collyer Maps / Plans / Diagrams:<b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by Rhiannon <b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by wysefool Artistic / Interpretive:<b>Stony Littleton</b>Posted by ocifant


Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
Fortune favours the old.

This years winter solstice has obligingly fallen on a Sunday for me, quite a feat as any other day and I would miss it, so even though I've been at work before 5am all week, I'm happy to get up even earlier and drive the drive on my own down to Somerset, and seeing as I hit fifty last month, happy chance benefits the aging.

Even though I went too far on the M5 and ended up going the long way round Bath and Bristol, I still got to the custom made car park for Stoney Littleton before sunrise. But it was full, a motor home gleefully took up half of it and five cars took up the rest. Consternation.
I knew there would be other people here, but I expected to be able to park. So I did, in a one car space along side the road further up. Then I walked back to the car park, crossed the little foot bridge, and went up the hill.

It's been such a long time since I was last here, so long ago that I don't have any digital photos of the place, it was a winter solstice that last time too, but it was a grey day and the sun never showed up. So with a mix of blue sky and fluffy whites I was feeling pretty fortunate. As I pass the sign pointing to the mound I can see there are indeed other people here, A guy with a cowboy type looking hat stands atop the chamber, as I pass over the stile I start to hear things, a heart beat? the rhythm of the universe perhaps? I approach the entrance of the chamber, there's a woman in an oilskin coat, we nod at each other, the noise is louder now, the heart beat has quickened, the pulse of nature? No.
It is a twat with a drum, funny, there was a plonker with a drum here last time too, and he spoke like a Bristolian too, grooooan does he come here every year and take up the end of the passage, I think this is the case.

So, bereft of the best seat in the house, I walk round the structure, stand on top of the structure, then pick a spot to stand by the entrance and wait for the sun. It finally arrives at about a quarter to nine, quite late right? The chamber is on a slight hill looking up the hill, so you have to wait for the sun and when it gets here it wont be a big beautiful orange ball, but rather a bright white light, this presumably was intentional, they didn't want the faint wan light of first rising, but the strong light of a risen sun.
Just then a bloke erupted from the chamber, he looked at me, I looked at him, then I looked at the open entrance, and in I go. My chamber was the first on the right, opposite me was a woman, the mate of the bloke that just left, then she left, uncomfortable alone in the dark. Further into the passage I suspect each chamber has a body in it, the drummer takes up the back of the passage, the best seat in the house. An older man then comes past me making for the light at the end of the tunnel, so I move deeper into the chamber and take up a seat in the middle left chamber. The sun is doing it's thing, it looks phenomenal streaming along the passage and lighting up perfectly some twat with a drum, I decide upon some photos and then exit the chamber myself, am I reborn, can I see the place in a new light, hard to tell, so I go on walkabout to see the place from a different field. Up hill the walk takes me, then round and then back, not a long walk, always keeping the chambers entrance in sight, when I get back it's all empty and I'm alone with the edifice, I get into every chamber, and finally take up the best seat in the house. It's wet, dripping, they were definitely not sitting on the floor. Oddly, maybe, the bit I like best inside the passage is where it narrows to the width of a slim man, me. Purpose made.
postman Posted by postman
28th December 2019ce
Edited 28th December 2019ce

Visited 7.9.13

On Thursday night Dafydd’s older sister returned home from a holiday in Spain. Giving out the presents she had bought she presented Dafydd with a box. Inside was a head light. Now I guess this wouldn’t appeal to most 5 year olds but Dafydd thought it was a great gift.

‘You can use it when you are going in those tunnels with your dad’ Danielle stated.
‘They are not tunnels; they are burial chambers’ Dafydd helpfully replied.

So, come Saturday, where to go so he can try out his new light? Looking at the map I decided it was time a re-visit to Stoney Littleton was in order.

This time we approached via the car park, across the bridge, and up the hill. The adjacent farm now sells ice creams from a little wooden hut which pleased the children immensely. The last time I visited Stoney Littleton was from the lane to the north – the muddiest walk I have ever done, before or after. The walk from the car park was a much more pleasant experience.

We arrived at the Long Barrow and another family were already there. They had clearly already been inside and were chatting outside the entrance. They also had a young boy about Dafydd’s age who was very chatty.

Myself, Dafydd and Sophie headed into the tomb with Dafydd taking the lead with his new light. I had almost forgotten just how wonderful this site is. I headed for the end of the passageway and sat quietly whilst Dafydd and Sophie explored the side chambers.

At this point the young lad came into the passageway with his head light and started chatting to Dafydd (they were comparing notes on their head lights). Dafydd then proceeded to give the boy an explain to the boy what the side chambers were for and where the bones were put. He also suggested that if they kept quiet and shone their lights into the gaps between the stones they may see fairies. I have no idea where he got this notion from but it kept the two of them busy for a short while.

We eventually emerged from the tomb and headed back down the hillside. The other family joined us the children raced each other through the fields and towards the ice cream hut.
All in all a very good visit to what is without doubt an excellent site.

If you have never had the pleasure of Stoney Littleton do yourself a favour and get here as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.
Ravenfeather's previous notes describe a visit better than I can.
Posted by CARL
9th September 2013ce

Visited 6th April 2013

It feels like the first proper day of spring today, so a trip out is definitely in order. I've a great fondness for Stoney Littleton, it was the first site I visited as a result of buying the papery TMA all those years ago from a bookshop in Glastonbury, prompting me to visit it that same day, and firing an obsession that has lead me to many wonderful sites over the years.

Take note if you've not visited before that the small brown signpost pointing the way up the lane to the barrow as you enter Wellow is now completely obscured by vegetation, so it's easy to miss the sharp right-hand turn as soon as you enter the village.

After negotiating the narrow lane I parked up in the small parking spot, idyllically placed next to the bubbling Wellow brook, and walked up the hill towards the barrow. It felt good to be out and about, surrounded only by the call of birds and bleating of the sheep (and some very cute lambs).

The barrow was looking neat and tidy, and as I descended into the long passage, which really does seem to stretch back forever, I was heartened not to find any old tealights, litter or other 'offerings' which on previous occasions have been mouldering away in the inner chambers. Instead I just crouch at the back of the barrow and contemplate for a bit.

Stoney Littleton has a sort of understated grandeur, it's not the largest long barrow, and doesn't have an impressive portalled frontage, just the fine artistic eye of whoever selected that amazing fosillised ammonite for the entranceway, but it doesn't need them. This is a place that feels right, a perfect example of the barrow builders art.

Outside I sit against the barrow to write my fieldnotes. The warm yellow Cotswold stone of the perimeter dry stone walling of the barrow infuses the place with a warmth, no sombre feelings of death here, just a glorious remembrance and re-birth. Sitting here I'm pervaded with what I can only describe as a mellow vibe. The barrow sits perfectly in the bright spring landscape, even the old nearby landfill site has now blended into the landscape, and the concrete plaque cemented to the barrow entrance, proudly proclaiming it's restoration by affixing a great anachronism to its frontage, which normally irritates me, now seems rather quaint, an antique in itself as most of the inscription has now worn away, a signifier of the monument's more recent past, like the old Ministry of Works signs you still find from time to time at megalithic sites.

Days like today just underline to me everything that's great about visiting the remains of our prehistory, and why I love this hobby so much, Stoney Littleton is truely special place to be, and one of the best barrows you can visit.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
7th April 2013ce

This is my first visit to a Long barrow with access inside. What a great experience. The silence was defening. You can really feel the pressure inside from the weight bearing down on top of you from the structure above. Needless to say I loved it. I only went in approximately 10 feet but the passageway seemed to extend on forever. I felt a bit like Alice in wonderland staring back out of the rabbit hole!

As already stated previously, the lane down to the car park is very tight and especially wet this time of year. Wellies are a must as the footpath up the hill is also very wet and muddy and some older clothes will be coming on my next trip to get further inside the chamber!

I also took a few photos, with the farmers permission, of the WW2 pillbox in the field opposite the car park. A strange location for such a thing out here in the sticks which got me thinking whether in a few thousand years will there be people visiting these sites of historical interest?
Posted by Supermacintyre
5th December 2012ce

A lovely visit. Sunny morning in late October with the light illuminating the entire corridor and bathing the innermost chamber, while the ammonite glowed golden like a sunburst at the entrance.

Two women who very visiting with their children were convinced that the builders had intended to recreate a womb. Another image that sprung to my mind was of a boat cresting a gentle wave and sailing towards the stars.

It is a kinder monument than, say, Newgrange. Cosy. Not so imposing. The passage is smaller, as if built for children. Rebirth.

Climbing the hill from the car park there are many interesting bumps and hollows to fire the imagination. Something for Timeteam to scan, perhaps. Once on the barrow you see a landscape that is flattened by the plough. That this monument has survived is a little miracle. While Googling I saw some amazing crop circles in the stoney field above; more stories to be told.

Easy to find and access, but the lanes are very narrow. No coaches fortunately.
Posted by greybeard
13th November 2011ce

Today was my second visit to Stony Littleton long barrow - my first last summer.

Firstly, thanks to my friend for providing transport and plotting out a walk from the village of Faulkland. Weather-wise a rare exquisite November day with sunshine and a clear sky; the going was muddy in places but no matter, my walking boots finally well and truly broken in. Wellow Brook was running fast and full from the recent rain, the walk up to Stony Littleton over two stiles was just as I remembered it from last year. Today we had this wonderful site completely to ourselves, my friend crawled to the back of the barrow to investigate the small side chambers. I suffer from claustrophobia but managed to get as far as the first two chambers. The stonework inside, though no doubt restored, is just fabulous.

Outside the barrow a pair of buzzards hovered overhead; a flock of seagulls circled. There seems to be something mystical about buzzards over long barrows. We stayed for a bit, sitting on the edge of the barrow facing the early afternoon sun before returning to Faulkland village - followed the lane on the other side of Wellow Brook then the lane out of the village of Stony Littleton - at this time of year probably the easiest route from Faulkland to Stony Littleton.

(Note: We examined the large ammonite in one of the entrance stones though today it was in shadow so didn't show up in any of photos.)

Finished our megalithic day with a visit to Westbury White Horse hillfort - the sun going down, casting long shadows onto Bratton long barrow.
tjj Posted by tjj
10th November 2010ce
Edited 17th November 2010ce

Along with West Kennett, my favourite tomb. Although I got completely caked in mud walking to the site (and ruined footware in the process) it was well worth it. Crouching into the chamber and sitting at the back is very special. It does feel like going back in time. I can't recomend this site highly enough. All I would suggest is take your wellies if it has been raining!! Enjoy. Posted by CARL
12th March 2010ce

Wanting some respite from urban sprawl, a longstanding mate, Andy and I drove down for sunrise at Stoney Littleton, It's a wonderful place anytime but dawn is almost magical… …Sometimes it is easy to forget to ask 'How they built these things? '... 'Why they built them?' intrigues us all so much. With nearby Bath blinding the hordes of 'history tourists' with its Roman swankiness, for which of course I'm eternally grateful, hidden away Stoney Littleton provides us with yet another serene sanctuary littered with clue's to our past.

I'm no expert but the restoration seems to have transformed the place wonderfully since Julian's visit in TMA, many years ago and exploring inside relatively easy (next time you go don't take a torch… a lantern works wonders).

Circles I love. Rock Art I adore. In fact I love, as we all do anything ancient, but there's always something a bit special for me when you can 'go in' (Carn Euny, Kilmartin etc). This place is perfect in every way. The setting on this May morning, the condition of the barrow itself... in the cramped but pretty comfy conditions the sheer physical strength and building skill involved in construction are emphasised and simply staggering. Just stop awhile next visit and let your eyes grow used to the dark. Fossils are everywhere, not just at the entrance as I had read. The sheer human endeavour in just getting it constructed is forced upon you as you manoeuvre through the chamber.

This exquisite May morning sitting atop of the barrow really brought home the simple fact that those of us who have let these places enter our lives are so privileged (but you lot know that anyway!).

Yeah we had a cracker of a morning!!! And if you haven't been... Go!!!!
David Milner Posted by David Milner
31st May 2005ce
Edited 1st June 2005ce

I visited this site e few days ago and was pleasantly surprised to get it to myself after a visit to Belas Knap a few days earlier was a lot busier than i thought it would be, a beautiful site in a beautiful setting very peaceful indeed.

Access: Approaching Peasedown St. John from the south via radstock drive all the way through PSJ till you get to the roundabout straight after the village, take the right turn there follow the road to another roundabout take the turn there signed for Wellow look out for that cemetry on your right mentioned in Julians directions in TMA just before you enter the village of Wellow theres a narrow road(now signposted for Stoney littlrton) take that track all the way to the end be warned this road is narrow! youll come to a farmhouse with a small carpark accross from it from there cross a stile and a bridge and a signposted 5 min walk brings you out at Stoney Littleton Bliss!
treehugger-uk Posted by treehugger-uk
30th August 2004ce

Access is much easier now that there is a well made, but very narrow track from Wellow. The barrow is fantastic and a real must see! Being some distance from the Avebury circus, the interior was free from candles and other new age clutter. How Moth could miss the giant ammonite cast I'll never know! The setting of the barrow and the surrounding hills is superb. Earthstepper Posted by Earthstepper
20th October 2003ce

What a wonderful place, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lovely countryside which is sadly blighted by the rubbish tip in full view as at Five Wells in Derbyshire. If you are going to visit a long barrow don't miss this one. Posted by jdellis
17th October 2003ce
Edited 19th October 2003ce

Access using the route we did, it's a fairly long walk (a few miles). A lot is uphill, some fairly steep. Ground is largely pretty even. Couple of stiles and a few gates.

We parked in a passing place-cum-layby which was plenty big enough to still be used for passing even with my car parked at one end! This was at approximately map ref ST727565.

Bear in mind that other people on this website have left their cars somewhere they refer to as a 'car park'. While references to this seem to be tongue in cheek, it was almost certainly at least as good if not better than where we parked!

We walked down the hill to a left turn heading north east along a lane which runs alongside a small river. About a quarter of a mile along, we turned right, through a kissing gate I think (though it could have been a stile). The path crosses a narrow grassy area, through the trees and across a little bridge over the river.

At the other side (east) of the river, the path heads briefly uphill across a field, meeting a farmtrack or bridlepath running roughly north-south. We turned left and followed the track northish.

The track stays maybe 50-100 yards from the river for a few hundred yards, but before long we could see a hill in front of us and the river was getting further away. There are some farm buildings just the other side of the river.

Very soon we could make out the profile of the barrow up on the hillside in front of us and to the left. About halfway up the hill I guess, we took a lightly worn but distinct path off to the left across the field, still going uphill. At the hedgerow was a stile and, I think it was here that there was a signpost to the barrow.

Over the stile and right, along the field edge following the hedgerow, slightly uphill I think. After only 100 yards or so I'd guess, there was a collapsed stile back to the other side of the hedgerow. The barrow is clearly visible and close, side-on straight up the hill from here. I think there is an English Heritage sign. There may be one more fence and stile, more-or-less directly in front.

Tuesday 16 September 2003
Reaching the barrow, I commented to John that the final approach from this direction was a tiny bit disappointing, being uphill and from the side.

I feel it would be more impressive if you could approach the barrow directly towards its entrance, by continuing up the main track to the level of the barrow and then approach it by turning left. John was quite happy with it the way it is!

Maybe I'd been expecting something a little more overtly striking because I'd been looking forward to 'meeting' this place for a few months.

Approaching from the side, the first thing I noticed was the low retaining wall round the bottom of the long barrow's embankment. It seemed incredibly neat and well-preserved. I was pleased with how well it had survived and wondered if it is one of the elements of the barrow that has been restored.

Round to the entrance and the barrow took on an extra beauty for me. It's proportions are lovely and the stonework around the portal is beautiful (except for the scar where there has been a nasty plaque on the right.

I was proud to have remembered my torch for once, so we took a look inside. And discovered that the batteries were sadly inadequate!!! One day I'll get it right!

Quite a few signs of the repairs and reinforcements made before the chamber was reopened to the public. They don't exactly look subtle, but I suppose they're better than nothing. I'm no structural engineer so I'd better not complain. Funnily (?) enough, they're even more evident on my photies....

Speaking of photies, I was going to take one of the legendary giant ammonite on the left upright of the entrance. But we couldn't find it!!!

I have to say that at the time I couldn't remember where it was and hadn't seen a photo. Having checked on this website since, I really can't see how we missed it. Unless we missing it because we were too close and it's SO big?! Guess it must still be there?! My only photos of the entrance are a fraction too distant to make it out now I know where it is.

But most of the stones throughout are just dripping with chunks of shell and stuff - never seen owt like it. I was impressed. But then, I'm not a geologist either & know nothing about shelled creatures!

The chambers themselves are impressive, possibly even more so because it's a bit of a squeeze to actually get in there and manoeuvre about to see them - or is that just me being perverse?

Probably not, as this really is the first barrow to even vaguely make me feel 'cocooned' - or perhaps what I really mean is 'cockooned' given the spectacular feminine imagery of Severn-Cotswold style barrows like this!
Moth Posted by Moth
9th October 2003ce
Edited 10th October 2003ce

This is a tremendous place. This time, visiting with the delightful Jane, we were able to enjoy wonderful early spring sunshine. It was great to squeeze down the narrow passage again, despite the fact I'd left the torch in the car, so couldn't see all the details. A few quick blasts with the flashgun helped give an impression of what was inside.

I would have liked to have read the Vagina Monologues out loud, deep inside the barrow, and really had some fun with the acoustics, but unfortunately, the advent of eight noisy kids put paid to that idea. But what a cool place to recite such a celebration of women. I want to go back and do some more. . . .
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
31st August 2003ce

Negotiating some of the narrowest farm tracks in the world, including a huge puddle which appeared to be two feet deep, but happily turned out to be two inches deep, the lovely Karen and I finally drew up in Stoney Littleton’s small parking area - at the foot of a very steep hill. Well, it seemed pretty steep when struggling over stiles and rutted paths whilst carrying a very heavy camera bag and tripod. In addition, the weather was solid overcast gray; close, and warm. Yuk.

After trudging the tortuous path up the hill, through two fields of cute sheep, we scrambled over a nettle-bound stile into a field of gloriously yellow rapeseed. “A-ha!,” exclaimed Karen gleefully as she waded through the chest-high plants, “Here it is!”

Climbing over another stile, we were confronted by a beautiful Neolithic barrow cresting the hill. Above it’s subtle dry-stone walling, the grassy mound was a riot of colour, smothered in white campion, ragwort or common cat’s-ear (I think), and creeping thistle. In addition, there was a particularly gorgeous purple plant that looked like a heather of some description; it was trailing beautifully down the dry-stone walling of the south-west corner of the mound.

The outside entrance to the chamber was very understated, and on the right, rather blemished by the huge gray slab commemorating the Victorians who restored the barrow initially after several pillages in the past. As usual, it had been erected in the most blindingly obvious place, thereby ruining the aesthetics. (See Tinkinswood for similar acts of vandalism).

I waited a moment before entering the passageway, clutching a torch as advised. There was a subtle nervousness to standing at the light end of a very long, very narrow, very dark passage that the original engineers had cleverly constructed to fall away slightly with the shape of the hill, thereby emphasizing the entry to the earth’s womb. I walked the few feet past the first two chambers, then was compelled to stop for a few moments before stepping down the slight lip into the rear half of the barrow; a place that truly was an Inner Sanctum. In order to enter, it required a scramble through on hands and knees, jagging myself on a portion of the magnificent dry-stone walling that created the whole of the inside chamber. (This isn’t because the passage narrows particularly dramatically at that point, it’s more to do with my lack of spatial awareness and general clumsiness).

By now, it was very dark indeed, and I rather edgily swept my torch beam round each chamber in turn, harbouring a fear of discovering something ‘from the woodshed’ so to speak. Or an animal’s home. But my fears were unfounded, enabling some contemplative time at the bottom of the tunnel, at the same time hugely enjoying the way the weak outside light fell into the passage.

On the way out, I shone the torch upwards, admiring the corbelled roofing (look for the slab with a wonderfully preserved limpet shell in the center), and all the little creatures that lived in the crevices. It was very cool. So was the temperature, as the close humidity was like a slap in the face when returning into the light.

After all that, I applied myself to photographing the site, both inside and out. Inside was difficult, as it was so dark; so whilst avoiding tedious photographic detail, I will reveal that it involved removing my t-shirt in order to cover the camera. (An illogical method of taking a photo, I agree). This meant I was scrabbling around inside with very little on, whilst Karen assisted at the camera end. The shirt was replaced minutes before another four visitors arrived, so they don’t know how lucky they were! (If the two lady ramblers who visited the site at around 14.00hrs on Friday 26 July happen to be reading this, thank you very much for eating your sandwiches at the other end of the mound, and letting me finish the shoot without rushing. It was much appreciated).

After spending a very pleasant couple of hours at the site, the lovely Karen and I were famished, so set off in search of food, sunshine, and Stanton Drew . . . .
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
31st August 2003ce

My fourth visit in as many years, and I am never disappointed. A wondrous day, we decided to go early, to avoid the heat, but even at 9am the sun was thumping against our heads.

The offerings and flowers are still here, and I climbed deep within the chamber, lying on my back and testing the incredibly acoustics. No visit is complete without you trying this - complete and utter silence, no reverb, just 'sound' - like a recording studio but with less 'feel'. Words fail me, but surely the acoustics must have paid a big part in the ceremony here, reducing all living things (including the voice) to a dead husk.

Emerging into the sunlight it struck me again how this site is so tied up with seasons and agriculture, from the offerings to the cereal crop surrounding. A cursory dowse revealed nothing new of note, the usual lines from east to west still warp and weave their way across the fields before converging at the site and then separating.

A place of gentle contemplation and peace, but I wish those who decide to use it as a picnic spot would take their cans of Special brew home with them, as I found myelf gathering 5 empties as I left, 2 from inside the chamber.
Dominic_Brayne Posted by Dominic_Brayne
9th August 2003ce
Edited 9th August 2003ce

Visited 21st June 2003: After the Solstice sunrise at Stanton Drew and a big breakfast at Little Chef, we headed out to find Stoney Littleton. Initially we tried approaching from the direction of Wellow, but we soon realised that there was nothing resembling a car park to the north east o the site. It's worth noting that there's no signposting to Stoney Littleton from the direction of Wellow.

We found the tiny lane from Wellow to the Stoney Littleton car park, and on the way got some exciting glimpses of the long barrow from the road. We parking up, crossed the picturesque little stream, and headed off up the hill. The sun was out, and after our greasy breakfast, spirits were high. The moment where we suddenly reached the barrow (as described by those who came before us) was great. Once we were over the last stile, William shot off along the length of the barrow and we all explored. Apart from half a plastic bottle full of rotting flowers (an offering?) the site looked beautiful in the sunshine, with patches of flowering clover sprinkled around it.

William had his torch, and he headed straight into the chamber. At first Lou and I took it in turns to look after Alfie while the other one went inside, but in the end I gave up and I took Alfie in with me. He seemed to enjoy it, crawling around getting nice and dirty. What a great place for kids! Lou speculated that the different shapes of the chamber might represent different parts of the female anatomy. The first part is the vagina, and where the passage becomes narrow it's the cervix. The tallest part of the passage, where I could just about stand up, is the womb. What a special place this is!
Kammer Posted by Kammer
23rd July 2003ce
Edited 4th August 2003ce

Thanks to a friendly local, we had little difficulty in locating the 'car park', and the walk up the hill didn't seem that far either.

First view is amazing as you come to the stile and realise it's just there in front of you!

I had remembered my torch, and crawled inside, but found the external light was sufficient to see what I was doing. But, being a wuss in confined spaces, I didn't go all the way in - just past the first side chambers was far enough for me to explore.

I tried a couple of basic chants to test the acoustics before I left, but found that the sound was just absorbed by the stones (the 'eggbox' effect).

Sitting outside and facing the entrance I noticed that the hills behind the barrow seem to surround and 'cuddle' the barrow itself. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just my imagination? I was reticent to leave, but with Mikki waiting down below, I reluctantly returned to the car.
ocifant Posted by ocifant
27th May 2003ce
Edited 27th May 2003ce

A bugger to find but we finally reach it and suddenly I get that tingle. Its gobsmacking! Treaclechops has been reading 'The Vagina Monologues' to me as I drive here, and hey, seeing Stoney Littleton it all make sense! Here is a great vagina made of stone and earth and tufty hummocks and light and shade. I love the way its profile rises from the hillside like a great mound of venus. We crawl in. I love the way it goes DOWN with the curve of the hillside, WOW. I crawl s-q-u-e-e-z-i-n-g-l-y out of the darkness of its long, long passage and blinkingly I re-emerge. I feel reborn. What a place. What a fucking place! Jane Posted by Jane
2nd March 2003ce

Stoney Littleton (circa summer of 1993)

I know what the other field notes mean about getting lost! Despite living in and around Bath for much of my life, all three times I tried to go I seemed to struggle to find Stoney Littleton, and once even gave up when approaching from the south. Don't get me wrong - with a map and a better sense of direction than me, it shouldn't be that hard to find; it's just that it's not quite as easy as the normal Road Atlases suggest. When I was last there (circa 1993) it still had a locked grill across the barrow entrance (see photo above) but I believe the barrow is currently open. I can't wait to go again!
pure joy Posted by pure joy
26th November 2002ce

What a delight to find this so close to Bath, Tourist Central and yet have no-one else appear in the 2 hours we were at the site. On a fairly pleasant saturday afternoon too.
I couldn't help but compare Stony Littleton to West Kennet, both are fairly large chambered long barrows after all. WK is quite a bit larger than SL; its side chambers are bigger, you can stand up in it and I was assured WK is longer. I wouldn't be too keen on spending a solstice night with 30-40 stoners in SL...
However the peace of SL is amazing when compared to WK. I've never had longer than 20 minutes alone at WK, whereas SL was completely empty. A gem hidden very thoroughly in the modern world. Signposts do now point it out from the nearby village, but you'd need to know it was there and be determined to actually find it.
juamei Posted by juamei
9th September 2002ce

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow is a quiet, peaceful site. It is now open and all the 'renovation' work has been completed. I'd say they've done a fair job, although there are a few metal bracing joists visible.
Take a torch when you visit this's VERY dark inside.......especially when it is sunny takes some time for your eyes to readjust to the dark.
Posted by davina
4th September 2000ce

Stoney Littleton was not easy to find. The roads round here are just windy tracks, so we asked two lots of locals before we found it. English Heritage obviously want to keep this one under their hat.
You can't see the mound until you're almost on top of it. Ripening corn surrounded it. Didn't see another soul there.
The entrance was unbarred, so we went all the way inside. Spooky, dark, cramped, but well worth it!
The ammonite fossil on the entrance stone is very cool.
Wish I knew more about what had been inside.
A surprisingly calm experience!
Posted by kirsty
26th July 2000ce
Edited 23rd July 2003ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
From Reverend Scarth's article on Chambered Tumuli in the 1856-7 Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.
[The Rev. Skinner] states in his letter dated Dec. 1, 1815, that the "Barrow was partially opened about fifty years ago when the farmer who occupied the ground carried away many cart loads of stones for the roads, and at length made an opening in the side of the passage, through which they entered the sepulchre. But Mr. Smith, of Stoney Littleton House, owner of the estate, hearing of the circumstance, bade him desist from hauling more stones; but as the discovery made some noise in the neighbourhood, the country people from time to time entered by the same opening, and took away many of the bones, etc. It was never properly examined until I had done it.*"..

.. [following a description of Rev. Skinner's explorations:] At one point a stone was placed across the passage, and Sir Richard [Colt Hoare] supposes that the sepulchral vault extended only thus far at first, and in later times was enlarged to its present extent..
What is particularly interesting to see is the plates following p50, as they show the barrow with trees on top of it.

Readable online at Google Books.

*he probably spent at least half an hour on it. He had a lot of barrows to look at. But I don't want to be mean, he recorded so much in this region and he comes over as a decent person, and I'd have liked to have met him. He had a difficult life and unfortunately eventually killed himself.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th June 2007ce
Edited 24th June 2007ce

The barrow was first visited by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1801, then again in 1816 accompanied by the Rev. John Skinner. The last named antiquary began its examination by making an opening through the roof into the central avenue, which was, we are told, cleared of rubbish, no doubt partly caused by this difficult and hazardous undertaking..
RCH wrote a paper (published in Archaeologia) and during its reading exhibited two skulls he had found in the barrow. He stated the entrance had been closed by a large stone which "was removed in my presence and the original entrance restored" (presumably he noticed this from the inside, or it would have been the logical route of entry, rather than through the roof). He mentioned that some years previously the tumulus "had been resorted to as a stone quarry by a farmer" but fortunately the owner had stopped this and repaired the gap.
The large entrance stone has unfortunately disappeared. "Our investigations proved that the interments had been disturbed and their deposits (ie funereal furnishings) probably removed; for in the long avenue we met with many fragments of bones, etc., which had been displaced from the sepulchral recesses, many of which had been filled up with stones and other rubbish." We would like to know now what became of the etceteras and rubbish.
Hoare's paper being quoted here by Arthur Bulleid in 'Notes on some chambered long barrows of North Somerset' (Som Arch Nat Hist Soc Proc 1941 v87 p56-71).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th April 2006ce

The ammonite at Stoney Littleton may (and I stress may) have something to do with the ammonites found at Keynsham, some 15 miles away. Ammonites were found in a quarry at Keynsham, and they still decorate cottage walls there.

The small fossil on the opposite stone of the doorway, opposite to ammonite, is probably a nautilus fossil.

To add to the history of ammonites in this area, apparently ammonites occasionally get" pyritized", the fossil being replaced by iron pyrites (these were also found at Priddy Henges). 'Fools gold ' turns the fossil into something of real beauty, perhaps it is this that the neolithic people were remembering when they displayed the door stone at Stoney Littleton, a golden sun.
taken from "Gloucester" by Peter Sale.

And to add to Rhiannon's post below. When the reconstruction was done in 1858, a sunken ditch was dug so that a small fence could be built, on digging the ditch they found an "original wall of unmortared stones on each side of the doorway (the horned effect). The junction of the old/new wall is marked by two upright stones.
As stones would have been taken away in the 19th c, the longbarrow has been somewhat reduced on top, in the drawings in the 1858 article, the top is much more pronounced and is also tree covered., to quote " looked like a large boat keel turned upwards"
moss Posted by moss
10th June 2005ce
Edited 28th June 2006ce


Add a link Add a link

Internet Archive

Sir Richard Colt Hoare's account of the barrow, with super cross-section illustrations and one of the entrance, published in Archaeologia volume 19 (1821).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st January 2021ce

Video of Stoney Littleton

wickerman Posted by wickerman
24th March 2012ce

PG's QuickTime VR

QTVR of on top and inside the barrow.
wysefool Posted by wysefool
25th March 2008ce

Bath and North East Somerset Council

scheduled monument record +a few relevant links
wysefool Posted by wysefool
25th March 2008ce

Bath and North East Somerset Council

The 1982 Department of the Environment Guide Book for Stoney Littleton, with many interesting facts, and including the excellent inscription unexcellently cemented to the tomb:
[link broken]
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd June 2005ce
Edited 4th April 2007ce