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Fontburn Dod Wood

Stone Circle

<b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postmanImage © Chris Bickerton
Nearest Town:Morpeth (18km E)
OS Ref (GB):   NZ032937 / Sheet: 81
Latitude:55° 14' 14.38" N
Longitude:   1° 56' 58.82" W

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<b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by postman <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by rockandy <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by rockandy <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob <b>Fontburn Dod Wood</b>Posted by Hob

Fieldnotes

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Last time on Fontburn Dod.......
"Now I know the way, a fair weather visit is already overdue."
Six months later.
It's the summer solstice and the outlook is for a change, good, so inevitably i'm running a touch late, brought on in part by my erstwhile stoning buddy for the day, Eric, and partly by me not remembering to look up the time of sunrise. So, last time I was racing against the dying of the light, this time I'm racing against the birth of the day.
The walk through the woods on the south shore of the lake, was much nicer than six months ago, its summer, everything is growing and gorgeous once more, I also saw a fox and two Roe deer, and I haven't even got to the stones yet.
As the path exits the woods and skirts along it I take note of the big cup marked boulder, I did see it last time but didn't know about the rock art, I'll pay more attention to it on the way out.
Arriving finally at the stones was another one of those "oh yesss!" moments, I said I'd be back with better weather and I most definitely am. It's beautiful.
Two minutes after my arrival the sun put on a bit of a sunrise encore, just for me I swear, it was, what's another word for beautiful, and not gorgeous.
I then went for a long walk round the site, west and east of the circle are two large mounds, I go and stand on them for a while, surveying the area, I'm not a surveyor by profession, so the most I can tell you is there was other stuff going on here after the stones were erected. Two long banks run across the common, possibly medieval, or maybe Tudor, i'm not an archaeologist either.
Two very vocal Buzzards are wheeling around each other above the trees, and a Cuckoo is down in the trees of the little river valley, with foxes and deer, all the natural wonder that England can muster in just part of a morning, you wont be getting that at Stonehenge.
I sit for a while and wonder at the world, but mostly I really hope all these terrifying statistics on extinction are wrong. I quite like being alive, and I like seeing other things being alive, and I hope that it all keeps going long after I'm gone. Don't read anything into that.
I get up out of my daydream and attach my camera to the tripod and set about my new part of any stony visit. Lifting the tripod high in the air for that elevated shot, problems encountered.... wonky pictures, blowy winds, dazzling sunshine, and I look an idiot, on the other hand......better pictures.
This time I haven't left a babe in the woods in the dark, but her little brother is still asleep in the car, so I'd better get a move on, still got some rock art to find yet as well.
postman Posted by postman
22nd June 2019ce

An often encountered problem with the winter solstice is lack of daylight, not helped by the sun stubbornly hiding all day behind thick grey clouds, it was daylight enough when we started, we being daughter and me, but it was going to be cutting it close, it all depended on the route to the stones.
I've never been here before, I don't know the best route, I don't know exactly where it is. Looking at the map, three options suggest themselves, driving all the way to Newbiggin farm, ask to leave your car there, smile sweetly. That would get you closest. Or you can park at the northern most of two car parks, follow the north side of the reservoir til you happen across the stones, or you can park at the southern most of the two car parks, follow the southern shore of the reservoir until you feel the stones are close and trust your moment to leave the path, should there be one.

For no other reason than the southern car park looks easier to get to, I choose to follow the southern shore.
There was indeed a path, a good one too, a wooden walkway wends it's way through the trees and bracken, crossing streams, looking nice, it would look nicer in summer.
But it only lasts two thirds of the way, it abruptly turns south and tries to usher you away from the prize, it's definitely getting towards dark now, but with eyes firmly on the prize I try to get a bit more speed out of my daughter, not far to go now. Following the edge of the trees with the reservoir appearing and disappearing through threes, we follow a path that only exists in my mind.
But the ground is very uneven, strewn with large branches streams and slippy stretches of mud.
I decide to forgo my Dad of the year trophy and instruct daughter to sit on that rock, and wait there while I run on ahead. She's been through this before, she knows the score, if we keep going at this pace it will all be flash photography, that's OK if your called Ken and talk funny, but i'm not a good photographer in bad light, and this was the baddest.
Do you often run to stones?
Running, slipping, hobbling, climbing over a fence, finding a path, following it until I think i'm there, I think I'm there, the path must now be abandoned, with no more than a feeling to go on. I think a fence was climbed, and maybe a small stream was jumped, then a small bank was climbed and hey presto the stones were right before me twenty yards distant. Working at the edge of human endurance can really focus the mind, daughter on her own in woods as it gets dark, am I mad? no sleep, little food, totally spent I was. I still uncannily went straight to the stones, unswerving, no is it this way or that. I like stones, me.

Our old mate Bladup suggested this four poster to me, i'm really into four poster stone circles mainly because I found what I reckon is an actual four poster but miles away from where it should be, in North Wales. But also because I think it's interesting how stone circles evolved over the centuries, so many stony stories of what a stone circle should be.
Anyway, Bladup said that this four poster was just like my Hafodygors wen, so here I am.

Well there are four stones set into what looks like a cairn, but that is where the similarity ends four me (sorry).
I have no doubt that Fontburn Dod is a four poster, but I think one of the stones has shifted, leaving what looks like room for another, so some may have thought it contained more stones. Probably
Two of the stones have cup marks on top of them, but one also has natural weathering that looks like cupping, just to confound the postie i'm sure.
Like most four posters the stones aren't tall, no more than a meter high, short squat rounded boulders, lord knows what was going on at Lundin Links, bloody over achievers.
I don't have the time or the light to explore the place properly, only enough time for a quick five minute sit, only enough light for 18 pictures, then it is unfortunately time to go, I must go and rescue my babe in the woods. The more four posters I see the more convinced I am that my North Walean wonder site is what it looks like, a four poster.
But i'm not ready to cross Fontburn Dod off my list just yet. Now I know the way, a fair weather visit is already overdue.
postman Posted by postman
7th April 2019ce
Edited 7th April 2019ce

Placed deliberately in view of Simonside. if this little four-poster type circle were a few feet further north or south, the hill wouldn't be half as visible. The long hillocks to the east and west frame the plateau with Simonside as the definite focal point, almost due north. You simply can't miss it, with it's distinctive shapes being silhouetted quite precisely, none of the curves of the lower foothills of Simonside can be seen, which adds to the visual impact of the setting. It would be such a sight if viewd at night with the aurora borealis flickering behind it.

There are more than 4 stones, but the largest roughly describe a rectangle. All the stones are on a low mound, with many small boulders dotted about, possibly they once covered the larger stones. Burl declared this site a four poster, and the mound certainly seemed to hint at a burial function that would fit with the four poster label.

Stan Beckensall states there are cups, and some of these were clearly visible on the tops of two of the stones. But the ringed motif on the vertical side of one eluded me.

Growing from the south side, there's a hawthorn of great age, most of which has broken off, the depth of the lichen on the split wood indicating it was a long time ag. Yet happily, the tree survives in reduced form. The strange hillocks framing the miniplateau upon which the sire sits are very conspicuous, that to the east having revetted stone walls, with traces of a ditch. The western one has some pretty hefty boulders as grounders of two parallel linear earth/stone banks, each of which is runs the length of the hillock. No excavations, no dating evidence, no idea. Though cattle droving suggested itself.

It's not particularly accessible in any way, requiring a scramble up from the footpath to the south by the burn, or a trudge across bracken infested bog to the north, moss-trooper territory, with hidden hollows, steep sided cleughs and mossy, peaty moorland. Shame about the pine plantations.

This site is not marked on the OS map, nor is it scheduled, which seems a poor show. There surrounding area is littered with intriguing lumps and bumps, such as the circular ditch on the path from Newbiggin farm, just before the trees.

The place to ask permission is Newbiggin Farm, and though there are carparks on the eastern side of the reservoir, it'd still be a hike of a mile or so across some burns, through quite a bit of mud, along some pretty basic trails. If coming from the west, from Harwood forest, beware the recent tree felling has blocked some of the footpaths and bridleways, many of which might be easy enough on horseback, but are a right pain on a pushbike, even without the trees.
Hob Posted by Hob
13th July 2004ce

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Hob Posted by Hob
20th September 2004ce