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Wall Hills (Thornbury) (Hillfort) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Wall Hills (Thornbury)</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Uphampton Camp (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Uphampton Camp</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound) — Images

<b>Silbury Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

King's Play Hill (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>King's Play Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Oliver's Castle (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Oliver's Castle</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Roundway Hill Covert (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Roundway Hill Covert</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill Covert</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill Covert</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Roundway Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Roundway Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat

Roundway Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

From the Heritage England/Pastscape record:
The round barrow cemetery includes six bowl barrows, all of which have been excavated and all survive differentially: four are circular mounds of between 11.8m and 24m in diameter and from 0.2m up to 2.1m high surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived; two are preserved as entirely buried structures layers and deposits visible as soil or crop marks on aerial photographs with diameters of 10.9m and 21.9m. Two of the extant mounds are conjoined but excavation showed them to be two entirely separate bowl barrows.

All except one of the bowl barrows were excavated by Cunnington in the period from 1855-8. They produced a wide range of finds, including barbed and tanged arrowheads, burnt bones, animal bones, daggers, worked antler, a quartz pebble, whetstones, a slate wrist guard, a bell beaker and sherds of Romano-British pottery as well as the primary and secondary cremations and inhumations set into grave pits or wooden boxes. One further bowl barrow was excavated by Thurnam in the mid 19th century but only an empty cist was revealed. The southernmost ‘barrow’ excavated by W Cunnington in 1805 appeared not to be a bowl barrow despite still surviving as a circular mound of 15m in diameter and up to 1m high. Instead this mound was a hlaew which contained a primary Anglo-Saxon inhumation orientated east to west and accompanied by an iron ring, a bone gaming piece and a shield boss. A second excavation (by a different Cunnington – Henry or William Jnr) carried out in 1877 which produced a flint knife and whetstone may not have been from this mound at all.

The entire cemetery lies within the Registered Battlefield - the Battle of Roundway Down, 1643 - an English Civil War skirmish which saw a defeat for the Parliamentary forces many of whom were killed as cavalry horses hurtled over the steep scarp sides at nearby Oliver’s Castle (scheduled separately) plunging into what became known as ‘Bloody Ditch’.


Wiltshire and Swindon HER Descriptions of the barrows that still exist above ground surface level, from west to east:

Northwestern barrow (SU01490 64839)

Two confluent bowl barrows. The West mound was opened and revealed a wooden coffin containing burnt bones and a dagger. East mound contained a primary cremation and other finds. Also an intrusive burial of unknown date. Barrow G5b contained a small unworked pebble with a fractured end. It was Petrologically tested and found to be a rolled chert pebble. An unworked fragment of stone from the primary cremation in barrow G5b was also Petrologically tested and found to be coarse grained grey sandstone, and two other fragments of stone proved to be ferruginous sandstone.

Southwestern barrow (SU 01937 64340)

Bowl barrow with intrusive Saxon burial, opened by William Cunnington in 1805, who also found an iron ring, bone gaming pieces and a possible shield boss. Thought to have been opened again in 1877 by Henry or William Cunnington Jnr., who recovered a flint knife. An irregularly shaped tabular whetstone from a primary cremation in the bowl barrow was sent for Petrological testing, and was identified as being made of fine grained reddish sandstone.

Central barrow (SU02128 64604)

Bowl barrow opened by J Thurnam who found an empty cist indicating a previous disturbance.

Eastern barrow (SU02513 64754)

Mutilated Bronze Age bowl barrow.

Twyn Pant-Teg (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

I wasn’t necessarily expecting much from this, a barrow in a field with all the attendant risk of being ploughed down to nothing. It comes as a very pleasant surprise to find this is a very decent monument, a good upstanding mound with a few stones embedded in its top and sides. As Carl notes, there are good views down to the valley below; the Rhymni valley in this instance, as this barrow is at the top of a southwest-facing slope, unlike the other monuments I’ve visited today. The name (“Hillock of the Fair Hollow”) seems very apt. It’s a great site to finish the day despite the failing light, and lifts me after the irritation of my experience on Mynydd Machen.

Mynydd Machen (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

The final hill of the day is now directly ahead of me. It’s not that steep a climb from this direction though, and the going is easy. I reach the summit area next to the masts to find a few other people up here, enjoying the last of the sunshine, which is rapidly giving way to an overcast evening as the sun sinks behind low cloud. There’s also a 4x4 parked up, overlooking the much steeper drop eastwards.

The cairn is another fine one, but judging by ruts and loose stone on its top and sides it’s being actively damaged by vehicles. It’s a real shame, as the placement here is terrific. Although visibility has lessened with the cloud, there’s still an amazing panorama looking south and east across the Gwent Levels to the mighty Afon Hafren (Severn), with the instantly recognisable Flat Holm and Steep Holm islands.

While I’m taking photos, the 4x4 pulls away from the edge of the drop and comes and parks up right on top of the mound next to me. The driver and passenger grin idiot grins through the window at me, I’m sure they think they’re very clever. I carry on taking photos, now with the 4x4 as an additional feature. Belatedly realising that number plates can be traced, the driver decides he’s had his fun and drives away off the hill. It’s left a sour taste at the end of what has otherwise been a fine ridge walk. It’s so frustrating that people like this are wrecking the excellent archaeology around here.

With them gone, I enjoy the last sun rays on the barrow before making my way down the steep slopes to the east.

Twyn Yr Oerfel (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

When Carl visited Twyn yr Oerfel (which appears to translate as “Hillock of Chill” or “Cold Hillock”) he expressed concerns about the barrows being damaged by motorbikes. From my elevated vantage on Mynydd y Grug I can see that the nearer western monument has now been encircled by a double ring of stone blocks, presumably to discourage vehicles from encroaching.

After making my somewhat slip-sliding descent from the spoil, reaching the western cairn reveals an excellent monument. Although there are ruts from wheels cutting its side, they appear to be mostly old and are being slowly grassed over. The mound stands to a good height and doesn’t have the usual signs of antiquarian digging in its top. Best of all though is the view. Perched right on the edge of steep slopes of Cwm Sirhwyi, the cairn enjoys a brilliant vista to the north and east. It’s a shame it’s been badly treated, but don’t let that put you off, it’s a cracking site.

The eastern cairn is similarly poised above the drop. As I approach a number of motorbikes zip along the ridge path towards me, thankfully ignoring the mound which stands next to the track. Like the cairn I visited on Y Domen Fawr last weekend, this one has had the ignominy of a wooden bench being inserted into its top. Fair enough, the view is superb, but surely the Powers That Be didn’t need to actually stick the bench right on top of the cairn? The feeling persists that there is a lack of care or concern about the preservation of the heritage these monuments represent.

Whatever, this is a great pair of monuments; in terms of placement these are the best-situated cairns on this ridge. I stop here for a while and have a late lunch (yes, I am sitting on the bench).

Twyn Cae-Hugh (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Heading southeast, the main ridge path starts to climb gently up towards an area of forestry on my left. And rising rather majestically from the forest’s margins is the biggest barrow so far by some distance, Twyn Hugh-Cae (“Hillock of Hugh’s Enclosure/Close”). When Carl visited it was covered in summer vegetation, but today it has been close-cropped, probably by someone with a strimmer. The fence at its foot has been broken and there are worrying signs of bikes tracks cutting into its edges. Nevertheless, this is a big, impressive monument, regular sides sloping up to a flat top. On further investigation, the summit of the mound has been dug deeply into, a wide crater exposing earth and roots but no sign of any central chamber or cist this high up in the barrow. The construction appears to be more earth than stone. Views to the south are truncated, but the barrow has decent views north across Mynydd Bach (Maesycymmer) and beyond.

Across the main track to the west is an area of open ground, which hides the low banks of a square-cornered earthwork. The shape suggests it’s medieval or later, but it’s curious how close it is to the massive barrow and I wonder if it’s related to the site’s name. Immediately south of the barrow is a pointed standing stone. None of the HER records mention it, and it’s far too obvious to have been overlooked so I assume it has been taken to be modern. However, it’s a nice slab of sandstone and all its sharp edges have been worn smooth in a way that suggests it has been exposed for a long time. Hmm.

Mynydd Bach (Maesycymmer) (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

The first cairn of the day is Mynydd Bach 2, a low monument marked on the Ordnance Survey map. It sits in an area of gorse and scrub, criss-crossed by various tracks and I’m not particularly optimistic that it’s going to be easy to find. I follow one of the broad tracks running west from the main ridgeway, then another heading south. And amazingly, clear of the thick gorse smothering much of the area, here is the cairn. As described in the HER, it’s a low, circular monument. It rises highest above the surrounding ground surface on its eastern arc. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has always been a low monument, rather than the remains of a bigger robbed-out mound, as there are other ring cairns close by. From here I can see the obvious profile of Mynydd Machen, which is on the agenda for later.

Apart from a couple of stones protruding where gorse bushes have been cut back, the monument is covered in turf. Close by are signs of rubbish or motor debris having been burned, but at least it’s not happened on the monument itself. Although it’s not the most exciting cairn, I’m delighted to have found it so easily and drink in the extensive views.

Next I head into the scrubbier ground to the west, where there is supposed to be another ring cairn, unmarked on the OS map. After wandering for a bit and poking around in the gorse and tussocks I declare this one a failure. There’s plenty more to come, so I’m not too disheartened by this setback.

Returning to the main ridge path, the next cairn south (Mynydd Bach 1) is much more obvious. It lies in a grassy field to the west of the access land, and can be seen prominently from the path. The unexpected obstacle to this one turns out to be resident sheep, who take curiosity to heights bordering on belligerent, crowding around right behind me as I cross their field. To be fair I’m intruding on them, but it’s like something between panto season and Life of Brian; my attempts to convince them that I am not the messiah are unsuccessful.

They follow me all the way onto the cairn itself, which makes taking photos somewhat difficult as I’m constantly on the brink of being pushed over from behind by whichever sheep is the bravest of the flock. Nevertheless, this invasion of my personal space doesn’t detract from what is a fine monument, with a cist exposed in its centre. Two side slabs remain, one still in place, the other lying out of position. There’s a bit of rubbish too, unfortunately, although by local standards it’s quite minor. A further small slab lies on the northern edge of the mound, but I’m not convinced it would have been large enough to be the capstone. There are fine views to the northwest, looking towards the higher ridges. To the west Cwm Rhymni drops away. If you can shake off the sheep, this is a very decent monument to visit.

With my retinue following me to the fence, I head south. Leaving them behind, the ground drops quite steeply and according to Coflein (but not GGAT) there is supposedly another very irregular cairn here. Apart from an area of stone exposed from quarrying, I can’t find anything at all in 10 minutes or so of walking backwards and forwards across the sloping field, so I give up and head back to the ridge path.

The next monument, Pont Bren Gwyn ring cairn, sounds like it will be elusive. However, the OS map is helpful in showing an obvious kink in the wall right where it’s supposed to be, and so it proves. Beneath a lone tree, with a broken wall on its west side, the arcing bank around the east side of the monument is quite easy to make out in the low sunlight and low vegetation of this time of year. Definitely one for the enthusiast, but like Mynydd Bach 2 it’s the sort of monument that gives a sense of satisfaction just from finding it at all. The name defies my attempts at translation; although it sounds like it may be related to “Brenin”, it seems that “Bren” may be a proper noun, which would make it “White Bren’s Bridge” I think. Like Mynydd Bach 2, the views are all eastwards, towards Mynydd y Lan.

All in all this little group of sites has been a great start to the walk. There are plenty of other people out enjoying the winter Sunday sunshine, but no-one seems overly interested in these obscure lumps and bumps. No change there!

Tyle-gwyn (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Tyle Gwyn (“White Bank”) stone turns out to be a big upright lump of sandstone. It’s one of those stones that looks too improbably erect to be natural, but too bouldery to be an obvious choice for a menhir. The stone is close to the lane, with a barbed wire fence between it and me. The field has cattle and some farm workers are repairing fences across the way, so I decide not to make the effort of trying to get any closer.

The contrast between the sharp shadows of the lane and the brightness of the field and hills beyond makes getting any decent photos difficult, but it’s a worthwhile stone to come and see. Given the prevalence of South Wales’ standing stones marking apparent routes to upland stone circles and cairns, I can’t help but feel nudged towards accepting this as the real thing and not merely a natural erratic. It certainly sets me on my way with hope for the monuments to come.

Twyn Pant-Teg (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Twyn Pant-Teg</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Twyn Pant-Teg</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Twyn Pant-Teg</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Twyn Pant-Teg</b>Posted by thesweetcheat<b>Twyn Pant-Teg</b>Posted by thesweetcheat
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"The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body." Alfred Wainwright

"The movers move, the shakers shake, the winners write their history. But from high on the high hills, it all looks like nothing." Justin Sullivan

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