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Fieldnotes by ruskus

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Showing 1-20 of 29 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Coldrum (Long Barrow)

I don't know why, but Coldrum was a site that to me always looked a little...well, somehow dull and uninviting, from previous pictures. Visiting on a lovely cold and bright February morning, helped win me over though.
I slipped along the frost and mud path, watching white-rumped Bullfinches zip overhead, catching flocks of Fieldfares & Redwings chattering in the trees. Even the tree with the bright ribbons and trinkets was pleasing to the eye in this glorious sunshine.
What a brilliant site this is. Peaceful, and set among open countryside. It reminded me of a 'fatter' Wayland's Smithy. I hadn't expected so many of those big stones to still be there, and the barrow was more defined that I thought.
A chunky, solid place.

Stanton Moor South (Stone Circle)

Although the summer heather was thick, it very clearly helped define the raised bank. My accompanying photo shows a darker ring of heather, which immediately stood out as I wandered en route to the Nine Ladies. Good sized circle this.

Barbrook II (Stone Circle)

I took the direct route across from the cairn near Barbrook I, passing right through the many cairns scattered on the hillside, and soon found the very visible Barbrook II sitting there solidly, and majestically.

Ok, I agree, it is 'neat', but who cares. This contrasts with the other Barbrooks nearby, but actually gives them more context - helping to show that these sites were important - this landscape was important.

Could've stayed here for hours.

Barbrook I (Stone Circle)

Another Peak District area I've long waited to see. I wondered if I was faced with a big old hike across the Big Moor, but as an old couple and their misbehaving dog meandered past with a smile, I realised how accessible Barbrook I is.

Fantastic views from just above the circle, as you head up towards the nearby cairn, and turn to look back.

Summer grasses tried to block the circle but it's too well-trodden an area. Not as 'showy' as the soon-to-be-next Barbrook II but feeling more atmospheric.

Park Gate Stone Circle

I always thought this was well off the beaten track, but heading up from Beeley towards Beeley moor in the car, I pulled up in the lay-by/parking area, to find about 15 cars and an Ice Cream Van!

Luckily most folks were heading off elsewhere for walks, as I trundled along the track towards the circle. Dark clouds were rushing in overhead and it started to rain as I came up to where I thought the circle should be, which was behind a few young trees, but instead it was further along, near some scrub. I found no obvious track (however small), but just spotted a stone poking up over the long summer grasses, so stumbled over the uneven tufts towards it. Quite hard to make out much at this time of year, until you walk around a bit and remember where the hidden stones sit.

Had really wanted to get to this site for a long time - and although it's not the most stunning circle, it'll do for me, for today, in the rain.

Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor (Stone Circle)

After not quite having time to get here in the past, I knew I would have ample time on this visit to soak the Nine Ladies in properly.

On arrival to the clearing in the woods, I could see there was plenty of life around (as I had expected there to be) - a couple of tents, and plenty of walkers passing through after brief stops to look at the stones.

It undoubtedly has an atmosphere here, but it also feels somewhat 'unloved', in a way. Even though it was a beautiful sunlit clearing, it felt a bit lifeless. No birds or butterflies - more like a vibe of a public play area - like a swing set or see-saw should have sat there. Again, I guess that may be due to the campers playing nearby - I'm sure another day it would feel very different.

That said, it's a great little circle itself - clinging on to it's surroundings - making the best of what it can offer us.

Nine Stones Close (Stone Circle)

I've never 'properly' visited this site before - there's always an obstacle of some sort - killer cows, bits of machinery, other humans (!). I wondered what would interfere this time....


I could not believe it. After looking at recent pics on TMA I expected the farmer's trailer to be bang in the middle, but it was nowhere to be seen. The cows were miles away in other fields. And apart from a few yells from Robin Hood's Stride, people were absent. I was free to stroll up and just take my time.

Up close like this, I was surprised at the size of the stones, and of the space they covered (they always look so huddled together in most photos). Such a lovely spot, with the tree seemingly sheltering these four stones from obvious view, but equally kind of framing them perfectly. Every view, as I wandered around, and through, is magnificent.

Doll Tor (Stone Circle)

Due to this trip being a flying visit to the area, I had about an hour in which to decide between two sites I had wanted to see for a while - Nine Ladies or Doll Tor (I couldn't do justice to both).
As I was about to trek over to Stanton Moor, I heard a few walkers mentioning heading off downhill through the field of cows sharing their field with the Andle Stone. The guy seemed confident where he was heading, so I thought they could only be going to one place - Doll Tor.
So, I left a reasonable, un-stalker-ish gap, and then followed down through the gates, to that second copse of trees. I probably ruined their short trip there when I arrived minutes later to disturb their moment (sorry - I couldn't wait).
I had always loved how this little circle looked in other pictures, and it didn't disappoint. Such a great spot looking out over the valley, just hidden away enough to protect it, but reachable. Neat, and kept, but still feeling as natural as it can be this far into modern times.
Although sad at missing the Nine Ladies (this time), I was happy with my choice, and spent a good while soaking in the circle, before heading off back up to the road, as the cows closed in on me...

The Hoar Stone (Chambered Tomb)

Stumbled across the Hoar Stone more easily than I’d planned after leaving the Rollrights, not that I was expecting too much difficulty.
On a dull day like today the stones struggled to make their presence felt from their wooded enclosure. Which was strange because it’s a hefty old set of stones which have a solid physical presence. Stuck behind their protecting wall I couldn’t visualize the context of their surroundings very clearly. I don’t know if it was due to the close proximity to the road, and the fact that I didn’t need to walk through the trees to find them, which might have given me some sense of great reveal about their discovery. My problem, really. On a different day I’d probably be enchanted. Next time; ‘must try harder’….

Nympsfield (Long Barrow)

Despite the fog and drizzle worsening as I left Hetty Pegler’s Tump, I thought I must drive up to nearby Nympsfield before the late April afternoon became a total washout. Amazingly there were lots of people at the picnic area around the long barrow. Mostly dog walkers desperate enough to escape a dull Easter holiday weekday, even in this cold and murk. The view over to Coaley and the flat top of Cam Long Down was limited in this weather, but still impressive. I then noticed the barrow sitting over to my right, and approached from it’s side.
It has a neat, understated and unobtrusive presence, here in such a public place. I guess the recently-visited Notgrove could have been presented like this. This accessibility combined with the damp conditions, reminded me of when I’ve visited places such as Parc Le Breos before (I’ve just looked at Parc Le Breos again, and seen an entry from tjj pointing to the similarity to Nympsfield).
As I’ve noticed this week, whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds, another long barrow perched high up on the edge of a hillside. Now that I’ve seen a few, these Cotswold-Severn chambers are starting to become a bit of a fascination. Got a bit carried away taking photos, and in wanting to get out of the rain I completely forgot to check out Soldier’s Grave. Bah!

Devil's Quoits (Henge)

I had a bit of difficulty finding where to park and where to then head out to, when arriving next to the portacabins near the recycling site, so instead headed off ‘round through Stanton Harcourt again, coming out of its south end, ending up taking a path to the northern side of the lake eventually. Probably a longer walk, past the deserted farm buildings, but an easier choice at that point.
It’s a site of contrasts really. Such an ancient idea, remade in such a modern context with the dirt heap directly next to it. As I walked up to the henge banks I spoke to a lady just leaving. I suggested that it was a shame about the landfill next to the henge. She immediately pointed out that if it wasn’t for their digging this wouldn’t exist like this now. Ok.
Despite the pristine circle of stones, the banks of the henge are pretty much full of rabbit holes. It’s both a beautifully constructed thing, yet somehow left me with a cold matter-of-fact impression. It is great it exists for many reasons though, so maybe it was just a me-on-the-day thing which kept me from feeling it a bit more. Or maybe it was the presence of the heavy bulldozer sat on top of the heap, facing the stones. I felt a kind of tension, as the workman sat in the driver’s seat having his lunch, as if he was somehow waiting before he started the machine to then bear down the slope and plough right into the henge. I guess it re-enforced the idea that they could construct this and easily destroy it.

Hetty Pegler's Tump (Long Barrow)

Because Hetty Pegler’s Tump is relatively easy to find I ended up visiting here after an aborted mission to the sites around Minchinhampton. I failed to find the Longstone and others due partly to what Julian writes in TMA about the maze of roads in Minchinhampton, but mainly due to me bringing the wrong map (too vague)and being woefully under-prepared through acting upon a last minute whim to venture out on a wet, foggy late afternoon. Lesson learnt.
Anyway…as the fog turned into drizzle I pulled up at the tiny car-width spot by the roadside, and headed out into the gloom in the direction of a muddy path. Soon the tump loomed out of the grey, making it hard to get a sense of its size against an unclear background. After walking around for a while I noted with interest how, on just like my recent visit to Belas Knap, the mound was perched upon the edge of the plateau of Crawley Hill. In fact it looks like the tump is going to slide off towards the back, if it wasn’t for the surrounding trees on the northwest side.
I was surprised how far back the chamber cuts into the barrow, but didn’t stay long due to the worsening weather conditions. Time to head off to Nympsfield, and maybe another attempt at Minchinhampton?.... (I failed again).

Belas Knap (Long Barrow)

I was not prepared for the steep trek up through the woods, which left me realising just how shockingly unfit I am! The levelling out of the next section of path allowed me to recover in time for the sudden arrival at the long barrow, which equally took my breath away.
On this cold & windy, yet bright April late afternoon, I found that I had the barrow all to myself, adding to the distant feeling from the valley far below. Belas Knap was an ideal start to this week away in the Cotswolds, giving me a perfect introduction as an example of how the areas’ long barrows seem to be perched high on the edge of a plateau (as I would later note at Hetty Pegler’s Tump for example). Without the trees covering Humblebee How on the east side I guess the view from, or indeed up to, the barrow would have been quite something.
I think I’m beginning to realize, the longer I spend visiting these ancient sites, that it’s about the environment, the setting, the place, the feeling, as much as it is about the actual look of the monuments. So although, as others have commented, Belas Knap is quite manufactured and overly neat, it is still here. Literally, which is great of course, but also in the sense of giving context as to why it’s here in this place.

Notgrove (Long Barrow)

After reading previous entries I visited with low expectations of this site, but was pleasantly surprised. It’s not that bad really.
Upon my arrival late in the evening an older couple were just leaving. They told me they’d been watching a Barn Owl quartering the field nearby - unfortunately it had passed elsewhere time I got to the long barrow, although this shifted my focus back to the site itself. Despite the fact that it is obviously no Belas Knap (from where I had just left), it’s general large shape can be followed, and the imagination can provide some gaps to aid what is seen, or not seen.
Because it feels somewhat ignored and separate from the cars zooming past nearby, I felt able to switch off from that world also, and find some sense of what the barrow feels like within the surrounding landscape. I was happy to spend time here, and found its location welcoming.

Harpley Common (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This was not a 'planned' visit - I was on the way, with friends, to nearby Houghton Hall, and our sat nav went wayward.
But hey! We ended up at Anmer, and I was aware that there was a long barrow, and a barrow cemetery in the vicinity. As luck would have it, we drove past Harpley Common, where a couple of barrows sit perfectly at the side of the road, just off the Peddars Way.
I stopped, while my wife took a quick pic out of the car window (true amateurs!) - apologies for it's unglamorous back-drop of pigs....

Anyway, further investigation about the area has made me determined to do it some justice, and explore a wee bit more thoroughly.

Grime's Graves (Ancient Mine / Quarry)

I had recently found an old guide book on Grime's Graves, from the 60's, by the exotically titled R. Rainbird Clarke, which had prompted me to revisit the site.
I haven't been here for around nearly a decade, and had forgotten the size of the surrounding area of the flint mines. It truly is quite a striking landscape, hidden deep within the forest.
Firstly I wanted to explore the mound, known as Grimshoe at the eastern edge. This mound found apparently much use later during Saxon times, as a meeting place. In fact understanding how the site had been used through the different periods, reinforced how uniquely important the site is.
I hadn't realised that the 'Goddess' figure found in Pit 15, is now widely thought to be a 'plant' to support the debated belief that the mines dated back to the Palaeolithic, which is kind of a shame. It's an intriguing tale, but would be more so if it were authentic.
With the visit being made on a weekday, late in the lovely sunny afternoon, with virtually no one else there, made it well worth the trip.

Hill of Health (Round Barrow(s))

A decade ago, whilst doing a 10 week archaeology evening course at the local college, we came to this barrow one evening.

I remember it's near some properties, but I'd forgotten that it sits at the bottom of someone's actual garden (although sloping upwards from house to hill). The mound and house sit next to a byway, so approach is easy.

As the owner was busy in the garden, I thought I'd ask if he minded me observing/taking pictures. After a few polite queries about why I was interested we struck up conversation about the barrow's history. I think he had to check out that I wasn't some 'treasure hunter', as he said nothing of value was in it - which struck me as kinda sad to have to worry that I might be up to no good (I'd have done the same, but....). Said I was welcome to see it closer. (unfortunately a few panoramic shots didn't work on my cheap old camera, but got a couple, so...).

Anyway, nice guy, and a brilliant barrow; quite enigmatic in it's current location, with the trees adding to the drama somehow.

Wish I had one in my garden.....better than fairies....

Broome Heath Long Barrow

You wouldn't suspect much to be here, really, but this roughly rectangular patch of heath has some surprises. Despite passing nearby here on a regular basis for most of my life, I never thought of stopping to explore. Maybe I didn't consider it 'important' or 'showy' enough? It's hardly Avebury now is it..

Closer examination of the nearby locality reveals close proximity of the Angles Way, a very close Roman road, and several other tasty morsels.

Anyway, I parked half way along the road which passes through Broome, at the sign for the fishing pits, and walked off to the left (SW) corner. Here I stumbled across a small barrow, which didn't appear noted on my map, though has a identification board by it. About a third of it disappears under the fences of some back gardens -(got me wondering how much can/do these people dig on their side when gardening - a bit of blood, fish & bone...and grave goods!).

Then headed up the east side of the heath past the large Neolithic enclosure, which is fairly undecipherable under bushes and scrub, but large enough to note. Walking back towards the middle of the heath, brought me to a larger round barrow, and just beyond that is the long barrow. This runs NE-SW, with the NE end being easier to view. Apparently it aligns to the centre of the nearby enclosure, though it is hard to fathom. There seems to be a slope down (to a ditch?) which runs parallel with the SE side, which if viewed from a way away gives the impression that the long barrow is very large indeed, or sitting on a great mound.

Well, well....I'm glad I did check it out, and I feel I may well be back often.

Stockton Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Somewhat sad and lonely stone, sitting defiant between the busy road and the lay-by. Hard to connect with it's surroundings, really, but as Norfolk and Suffolk have very little in the way of standing stones (!), I'll take this one.

Boudicca's Grave (Round Barrow(s))

I don't know whether Boudicca rests here, or one of the more famous sites claimed, but I would like to believe so.

There are several barrows around here on the Norfolk/Suffolk border (including the nearby Soldier's Hill - another reckoned Boudicca site..), and this is my favourite.

It is close to home, and it is easily visible from the passing car heading along the Diss to Thetford road. When driving past you sweep down into the dip of the Devil's Ditch, which gives the area an enclosed feel, and highlights the enigmatic barrow which juts out from the nearby trees of Home Covert, on Garboldisham Heath.
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