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

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Addington Long Barrow — Fieldnotes

We drove to motorway land - Kent is more the carpark of England than the garden of England. We did visit Addington, and the Chestnuts. This was a lovely, peaceful diversion. The remains of the long barrow are in a private garden. For 50p a head a personal tour was given by the owner.
The barrow has been ploughed out and no soil remains, the chamber is still there, a little dilapidated, but partly restored. The stones are large, it must have been a big barrow. The owner then produced dowsing rods and gave us a lesson. I've been sceptical, but something made the rods twitch and turn and cross over. Pip and I were told that a line of earth energy passed through the site.

Very near, on either side of the road is another barrow, ploughed over and shrunken and totally cut up by the road.
An eye opening site - see a Longbarrow without it's clothes on!
And an amazing, enthusiastic, interesting woman to meet.

Knowlton Henges — Fieldnotes

I drove from Southampton to Knowlton with Charlieboy - it's the nearest of the Antiquarian sites to Southampton and it was a sunny day.

Knowlton is easy to find from a road atlas and is right at the side of the lane. It's spectacular to look at - a ruined church inside a henge, one religion following another and in the end all gone and just the countryside left ongoing. The knarled old Yew trees at the far end of the henge give a traditional spiritual feel.

There are apparently a whole complex of henges, enclosures etc all around, possibly making one of the most important sites in Wessex, but most of it is just vaguely discernable, ploughed out.

This was Charlieboy's first experience - a Megalithic virgin! He was well broken in by Knowlton Henge.

Little Meg (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Little Meg is such a contrast to Long Meg, just half a mile up the road, a wrecked little circle, the worse for wear on the edge of a cereal field.

She's obviously the focus for some activity, her swirls and rings having been chalked in by someone.

A diversion, but not the whole show, thats back at Long Meg.

Long Meg & Her Daughters (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Travelling back fro northeast Scotland to Wessex in mid august, I stopped off to see Long Meg and her Daughters.

I had wanted to visit for ages and it doesn't disappoint. The site is obviously set in working farmland and is so uncelebrated locally that you'd think it wasn't worth the visit, just a few signs from the village and no mention of it locally in the tourist information. This may mean that Meg is left alone but it's a striking contrast to Aberdeenshire where the monuments are celebrated and I was left wondering if this wonder is appreciated.

I was amazed at the size of the stone circle, it's probably the biggest but it has a huge presence; the stones are much bigger than I imagined and there is just a feeling of bulk. Unlike Avebury you can take the whole thing in in one visual image and it makes sense as a panorama, maybe that's where the impression of size comes from.
I visited evening and morning, drizzly and sunny. Somehow it seemed to wear the damp evening better.

Walking through the double stoned entrance away fro the circle you come quickly to Long Meg, apart and aloof, slightly to the side of what would be an avenue - it's hard not to imagine a 'sister on the other side of this hypothetical avenue. Otherwize, where's the symmetry?

Visiting Long Meg is a huge experience, it was so less celebrated than I thought it could be and yet so much bigger and grander than I expected.

The mettled farm road cutting right through it seems so bizarre, who would build a road through something so impressive? At least the stones weren't used as hardcore. They have obviously been seen as important enough to leave well alone, to graze around and to build around, but to basically leave well alone.

Fortingall (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I stayed in the Fortingall Hotel and was well recieved by Dave a hotelier with a curiosity for ancient sites. Opposite the Hotel, just up the lane, in a field is a group of 3 small circles made of dumpy squat stones, close to one another in a triangle. They're on the level, in a flat field and give a cute and friendly feel. We also visited the stones at the Appin of Dull but they were just visable in a Tatty field from the road. There is a wonderful range of different sites and monuments all around this area, different ages and states of repair and a lot of local knowledge of them.

Falls of Acharn Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

Buy a ticket, go to Loch Tay in Perthshire, travel to the south of the lake to Acharn, walk up the signposted circular walk to the Falls of Acharn. At the top end of the walk carry on up the farm track for an hour and you will sit looking at a small, ruined stone circle, straddling a dilapilated old farm wall, high on a hill, overlooking the fabulous Loch Tay and Ben Lawers. You won't regret it.
We did this walk, wondered if we were ever going to find the circle, had we gone the wrong way, and were about to give up when Pip spotted an upright above us on the hill. It's totally worth it. The location is so clearly worthy of reverence and worship of whatever, that it seems no real surprise that there is a monument here and it felt a real privalage to sit there in the sun, the world at our feet.

Croft Moraig (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Staying near the beautiful Loch Tay in August, I was struck by how much more aware Scots are generally about Stone Circles and Henges than my fellow Angles. Everyone i met in Perthshire seemed to tell me to go to Croft Moraig, so I went.
Excellant choice. You get used to reading about places like Stonehenge having various phases, 1 superceding the other. The excellant thing at Croft Moraig is that the phases still coexist so you have a cup marked stone and 2 concentric stone circles, mostly standing.
It's in a small field right by the road, on a slight rise. The farm houses are very near but this doesn't stop it being an absolute belter.

Cullerie (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

On my august tour of Aberdeen I visited a number of sites including Cullerlie. Maybe at home, on it's own as the sole circle of a days driving, I may have loved it, on this day it was a bit of a flop, I didn't get any real feeling from this place. It was flat and closed in by farm yards
and just lifeless.
This was the most overly restored site, large stones visibly concreted in
to the grounds and 8 little stone cairns concreted in to the centre like
Bronze age B&Q patio decorations.

Loanhead of Daviot (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I visited Loanhead of Daviot on a oneday tour including East Aquhorthies, Cullerie, Midmar Kirk and Whitehills, so I was comparing and contrasting in my head.
There is so much to see here, the large recumbant, the reerected stones, the small centre stones,the clear space inside the rubble in the middle. Then there's the later cremation circle next to the RSC.
Walking to the site from the carpark you walk under heavy trees, quite shaded, out into the sun and a very green, lush site with all this history, just sat there.
I had a strong sense that Scotland takes it's prehistory a lot more seriously than England/Wessex does, the signposting, preservation (maybe occasionally overpreservation) and general upkeep puts, certainly the South of England to shame on this score.
Over the past weekend I've visited a low profile site in Dorset and was heard to scream 'in scotland this would be a show site,' looked after and properly marked. Maybe both approaches have thier benefits.

Easter Aquhorthies (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I visited East Aquhorthies in August and accept that it's tidied and spruce, but I didn't feel that it detracted from it being a good accessable RSC that gave me a very clear view of how an upstanding RSC would look like.
Being a Wessex lad I was intrigued by the obvious difference in form between stone circles as i know them and the RSC's. It seems hard to believe that they didn't also have different functions from each other. I did fall in love with the RSC's while sat here in the sun, with my back to Mithy Tap. Mithy Tap was clearly there and visable, but didn't seem to be on any obvious alignment to the Recumbant, so I had no impression of the circle and the hill being linked in this way.
RSC's for beginners, perfect for me and very pretty, when i later went to Whitehills, the 2 experiences complimented each other well.

Whitehills (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I spent my august hols in Scotland and visited a number of the Aberdeenshire sites and have fallen in love with the recumbant stone circles. I did East Aquhorthies and Loanhead of Davioy and Midmar Kirk but my absolute favourite was one I came across by following the signs on the way back from visiting Midmar - Whitehills stone circle. It is on Forestry commission land, Pitfichie Forest, signposted from the road and marked on the OS map. Parking at the little public carpark at the edge of the forestry commission bit it's a 1 mile walk, uphill along a forest road, round the bend and there she is.
I had seen the manicured show sites and this was a breath of fresh air.
Faced by trees on 2 sides, open on the other 2, logged land, it's a wonderful location and in a fine state of disrepair. It has a 8 - 9 ft long recumbant with 1 upright flanker and one now fallen. Behind the standing flanker is a strange mini flanker, looking like a canine tooth.
Only 1 other stone stands, the others lying in heather and scrub.
There was an inner circle of small stones inside of which the centre of the circle is entirely stone, rubble, slightly heaped - slightly overgrown. There was a slightly overgrown feel to the whole place and a sense that this is what the show sites probably looked like before they were manicured and mown.
On my first visit it had the signs on the roads and i green stake marking the site. ! week later when i returned (too good not to visit twice) other signs appeared, so I hope it's not to be over prettified, one of it's big attractions is the fact that the vegatation is slightly wild and this does look a bit more free range than some others.
I'd love to know if this site has ever been dug/investigated.
I visited a dozen or so circles in Aberdeenshire and around about, but visiting this site stuck out as the absolute highlight.

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I visited the Kingston Russell stone circle on a sunny Saturday, on a walk to include the Grey mare and her Colts, just down the bridle path.

The Kingston Russell circle isn't in the Antiquarian, but it should be. Overlooking the village of Abbotsbury and the English Channel across beautiful West Dorset, the location is superb.
There are 18 stones, all now lying flat, still in a clear circle, in a hilltop location, in farmland. All but 2 are sedimentary rock, full of pebbles and shells, the other 2, on the side farthest away from the sea appear to be Granite. Better even than the circle, but unremarked upon on the English Heritage sign (broken) is a clear and complete ditch around the outside of the stones, a clear henge, now only a few inches deep, but surviving for now.

I took Lydis, my 5 yr old daughter, her first circle, she was interested and impressed. I told her it was reputed to be 4000 yrs old, before Christ. So is that before God then she asked?

I had lived 20 minutes drive from this site until I was 18 and never knew it was here before today, it is complete and beautiful and Dorset. Talking to my father later in the day, he has lived in Weymouth all his life, he said it used to be considered a Roman Temple. It definitely isn't that.

If you had to drag a bunch of megaliths up a hill and dig a ditch. for any reason, spiritual or secular, there wouldn't be many better places to do it, the views, under the local landmark of Hardy's monument and absolutely beautiful, are reason enough to visit, but it's a great circle as well. It's easily signposted on a bridle path and worth the walk.

Those Neolithic construction workers had incredible views when they ate their sandwiches.

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

On saturday 2nd sept., we visited the Grey Mare and her Colts, having walked from the nearby Kingston Russel stone circle, which is just up the bridle path and worth a view. The location is wonderful, on the hills overlooking the south Dorset coastline and Portland below you. In a field, up against the hedgerow is a longbarrow, looking complete, if small, with beautiful uprights and small stones visable all around the edge.
Unmarked, unregarded, it's a gem. I lived 20 minuites from this site until I was 18 and never knew about this place until I read the Antiquarian.
It's easy to access with an OS map and you'll find yourself somewhere beautiful.

Hully Hill Monument (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

I visited Hully Hill monument, with Pip and the Antiquarian, after a day out in Edinburgh, on my 1999 summer hols.
We pulled off the M8 at J2, drove through the petrol station by the A89. In an industrialised area, by a housing estate, by the main road, is a small parkwith a walled mound in the centre - going around it a circular path with 3 standing stones, one at each corner of a triangle,
landscaped into the path by some townplanner. Better than being lost to us, but still bizarre.
By the largest of the 3 stones, a Renault car had been turned over on it's roof and set on fire, presumably at the end of a joyride.
This burnt hulk lay about 5 or 6 feet from the stone.
It was nearing twilight, obviously urban and the most surreal standing stone moment I've had.
It reminded me that generally The Modern Antiquarian takes me to peaceful serene places, full of beauty, like Stanton Drew or Rollright. This wasn't like that, but then many other stones must have been where cities now are.
If Hully Hill hadn't been listed in the Antiquarian, I'd have seen it as a 'piece of '60's public park landscaping. As it was I knew it to be bronze age public park landscaping.
The only megalith/burnt motor combination of my young life.
A singular experience.
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