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

News Items by pure joy

Latest Posts


Cave Network Found Under Car Park

From -

A group of potholers stopped from exploring because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, found a network of caves under the car park of their local pub.

To stave off boredom, members of the Bristol Exploration Club volunteered to help clear out a drain at the Hunters Lodge Inn at Priddy in Somerset.

But instead of finding a blocked pipe, the group stumbled on a network of previously unexplored caves.

After two years digging and blasting, they have now opened up a 30-ft cavern.

Inside they found hundreds of bones of extinct animals - believed to have been washed into the cave nearly 10,000 years ago - and an underground world of stalagmites and stalactites.

Tony Jarrett, 54, team leader of the group which is based in the village, said: "We have been digging for years in the area trying to discover new caves and expand previously discovered ones.

"There was a two-inch natural fissure in the rock into which the rainwater from the pub roof and the car park used to drain.

"We suspected there was something down there as the water had to escape somewhere.

"So we went down and popped out into a cave of stalactites and stalagmites - we were amazed."

The cavers have named the caverns the Pewter Pot, the Barmaids' Bedrooms and Brown Ale Boulevard, in honour of the Hunters Lodge.

Experts at the British Museum have identified the discovered bones as belonging to animals which roamed Britain during the last Ice Age - many of the finds are on display at the nearby Wells Museum in Somerset.

The Mendips are home to some of Britain's best-known caves, including Wookey Hole.

Stonehenge and its Environs

The National Trust - Summary of evidence on Stonehenge road inquiry

5th March 2004

The National Trust today finished presenting its evidence to the Stonehenge Roads Improvement Scheme Inquiry.

The Trust has objected to the proposed 2.1km road tunnel scheme on landscape, archaeological and ecological grounds. During its evidence, the Trust highlighted that four key modifications - including lengthening the tunnel by 800m - would appear to offer significant advantages over the existing scheme in terms of landscape character, noise and visual impact.

The Trust's evidence emphasised that the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and its setting comprise a landscape of extraordinarily high significance for its archaeology and its spirit of place. However, during the past century, human activity and intervention have gravely damaged the prehistoric landscape, and the spirit of place has been spoiled by roads, dismal visitor facilities and the cultivation of crops.

While applauding the government for its desire to pursue a scheme that would rescue Stonehenge from its present predicament, the Trust does not believe that the current scheme proposed by the Highways Agency is the right solution for Stonehenge or delivers the objectives of the Stonehenge Management Plan. The Trust's objection relates principally to the failure of the proposed scheme to reunite the stone circle and its associated monuments with the rich historic landscape surrounding it.

However, the Trust highlighted that four modifications to the proposed scheme would do much to reduce or avoid the adverse impacts on the site and would have material advantages over the existing scheme in terms of landscape character, noise and visual impact. These modifications are:

- Moving the proposed western portal approximately 200 metres westwards.

- Moving the proposed eastern portal 600 metres eastwards

- Using a tunnel boring machine for the construction of the tunnel instead of the presently proposed sprayed concrete lining method. This would significantly ameliorate the potential impacts at Stonehenge Bottom.

- Creating a bridleway instead of a byway along the course of the former A303.

Locating the proposed tunnel portal further out at either end of the tunnel would produce significant benefits for six archaeological sites, five of which are scheduled and four of which are acknowledged on behalf of the Highways Agency to be important. One of these four sites is part of the Normanton Down Barrow Group and two of the others are adjacent to it.

The relocation of the proposed eastern portal would also enable the reconnection of the Avenue. The Avenue constitutes a ceremonial monument of great fame and rarity but it is currently severed by the A303 and would remain so under the proposed scheme. In presenting its evidence, the Trust points out that this treatment is inconsistent with the objective of the Stonehenge Management Plan to enhance the features of degraded archaeological features where appropriate. Furthermore, the Highway's Agency's own longer tunnels report recognises that real landscape and cultural heritage benefits would flow from a longer tunnel.

The modifications suggested by the Trust might result in some delay to the construction period. But the Trust believes that in the circumstances pertaining to this uniquely important site, delay would be amply justified.

The Trust's remit does not extend to assessing the relative economics of one scheme against another. In its curatorial remit, the Trust remains focused on doing what it can to ensure that the chance is not lost to reunite the stone circle with the rich historic landscape surrounding it. In the end, the issue of cost must be a matter for government, having regard to its responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention.

More via -

Stokeleigh Camp (Hillfort)

Employee Volunteering - Hill-Fort Conservation, Leigh Woods, Near Bristol

Anyone fancy 'persuading' your work mates to do something for an ancient site? I found the following opportunity as part of the National Trust Employee volunteering programme at

"Leigh Woods is well-known to many as the backdrop to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and is used as an escape from the bustling city of Bristol by thousands of people every year. Come and help the National Trust to remove encroaching vegetation from the Iron Age hill-fort of Stokeleigh Camp within the heart of the woods. Overlooking the Avon Gorge, volunteers will work alongside National Trust wardens to conserve this important archaeological feature and show these impressive ramparts at their best! Suitable for groups of ten people."

WHAT: practical work and diy
WHERE: Leigh Woods, near Bristol
WHEN: November - March
YOU NEED: Old clothes and stout footwear

Interested? Call the EVP Team 01793 462787 or email to -

Roulston Scar (Hillfort)

Guided tour: Yorkshire's Giant Hillfort at Sutton Bank - 22nd May 2004

From English Heritage website -

"Sutton Bank is well known as the home of Kilburn White Horse, created in 1857, and of the Yorkshire Glider Club, founded in 1933. But very few people are aware that the promontory is also the site of one of the most important prehistoric monuments in the region: a giant hillfort built in the Iron Age, around 400 BC. The guided tour will be on Saturday 22nd May 2004. Please note that places on this tour are reserved for English Heritage Members only.

For further information about the tour, contact Jonathan Hogan in English Heritage's York office on 01904 601 971 901 or e-mail "

Grime's Graves (Ancient Mine / Quarry)

Tour of Grime's Graves - 27th June 2004

From English Heritage website.

Guided tour: Grime's Graves Neolithic flint mines
Grime's Graves is one of only handful of Neolithic flint mines in Britain, and the only one where you can actually go down into one of the 5,000 year old mine shafts. The guided tour will be on Sunday 27th June 2004 and will include a spot of DIY fieldwork! Please note that places on this tour are reserved for English Heritage Members only. For further information about the tour, contact Pete Topping in English Heritage's York office on 01223 582 700 or e-mail


Latest news on 'Cornish barrow for sale’

Following my enquiry about the ‘Cornish barrow for sale’, I had a pleasant surprise yesterday. A fax from Nic Potter (the present owner).

Avid Kernow-ite TMA’ers may remember that I offered £10,000 for the barrow and land (including some sort of not-for-profit sell on clause), or suggested that maybe the National Trust (or similar organisation) might be worth speaking to, given the general location (Land’s End) and the historic interest.

Nic is selling some moor land (just less than 4 acres) in Penwith which includes a recently discovered ‘double ringed’ barrow. The land can’t be farmed or built upon.

The fax said that following the press/media coverage the website received over 11,000 hits and Nic has decided that it will be easiest to sell it at auction, via FPD Savills (Tel – 020 7824 9091), on 22nd September 2003 in London (I’m a bit confused about the venue – website says something different to Nic’s fax). A small amount of information can be found here -

Nic says that it has proved, due to its uniqueness, impossible to value it (there simply is no precedent). Therefore there will be no estimate or guide price, but there will be a reserve, which Nic cannot reveal.

Nic added that frankly it could go for a low, medium or high price – he simply doesn’t know what will happen. He’s selling the land to provide funds for a recording studio. He liked the spirit of my offer, and added that if I couldn’t put in a higher bid, he’d talk to me if it remained unsold.


Iron Age coin hoard uncovered

I've just seen this story on Ch 4 news, but nothing on their website. The TV report said that they've had to keep it secret for several years until all the uncovering was done. The following is from the BBC website -

The largest hoard of Iron Age gold and silver coins ever found in the UK has been uncovered by a group of amateur archaeologists. The find of more than 3,000 coins was made in a field in east Leicestershire.

Dating back 2,000 years, they are one of the first examples of Iron Age coin hoards to be seen in the country.

A group of local people who had joined an archaeological project run by Leicestershire County Council found a handful of coins while out walking in 2000.

Group member Ken Wallace returned with a metal detector and found hundreds of the coins, which date to between 1AD and 40AD. He said: "They weren't in a pot or in a bag, they were in little pits in the clay, about the size of a clenched fist.

"There were about 13 or 15 of these little deposits and it is unique."
A professional excavation turned up the remainder of the hoard earlier in 2003. The same dig also uncovered a silver decorated Roman cavalry helmet, the only one ever found in England. Evidence points to the helmet being buried before the Roman Conquest - raising the possibility that a Leicestershire man may have travelled to the Roman Empire to serve in the cavalry before Britain was conquered by Rome.

The coins were mostly made by the local Iron Age tribe, the Corielvatu.
Archaeologists believe they were probably offerings at a religious ceremony. The British Museum part-funded the excavations and a spokesman described it as a find of "international significance".
My real name is Martin, but there is already a Martin vigorously posting on this fantastic web site so I decided to use 'Pure Joy'; which was the title of the Teardrop Explodes and Julian Cope fanzine that I set up in 1988 and ran until 1991/2. Strangely my interest in ancient sites pre-dates the knowledge that Julian was also into them. However Julian's book has certainly led me to visit more, and plan holidays and pit-stops around places to visit! Studying History (and International Relations) at Uni and coming from the West Country led to a healthy fascination with ancient sites and the countryside.

I was born in 1970 in Colerne, a historic village between Bath and Chippenham (mentioned in the Domesday Book) and have spent time in Bath, Reading, Manchester, West Africa, and Ethiopia. I'm currently living near London, but itching to live in the countryside, preferably Cornwall, or Africa. Reality check! little money and inertia creep.

Most of my working life has been in the voluntary sector, usually by supporting voluntary and community groups with advice and information. I enjoy doing quite a bit of voluntary work with our Credit Union, and as an elected Council member of the National Trust.

I'm no photography expert but I like to take photos (nearly always black and white) of places I visit. Some of the earlier ones looked good but it was only with a £25 point and shoot camera that was amazing unreliable. I've now got an old Pentax SLR, but at the moment I refuse to use filters and special effects. You get what you see.

Up side of ancient site = the sense of history, the countryside, the walk, the sense of adventure, the tranquillity, and the weird things that sometimes happen.

Downside = the loneliness, territorial cows, and the cravings to get back to the countryside

My TMA Content: