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Fieldnotes by TreeHouse

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Knoll Camp (Hillfort)

Visited 26/02/05 on a grey day, whilst taking in the nearby Grans Barrow and Knap Barrow on Toyd Down. The footpath/bridleway from the long barrows takes you right through the middle of the Camp, and you could easily miss the ditch and bank as you cross it. The interior is thickly wooded and brambled. Not much in the way of prehistoric remains, but on a clearer day the views would be fantastic. The Knoll (sometimes called Damerham Knoll) is visible for many miles around. Nature note: we saw deer here.

Penbury Knoll (Hillfort)

Visited 31/03/05 in miserable (misty drizzle) weather: not much sign of fortification on the knoll, and the summit is now covered by fir trees making it very dark. There is some terracing and evidence of field systems around the knoll and on Pentridge Down, and there's also a good-sized round barrow on the slope (grid ref SU037173) alongside the footpath from the hamlet of Pentridge.

The Dorset Cursus

To answer Rob Gillespie's question, the picture of the cursus in Cope's book is taken from around SU018161 looking north-east. In the foreground on the right is a remnant of the SE cursus bank and across the valley the cursus can be seen disappearing into Salisbury Plantation (private land). Apparently there are traces of both banks in the plantation, as well as a long barrow built into the NW bank. The tree covered hill summit on the horizon is Penbury Knoll.

My own version of this pic is available here and I've posted a similar one on this website here.

Dorset Cursus (North to Martins Down)

Visited 31/3/05. The long lump in the field is actually a very long long barrow, maybe a barrow of two parts, but long none the less. It is aligned with the (no longer visible) end of the Dorset Cursus. Towards the narrow corner of the field is another, ploughed down, long barrow that looks a bit like a tumulus. This too points at the cursus end-point, as does the barrow on the hillside to the south (in the neighbouring field).

I approached from the car park on the far eastern side of Martin Down nature reserve. Take the lane west from the centre of Martin village, and you eventually reach the car park. Head due west along a track and soon you will see what looks like the biggest long barrow you've ever seen on the NW horizon. It is, of course, nothing so ancient: its the 'backstop' of a rifle range in use during the second world war. However, head for it and climb to the top and you'll have a splendid view in all directions: in particular of the long barrows that point to the absent cursus end earthworks and then southwest across the undulating chalklands where the cursus once ran.

The massive modern earthwork is only a short distance south-east of the Martin Down car park thats just off the A354 (a safe place to park on this busy road). Theres also a Bronze Age enclosure on this part of Martin Down. Its a busy busy place, and could withstand many visits. I haven't even begun on the barrow cemetaries further down the cursus.

Setley Pond (Round Barrow(s))

Hampshire Treasures describes the barrow as follows: "Bell barrow with outer bank at edge of disused gravel pit. Part of ditch filled in." Its not a Pond Barrow, its just very close to Setley Pond (now used by model boat enthusiasts). Saw it today, its recently had the woodier plants removed from it. Fine view across the plain, there are many other round barrows in the neighbourhood.

Buckland Rings (Hillfort)

I'd read PureJoys's fieldnotes and visited this site expecting only a view from the outside. I was pleased to find that the public do have access to the "hillfort" (I've heard it called a "lowland fort") via permissive paths. Lately Hampshire County Council have been busy with fencing, gates and general tidying up. The field to the south of the fort has many "kissing gate" entrances, the only difficulty is finding a place to park.

The unwelcoming signs are just to stop people driving down what is a public footpath (and private access) that runs to the north of the fort: do not be put off by them. There are two private properties occupying the western side of the fort.

This is a fairly unique fort: firstly theres the fact that its so close to sea-level. Secondly, its got a very rectangular shape for an Iron Age fort. Thirdly, half the eastern flank is gaping open as a result of an over-enthusiastic 18th century farmer's levelling.

Just east of the site (between the ramparts and the railway line) is a huge hollow, utilised by the local BMX youths. Probably just as well that the ramparts and ditches are fenced off to prevent them being used as ramps etc. Drove past later and an ambulance was picking up one of the budding bike-stuntmen.

Bellever (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Got very close to nature up at Bellever Tor in the summer of 2002... Was camping at the Dart Valley Country park and took a bus (once a day service) up to Dartmeet. Walked from Dartmeet to the tor in ever-increasing rain. Found some shelter under the granite, and proceeded to take everything off and wring it out. Managed to re-dress before a group of walkers emerged from the trees to the north. On reflection the site is a kind of omphalos (sacred navel) for Dartmoor: it is roughly in the middle of the National Park, and even appears on both sides of the OS Outdoor Leisure map due to its central position. Don't visit this site in the rain unless you're clothed in 100% waterproofs: the things that make it great also make it very exposed to the elements.

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