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

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Ballymeanoch — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Ballymeanoch</b>Posted by Gazza

Boswens Croft (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Boswens Croft</b>Posted by Gazza

Wheal Buller Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Wheal Buller Menhir</b>Posted by Gazza

Mulfra Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Now this is one for the memory... a trek up a boggy, featureless hillside in wind and drizzle put a bit of a cloud over this visit. Just when we were getting REALLY jizzed with the whole thing, Mulfra is there. The huge capstone pointing crazily upwards, and the view ... just sit on the hill, back to the quoit and drink in the view. There is everything from prehistory to now visible here, and it's just soooooooo beautiful up there. And then the sun came out ! The lands end peninsular is just mindblowing.

Hully Hill Monument (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

Hully Hill - one of the strangest places I've been without a doubt. A spit from the airport, the ring road, motorway, housing estate - you name it, it's near it. The local bored kids seem to have taken to defacing it too, even the sign is bleached white and unreadable. It just doesn't seem real, and to be honest didn't do a lot for me - but I want to go back again and see. Some sites take a few visits to hit you, before you see through their 20th C trappings. Maybe.

Little Meg (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Must admit, I really enjoy every visit to Little Meg. Not sure why, it's just so ... peaceful there. Mind you, bet it's a bit noisy when Mr Farmer's tearing up the soil next to meg. I'm surprised She's still there at all.

Drift Stones (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

One of a now-rare number of pairs of stones in Britain. There were formerly loads of pairs in Penwith alone, but nowadays few remain - farmers are minded to pull one down and leave the other as a cattle rubbing post, thus destroying 4000 years of history for a short-term gain. The usual consequence of this is the cattle rub round the stone, and eventually erode the base, it falls, and gets dragged away. No such problems for the Drift Stones, so named as they are near the hamlet of Higher Drift. They stand at 2.5 and 3 metres in a field often in crop under polythene just to the south of the main A30 to Land's End. They have been excavated in the past, and I think a burial was found between them. Not much of a head's place really, as the noisy road is just over the hedge, but a rewarding site just the same.

Midmar Kirk (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

On a trail of superb sites (Sunhoney etc), this was a real mind-blower of a visit. Parking by the small church, I noticed a small stone in the field opposite, probably a rubbing post as it was small and pretty central, but this is Aberdeenshire... stones everywhere ! Anyway, on into the churchyard, and at first I wasn't sure if it was the right place. Then, I was literally knocked over by these beauties. They stand proud around a manicured lawn, looking like they have been rearranged by the Christians, which is a double edged sword - it's good that they didn't just remove them as most short-sighted christians would have, but it's a pity they couldn't get someone like Aubrey Burl to help them lay them out RIGHT ... i'm sure some were even upside-down. The recumbent and flankers are amazing, the recumbent enormous and dead flat, the flankers curve inwards like a huge pair of canine teeth from a long-dead animal. I was here for ages, just staring at them - they are just totally mesmerising. Even good little christians visiting the church seem to like them, which is a good sign for their future. And if this wasn't enough, there is a large thin stone in the wood next to the church, which anywhere else would be headline news but in Aberdeenshire just gets a passing mention.

Cothiemuir Wood (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Situated near to several other sites, this is a must-see mofo of a circle. Walking up through the tightly-packed conifers, I got the feeling the forest was imposed on this landscape, not invited, and certainly not inviting me to walk through it. The most oppressive forest i've experienced in all my wanderings by a long way. Just as I was going to give up, the tall flankers rear between the trees, almost the same colour but smooth and rounded. They are huge - and the recumbent is a massive length. the whole monument just shouts "take notice!", and that's what I did. Most of the stones are there, even the central cist, but the views ... no more, thanks to those trees. Even so, the peace in this clearing is palpable, even more so due to the surrounding, brooding forest. A stunner.

The Plague Market At Merrivale (Multiple Stone Rows / Avenue) — Fieldnotes

I was in the circle at Merrivale for the eclipse last year ... cloudy, but still absolutely awesome. It's amazing at the variety of sites here, from rows to a menhir. I've been a few times since, but nothing can beat that eclipse feeling !

Pentre Ifan (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

I just want to say - this site has absolutely spellbound me. It's not just the size, the location, the sheep, the views ... it's the whole experience. It's just soooo huge and delicate looking, it took me 10 minutes to dare stand under it! I know it's been there for thousands of years, but believe me, when you're there it looks like it may fall at any minute, which would be an absolute tragedy. This is one site everyone MUST see.

Coldrum (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

The proper use of ribbons or other pieces of cloth goes back to holy wells and the like. The idea is that you make a wish, or prayer or whatever at the site, then tie a ribbon to it. With the decomposing of the ribbon, your wish comes to reality. There may be other reasons, but I'm sure this is one of the main ones. I've been to coldrum too - a bugger to find, and it looks like it's going to slip down that bank at a fair rate of knots and entomb you. Still, I agree with it being very atmospheric, something to do with the encircling trees and if someone is there, they actually WANTED to go there. You don't just walk along and find Coldrum, you've gotta walk.

The Druid's Circle of Ulverston (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

This circle almost seems like a fake. Built on a gently falling moor with superb views over Morecambe bay, it seems too neat, compact and perfect, as though the local tourist board have erected it overnight. But stay here a while, and it starts to feel more, well, in tune with what's around. The outer circle is pretty much destroyed and without knowing it was there you'd think it was just more of the stones that litter the moor. The inner is small, compact, and enchanting. It's just too perfect!

Chapel Carn Brea (Entrance Grave) — Fieldnotes

Often referred to as the "first and last hill in Cornwall", as, well, it is, this is a mighty place. Seeming like a smallish hillock from the bottom, when you are on top it seems so much higher as there is not much highland on the Land's end peninsular. There is sea on 3 sides, St Buryan church stands proud on the flat plains to the south, and Carn Kenidjack lurks to the north with it's circles and menhirs. The chapel in question was a hermitage, built on the site of a late neolithic or early bronze age entrance grave. Little remains of this, although some drystone walling and parts of the capstone can be seen. The reason for the destruction of the tomb was firstly the hermitage, built in the 1400's and finally demolished in 1816, and then a WW2 radar beacon built right on top of the grave which pretty much ruined what was left. All of which doesn't detract from it's superb views and ambience - although when we visited the wind was doing it's best to blow us off again. A local tale says that one of the hermits in C17th named Harry was accused of being a sorcerer by the Dean of St. Buryan on account of those who crossed him losing crops and livestock etc. The tale does not tell what the outcome was, but rumour has it that the early christian cross (which probably replaced a bronze age menhir) at nearby Crows-an-Wra, which means "Witch's Cross", is a memorial to the unfortunate Harry. On a clear day, this really is an awesome hangout with a few tales to tell.

Three Brothers of Grugith (Cist) — Fieldnotes

This is a wierd site. Concealed behind a garage in a patch of very gorsey scrubland that must have the prickliest gorse ever is this unusual monument, if that's what it is. The Three Brothers is basicall a dolmen, with a superb shapely capstone sitting on 2 smaller stones. The whole thing is only about 4-5 feet high, but surrounded by tall, dense gorse that give it an in-yer-face, even oppressive air. It was first recorded in 1872, and when John Barnatt surveyed it he thought it natural. This may be so, but there are no similar structures for miles, the nearest being Catshole Tor on Bodmin and that was used by the Neolithic as a burial chamber. As far as I know no excavation has ever been attempted, but surely burials would be found. I just can't believe that a site with such atmosphere, presence and downright strangeness could not be man-made or at least used as a sacred tomb. There are possible cupmarks on the top of the capstone, thought these could be weathering. Legends go that the stones return if removed, as so many other sites in the Lizard and Cornwall. Well worth a visit.

Wheal Buller Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

This site may or may not be a genuine longstone, but all the evidence points to it being ok. Apparently this fine 11 foot stone was found buried in a Cornish hedge by landscape contractors who were widening the driveway to the farm. They erected it in the hedge, and it forms a really impressive sight, visible from a long way off and now being colonised by rampant ivy. No-one cal really say if it was once standing, but it looks and feels the part, and lots of ex-longstones still lie in hedges just waiting to be set up again. Judge for yourself !

The Blind Fiddler (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

The Blind Fiddler is one of the most impressive stones in Cornwall, mostly for it's sheer size (11.5 feet) and bulk and graceful triangular tapering shape. It stands just inside a field next to the main road to Land's End and there's a parking space very close by. Apparently it has never been officially excavated, but a trasure seeker in the 19th century dug up bones and ashes by the stone. Well worth a visit.

Drumtroddan Carved Rocks (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Drumtroddan is superb and at the same time frustrating. After overshooting the farm track (there is only a sign one way, and not the way I was going), I was prepared for a large irate farmer "get orf moi laaarnd etc" but the parking was ok and no sign of any irate pro-fox hunting people. Anyway, following the rather intermitent signs I found the carved rocks - Julian is right about using the fences to navigate, but the promised rancid puddles were noteably not present. The carved rocks are so complex, I spent ages looking at them and finding new patterns and facets to them. Even after the farmer's best attempts to hide the ones in the copse, I eventually worked out how to get in and more of the same swirls and cupmarks were there. Then for the stones. I don't know if you are meant to get to them, but mr Farmer sure makes it difficult. No signs, and no obvious route. So, across a field of grass, over a well dodgy gate and across another field and eventually I was there. It is definitely worth it, the stones are huge and imposing and even better now a fence shields you from the cows. Yes, cows - well, bullocks to be precise and a right crowd of narky bullocks they are too. They are not impressed with people wandering over their field and actually acted quite menacing when I tried to follow what looked like the "proper" path back to the carved rocks. So, back over the fields and gate for another gaze at the intricate swirls. Definitely go here, but beware of bullocks and the dodgy signs - and Julian's puddles. Never did get to see them !

Pont-y-Pridd Rocking Stone — Fieldnotes

The picture in TMA gives a great impression of this site - all realistic looking modern stones and the giant rocking stone bang in the middle. When we visited, it was the usual valleys weather, with low cloud, drizzle, fog, etc. This seemed to concentrate the view down the Taff valley as the hills were obscured. Another treat is a small ring and cist about 200 yards west of the rocking stone on the common, just follow the path. The small stones enclose an area of about 20 feet diameter, with a well defined stone cist in the centre. Quite well preserved, even if small kids do use the cist as a hidey-hole. Worth a visit. Just as an aside - I was at the Poly of Wales for 4 years just over the valley and never knew this existed !!

Dry Tree Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

This is just the most fantastic site. A now 10.5 foot high menhir with a burial at it's base which has survived against all odds. It had fallen by WW1, and soldiers removed 3ft off the top for a road - cheers lads ! It was then re-erected, and Goonhilly Downs earth station (the one with the satellite dishes) was plonked right next to it. The best thing about the monument is the way it changes shape as you walk round it - no other menhir I've visited does this in quite the same way. It's proximity to the wierd dishes and transmitters behind the high fence just 20 feet away gives some superb pictures, but does detract from it's ambience. No matter, just go and hang out there - it's awesome !

Easter Aquhorthies (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

This was my first ever RSC visit ... working in Aberdeen for 4 weeks, I followed Julian's advice and started with the perfect show site to know what the monuments should look like. The first impression was of joy at the lovely colour co-ordination of the stones and the poise of the recumbent, but tempered by the overly manicured look - all freshly mown grass, perfect drystone walling, nicely painted iron fence etc. It is a beautiful, yet somehow empty feeling site that left me in a bit of a puzzle about RSC's, a feeling that was blown away over the hills by my next one - Tyrebagger ! As I left East Aquhorthies, wondering if all sites would be like this, an American and his small boy walked past. "Is this a landing site for spaceships"? asked the lad. "Hell, no" said dad, "it's a temple to the gods". Right on.

Glenquicken (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

I started the day at Cairnholy chambered tombs, which were eerie in their gaunt, skeletal sort of way. I then went to Glenquickan via wandering around a field for ages amongst narky sheep trying to find a cup and ring marked rock. I found many rocks, but no cup and ring marked ones. Anyway, I then drove along the old military road (crap name, but a superb road!) into the wilds of the moors. The site's very phallic centre stone is visible over a tall drystone wall, and there's even a nice place to park by a gurgling stream. Aubrey Burl is right about the fences - a bit of a diversion to get to the site, but it's only a couple of minutes stroll through a herd of sociable sheep with offspring of various sizes. The first impression is that the wire fence actually touches the monument - takes a bit of the polish off it, but after a bit it just doesn't matter. Glenquickan is so perfectly situated and formed, with another burn trickling behind it. A large transmitter arial looms over from the east, but again it doesn't matter. This is such a peaceful, powerful site and rewards a visit beyond description.

Chûn Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

Chun Quoit and Boswens seems connected as through some umbillical cord - you can see one from the other, and even walking to one the other is visible across Woon Gumpus common. Chun has spectacular views towards the Atlantic and all round is gorse and glorious moorland. But it's a lot smaller than it looks! walking from the layby across the 'permissive pathway' (gee, thanks a lot for access to our site !) it looms on the horizon, seeming to get bigger all the time, but really it's about 6 feet tall, compact, perfectly formed and pretty damn amazing. Boswens. on the other hand, is bigger than it seems. On a slope downhill from a strange aircraft dish-thing, it has an amazing aura. We walked to it last year through horizontal rain and, i tell no lie, just as we reached it the rain stopped as though someone turned off a tap and the sun came out. One of those wierd experiences you get when you catch megalithomania ! this year, it was like meeting an old friend - Boswens standing tall on it's hill, Chun quoit on the horizon - it was hard to leave. Again, sun blazed down whilst all around was cloud and rain. Boswens has a biosphere of it's own.

The Five Knolls (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

The nearest site to my home (I think!) is a delight to visit, especially on a clear evening. The five knolls sit on the edge of the hills which abutt Dunstable, and sat on the Knolls an amazing panorama slaps the senses silly. To the west, Ivinghoe beacon, the start of the Ridgeway path, then over fields and hedges to Dunstable and then the M1 lurking under a cloud of smog to the east. It feels so free and clear up here - as though the pollution and congestion of the land below are not of the world on the downs. And behind the knolls - surely a grove of trees ? if not, it certainly looks and feels like one!

Tyrebagger (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

This is just the most amazing place ... drove up a tortuous, potholed farm track until at the pylon. There it was - and what a circle! I had visited 20 or so in the last week, but they had nothing on this one. Enormous stones, the recumbent propped on a layer of earth to prevent it falling inward. And two of the biggest flankers i'd seen all week! The atmosphere here at sunset is hard to describe... I sat by the left flanker and watched an Easyjet plane take off, bank sharply and fly over my head at not more than 500 feet - the contradiction between ancient and new is palpable here. The trees in Julian's picture have recently been removed and/or thinned, opening out the views and creating an airy atmosphere. I visited 5 times in a week - my favourite RSC of all. Get yourself there !
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