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Fieldnotes by Pilgrim

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Ffynnon Ishow (Sacred Well)

Back down the hill (25 metres?) from the church. As you approach the tight bend you traversed on the way up with its attendant layby (in which you may well have parked), on the inside of the bend at ground level just at the foot of the hill is a smallish stone with a cross carved in it. From here,a path leads (a few metres - tis nothing, really) to the confined space. Of course, this being hill country, you'll be surrounded by the friendly slurp and gurgle of running water. Oh..(and of course) once you find it, you'll see the faded tat (some of which will be evident in the piccie)


Cantrell Stone Row (Stone Row / Alignment)

The row is listed in Volume IV of Jeremy Butler's 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities', page 33 et seq.

The turning off the Bittaford - Ivybridge road is hard by the (what used to be) the Cantrell Clay dries; you can't miss them, because there's a ruddy great kiln chimney pointing skywards.

Off the main road, and under the railway bridge, the lane becomes very narrow and high-banked, with a vicious reverse curve about halfway up. Drive up as far as you can - there's space for about 6 or 8 cars (at a pinch).

Carry on up the slope and take the left of the two gates onto the moor. There's what looks like the remains of something prehistoric and structured on your left.

Head diagonally up the slope to the course of the old Redlake Tramway; you can't miss it - it's the only flat thing around. It runs along the contour.

Perhaps no more than a minutes walk will bring you to a small scoop taken from the hillside. This was the site of the winding gear of an incline plane - the earthworks of which arrow southwards through the remaining abutments of a narrow gauge railway opposite.
At the eastern end of the small scooped area, at the point where the hillside meets the tramway, there sits a large, rounded, half-buried stone.

The row begins here.
It runs North East up the slope of the hill, ending in a very distressed (almost indecipherable) terminal cairn, of which 1 slab remains standing. Butler lists the cairn as:

SX 6570 5717

which I make to be:

Lat: 50.399023N Long: 3.890991W

Butler describes it as a double row, set 3 metres apart, 48 metres in length, and as having eighteen stones in it (of which - in 1991 - only 9 were erect). He lists the average height of these 9 as being 0.4 metres.

We found the 4 at the Southwestern end. The remainder - if they are still apparent - will have to wait for one of those cold, crisp, winter days and the enforced hiatus in the overpowering undergrowth.

Berwick Mound (Christianised Site)

If you are in the area, and have a Woolfian bent, this little church is well worth a visit.

The church lies just south of the A27, a few hundred yards west of the Drusillas Corner roundabout, and about 3 kilometres west of the turning to the Long Man of Wilmington, and a short step northwards from the South Downs Way.

The mound is to the rear of the church, rearing away from the dead disciples that cling to its lower slopes.

The little church contains some amazing artwork by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. For the full effect, remember to turn the lights on; the switch is by the entrance door.

Soussons Common Cairn Circle

The Circle is a sweet spot – falsely so, sadly, due to the shelter and screening effect of the 60-year old plantation – but has fine views to the south and southwest. Jeremy Butler in Volume 5 of the Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities highlights that there was a triple stone row associated with the circle, but alas it has now gone – "site only: vicinity overplanted" - vanished beneath the serried ranks of pine. The grid reference of the row is listed as SX676799; well inside the plantation proper, half a mile or so northwards up the slope of Soussons Common: we looked, but in vain. Surrounded by conifers on three sides, it's difficult to see how the Circle may have looked in a cleaner landscape, but the row would most likely have been visible further up the hill.

The circle is described as a cairn circle; a delineating ring of closely-spaced (but not touching) small stones that enclosed a cairn-covered kist. However, to me it looks more like a kerb circle; a kist burial once covered by a more shallow stone covering (see Note below). I acknowledge that this difference may be nit-picking…...

Yellowmead Multiple Stone Circle

Thanks to the directions in Goffik's fieldnotes, I got here without incident: the sun was shining, and, as I tramped across the moor, Skylarks rose from the ground before me, singing their song, but finding little purchase in the gusting wind that blew cold from the south-east. The long grass was dry, flat and bleached white, but the peat beneath still held it's generous allotment of water, squelching beneath my Size 12's as I approached from the east.

The circles themselves, and the little avenue, sit well in the landscape, between the imposing mass of Sheepstor, and the lesser height of Gutter Tor. As the small stone row certainly seems to align through the circle to the smaller five stone circle slightly higher up the slope, and I believe towards a flat (fallen?) stone south-west of the circle (and the small stream) on the slope. One stone of the inner circle is recumbent: perhaps it was too heavy for the restorers of 1921?

It is a peaceful place, worth the twenty-minute tromp from the car park: stay a while and try to figure it out - you'll find yourself lost in a very simple landscape. A walk around four concentric circles* (all but the outer one complete) allow the visitor to view the moor in different aspects; the impressive grandeur of neighbouring Sheeps Tor, the greener enclosed land of the farm in the valley below, the gently sloping rough grassland that hides the circle from the east, and the distant granite tumble of Leather Tor. A marvellous place to recharge and ponder beneath the blue spring sky.

I walked out via Sheeps Tor, down into the green lushness of the valley beyond the farm; as I came out onto the road leading back to the car, I happened to look up to my left across the valley towards Sheeps Tor. Amazingly, a near-perfect circle of some sixty sheep were formed in a field below the Tor... synchronicity? No, they were being fed by a farmer on a quad bike!

* An interesting entry in Volume 5 of the Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities (Jeremy Butler, 1997, p186) notes that: "perhaps......multiple rings, such as the free-standing stone circles, represent a faint ancestral echo of those gigantic pillared monuments in stone or wood in Wessex."
Dartmoor is my home turf, but Wiltshire makes me calm and still.

I don't believe that we need to know everything about the past in order to connect with it.




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