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Fieldnotes by tuesday

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Showing 1-20 of 21 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Avebury (Circle henge)

Avebury somehow seems diminished these days. I suppose the world heritage status and higher public profile which have put it on the tourist map have had some positive effects but it's difficult somehow not to think that like at Stonehenge, they have simultaneously taken something away.

Anyway, we were struck again last weekend by the fact that in a way what is really important here is the Henge. It is apparent that at its original full height it would have created an artificial and perfect horizon - in other words, it would have engendered an idealised world view from within its circumference. As well as facilitating astronomical observances this would have created a psychological sense of 'interiorness' - a major step on the human journey from the purely instinctual through the communal to the individual and then to the personal. We felt this time more than at any other that Avebury's function is in the promotion of the 'artificial' -in the sense of artifice or artefact - an aesthetic appreciation of the world as embodying conciousness and human potential rather than merely survival and the randomness of action.

Gelli (Burial Chamber)

The more we visit Gelli, the more it seems that this place is at the centre of a complete ancient ritual landscape. It's very unusual in its riverside location - althoug it is possible that that uniqueness is a property of time rather than the tomb. Who knows what other burial sites have occupied places such as these but been eradiciated by the presence of people for millenia? It might be that more tombs survive in the uplands because the land is less obviously valuable but still, there is something strange and magical here which make you wonder whether the place itself was significant. It's absolutely beautiful of course and well located in so many ways, but perhaps also it served as a focus for the communities around and that's why it seems psychogeographically to be at the centre of a collection of sites including maen. hir, maen bach, cefn gwynnerd, Ty Newydd, crugiau merched etc.

Nether Corskie (Stone Circle)

Take the first left off the road between Dunecht and Kintore onto the minor road. The stones are on the left below you in a field a hundred yards on your left. You can park in the field entrance opposite the bunalow and walk between the furrows.

In fact, there are at least three stones - the recumbant and the flankers - and the farmer has given them a nice circular setting

Grey Cairns of Camster (Cairn(s))

Can't believe people find this a happy place. Coming back from the Orkney tombs which have such a loveliness, these tombs seemed dark and strange to us - particular the end chamber of the linked pair.

Something sad happened here I think - and I had bad dreams for three nights afterwards!

Extraordinary though..

Cnwch Eithinog (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another beautifully located single stone on the highest point of this extraordinary finger of land between two deep gorges. Like it's cousins Maen Bach and Maen Hir it stands marking an ancient trackway and point to the valleys below and beyond

The two cairns are next to the stone and nearby is what looks suspicously like a complex of round barrrow needing further investigation

1.6(h), 0.8m(w), 0.6m(d)

Berrisbrook (Standing Stones)

There is a large menhir at Berrisbrook farm in a field boundary. There is another which has been has less convincingly been described as its pair which is now used as a gatepost in te adjacent road

1.8m(h),1.2m(w), 0.7m(d) the isolatesd stone
1.8m(h),0.7m(w), 0.7m(d) the gatepost

Cefn Gwernffrwd (Stone Row / Alignment)

The stones lie on a line tangential to the ring cairn and are roughly aligned in the directions of the midwinter setting or midsummer rising sun

3 stones av. 0.5m(h), 0.4m(w), 0.4m(d). 2.0m and 0.4m apart

Cefn Gwenffrwd (Round Barrow(s))

This little barrow competes the complex of circle, ring and alignment. It has a small depression in the top which may be a sign of previous excavation

11m(diameter), 1.5m(h)

Cefn Gwernffrwd (Cairn(s))

The cairn is buried and mainly hidden under the long grass and almost impossible to photograph although you can feel it under foot. Two crescent of stones remain. On one lies the quartz boulder thought to have possibly been a standing menhir

Poppy Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

This is another unrecognised site requiring confirmation. Set high on the hillside and orientated approximatley south west - north east, it marks the route to the Cefn Gwwynerd complex

0.8m(h),0.4m(w), 0.6m(d)

There is also a possible fallen and half buried alignment adjacent - again to be confirmed

Cefn Gwernffrwd Complex (Stone Circle)

The site is hidden deep within a plantation on a ridge on what would have been open moorland. The stones are half buried. One was probably much higher but is shattered by frost. There is additional stone set within the circle.

How did something so delicate survive so long? It is almost impossible to photograph the small stones in the long grass. Some are so loose you could pluck them like teeth with one hand. Morgan and Ruggles examined this whole complex for astronomical significance in the seventies and Burl briefly became very excited about it but really, you would have to be a gnome to be able to use these stones for astronomical observation (I'm not discounting that possibility by the way - there are so many fly agarics around here and it feels so strange that this truly must be a fairy circle) - what could you do here but meet and dance?

20 stones of average height 0.4m in a diameter of 24.5m

Cefn Gwenffrwd (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another large forgotten lonely slate flat slab on the upland plateau said to be an ancient boundary mark. Orientated approx. east-west and flanked by fence posts

2.0m(h),1.3m(w), 0.3m(d)

Ty Newydd Stone Row (Stone Row / Alignment)

Set adjacent to the present track and within the precinct of the nearby Ty Newyyd stone

approx 40m long with approx 20 stones up to a height of 0.8m

We discovered this recently and it needs to be confirmed by others with more expertise. If it is a stone row it is extraordinary - a Dartmoor sized hidden secret

Ty Newydd (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Set within small cairn (3m in diameter and 0.3m high) this beautiful massive stone stands quietly under trees keeping itself (and its secrets) to its self. It is marked on no maps

2.6m(h),3.2m(w), 0.7m(d)

Crugiau Merched (Cairn(s))

Two large cairns set 100m part sited on natural rises on a ridge at the highest point of Mynydd Mallaen (459m). Both are highly visible from the south. Cairn A (the western) is mainly intact apart from channel cut through it for observation by the OS. Cairn B (the eastern) was excavated 'without profit' in 1930 and is now occassionally used as a sheep shelter.

These are two strange sisters indeed. Perched spookily above a natural ampitheatre, with Maen Bach and Maen Hir, they form a mysterious prehistoric complex high on this lonely plateau.

Note: The cairns are further than they seem if you are walking from the standing stones. Follow the faint track - the direct route is boggy with hidden dips.

A 25m(diameter), 3.0m(h)
B 25m(diameter), 4.0m(h)

Maen Hir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another isolated, splintered slate slab surmounting a small cairn of packing stones on the mountain. It is intervisible with Maen Bach and the Crugiau Merched cairns and is the most prominent of this ritual complex.

1.4m(h), 0.3m(w),0.4mm(d)

Maen Bach (Standing Stone / Menhir)

This is a strange pointed triangular sandstone slab surmounting a cairn 6.0m in diameter and 0.2m high which marks the community / county boundary. It is on the summit of a ridge and orientated north - south. Although relatively small (1.3m(h) 1.3 - 0.4m(w),0.2m(d)), it is visible from long distances and several directions. and is intervisible with Maen Hir and the Crugiau Merched cairns.

1.3m(h), 1.3 - 0.4m(w),0.2m(d)

Sunkenkirk (Stone Circle)

This remains my favourite circle in these islands and as mysterious as any. It really is impossible to know why they sited them where they did doesn't it? Yes, there are landscape features, yes there are views and alignments and such, but why precisely here? Infuriating and wonderful to never be able to know. Perhaps the road was always here, perhaps somebody important died here. Perhaps the dowsers and wierd energy geeks are right. Is it a telephone box to communicate with those at other circles?

There are some serious stones in the fields as you approach so it's easy to conjecture an avenue or something no longer apparent - and the entrance points down to the river - for me there is a parallel here with Stanton Drew - more than with Castle Rigg or Rollright. When will they dig here? Surely so much to be uncovered?

Holy Well (Sacred Well)

this lovely to find on a hot day - but different than the well we always knew as the holy well - or the wizard's well - slightly further to the west:

"drink of this and take thy fill, for the water falls by the wizard's will"

Woodhenge (Timber Circle)

I came here first when I was a kid - and, apart from the colour-coding of the concrete posts, it's exactly the same - that is, disappointing and somewhat pointless.

I presume these days that archaeology / archaeobotany or whatever is cool enough to give an idea of how high the original wooden posts would have been - so why not make the modern markers a similar height? - at least that way there would be some sort of feeling of wandering through the cosmic grove or whatever it was...
Showing 1-20 of 21 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20
"So, here are the dead fathers. Their spirit is entombed in the stone. It lies upon the land with the same weight and the same ubiquity. For whoever makes a shelter of reeds and hides has joined his spirit to the common destiny of creatures and he will subside back into the primal mud with scarcely a cry. But he who builds in stone seeks to alter the structure of the universe and so it was with these masons however primitive their works may seem to us"

That is the wonderful Cormac McCarthy writing on the context of one culture colliding with a predecessor and eloquently summing up my intuition of the prehistoric imagination.


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