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

Fieldnotes by Creyr

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Les Pierres Droites de Monteneuf (Alignement)

Although hailed as one of the most important megalith sites in France, this seems to be relatively unknown. We only found out about it through a sentence in a guide book of Brittany.
The site is on the D776 a mile or so NW out of Monteneuf towards Guer (which is about 40k SW of Rennes)
It is right by the road side and you can't miss it.
There is a huge car park on the other side of the road and a map showing walks through the woods and local area.
The stones were only rediscovered 30 odd years ago when a forest fire revealed them.
Only a handful of the 400+ stones were still standing and since then many have been re-erected.

It is difficult to make sense of the site - there are just so many stones here, and while my mind tried to sort it out into this line and that line, my feelings were running away with themselves. This is an awesome place!

The visitor centre was not open when we were there (mid June) but there are some interpretive boards around and about. It seems like this is an ongoing project of discovery for the French archeos.

There seems to be many more stones/ dolmens in the surrounding woodlands.

I reckon this has to be one of the must visit sites in Brittany - and if you do go allow plenty of time for wandering and discovering.

Gavr'inis (Chambered Cairn)

If you are in Brittany Go To Gavrinis!!
Boats go from Larmor Baden several times a day March - November. Phone 0297 571938 for reservations. Take the last sailing daily and get a close pass of Er lannic too. Cost 12 -15 euro.

Gavrinis is totally awesome. The carvings there have got to be seen. Go prepared just to be overwhelmed by it - no cameras or bags are allowed inside so your only record will be in your memory.

Also brush up on your French first - the tour is all in French although our guide did her best to translate for us. There is plenty of information on multilingual boards outside which gives you the gist. Whilst inside forget about the commentary and just be humbled by its magnificence!

Er Lannic (Cromlech (France and Brittany))

From the Domaine departmental du Morbihan leaflet "er lannic"

"In 1866 De Closmadeuc discovered the prehistoric site of Er Lannic. He made a rapid description of the northern hemicycle composed of 60 blocks of stone and it was only in 1872 that thanks to a very low tide that he discovered the second semi-circle, 4 or 5 menhirs which had been submerged were still upright....The site was restored by Le Rouzic and St Just Pequart between 1923 and 1926. An excavation revealed chests, fireplaces and lithic material (flint stones, poliching stones, strikers, polished axes and grinders) and about 800kg of pottery."

The last boat to Gavrinis ( 4.30pm April,May, June , 5 pm July, Aug, Sept) makes a close pass of Er Lannic, with a guide and commentary (in French) Cost us 15euro a head for the full thing including Gavrinis ( you get a small discount if you go to carnac/locmariaquer first and keep your stamped card)
make a reservation on 0297 571938.
Absolutley worth it - what an awesome thing to see these semi submerged megalithic circles - to say nothing of traversing one of the most powerful sea currents in the world!
Our guide was very sweet and keen and did her utmost to translate for us.

Gaythorn Plain (Ring Cairn)

Wild place. I was up here in March watching snow storms rushing down the Eden valley.

I read somewhere that this was originally three concentric circles. There are also various stone lines up here. Some unusual weathering on several of the stones. Very interesting and atmospheric place.
Castle Folds is clearly visible to the south.

White Hag Round Cairn

Just down the slope and over the wall from White Hag stone circle, it would be a shame not to take a look at this while you're there.

Potter Fell (Stone Circle)

NB. This site is of disputed antiquity.
Reported by Flint in TCWAAS 1960 vol 60 p201, but since dismissed as a cockpit. John Waterhouse includes it in the postscript to "The Stone Circles of Cumbria" saying "it does look very much like an early bronze age stone circle, and it would conveniently fill a gap in the distribution map of stone circles."

This site is not particularly easy to find, even in winter when the vegetation is low. I managed to find it from the grid ref and a lot of mooching around in the heather. Here're few pointers to make it a bit easier:

Park at the bottom of the fell lane at SD505978. Follow the lane up to the top out into the open pasture. Keep roughly the same distance away from the fence on your right as you head for the highest land. Come to the wall at the highest point where there is a very ruined stile. It is possible to cross over the wall here without damage to self or wall. Look for noticeable large rock to right, the circle is in the heather between you and the rock.

The site consists of about 20 low stones in a circle of approximately 20m diameter (according to Waterhouse but it felt smaller to me and I didn't check it).

Despite the disputed antiquity of this site, I reckon it has the right 'feel' whatever that means, and the setting is perfect - a stunning panorama taking in the howgills, Morecambe Bay and the Langdales.

This is definitely one to check out before passing judgement.

Lousy Brow 2 (Enclosure)

This site is a stone semi circle butting up against a fissured limestone scarp. It is one of several in the immediate area.
The scarp is approx 3 metres in height and the fissures are up to about a metre wide and extend back into the scarp several metres. Flint finds have come from around the entrances to these fissures.

It is easy to speculate about the usefulness of these semi-natural enclosures as shelter for both livestock and man.

The easiest way to find these enclosures is to park at the T junction NE of sunbiggin tarn , follow the rough track up to the limestone and then turn left and follow the bottom of the scarp. There are at least three of these enclosures before you get to the stone wall.

Little Kinmond (Round Cairn)

Like Sunbiggin Cairn, this is situated in a stunning position. Fabulous views to west, south and east.
The Howgills are particularly beautiful from up here.
A marvellous place to be buried.

I approached it the long way round, over the limestone pavement from the T junction near sunbiggin tarn. This is a fabulous walk and well worth it for the views and the wildlife (on this occasion hawks and a big fox who didnt seem too bothered by my presence) plus it gives the chance to check out the bields and other various enclosures in the lousy brow area.

The quick and easy route is from Sunbiggin Farm.

The cist here was excavated in the 19th century, revealing 3 burials, ox and goat bones, deer antler and a "stone artefact".

Cautley Iron Age Settlement (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

This site consists of scattered stones and earthwork remains.

The setting of the site - at the foot of Cautley Spout falls - is most impressive.

There is a stone-edged track which leads from the settlement to the foot of the falls and stops there.
This suggests that the falls had special significance.

Park near the Cross Keys on the A683 east of Sedbergh.
(This is a temperance inn so don't expect a beer after your walk). Follow the footpath signposted Cautley Spout. Its about 3/4 mile to the settlement. The path is often boggy in places.

Rasett Hill (Round Cairn)

If you want an eagle's eye view of the surrounding valleys, this is place to go.
You can see this cairn off the A685 between Kirkby Stephen and Tebay. When you get to the top of Ash Fell - the big hill outside of Kirkby - look out towards the north. I've been driving past here virtually every day for years and meaning to stop and have a I'm glad I finally did. Theres a handy place to pull off the road next to a gate onto the moor towards the cairn. Then maybe a 10 minute walk to the cairn. The views are absolutely fantastic. I hope someone goes up with a panoramic camera and posts some pics here.
Spotted all sorts of places - Gamelands clearly seen with binoculars, and im pretty sure you could see long meg herself from up here if you had enough magnification. My advice - dont drive past - Stop !

Knipe Moor (Stone Circle)

I was last here in summer when it was covered with bracken and seeing it today without the ground cover was another thing all together.
The raised ring of the circle was easy to see. Within the circle all the stones have been cleared except for the impressive central limestone block, and the few stones securing the post which marks the circle. My friend complained a bit about the post being inside the circle rather than adjacent to it, but then he's never been here before and couldn't quite get just how impossible this is to see in summer. At least then you can stand next to the post and know you're in it even if you can't see it.
Today the only vegetation was lush green moss, so tempting to lie down on, and despite the howling wind a very restful atmosphere prevailed. We would have fallen asleep if it hadnt started to rain.
We walked here from Shapbeck - a very satisfying walk past some interesting lumps bumps and groves of trees, and also much gentler than coming up from the Bampton side

Rayseat Pike (Long Cairn)

Took my dry stone waller friend up here the other day and he pronounced the 'intact chamber' to be a modern grouse butt. Seeing there is a whole sweep of grouse butts on the slopes around the cairn and the stones of the 'chamber' look relatively recently placed I was convinced. Likewise the surrounding wall - all recent. But dont let that detract from the site - it's awesome !

Shapbeck Plantation (Stone Circle)

From looking at the other field notes I'd say go in winter if you can. We went there today for the first time. I was primed with expectations of a small ruinous and very vague circle, made more confusing by clearance stones.
So I was surprised and impressed to find a very obvious double circle very much in the style of Oddendale and Gunnar Keld. Smaller though - estimate about 60 foot diameter. The clearance stones pile is between the outer and inner rings and when the undergrowth is this low it doesn't confuse things at all.
Despite the proximity of the motorway, quarry and trial bike track there was a very definite sense of place there today. To me it felt very much an important part of the greater shap landscape.
Another advantage of a winter visit is the ease of finding bits of flint and chert in the bare ploughed field !

Mazon Wath (Round Cairn)

Standing on the edge of the steep drop into Potts Valley, this site is an interesting place to speculate about possible higher water levels and long disappeared tarns. "Wath" is from the Viking for ford, although there's only a little stream now.
Expansive views towards the Lakes and the Pennines take in Sunbiggin and Rayseat.
450m NE of Mazon Wath - a short walk from the road.

Great Urswick Fort (Hillfort)

I approached from the south, parked up in the village next to the pool and came up the track between the houses. From Tree Hugger's pictures (from the north) I reckon I picked the best approach. So although there's not a lot to see up on the fort, the approach was pretty impressive and I really liked the feel of this place. Very spacious. Fantastic views. Buzzards and plenty of sheep.
Cumbria is the best place in the world. That thing about the weather is just a lie we tell to stop it getting overcrowded.

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