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

Fieldnotes by jacksprat

Latest Posts

The Hurlers (Stone Circle)

I had no such trouble finding the Hurlers, with a great sign heralding its proximity and boasting its own car park. I half expected a neon sign, Vegas style, to guide me, such was the heralding!

It wasthe pity but the rain was coming down in sheets and with the occupants of the other vehicles parked up questioning my sanity, I was drenched within one minute.

I didn't get to appreciate what must be an amazing site when the weather is fairer.

I couldn't even get a feeling for the size or quality of the circle, the rain was so hard and clouds so oblique, it was almost as if I wasn't welcome. I took a few stolen snaps and ran back to the car. I have unfinished business here.

Trippet Stones (Stone Circle)

I had stopped and asked for directions from Blisland and told to go up to the hamlet of Bradford, right at the phone box and follow the road toward the A30. This I did, although locating the stones was going to be trickier now I had killed the GPS and the map had gone missing. I nearly crashed trying to keep an eye on the road whilst looking along the sight line for the circle.

The rudimentary A-Z of Cornwall's Visitor's map I was working by listed the stones near the track but I knew it wasn't so straightforward. I'd headed down the track towards the farm but couldn't see anything so headed back and over toward Hawkstor. Again nothing. I spent over an hour searching, my eye led toward any stone formation, which when you've been up there, you'll see is a lot.

Finally they revealed themselves, as if having grown bored with mocking me were now prepared to grant me an audience.

They were further away from the road than I had expected but I raced the 300 or so metres to the circle. What a place!

A good mile from the A30 they are located ΒΌ mile to the left of the road, 100 metres before you hit a cross roads. Luckily I was upwind from the main road so couldn't hear the traffic. Just the silence of the moor.

I had to brave a herd of bison but having heard they're vegetarian, walked past them with no incident.

I counted nine stones and a smaller central stone with a carved 'C'. To me it looked as if they were alternate male and female stones. The beauty of this place is overwhelming and even the weather felt sorry for me and relented, the sun prying out to see what I was doing, allowing me to take some pictures in peace.

The only company were the bison and ponies and this suited me as I acquainted myself with my new friends. I was sorry to leave, I could have stayed there all afternoon.

Fernacre (Stone Circle)

With Roughtor bearing down on you and the wind whipping in your ears, this is a marvelous place, one of the few places in the country where you can imagine the view has pretty much stayed the same as when this circle was built.

Not far from the track, the views here are amazing. The noisy silence of the place strikes you. It is quite a moving place to be. I stayed for 20 minutes, wishing I could know more of why this circle was made.

The circle itself is made up of modestly sized stones, close together. More of a boundary for a leader's hut than a place of worship, I'd have said. But I'm a monkey who leaves his GPS on his car roof to be run over by a lorry so what do I know?

Magi Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. I think I'd been spoilt by the sight of Men Gurta earlier in the day so I was a bit deflated to see the Magi Stone.

This must have been a very proud stone once apon a time but, alas, it now lies prostrate all on its own away from the maidens.

It was a gloomy evening it was getting quite dark so I didn't take any photos of the stone

The Nine Maidens (Stone Row / Alignment)

The Nine Maidens was marked on my Visitors to Cornwall map but, because of the gloomy evening, it took about three drive by's and ten minutes aimless traipsing before I finally spied the Maidens at the far end of the field.

Maybe it was the evening or the light, or that I was alone but I gained a sense of uneasiness approaching the stones, almost forboding. It passed when I reached them and was snapping away.

Ironically named, the stones all seem to be male, if you go by the shaping if they were in a circle. They bear the now familiar quartz scarring and stretch some fifty metres in total alignment length.

Set at the far end from the road, there is a style for easy access about 200 metres from the layby I parked in.

St Breock Wind Farm Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

Having stumbled across the Menhir, the sheep pointed me in the direction of the Barrow, located in the bottom right hand corner of the field, about 200 yards from the stone itself.

Clearly visible from the road, although it's not the most spectacular of barrows, it's there none the less!

St Breock Downs Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The St Broeck Down's (or ups) Menhir.

I wasn't sure if or how we were supposed to get close and was considering cycling backto the entrance to the wind farm but at the bottom edge there was a gap in the fencing so I left FMJ with the bike and jumped over.

Like Men Gurta this stone is scarred thorugh with the distinctive quartz markings. Standing about 7ft high, there is a distinct fissure through the stone.

It reminds me a little of the Lynham Barrow Stone in Oxfordshire and I wonder if the angle of it's erection is deliberate or if it's down to subsidence. Both mark the locations of barrows and are at a 10 degree tilt. This is a bigger stone to the monolith at Lynham however and beautfully marked. Wonderful.

Men Gurta (Standing Stone / Menhir)

This amazing monolith's markings give it an almost reptilian quality, scarred through with quartz. Striped, it gave me the impression of a dinosaur.

Peaking over the hedgerow as you approach, It is hugely impressive the closer you get. Towering 12 ft above you, it is a wonderful sight and well worth the hike up here.

There was no rubbish either, which had been a concern reading other field notes.

The gentle swoosh of the wind turbines in the distance got me to thinking what the erectors of this masterly stone would have made of the surroundings 3000 years on.

The silence was shattered by the FMJ screaming at the site of a grass snake. I should think it was more bothered at the interuption of it's sunbathing

Thor Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

If you go into old Taston,
You will see, along the road's edge,
A curious, nosey old stone there,
Peering shamelessly through the hedge.

Devil's Quoits (Circle henge)

I was lucky enough to meet up with Jane and Moth two weekends ago and we went to visit Devil's Quoits.

It has to be stressed that there is still NO PUBLIC ACCESS to this site and they do not welcome visitors, but Jane was able to work her magic and we were granted brief access to the site. This point needs to be made as if you try and make your way to the site you are going to be setting yourself up for disappointment and a wasted journey. It is well and truly off limits.

I have to say I was impressed by what I saw. Much work has been done since the last postings and the site now resembles a henge and stone circle, as opposed to a filthy great pit or building site.

The henge has been fully reconstructed and two of the original three stones, in addition to six new stones have been erected. There is still much to be done but it was wonderful to gain a tangible view of what the henge must have once looked like.

The largest of the original stones has still to be erected but it's trench is dug and it has been raised on to wooden struts, so hopefully this will be done soon.

Slightly disappointingly, the company that bought the site from Hansen, WRG (Waste Resource Group) Ltd's PR Manager said that no work was scheduled for the foreseeable future.

Two factors are affecting the site, feathers and rabbit holes. I would say, when building a rabbit fence around something, that you check there's no rabbits inside what you're enclosing. Either that or the fence is completely innaffectual. One area of the henge has become riddled with rabbit holes.

And when the sun shines the whole area shimmers silvery white, by the feathers shed from various thousands of geese and other birds that have used the site as a temporary home whilst they make use of the lake to the south of the area.

Madmarston Hill (Hillfort)

In the North Oxfordshire countryside, about one mile from the village of Tadmarton, you will find a triangle of steeply banked hills. They are known as Jester's Hill, Round Hill and Madmarston Hill.

Madmarston Hill is the site of an ironage hillfort which dates back to circa. 200 BC. The site is now used for farming purposes and nothing remains of the original fort, although it is possible from the west and east, to detect the remains of the earthworks that would have surrounded it. The earthworks enclose a site of around seven acres.

A roman road, now a bridle way, popular among horse riders and walkers, runs south along the site so it is possible to get a good view of the place, despite the land being private.

The site was the interest of an archaelologist, P J Fowler, and he spent two years from 1957-58 excavating the site. Several row barrows were uncovered and pits containing fractures of pot, animal bone as well as a natural spring were also discovered.

Madmarston hill and Jesters hill are both natural formations and both plateau to an even flat summit. Madmarston was presumably chosen as the site for a fort as it is a rounder formation to its longer narrower neighbour.

The Ordnance Survey map of the fort (ref SP386389) illustrates the remains of the earthworks on the hill in good detail.

Rainsborough Camp (Hillfort)

Rainsborough Camp is the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, located approximately 1/2 mile south of Charlton, on the borders of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

It is said to have been constructed between the 4th and 6th Century BC. Although longbarrows around the site date to 3000 BC (Source: Aynho today website).

Around 150 BC, the camp was burnt to the ground and remained unnoccupied until around AD 250 when Romans settled there as an un-fortified camp.

The site is situated on the brow of a hill and it's size is impressive. Its earthworks measure over 8 feet deep in some places and up to 15 feet high. It is entirely surrounded by a shallow ditch. Inside, the camp could easily hold three football pitches - the surface area is roughly six acres.

A brook runs down the valley towards Kings Sutton at the bottom of the hill. There are two entrances, to the east and west, although the east facing entrance is much larger.

The remains of long barrows can still be identified to the north and east of the camp, although farming has destroyed much of them.
Jacksprat is an Oxfordshire bilbob. Now sadly abroad in East Sussex which, while very bracing on the downs, seems devoid of the stone circles he loves.

He is particularly fascinated in the folklore & fairy tales associated with ancient sites and how it is that these wonderful stones and locations have obviously enthralled and captivated us down the centuries.

Favourite sites: The Hawkstone and Rollrights.

Other interests include: speaking of himself in the third person, playing guitar, mandolin, cross running, rugby, playing bad chess.

My TMA Content: