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

Get the TMA Images feed
postman | Blog

Latest Posts
Showing 1-5 of 32 posts. Most recent first | Next 5

Weblog

Mobile Isolation Unit and the dogs blanket.


It's surprising how quickly three months can pass, it's already equinox time again and I thought I'd make a proper long old day of it. Twelve sites in twelve hours, a touch ambitious possibly, but I've neglected to bring either of the kids, which will help, and the car though small and slow has been faithful so far.
The plan, such as it was, was to witness an equinox sunrise from Kingston Russell stone circle. There's just two small problems with that, the actual equinox was yesterday, and I'm apparently a slow driver, because i'm not going to get there in time, I blame the poor state of British motorways, roadworks for mile after mile. Poop!

So I pull over early at the Nine stones, I haven't been here since before the big tree came down, it is not the only difference.
I parked at the farm building fifty yards down the road, walked back to the stones down the not dangerous at all road, and found no way to get to the stones. The stream was too wide to jump easily, the bridge is gone and the gate, there's no way in this way.
Back to the car and I drive a bit further down the road away from the stones, there is some new work going on, a housing estate possibly, I parked by the road. Passed through the fence with the red sign that says something like footpath closed and made my merry way off through the field.
It's about now I should make note that I have once again forgotten my coat, it is windy and cold, I really don't like being cold.
Having crossed the two fields, I arrive at the stones, here among the trees it is at least less windy. The circle is as lovely as I remembered it, with not much deviation from the original I reckon.
The two big stones, being entrance stones perhaps, meaning the stone between them is not in it's proper place, are two simply stunning stones, with huge amounts of chocolate rose flint showing, and a small colony of Harlequin ladybirds. Nice.

It's not easy to get the moment of sunrise and all the stones into the picture, first of all you have to be on the other side of the enclosing fence and there is a hill side in the way as well. So, not good for equinox sunrises, or winter ones, the hill would be even more in the way, but summer solstice would be fine, if you can cut down a few trees. I did say I was going somewhere else for the sunrise.
<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by postman<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by postman<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by postman

After failing to see a sunrise, staring closely and intently at the tall flinty stones, and walking round in at least a dozen circles, and this and that, it was time to go get my next stoney fix. Six sites in six hours, they are all close together never too far away from the road, so off I go to Hell, there is a stone there.


The path to the Hellstone has indeed changed, I parked in the aforementioned layby, left the road opposite the farm going through a gate, there were cows in the field so I kept to the left side of the field. This leads to a stile, which in turn leads to a path between two fields, when one whole field has passed on your right, turn right, over the fence at a makeshift sort of stile. then it's up the gentle hill to the stones.

Even though it looks like it's been restored by someone who clearly didn't have a clue what it was supposed to look like, the Hellstone is still a pretty awesome thing to see. From on the mound by the stones you can see Chesil beach, Chesil means shingle, pebbles, it is the longest shingle beach in Britain. In the other direction a heath covered hill has a tower on it, Hardy's monument, Nelson's mate, not the poet, the monument is a handy orienteering wotsit, you can see it from almost all the sites i'm getting to this morning.

The Hellstone — Images

25.03.20ce
<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by postman<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by postman<b>The Hellstone</b>Posted by postman

My coat hasn't magically appeared before me and it is terribly exposed on these hillsides so I have wrapped the dogs blanket off the back seat round me in an effort to fend off the icy winds. But it really is too much so I retreat into the dolmen and take a seat huddling for warmth. Boy do I not like the cold.
After having a long look round the tombs interior, there is nothing else for it but to brave the weather outside, I didn't spend more than ten to fifteen minutes here, I really am a plonker. The wind is making a mockery of my improvised cloak, whipping it up and over my head, rediculous.
But the Hellstone is awesome.


After having retraced my steps from the Hellstone back to the car, it is straight across the road following the footpath sign saying Abbotsbury hill fort. Unfortunately the fort isn't on my itinerary but this is also the way to Hampton Down stone circle. Improvised cloak wrapped fully round me and with the hedge to my right acting as wind break this is as pleasant as walking has been this morning. Following the hedge on my right, leads to a gate with a sign on it, the sign is for the stones which are now at my feet. That was easier than I anticipated.

Hampton Down — Images

25.03.20ce
<b>Hampton Down</b>Posted by postman<b>Hampton Down</b>Posted by postman<b>Hampton Down</b>Posted by postman

Most of the stones are pretty low but hefty boulders, made of the same flinty stone as places I've yet to see, the two at the south are largest. In past years summer growth drowns the site completely, so I'm pretty lucky to see it in such good apparel. The view south reveals Chesil beach again, and north once more to Hardy's monument.
With less wind because of the close by hedges, I remove my cloak and get the tripod out. I've not yet been to a stone circle that didn't benefit from an elevated photo of the site, so I hoick it up and try to keep it still in the wind, not easy, but always yields good results. This was site three out of the hoped for twelve, and my first site of the day that I haven't been to yet. I liked it.



After having been to the Hellstone and Hampton down stone circle I drove north and parked at the space by the junction of Bishop's Road and National cycle route 2 Road. Not as eloquently named that one.
Passing through the gate, or was it a stile? I can't remember, just get into the field with an information board then head down hill following the most worn path you can find. The Valley of stones is on your left just another stile and your there, you are entering the valley from it's north east.

I mostly pass by the drift of stones passing the curious circular structure higher up the east slope until I cant take it anymore and dive straight down into them,
Among the most notable stones in the meander are large flat boulders with cup like erosions on the surface, boulders with coffee or rose coloured flint extrusions, a stone with a hole in it, and a stone circle, of sorts.

The Valley of Stones — Images

25.03.20ce
<b>The Valley of Stones</b>Posted by postman<b>The Valley of Stones</b>Posted by postman<b>The Valley of Stones</b>Posted by postman

I've not been here before, clearly my one and only trip to Dorset twenty years ago was a bit of a rush job, a cursory glance at best. I passed the Valley of stones by in favour of the Grey Mare and her colts.
This time is much better, time to wander and time to ponder, and the wind can't get me down here, but the dog blanket is still being my cloak 'cause it's still cold. After having sat and stared at the "stone circle" I get up and walk the stone arc back and forth, in the end all's I can say is one stone in the circle is a boulder practically bristling with rosy caramel flint, it's just about the prettiest stone I've ever seen, and I didn't get the stone circle feel from it, more of an enclosure of some sort, it has an entrance, and no where for the western arc of stones to go. I guess it could be Iron age.
Also, this is the place people came to to take stones away to build stone circles, it would be like going to B&Q and building your patio right there in the shop. Or perhaps not.


From the Valley of stones, a very aptly named place, I head south west on Bishop's Road until the road forks and I go right, and park at the gate with cattle grid. Take the right hand path to the Grey Mare and her Colts, a very inaptly named place.
Follow the path with the hedge to your left, in the corner of the field go through the gate for another twenty yards then left over a stile follow the hedge that's right in front of you until you get to a gate, go through it and there she is, looks nothing like a horse.

The Grey Mare & Her Colts — Images

25.03.20ce
<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by postman<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by postman<b>The Grey Mare & Her Colts</b>Posted by postman

I immediately take shelter behind the stones away from the biting cold, I am no longer using the dog blanket as a cloak but instead have wrapped it round me then put my hoodie over that, it's more practical and less stupid looking, still cold though, wish I'd brought my coat.
Sat behind the tallest stone i'm right next to what is left of the chamber, one stone is still in situ as it were, the rest is a bit of a jumble, I was unable to tell if the larger stones were chamber side stones or capstones or a dollop of both. Also right next to me in my hunched up position is a low stone with a hole in it, the significance of which utterly evades me.
Out of the cold I extend my tripod to its fullest, then emerge from the comfort of the nook I'd found and circle the tomb a couple of times taking photos from 11 to 12 feet in the air, it's not easy and may take a few tries and if anyone sees you you might look a berk, but it is I think worth it. The pursuit of a new angle and all that, speaking of new there's a stone circle a little over half a mile from here that I've never been to, Kingston Russell, lets go.



From the Grey Mare and her colts go back to the bridleway over the stile then turn left and keep going on a north westerly heading, when the track takes you to two hedges either side of the track and there is two gates on your right look for the Kingston Russell information board. The stone circle is through the gate away from the information board. Pretty easy, what went wrong Carl?
Hopping over the gate I stroll as nonchalantly as I possibly can, i'm even typing this carefully because that is one big herd of cows over there, and I'd appreciate it if they stayed there. During my nonchalance I extended the tripod for another bout of hoicking. So a hoicking I go, walking round the outside of the circle clockwise, noticing as I go, my only companion, Hardy's monument.

Kingston Russell — Images

25.03.20ce
<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingston Russell</b>Posted by postman

It looks like none of the stones are still standing, the largest stone has erosion marks on it like none of the others, like it was pulled out of a river. The immediate area is very flat, which is why I'd chosen this site as an equinox sunrise for this morning, but I'd have gotten here too late. Which is a maddening shame because it is a perfect site for a sunrise, or sunset, someone closer should get onto that.
It's not a great stone circle, but it is a good one and having been there gives me a warm feeling inside. It's now half past midday and I'm behind schedule, that's the first six done, the first half of the day done, i'm very hungry and it's time to seek out another sort of warm feeling inside, en route to site number seven, strangely in the middle of the town of Dorchester.

Weblog

North of the Wall. But only just.


After a mostly successful summer solstice sunrise at Fontburn Dod, and after a much overdue return visit to Blawearie cairn, and after a good look round Old Bewick hill fort with it's fancy rock art, and after I've squeezed in a standing stone, for measure, it's time for the big one.
Any of the places we've seen this morning could be construed as the big one, but this particular grande finale is a seven mile walk, maybe more, seven sites to be seen, and twenty pounds in cold hard cash.
Ridley and Haughton common's stone circles are my quest, never heard of them? I'm not surprised, they are pretty obscure, in the middle of no where and on the very edge of the map. Parking is non existent, these sites can not be seen from the road, perhaps Hob could get his car closer than I could, but the best I could come up with is Housesteads Roman fort, because the eponymous Wall is that of the old mucker himself Emperor Hadrian.
The car park for Housesteads Roman fort is on the B6318, I cant remember the exact tariff but in the end it cost me £7. Of course then you'll want to walk up the path, ignore the fort entirely and break through the wall and out of the empire. But that will cost you money again, they think people are going to be interested in Roman stuff, but for us it's just in the way. £13 for me and Eric, barring perhaps Stonehenge or Newgrange the most expensive entrance to any old stony place, but then you do get Hadrian's wall and a fort thrown in, and if your really lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a time team expert taking a guided walk.

As soon as Eric saw how far up the hill the fort and wall were he asked me how far we were going to have to walk to find these stone circles, I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth so early on in the hike, it wasn't a walk, you might walk to the shop or the bus stop, this was further than a hike really too, almost an expedition, in the end I lied bare faced and said two or three miles. Miles? he bewailed.
So, up the well walked path to the fort, ignore it, go to "the wall" and follow it west to where the Pennine way crosses it. Break through the wall putting on your wildest Scottish accent and laughing wildly, if you have a Claymore I suggest you wave it now.
Follow the Pennine way north, away from the wall, making towards the east end of Greenlee Lough. When you can see the dark waters of Greenlee Lough below and to the left, do not descend the hill your now on the edge of, instead walk west along the farm track until a stone circle appears on your left hand side. You have arrived at Ridley Common stone circle.

Ridley Common — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>Ridley Common</b>Posted by postman<b>Ridley Common</b>Posted by postman<b>Ridley Common</b>Posted by postman

It's not a big circle, all but one stone is very definitely on the low side, but it is a nice place, and a good stone circle and one more with a big tick by it's name, only 387 to go.
This is a bit of an odd place for a stone circle, the hills north and south are nearby and cut off any views or feelings of openness, the view west is better, but to the east is perhaps the reason these stone circles and cairns are here, the local rock god, now called Gwenhyfar's chair, but in times gone by, probably by many names.

Done with this circle I jolly Eric along and we walk along the track east towards a gap in a wall (not thee wall, a wall) and that chair rock thingy. The rock, long ago had broken off from Queens crags and landed in an unlikely place, perfectly upright, from one aspect it looks just like a Devil's Arrow.
But for now we pass it by a few hundred feet distant, making instead for a trio of cairns, two round cairns one with an exposed cist capstone inside it, and one cairn that looks more like a ring cairn, but perhaps is still just a round cairn too.

Kingscrag Gate — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman
Eric has collapsed in a heap, I'd quite like that too, but if we both did that we'd never get anywhere, so I go round and photograph the cairns and take a seat next to him for five minutes. It looks for all the world like he's asleep, and I almost dare'nt rouse him, but I do, he climbs to his feet and we head east once more. I'm not sure where I'm going for a minute, so we climb a wooded hillside and walk along it looking for anything ancient looking, I spot a henge like circle, but I have no information about it at all so I presume it to be outside of our circle of interest and sit for a while and ponder the map for a while. The light bulb above my head lights up and were off and underway again, we skirt by a small conifer plantation along it's east edge until we come to an old homestead, it's marked on the map, much folding and flapping of said map revealed the second stone circle to be just over there, stands on tip toes and points enthusiastically. Eric waits under the shade of the big tree in the homestead ruin and I go over to the stone circle.

Haughton Common — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>Haughton Common</b>Posted by postman<b>Haughton Common</b>Posted by postman<b>Haughton Common</b>Posted by postman

Haughton stone circle is another small ring. The northern half of the circle has quite big stones some oddly shaped, the other half of the circle barely makes it above the grass. There are two small odd little cairns either side of the circle. If it were not for the trees we'd be able to see the Rock god Gwenhyfar's chair, but we cant. I do the hoiking up of the tripod for an elavated view, it works well, the camera must be twelve feet up.
Back at the ruin I pick up the tired little boy and carry him a bit further west to the big cist known as King Wanless green. Quite a big cist this one, worthy of a position on Dartmoor, cist central of England. There is no capstone, just the four side stones, one stone, lets call it the headstone, has two cup marks on it's upper surface. There is another lesser cist hiding in the grass, I forgot to look for it, so i'll leave that one for the TMAers of the future.

King Wanless Green — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>King Wanless Green</b>Posted by postman<b>King Wanless Green</b>Posted by postman


Going almost straight to Gwenhyfar's chair we stop off for one more cairn, a big cairn, it's lower courses are grass covered, there's no sign of a cist.

Kings Crag Cairn — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>Kings Crag Cairn</b>Posted by postman<b>Kings Crag Cairn</b>Posted by postman

Eric picks himself up, girds his loins and prepares for the last walk, the long walk, the sneaking back into the Empire. But first, that rock god.
Gwenhyfar/Gwenhwyfar or Guinevere, so the story goes had the rock thrown at her by King Arthur for annoying him with an expression whilst doing her hair, one can only imagine what he did when he found out about Lancelot. From all directions the big rock looks like that, a big rock, one flat edge and a curved edge on the other side, but up close, by it's side, it looks just like a big standing stone, perhaps a twin for Yorkshire's Devils Arrows.

Kingscrag Gate — Images

25.06.19ce
<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman<b>Kingscrag Gate</b>Posted by postman

Almost right below it are the three cairns we saw earlier, and the cist and circles can all see it too. Bonkers.

And that is all, we struggle back towards the wall, it's about now that I remind Eric I said the walk was about two or three miles, and then admit that I gave it a bit of a measure on Google earth and it 's about 6.8 miles, give or take a half mile. he uncharacteristically thought this was funny and stepped into a tiny stream and fell over, unable to get up from laughing, I joined him on the grass. Until in the end we practically crawled back to the wall climbed over it, waved the Claymore and walked along the wall back to the fort. I would have liked a look around the Roman bits but really after trekking about this way and that for over four hours we were both pretty close to collapse, so we ignore them again and walk the walk back to the car park. Passing on the way a guided tour, the chap doing the guiding had a voice, I know that voice, getting closer I knew his face too, that odd shaped beard, I dont know his name but Ive seen him on Time team a few times, as I held the gate open for him I looked at him and he looked at me, I'm sure he knew I recognised him. Then the moment was over, and we left.
A quick stop off at the Mare and Foal standing stones and it's run for home, Run for home, run as fast as I can, Oh, running man, running for home. Via Burger King.

Weblog

Thornborough.......A henge for everyone.


After a lovely time at the Druid's Altar four poster stone circle near Grassington we got stuck, not in mud or anything like that but in a bicycle race, the pestilence, the niche absurdity that is the Tour De Yorkshire.

Druid's Altar — Images

07.05.18ce
<b>Druid's Altar</b>Posted by postman<b>Druid's Altar</b>Posted by postman
They kindly closed the road behind us whilst we were at the Altar, then demanded we go no where til the race had passed. Even after it had passed we still got held up by the race, diverted to within an inch of our sanity, we headed for Boroughbridge, and the Devils arrows, and hopefully out of the reaches of the tour de effing Yorkshire.

The Arrows, are always very entertaining, tall and perfect, and very brilliant.

The Devil's Arrows — Images

07.05.18ce
<b>The Devil's Arrows</b>Posted by postman<b>The Devil's Arrows</b>Posted by postman
But the presence of teenagers sharing a fire, beer and smokes on the fields edge, didn't lend an air of tranquility. So off we went to the last sites of the day, the three Thornborough henges.

I thought what I'd do was start at the north then go middle and then of course south. A good idea, I thought.
There was already two cars parked by the woods, but experience tells me that just because there's a car by an ancient site doesn't always mean that's where they'll be, apparently some people walk for fun, don't laugh, it's true, I promise

Thornborough Henge North — Images

07.05.18ce
<b>Thornborough Henge North</b>Posted by postman<b>Thornborough Henge North</b>Posted by postman

I left daughter in the car and entered the woods, immediately transporting me to another world, a world where the dominant life form on the planet is Bluebells. There were roughly 9.4 people dotted about the henge, bluebells outnumbered us like a million to one, because of the trees, banks and ditches, even if there are other people here, you can still get a very personal visit with this henge.
It's all very much intact as well, some of the banks are higher than in other places, but very well preserved, a sleeping giant beneath the trees. But a shadow loomed, even here, in this quaint and quiet part of the Shire, whilst looking through the southern entrance I saw a worrying thing, a thing that does not go well with ancient sites, it wasn't a bicycle race, but it was lots of people.

Back in the car we go round the block looking all the time towards where were going and inwardly groaning, there appeared to be something going on at the central henge. I parked on the roadside and gingerly approached the henge.
This wasn't good at all, there's hundreds of people here, camping around almost the entire perimeter of the henge, stalls selling crap and trash, portaloos, burger vans, and dread locked wastrels eyeing up young girls, not good at all.

Thornborough Henge Central — Images

07.05.18ce
<b>Thornborough Henge Central</b>Posted by postman<b>Thornborough Henge Central</b>Posted by postman

Immediately I climbed the bank west of the entrance, to photograph the disturbing scene, and was shouted at by greasy fat lady with her husband Krustie "get off the henge" they shouted, I looked around, "good lord, they mean me" they shouted again, "get off the henge" . Natural curiosity got the better of me so I asked "why?" "Because I said so" was the reply, who was I to argue with such clarity of thought, a well planned out argument. I demurred to there outlandish ways and descended the bank, stopped when out of view of most of the hoard, sat down and skinned up.
I've never been, but this is what I imagine a summer solstice at Stonehenge would be like, unbearable. I strolled across the interior of the henge to where it is at it's lowest, and crossed over into the refugee camp cum Beltane celebration. A nearby oaf sitting in his plastic chair noticed me and burbled something at me in some southern drawl, "what?". He said again, "good job no one saw you do that, they don't like it at all". I went over.
"Whats going on here,? I've never been to a henge and not walked all the way round."
" Celtic festival of Beltane innit mate, my misses makes us come every year, I've been here since Friday." He gave me quite a sad look. I inquired further "There's hundreds of henges all over the country, why have you all come to this one?" He shrugged.

Long drawn out sigh.

I decided it was time for a different henge, leaving, I photographed the ugly monster that is a Beltane celebration. Honestly, I like marking the solstices and equinoxes as much as the next guy, maybe more, but it's a bit much to do the half way points between them too, unless of course all's your after is beer, burgers, bangles and under dressed teenage girls.

Returning to the car, I relayed my misadventure to my under dressed teenage daughter. Then told her I'm going to the other henge in that field right there, pointing, Ok she said. She's a good girl.
Now, having a look at these henges on here the day before, I noted Carl couldn't find this henge, I couldn't remember it much either, only that its the most worn out of the three henges, so I picked the bridleway pointing in the direction of where the last henge should be, and entered the field, almost immediately I could see a rise in the land that must surely be it, I got closer, it was, it was the last henge.

Thornborough Henge South — Images

07.05.18ce
<b>Thornborough Henge South</b>Posted by postman<b>Thornborough Henge South</b>Posted by postman
It was indeed much more worn down than the others, but still clearly visible, the northern entrance being really quite good. I walked around the henge on top of the bank, there was no Greenham common relic here to tell me off, so I dug my heals in, not really, but I did wave my arms about wildly and shouted I'm walking on a henge, not really, there was a bath on the henge, Oh right, so its OK for bathrooms and camp sites but not for heroes of prehistory such as myself. Humph.
I sat for a while, I found a quiet henge at last, one all to myself, listening to the fine lovely birdsong and the audio equivalent of poo or torturing.
It's been a mixed kind of day.

Then it was time to go home, so we went home.

Weblog

Signs. Spring Equinox at Mitchell's Fold.


I don't like winter, that's not strictly true, what I really don't like is being cold, it hurts. So I am pretty eager for signs that we're moving back to the good times of warmth and light, signs like snowdrops and crocuses, the day being light when i'm going work, signs like the spring equinox. Which is today, so i'm going out to see some stones and take a look at what the sky is up to. Though I can probably guess.
So, where to go, it needs to be quite close, so Callanish is out, i'm old and knackered so it shouldn't be hard to get to, so Bryn Cader Faner is out. How about the Bull stones on the edge of the Peak district, too small.
Mitchell's Fold? It's been eleven years since last time. Done.
It's closer than you think, to my house, I got there with time to spare, which is quite unusual. But I was going to need that extra time, because
it had been snowing a day or two ago, heavily, in places I had to wade through two foot deep snow drifts. Seeing other places in winter makes me see just how strangely weather free home is, it snows, for sure, but it's only just a mild inconvenience, it doesn't close roads.

After much heaving and sighing I arrive at the circle, first thing to do is remove the wads of snow from inside my not good new boots, second, breath heavily on my stinging cold fingers til there warm enough to handle the camera. Third, do photography.
The equinox sun looked to be rising from behind the Stiperstones, a rocky cairn topped ridge of ankle breaking renown, about six kilometers distant.

Mitchell's Fold — Images

21.03.18ce
<b>Mitchell's Fold</b>Posted by postman<b>Mitchell's Fold</b>Posted by postman

I say looked to be, cloud, which had been absent my whole drive here had come out of no where to obscure the magic moment of sun rise. There was just a thin sliver of sky protruding through the grime close to the ground, enough to see where the sun would be if all was perfect. It's not even close.
If it's been eleven years since I've been here, the same must be true of the Hoarstones stone circle as well. So I march off in the direction of Stapeley hill, it was easier last time as I had a mountain bike, this was likely to take longer.
I passed the Dead cow stone not seeing it, as I was talking to the sheep, they chose to ignore me.
Reaching the top of Stapeley hill wasn't easy, long deep snow drifts had to be navigated like some cruel Labyrinth, or waded through, flipping snow, is it really necessary ?
Stapeley hill has two rocky peaks, with superior views, hanging between the two on a shallow ridge was something I wasn't expecting, kind of. I'd seen pictures of it, but hadn't appreciated where it was, a nice little ring cairn, it was here ! cooooool, if this ring cairn was on twitter, I'd have like it. What ever that means.

Stapeley Hill — Images

21.03.18ce
<b>Stapeley Hill</b>Posted by postman

New boots are beginning to hurt, just above the ankle, it must be time to walk further away from the car, course it is.
Like I said, it's been a while since I was last here, so I decide to come down off the hill too early and start searching for a stone circle that isn't there, deep snow, hidden holes, hidden streams, all impeded progress, I was just about to give up when a van came close by, I went over, he stopped, we talked. It's not here, it's on the other side of the forest commission bit, over there, he pointed, up and over.
He gave me directions, but my man mind can only hold half of all directions, I set off again.
Somewhere in the forest I got distracted following animal footprints in the snow, and went wrong. Nothing was making sense, I stupidly left the map in the car, but am fairly sure I've just gone off the top of it, so it's useless anyway. I'm now poking about around a house called Hillcrest near castle ring hill fort, another man helps with directions, it's over there, holds out both arms and indicates it's between them, over there somewhere. It's looking a bit grim now, I've warmed up, but lost a stone circle, it was much easier last time. Next is a long walk along the road rounding the Hemford corner and heading back to the A 488. I have by now given up, even the sight of four Roe deer doe's doesn't fill me with positivity, I do photography and walk on, painfully, some walking boots aren't really made for walking.
Back on the main road I spot a footpath that goes in the direction of back up Stapeley hill, I take it. Immediately I recognise this place, I believe I am now close to the circle, at one point I peer across the snowy moor, but see nothing and give up once more, I shouldn't have, it was there, I looked right at it but didn't see it.
Grumped out, I stomp back up and around Stapeley hill, blundering haplessly upon the Dead Cow stone, at least I managed to find that, by accident.

The Cow Stone — Images

21.03.18ce
<b>The Cow Stone</b>Posted by postman
I pause at Mitchell's fold and try and get the scant blue sky into a stoney picture or three. And go.
But I couldn't let it go for long, after wading back through the snow I get in the car and look at the map, oh, there it is, kind of exactly where both my local helpers said it was, I drive back to that same footpath off the A488, ditch the car angrily by the side of the road, don my wellies and wade through ankle deep freezing mud and shite across two fields and there it is. Then I went snow blind.
The sun had decided to show itself, the snow seemed to glow thumpingly, hitting my eyes with some considerable vigour.

The Hoarstones — Images

21.03.18ce
<b>The Hoarstones</b>Posted by postman

I had to shield my eyes from the worst of the glare whilst I took some photos, then I sat on the edge of the circle upon a flat topped stone and closed my eyes, with some relief.
After the sun had gone back in I inspected the stones more closely, well, I say closely, I mean I didn't fall over them.
Two holes have been drilled into one of the remaining stones, some say they could be ancient but the loss of over half the ring suggests a more explosive reason.
A central stone, there's one of them at the Bull stones on the edge of the Peak district, I wonder if the sun put in an appearance there, I imagine it would have been life changing.
Time to go, I agree with the devil on my shoulder and trespass wildly in order to take a more direct mud and shite free route back to the car.

Done.

Weblog

Round and round in circles.


It's that time of year again, the most over-rated season of all, Autumn.
The last vestiges of my stone hugging obsession still demand that I be at some stones on the solstices and equinox's, though in recent years it has become less important to be there on the exact day, a couple of days out is now acceptable when before it wasn't.
I decide upon a Cumbrian excursion, the plan such as it was, was to be at Brat's Hill stone circle and neighbours for sunrise, then go to Sampson's Bratfull cairn but I overslept and got up fifty minutes late, given how much sleep I usually get, an easy thing to do when trying to get up at 3am.
Swearing at the world in general I make my way up the M6 motorway, realising that I have no chance of getting to Boot in time I tweak the plan slightly and head instead for Castlerigg, then onto Boot.
But the second disappointment of the day was about rear it's ugly and unwelcome head, just getting over the Thelwall viaduct when my car started to heavily overheat. I had to now dissuade myself from throwing in the towel, turning round and going home. Instead I stopped at Charnock Richard services filled up with water, bought a bottle of the stuff and carried on calmly up the M6. All was well, I made it to the big Cumbrian ring with time to spare and without the red dashboard light coming back on.
Many years ago when I decided that solsticing and equinoxing should be something that I should be doing (What do we call someone who goes out to stones on these quarterly points of the year) the first place I went to was Castlerigg, I was all alone at the stones, but it was pretty foggy and wet. So being back here for another equinox, on my own, just as my obsession wains, seems to be very fitting, a full circle kind of thing. But, for now, everything is as it always has been.

Castlerigg — Images

26.09.17ce
<b>Castlerigg</b>Posted by postman<b>Castlerigg</b>Posted by postman

There are three other people here, a couple with a camera on a tripod, and a single chap similarly tripoding, they've secured their seats for the sunrise and I slot myself in between the two, further back, lest anyone try to speak to me.
The sky is behaving itself for a change, there are clouds but they're shapely, impressive, enhancing clouds. After three equinox's here I have determined that you may never be able to see the moment of sunrise from Castlerigg, because it is blocked by the north end of Low Rigg, but then there has always been horizon hugging cloud obscuring the rising, it could be that the sun rises out of the joining point of ground and hill, I doubt the skies will ever be perfect enough to determine such an assertion. I wonder if the sun does a similar thing at the solstice with Blencathra, there's only one way to tell, look at Fitzcoraldo's picture of the solstice sunrise, it seems to bare me out.
The sun has risen, and I have said good day to it, taken 150 photos, and i'm ready to try and nurse my car through the mountains, the couple that was here have gone and a late comer is now talking to the other chap and looking at me, will he try and talk to me too? No, cause i'm going, now. Bye stones.

As a postman, I've been delivering to Thirlmere Rd for nearly nineteen years, so it was with some satisfaction that I drove down the A591 alongside that very Mere, then I realised I was thinking about work whilst out stoning, punishable by death in some places, I put my foot down and leave Thirlmere behind.

Reaching Ambleside (we've got one of them too) I think refilling the radiator before trying to nurse my car over Wrynose and Hardknot pass would be a good idea, it would have been to if the thing hadn't erupted boiling water straight into my face, propelling the water cap fifteeen yards away, the woman refueling her car asked If I was OK, I nodded, so, with still bubbling flesh hanging off me, I refill the radiator, buy another bottle, so I don't get caught short in Eskdale, wipe myself down, I thought boiling water was supposed to be, well, boiling, or at least quite hot, not at all, shrugged it off and kept going.
Have you ever heard of the Death road in Bolivia, where someone dies every week, sometimes by the bus load, well that's what Hardknot pass is like, not really, but it's as close as England gets.
Reaching Eskdale and the village of Boot, I see there's no where else but the railway carpark at Dalegarth to park, £3.50 for the day was I thought quite reasonable. The walk begins.
Boot is a nice little place, with, I think, three pubs, that's a lot of alcohol for such a little place. Crossing the river and passing the 16th century mill the walk goes seriously up hill, it is steep, wet and very uneven, I remember my ex wife came up here with me last time, pre digital camera, pre children, looking at it now I must congratulate her for getting as far as she did, which was the group of mining homes that cluster near another cairn like structure that I forgot to photograph on the way back down. That time, I was left to go on alone see the stones and then come back for her, but because of the waiting woman I didn't have enough time to find the Low Longrigg stone circles. No such restrictions this time, just me, the mountains, the weather and some stones.

The ground has levelled out and I'm heading for a slight mound, from on top of which I hope to be able to see the stones, brilliantly the circle is just the other side of the mound, and just a bit further on I can see the stones of White Moss, no sign of Low Longrigg though.

Brat's Hill — Images

28.09.17ce
<b>Brat's Hill</b>Posted by postman<b>Brat's Hill</b>Posted by postman

Brats Hill stone circle is the largest of the five circles up here, some stones are large and prominent, whilst others are lying down and barely seen over the grass. There is what seems to be a central standing stone, well, its definitely a stone and it's around the central area, but there are also five cairns within the circle, the stone is on the circumference of one of the round cairns, so perhaps its to do with that. The cairns are a nice addition too, perfect little round mounds with occasional kerbing visible. I stroll over to the alter, a rock outcrop that is thee place to look down upon the circle and get a good view of the area. There is one big dark mountain away to the back, a quick look at my map magically informs me that it is Scafell, our biggest mountain, been up there twice, been in whiteout twice, a most uncooperative mountain.

A pair of walkers have encroached upon my musings so I push on to the White Moss stone circles. They are about 30 yards from one and other, the south west circle occupies one end of a very low ridge the stones being about the sizes of a toaster to a large microwave, one for the kitcheny types there. There's two cairns here, one is just outside the circle and the other is well inside it and may even have a cist lid still in situ. The north east circle, for me the best one up here, if it were alone it would still draw me in. All the stones are stood nice and up straight in a restored kind of way, a cairn inhabits the inside of the circle. Together with a view of Scafell this is one of the best stone circles I've ever been to, if it's not on your list of places to visit, you should stop visiting places.

White Moss — Images

28.09.17ce
<b>White Moss</b>Posted by postman<b>White Moss</b>Posted by postman<b>White Moss</b>Posted by postman

More people are coming, taking the obligatory photo, look I'm in a stone circle and my arms are out wide, click, move on.
I get out of their way by marching off in what I hope is the direction of Low Longrigg, I have a map and a compass, but in the end, walking round and round in circles getting ever higher is what found me the stones. Something I've become accustomed to.

Nobodies going to be coming over here in a hurry, map only says there's cairns here, they're really off the path, hiding in long grass, I have the place to myself.

Low Longrigg — Images

28.09.17ce
<b>Low Longrigg</b>Posted by postman<b>Low Longrigg</b>Posted by postman

If anything the view from Low Longrigg is even better that that seen from White Moss, solely because Great Gable has now come into the picture, perhaps my favourite Cumbrian mountain.
Both of these stone circles are ruinous, the stones low, the south west circle has a central cairn in it, the north east circle has two.
I stay here at these two circle the longest, the view is spectacular, the way Great Gable forms a valley with Kirk Fell, is possibly reflected in one of the stones in the north east circle, if memory serves it is the closest stone to Great Gable.
I don't like walking, a walk has to have a destination, anything will do really, but five stone circles is a pretty good destination, and if the long walk keeps the people away then so much the better
In the end I'd been up there for four hours, and in the very end I managed to get the car back home without much palava.
Showing 1-5 of 32 posts. Most recent first | Next 5
After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website ten years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.

My favourite places are:

Ring of Brodgar
Callanish
Balnauran of Clava
Torhouskie
Swinside
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
HafodyGors Wen
Gwal y Filiast
Grey Wethers
Boscawen Un
La Roche au Fees
Drombeg
Uragh
Talati De Dalt

and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.

My TMA Content: