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

Fieldnotes by formicaant

Latest Posts
Previous 20 | Showing 21-40 of 254 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

West Godlingston Heath (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

A barrow cemetery comprising five bowl and one bell barrow on the west of Godlingston Heath. This is a curious cemetery, the like of which I've not seen before locally, it is in the shape of a crescent. The arc is roughly a 1/4 of a circle and looks like a small arena. The barrows overlook the north part of the heath and Poole harbour from the top of an inland cliff. The five bowl barrows make up the arc shape with the bell barrow just behind, almost touching them.
The barrows are covered in low heather at the moment and get larger and higher as they go from the first barrow - north west to the sixth barrow south east. The only barrow that is visible from the south is the bell barrow, from which can be see two of the barrows on Nine Barrow Down, to the south, I'm pretty sure the long barrow is one of them.
These barrows are not on the main part of the heath with the marked footpaths but the whole area is open access land and there was a path that could be followed. These are not marked in any way on the relevant O.S. maps and I only found out they existed while looking at something else on MAGIC, where they are marked and described.
On the way back, about 20 yards from the barrows I was lucky enough to find a piece of Bronze Age pottery laying next to the track. It looks like the local black burnished ware and is part of a rim.
All in all they are an unusual group in the context of Dorset barrows and are well worth a visit - look them up first on MAGIC and they are quite easy to find, if not this is a large heath with lots of lumps and bumps on it which aren't ancient.

Shipton Hill (Hillfort)

I finally decided to see what's at the top of the hill. It looks impossibly steep to climb and it is from most directions. However if you park on the western side just above Hammiton farm only the last 20 yards or so are steep.
The views from the hill are panoramic. I could see at least four hillforts from the top, namely Eggardon to the north east, Chilcombe to the east, Abbotsbury castle to the south east and Pilsdon Pen to the north west.
Also to the south west is Golden Cap, Colmer's Hill and Hardown Hill are to the west and I think I could see both Lambert's Castle and Coneys Castle to the north west as well.
I'm not sure this is a hillfort in the sense of there being any defensive banks or ditches, of which I could see no evidence. Having said that I'm not sure these would be neccesary as this would be an ideal refuge without any obvious banks etc. It is easy to see any approach to the hill from any direction.
There are some curious looking banks and ditches below the main hill which could wel have been the site of a settlement.
Grinsell thought there was a low barrow on the hill, the only place I could see that could be a barrow is the site of an O.S. trig point. It is indistinct and would have been disturbed by the building of the trig point anyway. I suspect also that the site was used during WW2 as an observation post, there was some brick work up there and what looked like a small chimney stack in the field below the hill.

Hammiton Hill (Round Barrow(s))

The barrow is on the north west side of Hammiton Hill which is to the south of Shipton Hill. It is about 25 metres across and 1 3/4 metres in height. It's in good condition and is not part of an extended group or cemetery.

Ulwell Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

This is a large bowl barrow at the western end of Ballard Down, to the south is the small hamlet of Ulwell from which the barrow takes it's name. It looks in pretty good condition, although there are signs of an excavation on the crown, the damage is not too bad. Some damage has been done to the eastern edge by the disturbance created by a stone obelisk. This is a curiosity, it was placed there to comemorate the coming of clean, fresh water to nearby Swanage, the reservoir is to the south of the barrow. The obelisk was originally in London, outside the Mansion House. It was removed from the barrow in 1941 so as not to be guide to german bombers, it was re-erected in 1952 by the army.
I approached the hill from the north, Studland side as it is much less steep than the southern Swanage side. I parked by a farm gate, it was obvious many people had parked here before me. The hill is pretty steep but Ballard Down itself levels out and is a nice place to see the surrounding sites, megalithic or otherwise.

Godlingston Heath (Round Barrow(s))

These two bell barrows are in a valley bottom to the north of Ballard Down and are part of a group which includes the Fishing barrow which is to the est of it. The maps show another bowl type near these two but I couldn't see it.
The barrows are very scruffy and covered in dead grass at this time of the year, in summer they are obscured with gorse and bracken.
These are very easy to visit as they are just north of a large layby and observation point with easy parking.

Sandy Barrow (West Stafford) (Round Barrow(s))

I have wanted to include this barrow for a long time but have never been able to actually see it. Thanks to our hard winter and late spring the undergrowth is low enough for me to take a photo of it. It is a bowl barrow in reasonable condition, some tree damage but no apparent excavation signs.
It lies in a valley and is just off a small road that leads to a farm, it appears to be part of a scattered group, to the west is at least one barrow on Whitcombe hill and to the east is Huck Barrow.

Hangley Cleave (Round Barrow(s))

I posted these photos last year as "The Two Barrows" before Exmoor was split between Devon and Somerset. I have now deleted that seperate post. Anyway the barrows lie to the east of the nearby Five Barrows group, actually nine in number.
The barrows I photographed are on opposite sides of a small road, the northern one is a fairly large bowl barrow. The southern one was hard to take pictures of as it is low and indistinct.
There are another two barrows nearby, slightly to the north and according to how they look on MAGIC these appear to be the actual Two Barrows. In the way of these things sometimes it is not easy to say which barrows are which purely from map sources, I will visit here soon again as there are other things I want to see nearby.

White Horse Hill (Round Barrow(s))

I took the opportunity to visit this barrow while taking some photos of East Hill barrows. The maps and MAGIC etc show two, but I could only spot one of them. Some of the barrows in this extended group along the South Dorset Ridgeway are very slight and hard to see, I suspect that may be the case with the other barrow.
The visible barrow is quite a curious example as it seems to have been turned in to a water tank holder. This appears to have been done to it some time ago as grass has grown over the concrete lid.
The White Horse is 18th century and depicts king George the 3rd on horseback, he was responsible for making nearby Weymouth a fashionable resort and popularised sea bathing.

Askerswell (Dyke)

This is one of several dykes which run across the ridge of hills which the A35 now follows. This one is a few hundred yards east of Chilcombe Hill and from it can be seen Eggardon Hill to the north. Probably by coincidence it is directly in line with a modern milestone.
There are quite a few of these ditch and bank structures in Dorset and they are thought to be late bronze age to iron age in date. The purpose of them is unclear but is thought to be as some kind of division of land.

Burrow Hill (Round Barrow(s))

I'm not sure about this, it could be natural, although the name suggests not. Unfortunately Grinsell is no help as he never visited it for Somerset Barrows. If it is genuine then it is large and in good condition. It is the highest point for some distance around and gives its name to three small hamlets.

Athelney (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

This is also known as the Isle of Athelney and is most famous as the refuge of King Alfred during the Danish invasion of the 9th century, where he burnt the cakes.
This would once have been a proper island, being as it is one of the few high points in the Somerset levels. The levels were drained and the local river Parrett diverted. The site is on private land and there is no public access to it, there is a large layby next to it with a very good information board in it.
The Iron Age part of the hill is at the western end and consists of a bank and ditch.

Lambert's Castle (Hillfort)

Another visit to this hillfort after 3 years, last time I came it was a grey day and I wasn't happy with the photo's. This is a huge site, not including the hillfort, it was in use for many hundreds of years. Firstly there is a very badly damaged bronze age barrow within the hillfort and the iron age monument itself. There are norman pillow mounds, it was used as a racecourse in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is evidence of a napoleonic signalling station and a fair was regularly held here.
I know none of the above is necessarily relevant to this website on the face of it but I think it illustrates the importance of this site in the local area. The nearby villages are tiny and scattered and this must have been a focal point for trade. The banks are very slight and doubtful as a defensive position. Also there are other properly defensible positions very close by, Pilsdon Pen and Coneys Castle are much more viable places to be when under attack.

Shoulsbury Castle (Hillfort)

I saw this site from the valley below while visiting the nearby Setta barrow and five barrow hill. From below it does not look very substantial, sadly I ran out of time so could not get up to it, good excuse for another trip to these parts.

Dogbury Hill (Hillfort)

Finally got around to taking some photos of the site, had to wait until winter as it's obscured by undergrowth in summer. It is a slight hillfort and is best seen from the valley below, I have walked up it but didn't today as it was far too muddy.

Simons Ground (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This is a destroyed site which once had four barrows on it. These were so slight in the 19th century as they weren't robbed out like the rest of the local barrows. In addition to the barrows there is one of the most extensive urn fields in the country. The flat burial site site is comparable with the also destroyed Rimbury site near Weymouth, and is of the same middle bronze age date and cultural type.
The site was excavated prior to gravel extraction and building work in 1967 - 69 and yielded about 300 urns containing 180+ cremations.This is the largest urn field in the country yet to be excavated. A great deal of worked flint and a large amount of bronze age pottery were found during the dig.

Friar Waddon (Round Barrow(s))

Magic / O.S. show six barrows in this group, this is the only one visible from this point, which is at the top of Goulds hill looking south. Waddon hill is south of the main Ridgeway and is between Upwey and Portisham.
I have now returned a few days later, on the road south of Friar Waddon hill. Four more of the barrows are visible from the valley below. They are not easy to photograph as they are high up, I don't think there is easy access to these barrows as although I can see a footpath up to them, parking is very difficult on the narrow lanes.

Canford Heath (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

I fully intended to walk this site today, but as you can see from the photo taken at midday it was not a good day to be out and about. There are 10 bowl barrows spread across an upland heath area now surrounded by houses. On the next day it isn't peeing down with rain I will visit these barrows and take some proper photos.

The Seven Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

I have decided to update the field notes for this site as the last one I put up was inaccurate. There are in fact 8 barrows in this group. The road from Wareham to Bere Regis splits the cemetery in half. It is two groups of four and they are aligned from east to west in a line.
M.A.G.I.C says they were excavated by Shipp and Durden in 1844, the signs left by these amateur diggers are plain to see now.
These are all medium sized bowl barrows in reasonable condition. They overlook Poole harbour and the Purbeck hills to the south.

Saw Mills Stone Circles

This is speculative at best, that the original stone circles existed is not really in doubt. Documentary evidence survives from several contemporary sources, two of whom wrote books in the 19th century. Both books were written by local women, Clara King-Warry and Elizabeth Pearce. Pearce wrote her memoir in 1805, before much of the major quarrying took place on this part of the island, she names one of the circles as being called The Frolic . King Warry wrote several books about a century later and sites the circles as having stood either side of Easton Lane ( now Easton road ), she says they were removed and due to the unwillingness of the local workmen were not destroyed but built into the walls along the lane. The sawmills name comes from the name of a now destroyed inn.
This brings us to the stones in the photos I took, they are in the right place and are much larger than any other stones I have seen built into old walls on the island. I have not seen all of the dry stone walling on Portland, there are miles of it, but these are unusual inclusions. Portland stone is and was expensive stuff and large pieces of it are not usually used in this way. Portlanders are a superstitious people, the word rabbit is still taboo, and I would not at all be surprised at the reluctance of workmen to destroy ancient stones .
The only other place where such stones exist is in another wall close to a site described by a visiting antiquarian called Fido Lunettes. Lunettes describes a place near the Portland young offenders institute, which was the original convict prison on the island. He visited the site in 1824, before the prison was built, he descibes an ancient British eartwork called Arun's Green. He further describes some standing stones with a large flat stone on top which he calls a cromlech.
There can be little doubt that standing stones, circles, barrows etc did exist on this ancient island, but due to the quarrying and military activities in the 19th century much of it has been destroyed or moved or reused.

King Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

This is the site of a now destroyed round barrow, it is believed to been in existence prior to its removal by quarrying in the late 19th century. The site is now a nature reserve.
Previous 20 | Showing 21-40 of 254 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20
Always been interested in old stuff and making sure it stays in good nick.
I grew up within a hundred yards or so of Pounbury hillfort and within a mile of Maiden castle and have long wondered about the peoples who built these and the many other sites which proliferate in Dorset. My special interest is in the many barrows of all kinds in the area.
Have recently moved near to Weymouth and am lucky enough to be able to see barrows, a cross ridge dyke and an ancient trackway from my back garden.

My TMA Content: