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

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Days without end.

The 19th of June started much the same as any other day off work, get up late, walk dogs, watch tele, research stones for next trip out, make tea for kids and me, and then at the end of the day, instead of going back to bed we all jumped in the car and drove off to Scotland.
Scotland?!
Tomorrow being the 20th of June is of course the summer solstice, and the one place i'd like to be on such an auspicious day as this is the Brainport alignment near Inverary. It's a five and a half hour trip, I've driven further for a sunrise, but I've never had to sneak into another country. Because of the stupid virus Scotland is still apparently in lock down, I've no idea what to expect at the border, will there be road blocks? will there be random car stopping? Luckily none of the above, we drove on through without incident, with hardly any other cars on the road we were making good time.
Passing a sign for Crarae gardens I know we're nearly there, then we pass through the loch side village of Minard. Immediately on leaving Minard there is a field on the left, when you go by the gate into the field there is a parking space on the right, stop here.
It is now about 4.30 am, needless to say the kids are fast asleep, or pretending to be, either way I get my boots and waterproof trousers on grab my camera and enter the field making for the shore line of Loch Fyne. It's not a bad morning, as far as early mornings in Scotland go, but I don't think there's much chance of seeing the sun rise today, there's too much cloud, in Scotland? I know.
After getting to the lochs shore I turn right and follow a well trod path through the trees, shortly we exit the woods and onto Brainport bay, the alignment is on the far side of the bay. At first I couldn't find it, I know the stones are small but I hoped they'd be easier to find, I traipse through sodden undergrowth, without luck. Back at the bay again I start again, there is a white park bench next to a white box, next to a slight rise in the ground I investigate and whoohoo and tralaa, here be stones.

I'm at long last at the Brainport alignment, on the morn of the summer solstice no less, but without the sun. But is it really necessary to have the sun show up? it is there, the stones are there, and so am I, it suffices.
I start to have a look round, one thing that is instantly obvious is the flora has distinctly grown somewhat since the last TMAer was here, and there are information boards, two to be exact, wasn't expecting them.
One of the information boards tells me the two stones are not the only parts of the alignment, it has six parts. The Pointer stone and the outcrop it stands on, the rear stone, the lower platform, the boulder setting and at the back the rear platform for standing on and appreciating the magic you have wrought. I would add a seventh part, the gap in the rock by the rear stone. One might even add two more, the viewer themselves and of course the sun, but probably not.

Brainport Bay Solar Alignment — Images

21.06.20ce
<b>Brainport Bay Solar Alignment</b>Posted by postman<b>Brainport Bay Solar Alignment</b>Posted by postman<b>Brainport Bay Solar Alignment</b>Posted by postman

The rear platform is about forty yards from the rest of the alignments elements, it is built of small to medium sized boulders and set into the slight hill for a more elevated view of the, erm view.

Next is the boulder setting, two boulders, set side on to the alignment, one much larger than the other, the smaller one on the side of the rear platform. The boulders have small white pebbles on it left there by stony lovers like me.

The lower platfrom is a low cairn like structure, that seems to serve no purpose at all really, unless the rear stone is set into it.

The rear stone, no more than knee high, is right next to the gap in the rock.

On the other side of the rock gap is the outcrop with the pointer stone set into it.
And that is the Brainport alignment. One of the information boards tells us that there are other alignments involved, mid winter and equinoctial sunsets, but I find these hard to wrap my mind around.
I haven't been here long before the midges make themselves known, one of them there flamethrowers wouldn't go amiss right now.
With the alignment fully investigated and fully appreciated I decide it's probably time to go, so I start to head back, no sooner have I left the sun comes out, is it taking the piss or what.

Back at the car, the kids are still asleep. I start the car and start the long drive back home, but I decide that this is too long a drive to just see only one site, so at Lockerbie I leave the M74 and head off to Eskdalemuir and a pair of stone circles, the Girdle Stanes and the Loupin Stanes.
I havent been here for quite a while, this time I find the proper parking place, just across the road from the Loupin stanes. Eric and me walk down to the stones, what a lovely little circle this is, ten or so smaller stones and two large portal stones, looks a lot like The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas in Dorset.

Girdle Stanes & Loupin Stanes — Images

21.06.20ce
<b>Girdle Stanes & Loupin Stanes</b>Posted by postman<b>Girdle Stanes & Loupin Stanes</b>Posted by postman<b>Girdle Stanes & Loupin Stanes</b>Posted by postman<b>Girdle Stanes & Loupin Stanes</b>Posted by postman

Across the field but out of view is the Girdle stanes, the ground is covered in what look like buttercups, millions of them. Cows are inhabiting the circle, but move out of the way when we arrive. The river Esk has apparently destroyed half the circle. But what is left is a bit of a treat, and well worth the detour on the way home. But time has caught us up and we really should be on our way. Driving home was tough, tired just doesn't cut it. Upon reaching my humble abode it took about five minutes before I was dozing on the sofa.
The day without end had merged into a 48 hour day, I'm glad summer solstices come round but once a year.
postman Posted by postman
5th July 2020ce

Maen Llia

I am presently posting my findings from 20 years of visiting Maen Llia and its surroundings on the Megalithic Portal website. This is the link for anyone who may be interested.

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Forum&file=viewtopic&topic=8258&forum=4&start=20

Maen Llia — Images

21.06.20ce
<b>Maen Llia</b>Posted by cerrig
Posted by cerrig
14th April 2020ce

TMA Google File

Hello All

I am trying to download KML file for sites on TMA.
From home page I go to maps then click Google icon.
Google Earth then loads but I cannot see or find where to download KML file.
Pretty sure there is no problem with link and its probably me thats at fault.

Any suggestions please much appreciated.
Thanks
Rough Tor
Posted by Rough Tor
29th March 2020ce

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.
postman Posted by postman
26th March 2020ce

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.
postman Posted by postman
10th July 2019ce
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