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

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Dude wheres my car?

So it's an equinox sunrise your after is it? Have I learned anything about being somewhere far away at sunrise? Yes I have, if you can't be very close to your intended destination the night before then youd best get up early enough to get there in time. So I did, by three am I was passing keele services going south, at six thirty I was on Dartmoor, minutes later I was putting on walking boots in the half dark and thinking I 'd cracked it. With nothing more than a "hm they've changed the parking place a bit" I opened the gate and headed off towards Fernworthy stone circle, but with the intention to ignore it for my intended destination is the pair of circles that is the Greywethers.
I did a spring equinox here fourteen years ago and it turned out really well, so I'm at it again though walking this time not mountain biking.
So, I'm innocently walking up the track when it starts to do unexpected things, then when Fernworthy doesn't appear on my right I know something has gone wrong, then I remember the strangeness of the new parking place and begin to suspect that I didn't park where I thought I did
But what to do? I decide to wing it, immediately take a dead end track, backtrack, wing it some more. See two big deer with big antlers, then get me compass out, clever boy. I am at least heading north, "right" I say to the departed deer "first left turn, I'm taking it".
About now the sun makes its appearance, half a big orange ball makes it's way out of distant smog, damn and blast it, in a clearing I at least get a few good pictures of the sunrise, even not at my destination its always good to see the moment of rising, and not any old sunrise an equinox sunrise, they're better, they just are.
So after the left turn came and was taken the track got close to the edge of the forest, which is where I wanted to go, but doesn't go all the way so I have to carefully pick my way through the thick forest , open moor beckons I can see it just ahead, am I too far south? North? Dare I hope to be just right, just then the developing sunrise kicks me in the back, I am too far north, but not much I can see the circles but they're far off. Tut and sigh, another failed attempt to catch the golden moment in the act.
I make do with the situation, suck it up and strike out across the severely uneven moor towards the stones.

After what seemed like an age I eventually arrived at my destination, that made me happy, the circles were as perfect as ever and I was only twenty minutes late for the rising, its still got some legs in it so I inexpertly set about trying to capture the beauty of being out about early. But in the back of my mind was, where the hell did I leave my car?

The Greywethers — Images

23.09.20ce
<b>The Greywethers</b>Posted by postman<b>The Greywethers</b>Posted by postman<b>The Greywethers</b>Posted by postman

After more self berating (sounds fun, but isnt) cloud quickly comes out of the south and the sun disappears, almost for good.
I begin to console myself with the fact that there is a new stone circle west over the hill, the recently rediscovered Sittaford stone circle. I go west, up and over the tor, following the lowest of three walls. Following the lowest of three walls brings me almost magnet like to a slightly leaning standing stone in a gap in the wall, the stones are just twenty yards from the leaning stone.
Sittaford stone circle is caught halfway between being brilliant and being unvisitable, all the stones are lying down, some lie proud of the grass, some are below ground level but cleared in their entirety, four stone shaped water filled muck holes may yet contain stones, if so then I counted twenty seven potential circle stones. That's brilliant!
One assumes the stones once did stand, excavation only found two stone holes, what does that mean, they never finished it? Or what?

Sittaford — Images

23.09.20ce
<b>Sittaford</b>Posted by postman<b>Sittaford</b>Posted by postman<b>Sittaford</b>Posted by postman

It's now time to retrace my steps, as far as the forest anyway, I don't think I could all the way even if I wanted to. On the way back I showed the Greywethers a little fondness and moved towards the dark forest, ready to do battle with the malevolent spirits that make you lose your car.
Dude wheres my car?

The walk back goes by uneventfully, after a right turn at the crosstracks Fernworthy the welcome appears on my left. Familiar ground, always welcoming. The grass has been mowed very short, and some trees have been felled since my last visit, making the whole clearing a lot bigger, I decided to have as good a look round as possible.

First off the track is a short stone row, pointing directly at the stone circle, but perhaps more involved with a vague but recognisable cairn just before the stone circle.

Fernworthy Stone Row (South) — Images

24.09.20ce
<b>Fernworthy Stone Row (South)</b>Posted by postman
Veering wildly to the right I'm inspecting small stones in a grassy clearing perhaps a cairn, then theres a small stone row connected to the cairn or perhaps the next cairn with half a cist. Then down a grass corridor to another cairn, a grassy bump with two or three kerb stones. Then skirting round the stone circle its north down another grassy corridor to a sweet little double stone row that terminates at another little cairn, with enough stone showing to suspect kerbing or a ruined cist.

Fernworthy stone row (North) — Images

24.09.20ce
<b>Fernworthy stone row (North)</b>Posted by postman<b>Fernworthy stone row (North)</b>Posted by postman

Then it's back up the double stone row for a good ole sit down on a nice flat topped stone, of the Fernworthy variety.

Fernworthy — Images

24.09.20ce
<b>Fernworthy</b>Posted by postman<b>Fernworthy</b>Posted by postman
It was a refreshing change to be able to see everything a complex has to offer, the northmost cairn was in the trees still last time I came. I wonder how much the grass cutter gets payed, I came across his handiwork later on in the morning too, if it's more than £500 a week I'm submitting my CV. Oh and where is my goddam car?

Leaving Fernworthy with a sense of unease I make my way down hill towards where I thought I'd parked, where I'd parked all the previous times. It wasn't there, I knew it wouldn't be, it still made me cross though. There were a few no parking signs so I was hopeful that all I had to do was follow the road back and I would come across it at the next parking place. So I walked and so it turned out to be, dude theres my car!
I breath a sigh of relief and swear at the new car park, if it wasn't for those meddling do gooders I'd have gotten there in time.
"Oh well" I jump in and go to see some more stones.
postman Posted by postman
28th September 2020ce

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
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