Neolithic Adventures – Wayland’s Smithy

One the more well known long barrows in England, Wayland’s Smithy. This is a stunning location and quite a site to behold when you get to the enclosure. Although situated on the ancient Ridgeway, it’s quite a walk from our known paths and roads so feels like quite a remote location. Only a mile apparently from the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.

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This one has also been reconstructed and only the front is exposed and accessible.

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It’s very impressive when you see the size of the stones and walk around the site. Human remains have been found at this site during excavations, but from an earlier structure that this barrow was built on top of, without further bodies or burials being mentioned.

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It’s amazing what is just lying around above and below ground, literally just under your feet and you might not even know it…

(c) K Wicks

Neolithic Adventures – West Kennet Long Barrow

The ancient trail continued with a visit to West Kennet Long Barrow, we have many strewn about the country and this is one of the better preserved intact ones. Apparently the largest in Britain, measuring approx 100 meters in length – there are two other equally impressive ones not too far away in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire and will feature shortly.

This barrow is high on the hill overlooking Silbury Hill and very close to Avebury stone circle. Not seen from the bottom it is a small hike up the hill but when you reach the brow, the amazing structure comes into view.

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From the front – with myself for a bit of scale.

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Here you can see the length and where, again, over the years it has been looted and excavated, with a number of skeletons being found in the various chambers. There is no evidence to suggest this was built for burials, although it’s obvious people over the millennia have used this as somewhere to place your dead or the remains of.

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There are extremely large internal stones and small chambers (none of which would really fit a full size body by the way), leading into the barrow. This is only a small portion at the front of the structure, most of the rest of it having caved in and has been left covered.

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But what you can see and get to, gives us an idea of how solid they are and need I say it, built to last. We would have trouble today trying to build something like this at the top of this hill, so it really does beg the question as with all the other sites. Why and how?

The mystery continues…

(c) K Wicks word and photography & M Wicks Photography

Neolithic Adventures – Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. It’s not known when this chalk earth mound was ‘built’ or put together, or why. It’s huge and can be compared in size and height to the ancient pyramids. Sat in between Avebury stone circle and West Kennet Long Barrow, it’s right in the middle of the neolithic history but we don’t know how it fits. Clearly visible as you walk up the hill to the barrow, it really is a sigh to behold. I just don’t know why.

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Apparently dating to around 4,500 years ago, with no burials found inside, it remains another of the landscapes mysteries.

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There is another hill to this which is strikingly similar in Poland, so who knows how connected everything was in the past.

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(c) K Wicks

 

 

Neolithic Adventures – Hetty Pegler’s Tump…

So back in 2015-2016, we decided to start taking in some of the history we talked about and were interested in. The Romans are a little recent for our taste, although there is no small measure of that if it’s your thing. But for us we liked a few thousand years further back. It began. But now find ourselves wanting to go back and revisit. We’ve been abroad since then for a bit and seen some other sites. It raises more questions. So, the next round of neolithic adventures of visiting the ancient sites of Britain starts. After finding out how many sites there really are, it may take a while…

We started local. I hadn’t realised I had settled so closely to so many ancient sites. Even walking my dogs for years just by this gem and not even knowing it was there. Also known as Hetty Peglers Tump (after the landowner Hester Pegler in the 17th Century), Uley Long Barrow has long mystified us as to it’s purpose along with all the others (and there will be more). Burial mounds, tomb and ceremonial are all words that have been attributed to these structures, but having visited a number of them now, the effort doesn’t seem consistent with it’s purpose.

Most of these are collapsed and have been looted and excavated over the years, with many being reconstructed to how we see them today.  As below, we were treated to some great weather and it’s initial view is impressive. The pictures never quite capture the magic at these places or really how pretty the surrounding are. I hope this one goes a small way to convey that.

Hetty Pegler front view

It’s tucked at the back of a field literally just off the B4066 between Stroud and Uley, if you ever happen to be passing that way.

Inside what they call the chambered tomb lies some very large stones. The most impressive ceiling stones seem to overshadow the ‘smaller’ huge ones to the sides. These create separated rooms and not the stuff of graveyards in my opinion.

Hetty Pegler internal

They may have no conclusive answers at this point, many people have many theories about these sites, but we struggle to know what happened in the dark ages less than two thousand years ago, so to think we have the answers for over 5,500 years ago is quite a stretch. But you never know…

(c) K Wicks

Awesome Autumn…

I love Autumn, not so much the rainy cold we have in the UK, but the wonderful change in colours and nature.

Fantastic yellows and oranges, especially on crisp days with blue skies, it just makes my day.

 

 

Each walk brings something different, today a small robin hopped over to us out dog walking, he wasn’t scared at all. I wish I had some food to hold out for him, he looked like he wanted to get closer.

Winter is now coming but there is still a hint of Autumn still holding on.

(c) K Wicks photographer

Neolithic Adventures – West Kennet Avenue

Really this could be an add on to my piece about Avebury given it’s proximity, but I think this deserves it’s own piece. West Kennet Avenue is an avenue of stones through an entire field leading in the direction of the West Kennet Barrow. I had no idea this was just round the corner from Avebury stone circle.

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Two very long rows of stones, some of them huge, some of them worn away by people, time and weather. There are a few posts marking out the ones that didn’t make it. On the drive down the road, there are also a couple of random monoliths, seemingly on their own and out of place. They help to still mark the old boundary line of the avenue.

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From here if you walk to the top of the hill, you can actually see West Kennet long barrow, and Silbury Hill further down. It’s hard not to see a rather large neolithic community at work here. And this is all we have left after 5,500 years, then who knows what was here to start with…

(c) K Wicks

 

Neolithic Adventures – Wayland’s Smithy

One the more well known long barrows in England, Wayland’s Smithy. This is a stunning location and quite a site to behold when you get to the enclosure. Although situated on the ancient Ridgeway, it’s quite a walk from our known paths and roads so feels like quite a remote location. Only a mile apparently from the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.

20190510_120808

This one has also been reconstructed and only the front is exposed and accessible.

20190510_121045

It’s very impressive when you see the size of the stones and walk around the site. Human remains have been found at this site during excavations, but from an earlier structure that this barrow was built on top of, without further bodies or burials being mentioned.

20190510_120552

It’s amazing what is just lying around above and below ground, literally just under your feet and you might not even know it…

 

(c) K Wicks

 

 

 

Neolithic Adventures – Belas Knap Long Barrow

A site we have also been to before, but always worth a visit. Belas Knap long barrow is quite a jaunt up a steep hill and through a wooded walk, it’s quite off the beaten track as with the others. Although I realise that is how it appears now to my eyes and the modern arrangement of the landscape. Agriculture and building works have greatly changed what was once here. This one is on the Cotswold Way, so actually not to far off the beaten track at all.

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This structure has been excavated a number of times and was restored in the 1930’s to it’s present condition. What you see above is the apparent ‘false entrance’, and there are a number of side chambers and under the false entrance – although skeletal remains have been found during the chamber excavations, some of these have been dated to the bronze age, so in my mind cannot be attributed to it’s building.

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These two chambers are on opposite sides of the barrow.

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Just another in the long line of ancient mysteries left standing today. The adventure continues…

(c) K Wicks

Neolithic Adventures – West Kennet Long Barrow

The ancient trail continued with a visit to West Kennet Long Barrow, we have many strewn about the country and this is one of the better preserved intact ones. Apparently the largest in Britain, measuring approx 100 meters in length – there are two other equally impressive ones not too far away in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire and will feature shortly.

This barrow is high on the hill overlooking Silbury Hill and very close to Avebury stone circle. Not seen from the bottom it is a small hike up the hill but when you reach the brow, the amazing structure comes into view.

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From the front – with myself for a bit of scale.

edited #5

Here you can see the length and where, again, over the years it has been looted and excavated, with a number of skeletons being found in the various chambers. There is no evidence to suggest this was built for burials, although it’s obvious people over the millennia have used this as somewhere to place your dead or the remains of.

edited #3.jpg

There are extremely large internal stones and small chambers (none of which would really fit a full size body by the way), leading into the barrow. This is only a small portion at the front of the structure, most of the rest of it having caved in and has been left covered.

edited 4

But what you can see and get to, gives us an idea of how solid they are and need I say it, built to last. We would have trouble today trying to build something like this at the top of this hill, so it really does beg the question as with all the other sites. Why and how?

The mystery continues…

(c) K Wicks word and photography & M Wicks Photography