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Prehistoric Sites in

ENGLAND

by Martin J Powell

Page 1 of 4

 

Click on a thumbnail to see a full-size picture (all pictures will open in a new window). The Ordnance Survey Map links (O.S. Map) point to the 1:25,000 scale map of the region (equivalent to the O. S. Pathfinder Series of printed maps), as displayed at Streetmap.co.uk.

 

 

Nine Ladies stone circle, Derbyshire (Photo: July 1988)

Nine Ladies

Stone Circle

 

County: Derbyshire

Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: SK 249 635

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Located in a forest clearing on Stanton Moor to the North-east of Birchover, this stone circle is 33 ft (10 m) in diameter and comprises nine stones, none of which stand taller than 3 ft (1 m).

 

Nine Ladies is classed as an embanked stone circle, i.e. it has a circular bank of rubble surrounding the stones, although this is barely visible today. There are entrances to the circle (and through the bank) at the North-east and South-west. There was once a cairn at its centre, and in more recent times an unsightly wall was built around the circle; fortunately this was removed during the 1980s.

 

Some 98 ft (30 m) to the South-west of the circle is an outlying stone (an outlier) called the King Stone, which is 2 ft (0.6 m) high.

 

Wayland's Smithy chambered long cairn, Oxfordshire (Photo: August 1990)

Wayland's Smithy

Chambered Cairn

 

County: Oxfordshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SU 281 854

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Satellite Photo (Google Maps)

This monumental Neolithic (New Stone Age) tomb is situated beside the ancient Ridgeway Path. The long cairn is trapezoid in shape, orientated SSE-NNW, and measures 180 ft (55 m) long by 47½ ft (14.5 m) at its widest end. There are four (originally six) large sarsen stones forming a façade at the SSE end, which stand 10 ft (3 m) tall. Behind the facade is a passageway some 19½ ft (6 m) long which leads to a cruciform-shaped series of chambers.

 

Excavation in 1919, and again in 1962-3, revealed the bones of eight people. The original monument was simply a wooden mortuary structure surrounded by an oval cairn.

 

Weetwood Moor rock carvings, Northumberland (Photo: July 1989)

Weetwood Moor

Rock Carvings

 

County: Northumberland

O.S. Grid Ref: NU 021 282

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Carved into a flat sandstone outcrop on open moorland 1.8 miles (3 km) East of Wooler are six groups of concentric circles. One pair of circles has a long, wavy groove connecting them. The largest circle measures 2 ft (0.6 m) across.

 

Many hundreds of carvings of this type - often called cup-and-ring marks - can be found scattered across the British countryside, more commonly in Northern Britain. Northumberland alone has over 950 examples of prehistoric rock art.

 

The meaning of these carvings - which are believed to date from the Bronze Age - has not been determined, though many theories have been put forward. One author listed no less than 104 possible explanations for them, including decorations, burial markers, route markers, blood sacrifice containers, copper/gold prospector marks, sex symbols, maps of the countryside, adder lairs, star maps and even messages from outer space!

 

Lanyon Quoit dolmen, Cornwall (Photo: June 1991)

Lanyon Quoit

Chambered Cairn

 

County: Cornwall

O.S. Grid Ref: SW 430 337

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Also known as The Giant's Quoit or The Giant's Table, the capstone of this restored tomb is 18 ft (5.6 m) long.

 

The tomb collapsed during a storm in 1815 and nine years later it was re-erected. The uprights are 8 ft (2.5 m) tall, however the original height would have been greater had it not been for the fact that one of the stones broke during the course of the reconstruction. The current layout of the chamber therefore cannot be relied upon. The surrounding cairn has been heavily robbed and measures 88 ft (27 m) long by 39 ft (12 m) wide.

 

A disused tin mine - frequently found across the Cornish peninsula - can be seen in the distance.

 

Old Bewick cup-and-ring marked stone, Northumberland (Photo: July 1989)

Old Bewick

Rock Carving

 

County: Northumberland

O.S. Grid Ref: NU 078 216

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

1:25,000 Map (O.S. Map excerpt)

It was at this location - in the 1820s - that the study of prehistoric rock carvings began in Britain.

 

Close to a field boundary about 0.6 mile (1 km) East of Old Bewick hamlet is a tall, squarish block of rock decorated with a large series of circular hollows (cup-marks) with surrounding rings and connecting grooves (cup-and-ring marks).

 

Several rocks in the vicinity display similar forms of rock art.

 

Five Wells burial chamber, Derbyshire (Photo: July 1988)

Five Wells

Burial Chamber

 

County: Derbyshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SK 124 710

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Located 1.2 miles (2 km) West of Taddington village - in the heart of the Peak District - this chamber is one of a pair which are positioned back to back and contained within a circular, much robbed cairn. The chamber pictured is the better preserved Eastern chamber, which has two portal stones at its entrance.

 

The skeletal remains of 17 people were found in the chambers during excavation in 1846, together with Neolithic-style pottery, arrowheads and a flint knife.

 

 

 

Lambourn Seven barrows cemetery, Berkshire (Photo: August 1990)

Lambourn Seven Barrows

Round Barrow Cemetery

 

County: Berkshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SU 328 828

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Satellite Photo (Google Maps)

An impressive linear cemetery of well preserved Bronze Age round barrows of various types. The site probably originally comprised around 35 barrows. Bell, bowl, disc and saucer barrows are all represented, and also two twin barrows.

 

The two main rows of tumuli are aligned approximately ESE-WNW and SE-NW.

 

The picture was taken from the top of one of the mounds.

 

 

 

Whispering Knights burial chamber, Oxfordshire (Photo: May 1989)

Another view of the Whispering Knights burial chamber (Photo: May 1989)

Whispering Knights

Burial Chamber

 

County: Oxfordshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SP 299 308

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

One-and-a-half miles (2½ km) West of Great Rollright village, enclosed within an ugly iron railing, are the crude remains of the Whispering Knights burial chamber. It has four upright stones which stand between 5 ft (1.5 m) and 8 ft (2.5 m) tall, and a fallen capstone. The chamber is thought to date from the early Neolithic period, around 4100 BC.

 

A written reference from the eighteenth-century states that the stones were then surrounded by a round barrow, but there is no trace of this today.

 

Some 1180 ft (360 m) to the WNW of the Knights - and dating from a much later period - is the famous Rollright Stones stone circle, also known as the King's Men (SP 296 308; see satellite photo). It is 103½ ft (31.6 m) in diameter and comprises 77 knarled stones arranged in a near-perfect circle.

 

The King Stone (SP 296 309) is a crooked monolith positioned some 240 ft (73 m) to the North-east of the stone circle; it is in fact sited in the neighbouring county of Warwickshire. The stone is 8 ft (2.5 m) tall and 5 ft (1.5 m) wide and, like the Knights, is surrounded by railings. The monolith is thought to have served as a marker-stone for a cairn cemetery which dates from the Early Bronze Age.

Zennor Quoit chambered tomb, Cornwall (Photo: June 1991)

Zennor Quoit

Chambered Cairn

 

County: Cornwall

O.S. Grid Ref: SW 469 380

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Located on the Amalveor Downs plateau near Zennor village, this imposing structure has a massive capstone 18 ft (5.5 m) long.

 

Two giant portal slabs restrict the entrance to an antechamber whilst access to the main chamber is only possible through a narrow gap at the South-western corner. The rear supporting  upright has fallen inwards causing the capstone to slide backwards and sideways.

 

Excavation revealed cremated bones, flint and Neolithic-style pottery.

 

According to a local legend, should the stones of this chamber ever be removed, they will return of their own accord!

 

Hurston Ridge stone row, Dartmoor (Photo: August 1987)

Hurston Ridge

a.k.a. Water Hill or Watern Hill

Stone Row

 

County: Devon

O.S. Grid Ref: SX 673 825

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This is one of many Bronze Age stone rows to be found in Dartmoor National Park. This double-row is situated on Chagford Common and measures 472 ft (144 m) long by 6 ft (1.8 m) wide, orientated NNE-SSW. Most of the 99 stones stand less than 6 in (15 cm) high.

 

The function of these rows is not known, although the majority are associated with burials (due to their proximity to cairns or stone circles) and they may have served as processional ways during ritual activity.

 

Some of the stones in this particular row are paired as flat-topped and triangular stones, leading to the suggestion that they might have held a male-female symbolism. A prehistoric field boundary, known as a reave, cuts through the row - presumably the reave was constructed at a later date.

Badbury Rings hillfort, Dorset (Photo: June 1991)

Badbury Rings

Hillfort

 

County: Dorset

O.S. Grid Ref: ST 964 030

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Satellite Photo (Google Maps)

An afternoon rainbow frames the tree-topped hillfort of Badbury Rings, about 1 mile (1.6 kms) Northeast of the village of Shapwick. The fort is believed to date from the Iron Age period in Britain (ca. 800 BC - 50 AD). Oval in plan, the fort covers an area of about 7.2 ha (18 acres) and is surrounded by three concentric ditches and ramparts. The two inner ditches survive to a depth of about 20 ft (6 m); the outermost is much less substantial. The site has not been excavated.

The fort has two entrances - at the East and West - the Eastern one having an inturned entrance, the Western having a rectangular enclosure projecting from the middle rampart. Just outside the Eastern entrance are three Bronze Age round barrows, which are known locally as the 'Three Kings'.

Two later Roman roads pass close to the fort; indeed, a section of the Ackling Dyke impinges on its northwestern edge.

The fort is one of several identified as Mount Badon or Badon Hill, where King Arthur is said to have defeated the Saxons around 518 AD. A local legend says that he lives on as a raven in the wood.

Copyright  Martin J Powell  2001-10

Prehistoric Sites in England (Page 2 of 4) >>

 

Ancient

Britain

(Historical Map

and Guide)

Ordnance Survey

Magic

Stones:

The Secret World of

Ancient Megaliths

Jan Pohribny

Walking

Through

The Past:

Dartmoor

Alasdair Shaw

Cornovia:

Ancient Sites of

Cornwall & Scilly,

4000BC to 1000AD

Craig Weatherhill

Starr Carr

Life in Britain

After the Ice Age

(Archaeology For All)

Nicky Milner,

Barry Taylor

& Chantal Conneller

Northumberland's

Hidden History

Stan Beckensall

West Kennet

Long Barrow

Landscape,

Shamans

and the Cosmos

Peter Knight

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