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Prehistoric Sites in

ENGLAND

by Martin J Powell

Page 3 of 4

 

Click on a picture to see a larger image (all pictures will open in a new window).

 

 

Swastika Stone rock carving, West Yorkshire (Photo: July 1988)

Swastika Stone

Rock Carving

 

County: West Yorkshire

Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: SE 095 470

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

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

Located on Woodhouse Crag, on the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor.

 

The stone has a double outline of a swastika, with ten cups fitting within the five curved arms. The design is similar to art of the Celtic Iron Age period, so the carving is likely to be later than the majority of other carvings on the moor.

 

The figure in the foreground is a 20th century replica; the original carving can be seen a little further away, at the centre-left of the picture.

 

 

Bosiliack round cairn, Cornwall (Photo: June 1991)

Bosiliack

Chambered Tomb

 

County: Cornwall

O.S. Grid Ref: SW 431 342

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

A recently excavated and partially restored Neolithic tomb of the passage-grave type, standing in a field of rough pasture.

 

Part of an excavation trench can still be seen on the monument's eastern side. The chamber and passage face towards the South-east.

 

The site has structural and design similarities to the Neolithic entrance-graves found on the Scilly Isles, some 28 miles (45 km) off the South-western tip of Cornwall.

 

 

White Sheet Hill long barrow, Wiltshire (Photo: November 1996)

White Sheet Hill

a.k.a. Ansty

Long Barrow

 

County: Wiltshire

O.S. Grid Ref: ST 942 242

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

"There are monsters, open to the sky, heavy on their hillsides like slumberous whales, but twice the size, basking in a sea of grass."

 

Although this particular example is not quite a 'monster', archaeologist Aubrey Burl's description of the giant long barrows of Southern England aptly describes the appearance of these numerous Neolithic monuments.

 

Situated beside a long hill-top trackway, the White Sheet Hill barrow is 134 ft (41 m) long, 75 ft (23 m) wide and stands 6 ft (2 m) high at its Eastern end. It is orientated ENE-WSW and has not been excavated.

 

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

Garleigh Moor

Rock Carvings

 

County: Northumberland

O.S. Grid Ref: NZ 055 990

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

On open moorland close to Lordenshaw hill fort (NZ 054 992) are two rocks inscribed with cups, rings and grooves.

 

An extra cup and ring has apparently been added to one of the rocks by a vandal!

 

This is just one of many examples of Bronze Age rock art which can be found carved on natural outcrops across the Northumbrian landscape.

 

 

Weetwood Moor round cairn, Northumberland (Photo: July 1989)

Weetwood Moor Cairn

a.k.a. Weetwood Cairn

Round Cairn

 

County: Northumberland

O.S. Grid Ref: NU 021 282

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This cairn was saved from total destruction in 1982, although by the time it was excavated, three-quarters of it had already been damaged by bulldozing. The present appearance of the site - including the cairn's oval shape - is the result of restoration, much of which is conjectural.

 

The cairn's most outstanding feature is its kerbstone which has four concentric circles and three radial grooves carved into it. Although the carving is now clearly visible to passers-by, it would originally have faced inward; the inference being that the decoration was intended for the dead and not for the living. Such 'hidden decoration' has been found at numerous prehistoric sites in Britain and Ireland, where it has usually been assumed to have a ritual significance.

 

Numerous cobbles were also found in the mound's structure which had been carved with cups and grooves, their carved sides mostly facing downward.

 

Intriguingly, the Weetwood Cairn excavation found no signs of burial or cremation.

 

The Long Stone, Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire (Photo: September 1990)

The Long Stone

Standing Stone

 

County: Gloucestershire

O.S. Grid Ref: ST 884 999

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

In a field beside the village of Minchinhampton is a weathered block of stone with two large holes through it. It is 8 ft (2.5 m) high and is orientated SE-NW. Together with a smaller stone 33 ft (10 m) away which forms a stile in the wall, they may be the surviving remnants of a portal dolmen.

 

It is said that superstitious mothers once passed their babies through the stone holes in the hope of preventing rickets.

 

 

 

The Tinglestone long barrow, Gloucestershire (Photo: September 1990)

The Tinglestone

Long Barrow

 

County: Gloucestershire

O.S. Grid Ref: ST 882 990

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Sheep graze contentedly around this well-preserved barrow, which is 131 ft (40 m) long and covered with beech trees.

 

At the Northern end is an upright slab of oolite called The Tinglestone which is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall, orientated North-South.

 

 

 

 

 

Barbrook I stone circle, Derbyshire (Photo: July 1988)

Barbrook I

Stone Circle

 

County: Derbyshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SK 278 755

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This is the southernmost of three stone circles on Big Moor, South-west of Sheffield. It is classed as an embanked stone circle and it contains thirteen stones. It measures 48 ft (14.6 m) by 39 ft (12 m) and is flattened on its South-western side.

 

The noted archaeo-astronomer Professor Alexander Thom labelled it a Type B Flattened Circle under his stone circle shape classification scheme, and suggested that a low-standing outlying stone to the WNW may have been aligned upon the rising of the star Spica in the Bronze Age around 2000 BC.

 

There were no finds during a scant excavation in the 1930s. The more ruinous Barbrook II stone circle lies 900 ft (275 m) to the North (SK 277 758).

Lanhill chambered tomb, Wiltshire (Photo: September 1990)

Lanhill

Chambered Long Barrow

 

County: Wiltshire

O.S. Grid Ref: ST 877 747

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Located in a field just South of the main A420 road between Bristol and Chippenham, this much mutilated long barrow of the Severn-Cotswold group measures about 183 ft (56 m) long by 88 ft (27 m) wide and is orientated East-West.

 

There were originally at least three chambers within the mound; the one pictured is the Southern chamber, which has been partly restored. The roof was originally corbelled and cairn material was found blocking the entrance passage. Eleven burials were found in this chamber.

 

The barrow was excavated in 1909, at which time the false portal at the East was removed, and also in 1936, when one of the Northern chambers was discovered. Both Northern chambers are now destroyed.

 

Swinside (Keswick Carles) stone circle, Cumbria (Photo: July 1989)

Swinside

a.k.a. Sunkenkirk

Stone Circle

 

County: Cumbria

O.S. Grid Ref: SD 171 881

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Satellite Photo (Google Maps)

This is one of several impressive stone circles in the picturesque Lake District of North-western England. This particular ring is 94 ft (28.7 m) in diameter and comprises 52 closely-set stones.

 

Two outlying portal stones form an 'entrance' 9 ft (2.7 m) wide at the South-east, which Alexander Thom believed was aligned on the rising of the midwinter sun over a nearby hill during the Bronze Age.

 

Fragments of charcoal and burnt bone were the only findings during an exacavation in 1901.

Arthur's Stone chambered cairn, Dorstone, Herefordshire (Photo: May 1991)

 

Arthur's Stone chambered cairn and passage, Dorstone, Herefordshire

Arthur's Stone, Dorstone

Chambered Cairn (Burial Chamber)

 

County: Herefordshire

O.S. Grid Ref: SO 319 431

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This Neolithic tomb is situated on the western ridge of Merbach Hill, about a mile (1.6 km) North of the village of Dorstone.

 

The capstone - of Old Red Sandstone - is polygonal ('kite-shaped') in plan and measures about 19 ft (5.8 m) long by 10 ft (3 m) wide. It is estimated to weigh around 25 tonnes. The layout of the nine tomb uprights neatly follows the outline of the covering capstone, which suggests that the capstone's shape was used as a template for the design of the main chamber.

 

The entrance passage, some 20 ft (6 m) long by 4 ft (1.3 m) wide, approaches the chamber from the West then bends Southwards through a severe 80 angle before reaching the chamber, which is partly blocked by a portal stone.

 

The size and shape of the original cairn has been the subject of much debate over the years. The present appearance of the surrounding low-lying mound would suggest an oval cairn about 85 ft (26 m) long by 55 ft (17 m) wide, orientated North-South. However, an archaeological evaluation of the site undertaken in 2006 strongly suggests that the cairn was originally trapezoidal in plan, the cairn having extended Northward from the chamber across Arthur's Stone Lane and into the adjacent field.

 

About 13 ft (4 m) South of the chamber is an upright sandstone slab, known as the Quoit Stone, which reportedly has twelve large but shallow cup-marks (man-made circular depressions) on its Northern side. It has recently been suggested that this slab may have formed part of a false portal (blind entrance) occupying the Southern end of the cairn - in which case, it seems the cupmarks were intentionally hidden from view.

 

In having a trapezoidal cairn and a false portal, the design of this cairn would therefore echo those of the Black Mountains group of terminally-chambered long cairns situated across the Welsh border to the South-west of the site (see for example Penywyrlod (Talgarth) and Ffostill North).

 

The tomb's name derives from a local legend which says that it is the burial place of King Arthur or that of a king or a giant of whom he killed.

Copyright Martin J Powell  2001-8

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

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Prehistoric

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Second Edition

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Timothy C. Darvill

Mysterious

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Janusz Meyerhoff

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Circles

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Colin Richards

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The Prehistoric

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Andrew Johnstone

Prehistoric

Rock Art in the

North Yorkshire

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Paul Brown &

Graeme Chappell

Cult, Religion

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Archaeological Investigations at ... Thornborough,

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Jan Harding

The Lake

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Neil McDonald

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