Saturday, August 2, 2008

Stoney Littleton Longbarrow

This barrow situated not too far from Bath is approached along a small winding lane from Wellow, this time of the year nettles and brambles crowd into the narrow space, and it is a bit like driving down a narrow cool corridor with the dappled shade of the trees overhead.
Parking at the little parking space, you go over a small bridge that spans the Wellow Brook,the green weeds in the water stretch and swirl with the current.

Up into the steep sided fields that are normally full of sheep. Moss bounds ahead, freedom at last, though he is good around sheep and will walk sedately past them. We climb the hill in the hot sun, brown butterflies dance around purple thistle flowers. Through the gate, across the stony surface of the barrow's field, this year the farmer has sown wheat golden in the sun ready for harvest. We follow the path, to the place where Moss has to be lifted over the stile into the enclosure that protects the barrow.

It is such a tranquil spot, the fields stretch all around, and I try to envisage it painted as those painters who lived here years ago, and it is so, a toy landscape neatly defined by hedges and fields, trees that form cloud shapes of green. Overhead the sky is as blue as blue can be, scattered white fluffy clouds adding to the 'picturesque' - Little England in full glory.
The barrow itself, a great hump of untidy yellowing grass with ragwort adding a bright note of yellow to the green. Sit quietly, listen to the noise of the wind through the grasses, here dry and crisp on the barrow, with a low moan as it buffets round the corner. The green grass at your feet has a softer tone, and the wheat rustles its seed heads in anticipation of its final end as bread. Grasshoppers chirrup amongst the grasses, dead brown clover heads amongst the still living pink heads, and a scabious echoes the sky.

Death was once here but not today, the cool interior of the barrow, is highlighted by my camera flash, the stones forever stuck out of sight of the sun, elegantly shaped to form the chambers, a small natural prehistoric cathedral amongst the cultivated land that feeds us, nothing has really changed about us humans, we all still need the food of the earth, nourished as it were by the ashes of the dead.
That of course is not quite true, for once a year around the 21st December, the sun is supposed to enter the chamber and touch the back stone, there is, according to something I have read, a notch on the ridge above but at this time of year with everything in full growth nothing is discernable, though I did notice a slight dip in the land....



St.Julian Church from the back;
This church is late and very much 'restored' but its name is interesting, and harks back to earlier saints with the name of Julian, which one I do not know, for there are several all with their stories, maybe it goes back to the Welsh Julian but who knows. No grave yard, just untidy unmown grass surrounds it. It stands high above the ground, and I have read in a history of Wellow, that it may date back to Saxon. On the oppposite hill to the Stoney Littleton barrow is a Roman villa, and there may be a very tenuous connection between the church and the roman period.

Wellow village with Fox and Badger pub;
Wellow is a charming village with pretty cottages, and probably the prices that go with them. A linear village, though modern encroaches from the Bath road, the Wellow Brook runs lower down to the right of the photo, and is crossed by a ford, in fact if you cross the ford and then take the right hand farm track further up the hill, you will eventually walk to the back of the barrow, though far away, it is the only way you can get a clear photo of the barrow in its position on the hill.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, greetings from Ireland...
    I have placed a number of photos which I recently took in this area,one in particular which looks like a very large smelter...I would very much appreciate if you would comment or offer some advice on what you might think it
    Thanks in advance