Saturday, November 15, 2008


For several days I have been thinking of writing about restoration done to two longbarrows, Wayland's Smithy and West Kennet longbarrows, but inspiration is fickle and facts few. WKLB was restored after the excavation by Atkinson and Piggott in about 1956, and Wayland's Smithy in about 1960, again after excavation by these two archaeologists.
The argument is of course was it right to 'restore' the great sarsen megaliths, and were they restored to their original place. What we see today are tranquil pictures of how the stones may have looked in the past, we have no way of saying this is how it was, and nineteen century antiquarians have also occasionally got it wrong in their restorations.
Some barrows like Pentre Ifan are denuded of their top cover, and though the stones themselves are picturesque, they would not have been exposed when they were built, so sometimes it could be argued we have a false image of what was really happening.
Be that as it may, Wayland's Smithy in 2006 when I took the following photographs was a place of tranquillity and peace, and I spent a long time there, my next visit was to be on a sadder occasion with other people in the rain. Perhaps it is best to capture the Autumn colours of the first occasion.

Old Photo probably taken in the late 1930's, showing the longbarrow before restoration

The stones/peristalith round the barrow

A favourite photo of Moss trying to stare me out of stillness, and get the show on the road.

dappled sun and autumn leaves on the 4 facade stones, there should be 6, one to the far left, and one on the right.

The entrance, not sure of the 'originality' of this entrance

The stones caught in the shade of the beech trees

The back view, notice how neat the mound is.


  1. For years and years I wanted to visit Wayland's Smithy and finally did so just 4 or 5 years ago, travelling home with the family from my b-in-law's in Brightlingsea. Amazing spot, and right beside the Ridgeway where of course it would be very much noticed. Sadly each age thinks they must reinvent the past, either in legend or nowadays, by rebuilding. Look what they did to Newgrange - I am CERTAIN it never looked like that to start with and have my own theories about the small quartz stones brought from the coast, about 40 miles away - and they don't include building them into the fabric of Newgrange either . . .