Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rivers and Tracks

One of the things that keeps cropping up in my blog are rivers and brooks, so as an exercise I went through my photos to see what I could find.
Firstly is the River Kennet in flood one winter, I remember going with Moss and as I waded the water over the bridge, Moss carefully took himself off over the grass at the side, little snails clung to the grass to escape the water and in the swollen river a brown and white spaniel swam in the cold water.
The Solva river (in Pembrokeshire) photo is the path through the wood to Middle Mill where the strength of the water was used for the mill. Middle Mill is a favourite spot of mine, a place I've fancied living in, in the past. At Solva itself there is also another river or stream that runs down to the sea, here one has to climb the Gribin and descend the steep side to follow this small river in its 'drowned valley'.
The next brook is the Wellow that runs at the foot of the valley that the Stoney Littleton longbarrow overlooks. This is a very pretty brook, with its natural flora still intact.
The River Boyd is in Somerset, and travels by Wick Rock, it empties out into the River Avon at Keynsham, and it is at this junction a bronze age barrow is found.
The Bybrook in Wiltshire runs by the Nettleton Shrub Roman Temple, it also is the brook that runs through Castle Combe, one of those pretty Cotswold villages.

The Kennet in flood

Solva River

The Wellow Brook
The quarried rock at Wick, the small River Boyd runs through here. What makes Wick so interesting is the burial chamber about a mile from here, not very far from the river; and the fact that at the quarry, red ochre was also mined in the 19th century.

The River Boyd as it flows through the Golden Valley at Wick

This is the Bybrook, the brook that runs past Nettleton Shrub Roman Temple

The Bybrook running through Castle Combe

The little pack bridge over the Bybrook

Chalk grass flora at Nettleton Shrub

Reading a chapter in Prehistoric Religion and Ritual about double entrance henges, a subject touched upon in Stanton Drew. The idea put forward was that the two opposing entrances were in fact the trackway that lead from one place to another, a bit like a medieval walled city. The track could be old but what had happened over time was that subsequent trackways could have built up around the old ones, giving a 'braided' effect. The author of the article Roy Lovedale had put forward the premise that roman roads were often sited, or at least ran parallel to the course of the Neolithic tracks and had given examples as such.

Putting the theory to the test, my first thought was Stanton Drew and the entrance from the River Chew up through the large circle would come out, drawing a fairly straight line past The Cove, heading towards Chew Magna..... Priddy circles also has entrances running fairly parallel with the Roman road to the north....Whilst Bigbury Gorsey (North/south entrances) is situated very near to a Roman fort and settlement, and of course Cheddar Gorge.

Gorsey Bigbury

Minerals mined by the Romans on the Mendips, centred around Charterhouse, and the 'roman fortlet' to the right of the map. Lead and silver were mined, and there is evidence of smelting in the fort itself, also in the Roman settlement in the Town Field. Whilst there is no evidence of prehistoric mining, there is some evidence to suggest that lead was probably mined in the late Iron Age. Also a coin dated to Julius Caesar, has been found, which might represent an earlier excursion into these regions. A report here outlines the industrial nature of this part of the Mendips. Gorsey Bigbury is centre stage for bronze age barrows, the great Cheddar
Gorge and also Ebbor Gorge are to be found in this area, with of course the caves and swallets.

Interestingly the author in the report makes mention of the need for a lot of water for the extraction of lead, something that is in short supply up on this plateau.

Priddy Circles, with the Roman road going between third and fourth circle.

Two things strike you about Priddy Circles, firstly the roman road which goes on to the fortlet at Charterhouse, the other is of course the bronze age barrows that are very close. The Ashen Barrow group which is at right angles to the circles, whereas the very close Nine Barrow group curve slightly around following the ridge down to head towards the Priddy Circles.







  1. Lovely photos - the Wellow brook reminds me of my Hampshire days - the streams of the chalk downlands and the upper reaches of the Itchen and the Test.

    My river photos tend very much to me "our" river, the Cothi, in various moods . . .

  2. The Cothi sounds familar..when I was a child we were sent on holiday to farms, the Welsh one was near Pumpsaint up in the hills somewhere. Anyway my grandfather used to catch salmon there?, and I used to go fishing for trout with the friendly farm pig...