Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire

 64 Churchill Plain 65 Crawley Barrow 66 Hoar Stone, Enstone 123 Hoar Stone, Langley 120 Hoar Stone, Steeple Barton 67 Lyneham Barrow 68 Slatepits Copse 69 The Whispering Knights

Oxfordshire is in Section 2 Long Barrows.

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 64 Churchill Plain

Churchill Plain Long Barrow [Map]

Oxfordshire, 25 N.E. Parish of Wychwood. 64a.

Latitude 51° 50' 55" Longitude 1° 31' 07". Height above O.D. a little over 500 feet.

I am indebted to Mr. E. Thurlow Leeds, F.S.A., for most of the following information. I have not seen the barrow yet.

The barrow is described as being on the north side of Chui chill Plain ('plain' here being used in its original sense of an open tract in wooded country). This open glade between Wort's Well and the first capital 'C' in Churchill Copse. The barrow is on the south side of the mam S.W.-N.E ride, about 300 yards N.W. of Wort's Well. In N.O.A.S. it is described as folbws "Before reaching the spot [Mr. Pretty] had to ascend a high ban , and on arrival at its summit he found ... a square slightly intrenched work, measuring 6o feet on each side, the ditch being 3 eet wi e. At the edge of the intrenched work, looking over the valley, he found a platform, about 3 feet in height, which had apparently been used as a stone altar. In the opposite direction he came to a long barrow, which was as perfect as if it had been in a gentleman s garden, pre- served for a place of rest. This long barrow was 73 feet in length and 38 feet in width across." It has since been disturbed. It is about a quarter of a mile from the Slatepits Copse Long Barrow [No. 68].

N.O.A.S., Feb. 9th, 1857, p. 4.

Dryden Manuscripts, Northampton Museum, (1858).

P. Manning MSS., Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 65 Crawley Barrow

Crawley Long Barrow [Map]

Oxfordshire, 31 N.E. Parish of Crawley. 65*.

Latitude 51"47' 56". Longitude 1° 30' 40". Height above O.D. about 310 feet.

"About half-way between the high road from Witney to Burford and the village of Crawley, on the west side of the lane leading into the village, are the remains of what was once a barrow of considerable dimensions. It is of the class termed by antiquaries Long Barrows. A considerable portion (nearly one half) was removed some years ago, when several skeletons were laid bare, but no relics of any kind were discovered. On measuring the remaining portion, it was found to be 107 feet long by 83 feet wide."

Excavated by Akerman with two men for one day. Three skeletons found lying east and west. "At the waist of one of them was a small bronze buckle, less than an inch in diameter, to which some decayed substance resembling leather, still adhered . It was probably the fastening of a girdle. [This object is now in the Ashmolean Museum]. Not a vestige of any other relic was observed, nor could I learn that anything had been found previously. I am disposed to ascribe this and similar barrows to the Later Romano-British period."

These burials found by Akerman were clearly secondary interments of the Saxon period ; similar secondary interments were found in the Lyneham barrow. There is no reason to doubt that this is a genuine Long Barrow.

Arch, XXXVII, p. 432. (Quoted above).

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 66 Hoar Stone

Hoar Stone, Enstone [Map]

Oxfordshire, 21 N.W. Parish of Enstone. 66*.

Latitude 51° 54' 38". Longitude 1° 27' 02'. Height above O.D. 537 feet.

The following account is given by Sir Henry Dryden (1897-8):- "This is seven miles S.E. from Rollrich. It is on elevated ground about a quarter of a mile S. of Enstone village at the crossing of the road between Tew and Charlbury with the road between Norton and Ditchley. ... The dolmen is in a ruinous state. It consists of six stones, three standing and three prostrate." He gives the following dimensions:-

South stone, height, 9 ft. (5 ft. 5 ins. by 3 ft. 4 ins.)

2. West stone, 4 ft. 10 ins. (4 ft. 10 ins. by 4 ft.)

3. North stone ,, 3 ft. 3 ins. (but it was found to be 1 ft. in the earth, making its real height, 4 ft. 3 ins).

"These three bounded a chamber of about 5 ft. by 3 ft. 6 ins. The next stone on the E. (5) now prostrate, was no doubt a side stone, 5 ft. 2 ins. wide. Farther E. is a prostrate stone (6) 7 ft. 4 ins. by 4 ft., formerly iioris'ht It is probable that the chamber had two stones forming the north side, two forming the south side, and one at each end, or possibly with the E. end walled up with smaller stones. To the N. of these stones, at 5 feet distance, a prostrate stone (7) 8 ft. 6 ins. by 8 ft. 6 ins., but of an irregular form and about 3 ft. thick, which was almost certainly a capstone, but has had a piece broken off it. . It is almost certain that the entrance was, as usual, at the E. A small excavation was made between the three prostrate stones from whlch fragments of pottery, apparently Roman, were obtained .... It is probable that the dolmens at Rollrich and Enstone had entrance passages of at least 7 or 8 feet long decreasing in height and width towards the end. Assuming them to have been covered, the mounds were not less than 13 feet high in the middle and 40 feet in diameter."

The writer in the Gent's. Mag. contributes the following interesting note as to the presence of a mound "This ancient relick is situated upon [sic] a mound of earth apparently artificial, raised about 3 feet above the surface of the field ; and of the two other stones that supported the cromlech, which are lying down at a short distance from it, one is partly buried under the soil."

It was visited October 19th, 1922. The monument stands in a dense thicket of hollies, in the angle between the road from Enstone to Taston (on the N.W.) and that from Enstone to Fulwell and Ditchley (on the E.) The whole monument is surrounded by a low modern wall, and though the tallest stone (No. i) is only 9 yards from the middle of the road on the east, it is practically invisible to passers by. Stone No. I is being overgrown with ivy which should be destroyed. The measurements which I took are given for the sake of comparison with those of Sir Henry Dryden, whose figures are more likely to represent the true dimensions, as they were taken before the present overgrowth of vegetation. (My measurements of stones i and 2 are, however, worth recording for other reasons):- Stone i: Height, 9 ft. ; thickness, 4 ft. Stone 2: leans forward, i.e. eastward, and rests against stones i and 3 ; vertical height from top to ground below it, 4 ft. 6 ins ; length (i.e. original height), 8 ft. Stone 3: height, 3 ft. The space between stones I, 2 and 3, that is to say, the burial chamber itself, is piled with rubbish to a depth of two or three feet. There is no record of any excavation in this space, and while it seems unlikely that excavation or rifling should not have taken place there, it might be worth while clearing the area.

The monument is (after the Whispering Knights) the most per- fect of its kind in the county and well deserves attention. The whole area should be cleared of all trees and vegetation ; the ivy should be exterminated ; the partially covered, fallen stones should be uncovered, and the original surface level laid bare. Expert advice should be taken as to the condition of stones i and 2 which appear to be in danger of falling. No action of any sort, however, should be taken without expert advice, preferably that of H.M. Inspector of Ancient Monuments at the Office of Works.

R. Plot. Nat. Hist, of Oxfordshire, 1705, p. 351.

Gough's Camden, 1789, i., 294.

Hearne's Collections (Oxf. Hist. Soc.) VIII., 269.

Gent's Mag., XCIV, 1824, 125 (woodcut, reproduced above).

J. Beesley. History of Banbury, 1841, 7-8.

W. C. Lukis. Bircham Barrows, 1843, 12.

Arch., XXXVII., 433; XLII., 202.

Oxfordshire Archaeological Society, Trans., 1899, 47-49. (Sir Henry Dryden).

Lukis Collection (MSS), Lukis Museum, Guernsey (Dryden's Plan, scale -ff).

Wilts. Arch. Soc.'s Library, Devizes. Book of drawings and prints of megalithic monuments ; catalogued N. fol. 72. Pen and ink sketches before the wood was planted.

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 123 Hoar Stone

Langley, Oxfordshire [Map]


Oxfordshire, 25 N.W. Parish of Langley. 123 .

Latitude 51° so' 44". Longitude 1"33 ' 22". Height above O.D. 598 feet.

Sir Arthur Evans thus describes this stone: The Hoar Stone is not, as its name would seem to imply, a solitary block. It has another smaller one by its side, and in an old drawing preserved by Gough (in the Bodleian Library) a third is seen at right angles to this. It stands, or stood, by the remains of a mound, and was obviously a dolmen like the ' Whispering Knights.'" According to Akerman in 1858 it was "cracked in several places and doubtless doomed to perish. He shows it on his map as lying between Priest Grove arid Farfield Corner, but I have doubts about the position given above being accurate.

Akerman's foreboding has proved only too true. There are no signs of the stone by the side of the road. Site visited October 24th, 1922.

Arch. XXXVII., 430, note 2. (J. Y. Akerman).

Folklore, VI., 1895, 10. (Sir Arthur Evans).

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 120 Hoar Stone

Hoar Stone, Steeple Barton [Map]

Oxfordshire, 22 N.W. Parish of Steeple Barton. 120.

Latitude 51° 55' 08". Longitude 1° 19' 29'. Height above O.D. about 420 feet.

Mr. E. Thurlow Leeds, M.A., F.S.A., contributes the following note:- According to Wing, a monument called the Hoar Stone, originally consisting of ' two side-pieces and a lintel,' was destroyed at the end of the year 1843 ; but by order of the proprietor, Henry Hall, the pieces were collected and piled on the spot occupied by the monurnent. It stood on land belonging to Mr. Hall of Barton Abbey, Oxfordshire.

This account was verified by a visit (October 19th, 1922) which showed that the monument had been the remains of a chambered Long Barrow. The mound is still clearly visible, and was at least 50 feet long. At the eastern end is the pile of broken stones referred to by Wing. They are a reddish sandstone quite unlike the oolitic stone of which the more westerly Long Barrows are formed. The monument stands on high ground in a park and is under permanent grass. It would appear to be the most easterly megalithic structure in Southern England, ex- cepting the Kentish group. There are two pine trees growing on the mound.

W. Wing. Antiquities of Steeple Aston, 1845, 2.

A.J. VI., 290.

History of Enstone, by the Rev. J. Jordan (1857).

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 67 Lyneham Barrow

Lyneham Long Barrow [Map]

Oxfordshire, 20 S.W. Parish of Lyneham. 67*.

Latitude 51° 53' 13". Longitude 1° 34' 04". Height above O.D. 610 feet.


The barrow is between 160 and 170 feet long and stands in two fields on the west side of the Chipping Norton and Burford main road (an ancient ridgeway). It is only a few yards from the road. A hedge and wall pass across the barrow from west to east. In the northern field, at the N.E. end of the barrow, stands a single upright stone, 6 feet high, 5 feet broad and i foot 6 inches thick. This stone is stated to be buried three feet deep in the ground, and its height is given by Conder as 10 feet 6 inches. When visited October 18th, 1922, a large piece of the top had been broken off, but replaced in position. This damage had evidently been done quite recently, probably during the summer of 1922. It has now been cemented in by Mr. Passmore. The long axis of the stone is east and west, and it probably originally formed part of a burial-chamber or portal. The barrow has been opened at several points, and remains of uprights are visible. The south end is the narrowest. There are no signs of a surrounding wall. The land on which it stands belongs - or belonged - to the Earl of Ducie. It is oriented N.N.E. and S.S.W.

It was excavated by Edward Conder, Junior, and Lord Moreton in 1894. The following summary of the results, based on the account published in Proc. Soc. Ant., is contributed by Mr. E. Thurlow Leeds, M.A., F.S.A. "There were found (i) a chamber at right angles to the long axis of the barrow ; on the south-eastern side of the barrow were two uprights, 4 feet 2 inches by 2 feet 10 inches, and i foot 9 inches by 2 feet 8 inches. At the north-western end of the chamber were two uprights, set with their long faces [edges ?] abutting. On the surface-line at the level of the base of the barrow were traces of paving and fragments of bone, pottery and charcoal. (2) Chamber, a little south of the south-east corner of No. i, slightly above the ground level. It was formed of three uprights, on the north, east and west sides respectively, and a paving slab with a perforation 4 inches in diameter. At the north- eastern end of the barrow was a ridge of large ' rug ' stones up to 8 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 2-| feet thick, terminating in a standing stone [that already described above and still standing] 10 feet 6 inches high, 5 feet Q inches wide and between 13 nnd 18 inches thick, buried 3 f®®^ below ground level. At the south west end was a standing-stone, 4I feet by 3 feet by ii inches thick, in a horizontal position lying east and west, 2 feet below the surface. At various points were found skulls and human and animal bones and hearths, with no indications of date, and (as secondary interments) two Saxon graves."

In the North field, in which the standing stone is situated, and about 100 yards due north of it, is another long mound which appears to be a Long Barrow. It is 30 paces long and highest and broadest at the northern end. It is very stony. Not far from it, between it and the stone, is an old quarry, covered with a dense thorny scrub, into which many mossy stones have been pitched, the remains, doubtless, of one or both barrows and their chambers.

Proc. Soc, Ant., London, 2 S., xv., 1895, pp. 404-410. (Plan 1:192 and sections).

R. Plot. Nat. Hist, of Oxfordshire, 1705, 343.

Gough's Camden, I., 294.

V.C.H., Oxfordshire, n., 344.

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 68 Slatepits Copse

Slatepits Copse Long Barrow [Map]

Oxfordshire, 25 N.E. Parish of Wychwood. 68*.

Latitude 51° 50' 44" Longitude 1° 31' 20" Height above O.D. a little over 500 feet.

The site of this Long Barrow was located on the map by me on October 24th, 1922. It lies in Slatepits Copse, in the S.E. quadrant, 66 paces E. of the main north and south ride, measured eastwards from a point in that ride 240 paces south of the inter-section of all four. It is 97 feet long (by tape) and about 6 feet high (by estimation), oriented approximately east and west. At the east end are three large stones No. I is 3 ft. 10 ins. high, 6 ft. 8 ins. wide and 8 ft. thick; No. 2 is 3 ft. 10 ins. high (sloping measurement) but actually the top is 2 ft. 9ins. from the ground measured vertically ; it is 6 ft. 6 ins. wide and about a foot or more thick. No. 3 is partially covered by moss and grass, but it appears to be about 4 ft. 7 ins. wide and is certainly as much as 3 ft. 6 ins. wide. It is still standing upright, but may have been broken off. No. 2 leans eastward, and is either a fallen lintel or the closing stone at the west end of a chamber, whose other stones are represented by Nos. I and 3. Nos. i and 3 are 4 ft. 10 ins. apart. The mound stands in a clearing in the wood and has small spindle bushes and bracken and a single oak tree growing on it. It has been dug into at a point immediately west of the chamber but not apparently to any depth, or elsewhere. It is well worth careful protecting. There are no signs of ditches. There is much black earth south of the west end. In N.O.A.S. it is said that three skulls were found in the chamber by the keeper who first discovered it. A rough plan with notes by the Rev. Charles Overy is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

V.C.H. Oxfordshire, ii., 344.

Arch., XXXVII., 1857, 433.

N.O.A.S., Feb. 9th, 1857, p. 4.

Books, Prehistory, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, Section 2 Long Barrows, Oxfordshire, 69 The Whispering Knights

Whispering Knights Burial Chamber [Map]

Oxfordshire, 14 N.W. Parish of Little Rollright. 69*.

Latitude 51° 58' 30". Longitude 1° 33' 52". Height above O.D. about 730 feet.

Stukeley in 1746 described the monument as follows:- "'Tis composed of six stones, one broader for the back part, two and two narrower for the sides, set square to the former ; and above all, as a cover, a still larger. The opening is full west, to the temple or Rowldrich. It stands on a round tumulus, and has a fine prospect south-westward down the valley, where the head of the Evenlode runs."

Sir Henry Dryden in 1897-8 described it as follows:- "About 356 yards E. from the [Rollrich] circle and S. of the road, is the dolmen about to be described, called ' The Five Whispering Knights,' It is in a ruinous state. It now consists ot tour stones, upright, or nearly so, and one prostrate, all of coarse limestone. He gives the following dimensions:-

(1) Height, 8 ft. 3 ins. (4 ft. by 2 ft. 6 ins.)

(2) Height 7 ft. 3 ins. (3 ft, 6 ins, by i ft. 10 ins.)

(3) Height 6 ft. 7 ins. (3 ft. 8 ins. by i ft. 4 ins.)

(4) Height 5 ft. 4 ins. (4 ft. 9 ins. by 2 ft.) Leaning.

(5) Capstone (then fallen) 8 ft. 4 ins. by 5 ft. 9 ins., by 2 ft. 4 ins.

"The chamber appears to have been about 5 feet 6 inches W. and E., and the same N. and S. If, as usual, there was an entrance, with or without a passage, it was probably to the E.N.E, . . There is not, so far as I know, any record of remains having been found in this dolmen. In a small stone pit about 700 feet N.E. by E. from the circle it is stated that 12 skulls were found in 1835. In another stone pit near it was found in 1836 an urn and beads, now in the Museum at Warwick, and at about 3 feet off was found a skeleton with which was a ring."

Five stones are now visible. The whole monument is surrounded by an iron railing and is under the protection of the Ancient Monuments Board. It is clearly a burial-chamber, but whether Stukeley was correct in assuming the covering mound to have been round is very doubtful. He is wrong in describing the stones as standing or the mound. They are clearly fixed in the natural surface of the earth, as may also be seen from his illustration, made when the mound was still visible. The field in which they stand was enclosed in Stukeley 's time, and the mound, from long cultivation, has now almost completely disappeared.

R. Plot. Nat. Hist, of Oxfordshire Plate xvi. (View).

W. Stukeley, Abury, 1746, 13.

Folklore, VL, 1895, pp. i seq. (Sir Arthur Evans).

Report of the Oxfordshire Archaeological Society for 1897-8. (Banbury, 1899), pp. 46-7. (Plan by Sir Henry Dryden; original, or a copy, in the Lukis Collection, Lukis Museum, Guernsey).