Books, Prehistory, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Number 137 Article 5
1921 to 1922. Notes on Field-Work In N. Wilts, 1921—1922. By A. D. Passmore.
O.M. Sheet XXXV. N.W. Parish of Bishop's Cannings. Horton Down. Height 700. On the west side of this sheet towards the top is the well-known square earthwork (Smith EK. VII. A.), alongside which is a pond. Standing by the latter and facing 5° W. of S., at 250 yards distance, is a long barrow hitherto unrecorded. Immediately east of Brown's Barn is a modern corrugated iron erection, from here the barrow is conspicuous on the sky line looking slightly N. of E. (all bearings magnetic). The barrow is 132 feet long by 36 feet broad, and roughly 3 feet high, and is now on the open grass down. There are several slight hollows along the highest part and in the S. end is a square pit, apparently dug down to the old surface level, with two small sarsens in it. The true bearing of the long axis of the barrow is 4° west of north, practically N. and S. The northern end is if anything slightly higher than the other. There are only the slightest traces of side trenches, but the absence of these appendages is no proof that a mound is not a long barrow.
Note 1. The references throughout these notes are to the six inch Ordnance Maps.
New Long Barrow at Liddington [Map]. O.M. XXIII. N.E. Parish of Liddington. In the left-hand top corner of this sheet the 700 foot contour is tongue-shaped and almost equally divided by the Liddington—Wanborough parish boundary. On the highest point of this ridge is an unrecorded long barrow, now measuring 165 feet long by 42 feet wide, and 5 feet high at the S.end, thelongeraxis being rudely S.E.—N.W. (Exactly 40 degrees E. of S. magnetic). The mound has been much narrowed at its extremities by repeated ploughing and the centre portion has several hollows indicative of former excavation. Towards the 8. end is a large sarsen stone showing above the turf, while at intervals towards the N. are others of smaller size. On the east side of the tumulus isa fence, in digging the post-holes for which (about 1890) three skeletons were found. A few years later a shepherd found another, several bones of which came into the writer's collection and have lately been examined by Professor Parsons, of the University of London, who reports as follows:- "The bones submitted to me by Mr. Passmore were those of an adult male. The only complete bones were a right humerus and a right tibia, which latter measured 360 mm. without the spine. This should give a total height of 164 ¢c.m., or about 5ft. 43in. There is a facet on the front of the lower end of the tibia, known as a -Squatting facet, showing that the individual was in the habit of squatting on the ground. The bones are those of a not particularly muscular individual and do not suggest the clean lines and perfect symmetry which I have learned to associate with Anglo-Saxons. I see nothing to make me think that these bones may not have been those of a Neolithic long barrow man, but the absence of the skull and teeth makes the question a difficult one to decide."2
Note 2. These bones have been presented to St. Thomas's Hospital.
Oolitic Stones in Long Barrow, Bishop's Cannings (65, — Goddard). While examining this barrow a patch of loose earth in its south side was noticed to contain fragments of Oolitic stone foreign to the — neighbourhood. One thin slab, roughly six inches square, was obtained and consists of a fossiliferous rock exceedingly like, if not identical with, — the shelly coralline limestone which occurs to the west of this spot. the nearest point being at Calne, just over five miles in a straight line. Similar stone was noticed by Thurnam in excavating the long barrow at West — Kennett. These facts raise the question as to why the long barrow people should have gone so far for stone when there was plenty of good chalk rubble close at hand? It seems that some long barrows were edged by lines of stones between which were connecting walls of dry construction to contain the mound. Chalk rubble, which occurs in lumps, was not so suitable for the purpose as the thin slabs of Oolite. Perhaps the example of the neatly-walled long barrows of Gloucestershire was followed in emulation.
New Long Barrow at Avebury [Map] (Barrow 21, Goddard). Quoted as a round barrow by Smith, is close to the remains of a stone circle and is — a distinct long barrow with the broadest and highest end to the S.S.W.: on each side are very broad but shallow hollows which, together with the mound, have been nearly obliterated by the plough. It now measures 150 feet by 60 feet. The circle above mentioned, which I propose to call Falkner's circle [Map], in honour of its discoverer, has only one stone now remaining. This must have been on the west side, as it agrees with Falkner's measurements from the Kennett Avenue.
Standing Stone at Stanton Fitzwarren. O.M. Sheet XI., N.W. N.E. of the Church about 400 yards, in a hedgerow by the footpath leading from the village to the Highworth—Swindon Road, stands a large sarsen stone 4 feet 6 inches above ground. Itisa rough brown stone in its natural state, and erected with its bigger end downwards. In September, 1920, permission having been obtained by Mr. W. H. Masters, he, together with Mr. A. J. Jones and the writer, excavated the base of the stone on its S. side, and partly explored the ground to the east and west. The base was found resting on the natural rock at 2 feet below the surface. With the exception of one doubtful bit of pottery, nothing was found, but a few flint flakes occurred at a small distance away. As the only people who erected large isolated stones were the prehistoric megalith builders (as far as we know), we must attribute this stone and the two following to that age. It is mentioned in Goddard's "List of Wilts Antiquities" and W. Morris's "Marston and Stanton."
Standing Stones at West Overton. O.M. XXVIII.,S.E. Inthe right-hand top corner of this sheet is " Down Barn": immediately south of this in a hedgerow are two large unrecorded standing stones. Their direction is 25 EK. of N. The larger stone is to the south and stands 7 feet 2 inches clear of the ground. The east face is 4 feet 2 inches wide at the base, but rapidly falls away to 9 inches at the top. The N.and S. faces are ? feet 8 inches wide at the ground level and remain of the same size till nearly to the top, when it narrows rapidly to 14 inches. The N. stone is ? feet high, and irregularly oblong in section: E. face, 3 feet 3 inches; N. face 2 feet 6 inches. This stone is in its natural state, but the other is part of a larger stone. These monoliths may have been part of a circle peristalith of a long barrow and owe their survival to their position in the hedgerow, the others making way for the plough, which has passed on both sides for many years.
Manton Downs. O.M. Sheet XXVIII, N.E. In the centre of this sheet and 500 yards N.W. of the Manton Chambered Long Barrow on Dog Hill, stands "Four Acre Plantation," bounded by an earthen bank and litch, the latter outwards. The straight N. side and the whole of the W. md are set with closely-packed large sarsens like a wall, those on the W. side extending somewhat beyond the earthwork. Stukeley mentions an earthwork set with stones to the east of Avebury. This is probably what he refers to. There are no indications as to age or purpose. The numerous mall lines and squares on these downs seem to be the results of cultivation in Romano-British times.
New Stone in the Kennett Avenue. During the drought of 1921 I examined the whole of the Kennett Avenue with the idea of tracing buried stones. One large patch of burnt grass indicated a stone below the urface, alongside the Bath Road and E. of East Kennett. A bar immediately proved the presence of a large stone. This is to be excavated at some future time when the crops permit. Above and E of this spot, near the site of the sanctuary, and in the line of the avenue, a large stone was struck by the plough about 1890. This was dragged out by horses and deposited in a rubbish pit at the S.E. corner of the field, where it remains to-day covered up.
Overton Delling. O.M. Sheet XXVIII, N.E. On the west of the valley N. of Piggledean and 650 yards slightly W. of S. from the keeper's house at "Overton Delling" a small valley runs towards Avebury. At the entance to this valley stands a large stone 14 feet by 12 feet, and very thick, obviously not in a natural position. Just above it stood another of very large size, unfortunately broken up during the war. After a careful examination of the ground I conclude that these stones were on their way to Avebury, but not being required were abandoned en route. As the stones of Avebury are the largest in the district there can be no doubt that they vere selected for their size, and no doubt some came from the "Valley of Stones," which is the most important drift of sarsens. As the only easy way out of the main valley is by the small lateral one above mentioned, he suggestion that these large stones were on their way to Avebury seems fair one. An old man who has broken sarsens all his life tells me that a Avebury the largest stone he has ever seen was six paces (about 18 ft) long.