The CROOKSBURY LINE at around 232 degrees would seem to be aligned to the mid-winter sunset. At just over 7 DM the line passes through St Bartholomew’s Church at Wanborough. From the modern vestry of the church to the centre of the OS Ancient Monument symbol marking the Hogs Back Barrow is 1 DM. This barrow, at just over 8 DM, is on the extremity of visibility from the base point, located on a high chalk ridge and appears to be the aiming point for the midwinter sunset. The line then passes close by Hillbury Hillfort, but it is another alignment which passes through the fort itself, and then carries on to Culverswell Barrow. I discovered this previously unrecorded barrow by predicting its position on the alignment. Although precisely on the line it is slightly beyond the 12 DM point at the crest of the hill. Carrying on down the hill the alignment terminates between two very close tumuli known as Crooksbury Barrows. Nothing has so far been found beyond this point.
This is one of the smallest churches in Surrey. Internally it is only some 43′ 7″ by 18′ 3″. It was possibly built on the site of the previous timber Saxon church circa 1060 and the church was noted in the Domesday survey of 1083 as Wenberge, possibly meaning bump-barrow, which may or may not be a reference to the nearby Wen Barrow, excavated in 1966 prior to destruction by the new northern carriageway of the A31 trunk road. The Hogs Back Barrow is a little more than a kilometre west of the Wen Barrow.
The church became disused for some two centuries but was restored in 1861. The church had two doors; in the north wall of the church and towards the eastern end was the old priest’s door, and on the south wall and towards the western end is the public entrance. The priest’s door is now the entry to the vestry built in 1928.
The Crooksbury alignment passes through the church towards the western end. It is worth noting that the alignment of the two doors diagonally across the church follows the Crooksbury line as though it could be originally intended to facilitate a processional way.
Today I made a long awaited repeat visit to Wanborough Church to look at the recumbent stone and to take some photographs. This stone is 1.8 metres long by 0.6 metres wide. It is placed flush with the ground. The depth of the stone cannot be recorded without disturbance to consecrated ground. It is set at right angles to the west wall of the church and is exactly in the centre of this wall almost touching it as can be seen in this photograph.
(Trivia: The large manor house in the background was a top secret SOE centre in World War 2 training agents to be dropped into France to assist the resistance).
It has the appearance of great antiquity, being rough hewn but fashioned to a rectangle. It appears to be a hard sandstone and has a pecked out line across the centre; there is no sign that this is an eroded crack. The initial examination of the surface does not reveal any other pecked patterns or marks. Using a survey nail as a probe would indicate that the stone does not continue west under the grass.
An extensive search on the internet was fruitless. No mention of this stone is recorded to my knowledge. The recumbent stone, now buried, on the edge of the landfill site at Albury is larger if my memory is correct but this is also, I believe, unrecorded.
There is only one recorded standing stone in Surrey. This is at the entrance to a large house ‘Pyrford Court’ on the junction of the road to West Byfleet in Pyrford. It is small and insignificant and has been moved at some time to widen the road.
(Trivia: The above mentioned house was featured in the horror film ‘The Omen’).
On my last visit to Wanborough Church I noticed these strange carvings in the stonework of the north west corner. The recumbent stone can be seen on the ground beyond. They did not look modern and closer examination reveals other straight scratch marks to the left of the holes. Maybe of no significance but intriguing – I could not find any other marks elsewhere.
Wanborough hit the headlines in the 1980s with the discovery of a romano-celtic temple built over the site of an iron age temple. It is estimated that metal detectorists plundered up to 20,000 coins from the site and it was this crisis which instigated the changes in the law of Treasure Trove. The location of this site at E 492013 N 149598 is just on the south edge of a trackway called Green Lane and is some 120 metres from the eight Druid Mile point on bearing 242 degrees . Further research needed.