St Nicholas Church, Compton

I now turn my attention to one of the most interesting sites – the church of St Nicholas in the village of Compton.

The church is mainly Norman in construction with a Saxon tower to the West end. This church is unique in having a two story sanctuary above the chancel built in the 12th century. The purpose of this arrangement is a puzzle.  The saxon wall to the north side of the chancel has a small window believed to have belonged to a hermit’s cell.

212_7+ Compton Church212_7-compton-church-rev

217_7-compton-church-rev

Uniquely there are four alignments passing through this site.  Beginning with the FROWSBURY LINE; there are only three sites on this alignment.  Starting at the church the line heads north west at 293 degrees and passes through Frowsbury Barrow at just over 1.5 Druid Miles.  In just under 1.5 DM it ends at the Ancient Monument sign marking the Hogs Back Barrow.  This barrow is also on the CROOKSBURY LINE.  The churchyard at Compton is very roughly circular and if it can be demonstrated that a circle of the same diameter as Frowsbury can be fitted within this area suggesting the possibility that the church is evolved from a similar site.

The COMPTON LINE passing through the church at 219 degrees mirrors the TYTING LINE, both being 30 degrees east and west of the SOUTH LINE.  It is strange that the site to the north east on the line is a medieval moat and the site to the south west is a Victorian church, and yet the alignment of these site is extraordinarily precise.

The ARTINGTON LINE through the body of the church also has dubious sites which need further research.

The fourth line, the DEERLEAP LINE at 260 degrees, has six points although one is a moat and another is a Victorian church, but once again the precision is exceptional.  Refinement of this line brings it to the north side of the church but well within the churchyard.  The distance from Deerleap Barrow to the churchyard is 16 Druid Miles.

Compton Church from South East

Compton Church from South East

Compton Church from South West

Compton Church from South West

In the above picture three alignments meet inside the door from the porch.

Weston Wood Mound and Settlement

The NEWLANDS LINE, at 132° is 100 ° from the Crooksbury Line, and again starts from Whitmoor Barrow.  At 4 DM it passes through St John’s Church at Merrow and carries on to Newlands Corner Barrow at 6 DM.  These distances are very precise and have been used as the decided criterion of the Druid Mile.  In Weston Wood the line brushes the side of the reported position of a disputed barrow, now completely destroyed by sand extraction, and then passes through the site of a Mesolithic settlement.  At 9 DM passes close by Shere Heath Barrow but not close enough to be taken as an alignment.

268_1+ Weston Wood Mound

268_1+ Weston Wood Mound-page-0

The path at the top of the above plan is the main prehistoric trackway through Surrey, popularly known as the Pilgrims Way, which followed the North Downs from Kent through to Salisbury Plain.

THE MESOLITHIC SETTLEMENT

I have recently unearthed a sketch plan from the Surrey Archaeological Society archives of the excavation in Weston Wood of the Mesolithic settlement carried out c1961-3. The plan covers an area fifty metres square. It shows a trackway running from the south-east towards the north-west; with various post holes and points of interest; and with two areas of ploughed field to the east side. The excavation was carried out by an amateur team and appears rather inadequate by today’s standards and indeed I believe that the notes for this excavation have still not been published after half a century. Unfortunately this site has long been eaten away by sand extraction and is now a landfill site.

Weston Wood Excavation 1964

The Newlands Line is on a bearing of 132 degrees from Grid North. The trackway on the plan is at the bearing of about 152 degrees using the given North point. The excavation plan is a fairly poor sketch, not drawn very carefully by today’s standards, and is located with very approximate Ordnance Survey co-ordinates, and I suspect that the site of excavation was located very approximately in this area of scrubby land near the edge of the encroaching sand extraction with no local detail to tie in to the Ordnance Survey. The excavators set out a five metre grid as shown by the reference marks on the edges of the plan and it is possible that they located north using a compass. The plan is dated 1964 and at this time Magnetic North was some 13 degrees west of Grid North. We have about a 20 degree difference between the path on the plan and the Newlands Line, but if the North point was established using a magnetic compass then we only have a difference between the Newlands Line and the path of some 7 degrees. The Line is some 40 metres to the west of the given OS co-ordinates for the site but these are only to ten metres accuracy indicating a lack of precision.

Although this is very speculative it seems to me that given the crude positioning of the location and orientation of the plan, and the fact that this trackway is unusually straight when compared with other Mesolithic sites, that the track could be associated with the Newlands Line alignment.

White area is plastic covering on landfill site. The mound would have been just beyond this.

White area is plastic covering on landfill site. The mound would have been just beyond this.

THE MOUND

Weston Wood Mound was recorded as being about 135 feet in diameter and some five feet high.  The top was flat.  It had been thought that it may have been a landscape feature associated with the parkland of Weston House in Albury but no evidence as to its origins had ever been established.  It was destroyed by sand extraction in the late 1990s.

The medieval road from the village of Albury to the south ran over the ridge past the mound towards Newlands Corner in the North West.  The age of the mound had always been a matter of controversy.  In SAS Vol 60 of 1963 W Crawford Knox theorized that the medieval road went around the mound in a manner which suggested that the mound predated the road.  An excavation in 1965 revealed little, but notably, a coin of c1750 was found beneath the clay capping, suggesting the possibility that the ancient structure may have been modified as a landscape feature.

Albury New Church

The site of the mound in the landfill looking over Albury New Church

The most popular website used by enthusiasts of prehistoric monuments is ‘The Megalithic Portal’.  A search for Weston Wood brings up two photographs submitted by Eileen Roche purporting to be the mound shortly before it was destroyed.  In 1999 I began a twice-yearly monitoring of the volumes of sand extraction in the pit and have great familiarity with the site.  Looking at the photographs I feel that the mound shown would have been a soil stock and that the ancient mound would have been further north.  But now we shall never know.

Top of Albury Landfill in the area of the mound

Top of Albury Landfill in the area of the mound

Developments

The page below has mysteriously disappeared from the website pages and is now reinstated as a page and as a post.

After sifting through the numerous pages of calculations and speculations accumulated over years of intermittent research it became apparent that a decision must be made to settle on some criterion upon which all this data could be based.  There were two lines which stood out from the others as extraordinary – the Newlands line with its precise alignment and distances, and the Crooksbury line with its newly discovered barrow and precise alignment.  The bearing of the Newlands line was 132.82 degrees and the Crooksbury line 232.32 degrees.  It has already been seen that the rays are around ten degrees apart and by dividing the difference by ten for the intervening rays we have an interval between each ray of 9.95 degrees.  This interval was applied to all rays in the pattern and a list was compiled of the intersections of these revised rays and the distance points at one Druid Mile (DM) intervals from the base point of the rays at Whitmoor Barrow.  These points were then compared with the physical detail as shown on the Ordnance Survey as downloaded to the computer database.  This was straight forward for circular structures such as barrows where the centre point was fairly obvious but when passing through a building a best estimate of the centre was used.

By 2012 the technology of hand held GPS instruments was very advanced with an accuracy good enough to make them a suitable tool for field research, so the decision was made to surf the internet for an instrument with the most suitable specification.  I settled on the Garmin GPSMAP 62 and carried out some field tests to check the accuracy.  Results varied from nearly perfect to, in the worst case, eight metres of error when compared with known Ordnance Survey (OS) co-ordinates established by professional surveying instruments.  Because of these variations it was necessary to revisit critical sites to re-record the co-ordinates and take an average of several readings.

Once a few sites had been visited with the GPS and the results plotted onto the database it became clear that there was a discrepancy between the WASG grid used by the Garmin instrument and the OS  grid titled OSGB36. There is a lot of information on the OS website about how this grid originates and how to use conversion programs to compute very precise coordinates. Although the grid used by Garmin is called OS grid in the format selection, it did not appear to conform to the OS map grid. Therefore it was decided that to check the difference between the two grids.  Check readings would be taken on-site from known points. First chosen was the OS trig pillar at Jacobswell just south of Whitmoor Barrow. Trigonometrical pillars are usually concrete structures, standing around four to five feet high, and constructed on prominent hill tops affording views over long distances and are part of the network of triangulation stations upon which the OS of Britain is based.  Also points were taken on the corners of other sites such as the church and churchyard walls on St Martha’s Hill. When these were plotted into the database it was seen that there was indeed a discrepancy. Due to the inherent inaccuracies of Ordnance Survey detail it is not possible to attain spot-on fitting of data. After meaning out the various results and taking the trig pillar coordinates as being the main data point it was seen that all GPS data needed to be moved 8 metres south and one and a half metres West. It would have been possible to calculate a very precise difference between the two groups but the accuracy of the hand held GPS is no better than about 7 feet or two metres, therefore it would seem that refining the difference between the two groups would be excessive and a waste of time. I have since confirmed these conversion factors by taking readings at other pillars in West Surrey.

The first exercise with the new instrument was a visit to Whitmoor Barrow.  I walked around the ditch taking readings at about five metre intervals.  Each reading was taken after holding the GPS at eye level pointing in several directions until the readout settled down and became constant.  These readings were stored as waypoints in the instrument and transposed onto my AutoCAD base plan in the office.  The Ordnance Survey extract of the barrow were already on this plan and it was seen that the adjusted GPS co-ordinates and the map co-ordinates of the barrow were an excellent match.  This confirmed my intention of using the Whitmoor Barrow as the base point for the overall pattern of rays.  A similar exercise was then undertaken at Culverswell Barrow and at the twin Crooksbury Barrows a short distance away.  The co-ordinates of the Culverswell Barrow confirmed my original theodolite survey of some years ago and the co-ordinates of the Crooksbury Barrows again proved an excellent fit.

Buoyed up by these satisfying results I was keen to use these new-found techniques to discover other lost sites.  The first I looked at was the Mount Pleasant Barrow on Whitmoor Common.  This is marked on The OS as the site of an Ancient Monument no longer existing.  The co-ordinates on the OS were noted as was the co-ordinates of the point on Mount Pleasant line being at a bearing of 252.22 degrees and one Druid Mile from the base point (Whitmoor Barrow).  The common is a flat area of land surrounded by woodland to the north, a railway to the east with roads on the other two sides.  On reaching the supposed site of the Ancient Monument nothing could be made out amidst the rough tussocky grass but on navigating to the point on the pattern some seventeen metres to the north west a circular bank some seven metres in diameter could just be made out beneath the scrubby birch trees (see photos at header MOUNT PLEASANT LINE).

 

Whitmoor Barrow Extra Pictures

I have been lucky enough to hitch a ride in a neighbour’s De Havilland Chipmunk.  After a tour around the North Downs he asked if there was anywhere special that I would like to see so I took the opportunity to do a few circuits around Whitmoor Barrow as I was intrigued by the possibility of detecting crop marks.  This monotone photo shows the barrow as a red circle above and to the right of centre.  The large lone oak in the centre of the picture is to the south of the barrow.  The large field is scrubby grass grazed by ponies and shows nothing of any interest that I could make out although there are plenty of variations in tone.

dscf0577bw_whitmoor

In the picture below the barrow can be seen about halfway to the base of the photo from the lone oak.  The view is looking south over the suburbs of Guildford.  The only marks visible are old hedge routes and paths.

DSCF0570 from north

Reviewing

Looking at the posts and pages being viewed the statistics reveal that most visitors read the posts but few look at the pages where all the important information resides.  Therefore I would guess that it is difficult to understand the data being presented in the posts without the background knowledge required.  Therefore I have copied the page ‘Summary of Alignments’ below to explain the criteria that I have used in this research in the hope that this will encourage visitors to dig deeper.

  

Summary of Alignments

This chapter is an overview of the various alignments.  The alignments are divided into two groups.  The primary group is at bearings of 10° intervals from a common point.  These intervals have been refined to 9.95° and the bearings have been divided into the recurring distance interval of 3600 feet (1097.3m).  This distance, for want of a better name, I have called the Druid Mile (DM). The secondary group are all roughly East-West.

 

The location of all the alignments is shown on the PDF link below.

PROJECT LOCATION PLAN

Each site has a unique code based upon its location within the pattern of alignments. For sites on the bearings this code consists of a number being the angle in degrees from Ordnance Survey grid north followed by the number of Druid Miles from the base point. For sites on the East West lines the first number is the grid angle taken from the east end of the alignment followed by the distance in Druid Miles; these distances do not have a base point and are determined by refining locations within the pattern.  Sites with a suffix plus sign are on the alignment but a distance beyond the previous code point; for example Wanborough Church has the code 232/7+, 237 is the degree value of the Crooksbury Line and 7 is the number of Druid Miles from the base point of Whitmoor Barrow, the church is beyond that point hence the plus sign.  Sites with a suffix A are not on the alignment but are on a multiple of the Druid Mile from the base point; for example the centre of Hillbury Hillfort (232/10A) is 10 Druid Miles from the base point but offset from point 232/10 by 190 metres. Where sites are not circular with easily defined central points the Ordnance Survey coordinates are taken as the interpolated centres of the main structures of buildings or earthworks. All the bearings radiate from the centre of Whitmoor Barrow on Worplesdon Common to the north of Guildford and are listed here in what may be some order of validity.

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. At just over 8 DM, and on the extremity of visibility, lies the site of the Hogs Back Barrow on a high ridge which 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 about 15 metres  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.

SCALE PLAN OF THE CROOKSBURY LINE

The next most important line is the NEWLANDS LINE, at 132 degrees this is 100 degrees from the Crooksbury Line, and again starts from Whitmoor Barrow.  At 4 DM it passes through St John’s Church at Merrow and carries on to Newlands Corner Barrow at 6 DM.  These distances are very precise and have been used as the decided criterion of the Druid Mile.  In Weston Wood the line brushes the side of the reported position of a disputed barrow, now completely destroyed by sand extraction, and then passes through the site of a Mesolithic settlement.  At 9 DM passes close by Shere Heath Barrow but not close enough to be taken as an alignment.

SCALE PLAN NEWLANDS LINE

The SOUTH LINE subdivides the previous two lines at 182 degrees, being 50 degrees from each, and passes through the Wey gap where the river Wey passes through Guildford with the start of the Hogs Back to the west and of Pewley Down to the east.  Some distance short of 4 DM it crosses another alignment on the site of Guildford Friary and carries on to the Mesolithic site below St Catherine’s Chapel at 5 DM.  The chapel itself is on another alignment and is just off this one.  The line terminates at Farley Hill.  Although nothing has so far been found on this hill, it does have extensive views north through the Wey gap, over the top of Guildford, all the way to Whitmoor.

SCALE PLAN SOUTH LINE

The SHALFORD LINE is a subdivision by five degrees of the radials and passes through Stoke Church and Shalford Church with no relation to the Druid Mile.  Guildford Castle, although to the west of this alignment, is at 4 DM from Whitmoor Barrow.

There is a slight variation on this line, a couple of degrees to the east an alignment from Whitmoor Barrow precisely through the centre of Stoke Church passes through Holy Trinity Church in Guildford High Street and ends at the strange mound in the graveyard.  I have since discovered that this mound is spoil from the construction of the extension of 1888.  I believe that this alignment is most likely coincidental despite being extremely precise.

SCALE PLAN SHALFORD LINE

The MOUNT PLEASANT LINE at the ten degree interval of 252 degrees is interesting in that although it has currently only one point, that point being the site of the destroyed Mount Pleasant Barrow, at precisely one Druid Mile from the base point. I believe I have now rediscovered the vestigial remains of this barrow by GPS, and have added it to the database. It falls just to the west of the Ordnance Survey monument symbol on the map and is at a more compatible position to the overall pattern.

SCALE PLAN MOUNT PLEASANT LINE

The COMPTON LINE at 212 degrees passes through Compton Church at just over 7 DM and is interesting in that the church is on three other alignments.  Before reaching Compton church the line passes through Manor Farm moat.  Neither of these points is at a significant distance from Whitmoor.  At over 9 DM it passes through the centre of Shackleford Church. This church is Victorian and further investigation is needed.

SCALE PLAN COMPTON LINE

The one remaining ray is the TYTING LINE.  At 152 degrees it is 60 degrees from the Compton Line. It passes close to the Ordnance Survey monument symbol for the vanished Tyting Chapel and then goes through the centre of Chilworth Priory at 6 DM.  At around 7.5 DM it passes to the west of Blackheath Moot and onward to be fairly close to Hallams Barrow but not close enough to be significant.

SCALE PLAN TYTING LINE

The secondary group of alignments are approximately East West. Beginning with the shortest alignment we have the SHERE LINE at 273 degrees.  Although there are only two points on this line, Shere Church and Albury Old Church, the possible significance is that they are precisely one Druid Mile apart.  The orientation of the churches is very close to the bearing.  Visits to the out-reaching points are pending.

SCALE PLAN OF SHERE LINE

The longest alignment, at 251.5 degrees, is the WAVERLEY LINE.  Although this line passes close by the churches at West Horsley and West Clandon, they are discounted as the line is outside of the churchyards.  Therefore the alignment begins at East Clandon Church and passes through St John’s Church at Merrow on the Newlands Line.  It then crosses the South Line through Guildford Friary.  At Puttenham it aligns with Frowsbury Barrow, also on another alignment, after which it crosses the corner of Hillbury Hillfort at the highest point within the ramparts.  The line currently terminates at the centre of the nave within the ruins of Waverley Abbey at a point precisely 14 DM from Whitmoor Barrow.

SCALE PLAN OF THE WAVERLEY LINE

The ARTINGTON LINE, at 260°, begins at St Martha’s Chapel above Chilworth.  At Shalford the alignment goes through the churchyard and crosses the Shalford Line.  It then goes through the courtyard of Artington Farm which is a moated site, and on to Littleton Church.  Although both these sites are ‘modern’ it is enigmatically coincidental that they are 1 DM apart.  Some distance short of 8 DM the line is through the centre of Compton Church which is on four intersecting alignments.

SCALE PLAN ARTINGTON LINE

The FROWSBURY LINE, at 293 degrees, is interesting in that although it passes through only three points, these points are all on other alignments.  Starting at Compton church, in 1.5 DM it goes through Frowsbury Barrow on the Waverley Line, and terminates at the Hogs Back Barrow, on the Crooksbury Line. The last two alignments are the most East West aligned and are fairly close together.

SCALE PLAN FROWSBURY LINE

The SEALE LINE at 270.5 degrees begins near Shere Church and passes close to Chilworth Priory. The true alignment begins at Shalford Church, which is on two other alignments, and passes through Puttenham Church and on to Seale Church.  The line terminates at Badshot Lea Long Barrow which is not marked on the Ordnance Survey and is now totally destroyed.  I have used the coordinates of the barrow as given in Surrey Archaeological Society archives. The distance between Shalford Church and Puttenham Church is precisely 6 DM.  An interesting coincidence on this line is that the distance between Puttenham Church and Seale Church and between Seale Church and Badshot Lea Long Barrow are identical at 11,900 feet.

SCALE PLAN SEALE LINE

The ST CATHERINE’S LINE at 268 degrees.  This line possibly begins at the site of a long destroyed stone circle which once stood in the field south of the Silent Pool near Albury, the precise location of which is now lost, and therefore cannot be considered to be on this alignment.  So the first point of interest is the Weston Wood mound which is adjacent to the Newlands Line.  From there we go through St Martha’s Chapel, also on another alignment.  And on through St Catherine’s Chapel and its Mesolithic site. At Seale Church the line terminates, the lych gate being 12 DM from the centre of St Martha’s Chapel.

SCALE PLAN OF ST CATHERINE'S LINE

The DEERLEAP LINE at 266 degrees.  This is a recently discovered line and I am not totally convinced of its validity.  I have included it as the accuracy of the alignment is very impressive and it may be worth further investigation.  Although it has five points, one is a victorian church and one a medieval moat, but it passes through Compton Church meeting three other alignments at 16 DM and at 20 DM crosses the WAVERLEY LINE within the ramparts of Hillbury Fort.

Since writing the above I have included Church Croft at 266/19.  This site is potentially impressive and needs further research.

PLAN OF DEERLEAP LINE