Tag Archives: Culverswell

Church Croft added to DEERLEAP LINE

I have in my library a copy of ‘Puttenham under the Hog’s Back’ by Ruth Dugmore. Published in 1972 by Philimore Press.  At long last it has risen to the top of the pile of my required reading and I was interested to find the following:

‘In the seventh century England was divided up into vast dioceses. And each of these dioseces would have a minster. And from these minsters priests and laymen would penetrate the rough countryside evangelising. They would stop at a cross which was possibly erected on an old pagan site and would preach to those who came to hear them. As they evangelised they would push further afield and chapels would be set up where once there was only a preacher’s cross. The minster however would remain the mother church. There was a minster at Tuesley and it is almost certain that the area would have been Christianised from the minster there. One of the duties of the travelling priests would be to discover sites dedicated to heathen gods. Here the priest would set up a cross and substitute a Christian service for a pagan one’.

Another extract from Mrs Dugmore’s book:

‘In Puttenham there is a possibility of a heathen centre which became a Christian place of worship at Church Croft; a small hill not far from the village, which is approached by a network of tracks and paths. The name Church Croft has no significance in later times and was never church property, but there must have been a reason for it. Could it have been an altar which had been erected to some god and where a preaching cross was later set up?’

And an extract from the highly recommended website ‘Surrey Medieval’ by Robert Briggs.

‘Another piece of evidence of a very different kind (but whose record we again have Rev. Kerry to thank for) suggests a more complex chronology. Local folklore maintained that the first church in Puttenham was sited almost a mile to the southwest of the village in a location known as Church Croft. Kerry told the story thus: “In the plantation near Mr Hewettʼs Barn [no longer in existence; its site lies west of present-day Gores Farm] is a spot where it is said by the old people that the church was to have been erected, but that their pious intention was frustrated by the fairies who removed in the night what had been erected in the day to the place where the church now stands”. It is not hard to be captivated by such a tale, and Knox interpreted it as signifying the destruction of an early church on a site of pagan worship by ʻsupporters of the old religionʼ’.

‘In the case of Puttenham, the name Church Croft may hold the key. We know a new rectory at the east end of the church – effectively in ʻthe place where the church now standsʼ to repeat Kerryʼs words – was provided for in the will of Richard Lussher who died in 1502. Its previous site is undocumented, but a decent case can be made for it to have stood atop Church Croft. For one thing, this would mesh with John Blairʼs observation that many medieval Surrey rectories were isolated from their churches. A simple explanation of the fairy story, one which accommodates its key components, is that it was the rectory removed from its original site at Church Croft and re-established on a site so close to the church as to count as being “where it stands”.’

Many of the barrows in the area of Puttenham, Seale, and around were dug into by the above mentioned reverend Charles Kerry, curator of Puttenham church from 1868 to 1877, and indeed it may be him responsible for the cross trench on the crown of Culverswell Barrow. Unfortunately he seems to have been a ‘hobby archaeologist’ and was lax in recording his finds. After spells in various livings from Bedfordshire to Northumberland, he ended his career in Derbyshire with all his notebooks. Upon his death these were left to Derby Public Library. There may be something of interest there but probably a long shot.

screenshot-church-croft-1

Church Croft appears to fall upon the DEERLEAP LINE, shown crossing as a red line above,It   at the nineteen Druid Mile (DM) point in private land being used as a pheasantry. Last week I visited this point using my hand-held GPS to locate the precise location.  From the rough track, visible running up the left side of this Google Earth image, I navigated through mixed woodland to an unkempt field knee deep in weeds, seen in the centre of the image.  The point is in the north east corner of the field and is the edge of the top of this high ground.  The land to the east falls downhill on a shallow gradient towards the village.  It was difficult to judge but this area would appear to be at the highest point on the ridge which extends all the way back to Hillbury Hillfort.  In the LIDAR image below the red circle marks the 19 DM point and the shape of the field above can be made out.

puttenham-common-lidar_edited-1

In this image the high ridge of common land runs from Hillbury (266 degrees and 20 DM), outlined in red, through to the red circle of 266/19.  An ancient field system can be seen all over the high ground, little known before the introduction of LIDAR, with valleys running downhill on the north and south sides.  A trackway can be seen running from point 266/20 inside the south east corner of the fort fairly straight towards point 266/19.

Hillbury to Hogs Back looking NE View from 266/20 inside the fort looking north east to show the terrain.

Culverswell Barrow

The following Page is copied into Posts because it seems very few visitors look beyond the Posts and therefore miss this important finding which is crucial to the credibility of the  pattern.

The CROOKSBURY LINE at 232.32 degrees from North would appear to be aligned to the mid-winter sunset.  At just over 7 Druid Miles (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 at 10 DM, but it is other alignments which pass through the fort itself, and then carries on to Culverswell Barrow.   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.

Culverswell Barrow

Culverswell Barrow ditch with mound on right side viewed from the south

232_12 Culverswell Barrow

 

RED LETTER DAY

On 25 July 1979 I finally proved to my own satisfaction that at least one of the alignments was laid out intentionally by prehistoric peoples. I had always realised that my case would be greatly enhanced by the discovery of a previously unrecorded barrow in a precise location predetermined by myself prior to a site visit.

It had seemed logical that one would be more likely to find a prehistoric site on the highest point of an alignment and so profiles were produced using the contours shown on the Ordnance Survey six inch to the mile maps. These proved very useful for the demonstration of sightlines and showed several high points where no ancient site was recorded. One of the most prominent of these was at Culverswell Hill on Crooksbury Common at the south western end of the CROOKSBURY LINE. The alignment was followed on a compass bearing from the well-preserved bowl barrow about 300 m to the South West. After negotiating some dense rhododendron bushes I emerged onto the pine covered plateau to the North West of the bluff to be confronted by a large mound surrounded by a shallow ditch. It was so obviously a barrow that it was quite beyond me that it was unknown to the Surrey Archaeological Society. The top was deeply cut by a badly eroded cross- trench indicating that it had been dug into at some time in the distant past but had remained unrecorded. The following weekend a tacheometric traverse was carried out from Littleworth Cross to the mound through the nearby Crooksbury barrows and back to the road thus establishing a grid reference for my survey pegs by the barrow to 1m of accuracy. When plotted onto the 1 to 1250 Ordnance Survey sheet it would seem to be in alignment as predicted.

The barrow has since been visited by the County Archaeologist who requested the county’s foremost expert on the Bronze Age. Mr Stuart Needham, to give his opinion. Mr Needham ruled out the alternatives such as a windmill stead, or landscaping and concluded his report by expressing great surprise that such a fine prehistoric monument had remained unrecorded in an area well known for its earthworks. I suspect that one reason is that most people walking in this area of Scots pine covered sandy hills would use the established paths. The path which crosses below the bluff affords a view up to the barrow but as no ditch is visible from the south side owing to the erosion of the slope, the earthwork appears to be merely the top of the small hill. The ditch and mound are only obvious when viewed from the North, the least accessible direction.

Letter to Dr D G Bird, County Archaeological Officer, from Stuart Needham.

‘Dear David

ROUND MOUND ON CULVERSWELL HILL C. SU 89234561.

Thank you for notifying of this earthwork;  I have recently had the opportunity of visiting the site.  I found a sizeable round mound approximately 24.8m diameter and perhaps approaching 2m in height.

The top of the mound has been mutilated in the past by the digging of a cross-shaped trench, now much silted.  Around roughly half of the mound’s base may be detected traces of a ditch 2.8m across and at present barely 0.2m deep.  The mound is sited on the end of an eastward facing spur with steep slopes on three sides.  The ditch peters out here, perhaps there having been no necessity for it, or otherwise it has been removed or concealed by a greater degree of erosion down the slopes.  Inspection of the side of a foxhole suggested a possible composite mound structure, but as usual such evidence is ambiguous.  The ground to the west rises gently and evenly with no indications of undulations frequent in this sort of sandy terrain resulting from natural agencies, or extractive disturbance.  There are some rhododendron clumps immediately to the west of the mound, but no sign of any associated landscaping.

In my opinion the extant features – the size, circular plan, evidence for a ditch, and its siting – are strongly in favour of it being a genuine ditched bowl barrow, which would of course normally be referable to the earlier Bronze Age.  Other possibilities such as a natural mound, a feature of relatively recent landscaping, or the base of a post windmill, can I think be reasonably dismissed for the present.

It really is astonishing that that such a fine upstanding monument should have escaped notice for so long in view of the proximity of the triple (sic) bell barrow on Crooksbury Common!

Best wishes

Stuart Needham’

In the summer of 2015 the site was visited with the purpose of carrying out a GPS survey and the resultant coordinates were added to the AutoCAD database.  This showed that the original survey was accurate and that the barrow was indeed perfectly on the alignment.

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).

 

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

LITTLEWORTH CROSS AND CLUMP

Littleworth Cross Plan

Originally the Crooksbury Line passed through the centre of this crossroad, but later refinement moved the crossing of the line some 22 metres east.  I mention this cross-road for two reasons; firstly it is fairly unusual for a crossing of roads to be labelled as a cross, the possible implication being that it may have been the site of a medieval stone cross evolved from a much older site of significance. The location is remote and not near a village, all the nearby properties dating from the last hundred years or so. Secondly, it is perfectly aligned with two barrows, known as Littleworth Clump, with a stretch of straight road curving around the barrows as it reaches them. Although now covered with vegetation the mounds would have been visible from the crossroad along the original trackway.  This can be seen in the screenshot with the crossroad by the red location arrow and the barrows 400 metres to the north west. The two barrows, very nearly touching each other, are both aligned with the road.

littleworth-cross

This Ordnance Survey extract clearly shows the alignment of the road and barrows.

Littleworth Clump W looking E The only clear view.  This is the west barrow seen from the west.

Although these mounds are listed as ancient monuments there has been some discussion in the past as to the likelihood of them being landscape features. They are not in an old estate or parkland and this would seem unlikely to me. But it does appear that they may have been altered as the bank surrounding them on the north side does look more modern and may have enclosed them before the road was widened in modern times.

Bank on north side Littleworth The enclosing bank. Barrows are to the right.

Littleworth Road

From the crossroad looking north west.  The barrows are in the trees at the limit of visibility with the road disappearing to the left.  The Line runs through the trees on the right edge of the view.

I can find no record of any excavation of the barrows and there is no obvious damage in the centres as can be seen on other sites such as Culverswell Hill.