Tag Archives: Merrow

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

THE WAVERLEY LINE Re-examined and Refined

 

 

Waverley A3

A re-examination of the Waverley Line has led me to believe that this alignment could be more precise if I abandoned the notion that Point 251/7 at Merrow Church had to be exactly coincidental to Point 132/4, also at Merrow Church but on the crossing of the Newlands Line.     I had stuck to this idea because both points have a remarkable accuracy with the Druid Mile (DM), Point 132/4 being four DM on the 132 degree line from the base point of Whitmoor Barrow, and 251/7 being three DM from East Clandon Church.  A plan of this church from a local history website shows the outline of the original eleventh century building.  If the centre of this structure is taken as the revised start to the alignment  (nothing is currently found to the east) and the termination is taken as the centre of the Monk’s Choir within the nave of Waverley Abbey, then the accuracy of the alignment through six points becomes astonishingly precise.  There is a slight change in the angle from grid north at 251.50 degrees to 251.53.  This has the effect of moving the line from just outside the buildings of East Clandon Church and Merrow Church to the centre of the structures.  I have redrawn the site plans of these six points and revised the respective overall plan and data sheet.

East Clandon Church

251_4 East Clandon Church

The original numbering of this line was to take in the Churches of West Horsley, 251/1 is just beyond to the East, and West Clandon between Points 251/5 and 251/6, but neither of these churches is close enough to the alignment, West Horsley being 30 metres to the south and West Clandon is 45 metres to the north.  It is thought that the rough alignment of these churches is because the hamlets they serve were established upon the spring line of waters issuing from the interface of local clay and the chalk hills to the south.

132_4 Merrrow Church

 

The orientation of these sites may be of interest; East Clandon at 256.4 degrees is five degrees from the orientation of the line; Merrow Church at 260 degrees is 8.5 degrees, and Guildford Friary at 255.5 is four degrees.  Grid west is 270 degrees so all these sites are some ten to fifteen degrees anti-clockwise from true west and much closer to the orientation of the line.  Waverley Abbey bucks the trend by being thirteen degrees north of due west.

182/3+ Guildford Friary

It has always been interesting to me that the site is on the South Line, being the central spine of the ten degree alignments, but the actual location of the friary is poorly defined on the Ordnance Survey, shown only as a comment ‘Site of  friary founded 1275’,  therefore the accuracy of any alignment has been unverified, but I have now obtained a copy of the ‘Research Volume of the Surrey Archaeological Society No 9’ titled ‘Excavations on the Site of the Dominican Friary at Guildford in 1974 and 1978, by Rob Poulton and Humphrey Woods, published by the SAS in 1984.  By today’s standards the location plan is not brilliant, being more of a sketch than a survey, but with enough information to allow me to enlarge it to 1-200 scale enabling the measurement of the discovered foundations and adjoining streets to be transferred into AutoCAD. This digital drawing was overlaid on my OS database as a block and adjusted to obtain a best fit with the neighbouring streets.  The report also included an aerial photograph of the excavated site which I have used to further enhance the fit, and I now feel that I have the position of the friary buildings to within perhaps three metres of accuracy.

The area of demolition of the old Friary Meux Brewery to facilitate the construction of the Friary Centre shopping mall covers a large area and the excavated foundations take up perhaps about fifteen per cent at the most.  Therefore I was surprised to see that the two alignments passing through the site crossed within the excavated structure, with the South Line passing through the nave at the choir end (see plan).  Once again I am impressed with the coincidence of my findings.  Only the west end of the nave remains unexcavated as it lies just within the roadway of Onslow Street and maybe one day it will be possible to reveal this to accurately survey the location of the complex.  The revision to the line brings it nearer the centre of the excavated foundations.

Frowsbury Barrow from the south

Frowsbury Barrow from the south

The fourth point is Frowsbury Barrow standing next to a fairway of Puttenham Golf Club and is easily accessed from the Pilgrim’s Way long distance footpath just to the north.  The code for this site is 251/15+, the plus sign showing that it is more than 15 DM along the line from the base point.  It is 41 metres across with a ditch bringing the overall width to 47.5 metres, and is 2.4m high.  In 1857 Queen Victoria reviewed her troops from the top and this is commemorated by a stone tablet and a flagpole.  The line passes well within the top of the barrow just south of the flagpole.  The barrow is indistinct on natural raised ground and is only obvious when viewed from the south across a fairway.  There is a large greenkeepers shed close to the north side which seems to be built in a shallow quarry. There are pine trees between the shed and the barrow but the top of the mound is grassy with some bracken and heather to the east side.  Where the surface is exposed it is very sandy.

251_15+ Frowsbury Barrow REV

Hillbury Hillfort on Puttenham Common is the fourth point and although this covers a large area Point 251/18+ is positioned on the highest location within the ramparts.  This position being determined by the crossing of Line 293, the Frowsbury line, to Compton Church in the south east and Hogs Back Barrow to the north west.  This point is precisely ten DM from the base point at Whitmoor Barrow.  Line 266, the Deerleap Line, also passes through this point at 20 DM from Deerleap Barrow.

 

site-plan-of-hillbury-fort

Hillbury to Hogs Back looking NE

This photograph is taken from near the top of the site looking north across the fort to the Hogs Back on the horizon.

The sixth and currently final site on this alignment is at Waverley Abbey.  As with Guildford Friary I originally did not know where the line would fall within the site and it wasn’t until I found a ground plan of the structures that the pieces fell into place with startling accuracy.

Extract from visitor information board

Extract from visitor information board

The above plan shows the end of the line to be in the centre of the Monk;s Choir at the east end of the nave.

251/22 Waverley Abbey

In summary, we have six sites in extremely precise alignment; multiples of the Druid Mile with intersections with other lines; and coinciding orientation of three churches suggesting a possible astronomical alignment.  I would need a lot of convincing that this is all coincidence, especially as I cannot at the moment discover any even vaguely similar findings outside of this area .

More information on these sites may be found under the respective headings, or will be soon.

 

 

 

To be added to Newlands Corner Barrow on the NEWLANDS LINE

Newlands Corner is a well known beauty spot sitting on the chalk ridge of the North Downs to the south east of Guildford.  it enjoyed a brief moment of international fame when the author Agatha Christie disappeared and her car was found abandoned here in 1926.  She later turned up in Harrogate having suffered a mental breakdown.  These days it is mainly a large car park with a cafe much favoured by bikers.  The ancient drove road runs along the ridge and through the car park, crossing the A25 road between Guildford and Dorking.  Near this crossing, in nondescript woodland, sits the barrow.  It is indistinct and one could walk over it without realising that it is an Ancient Monument.  It does not appear to have been investigated in recent times, the last and possibly only excavation being by General Pitt-Rivers who lived in Merrow from 1873 t0 1877.  He excavated some half a dozen Saxon barrows in the area and a round barrow south east of his home on the northern slope dropping away from Newlands Corner.  This barrow contained a ‘British urn’ containing bone fragments but it is thought that he found the Newlands Corner Barrow already damaged and assuming that nothing could be gained  from further investigation did not spend further time on it.  The site of the Merrow Downs Barrow, also excavated by Pitt-Rivers, is now lost and no finds are recorded.

This barrow was instrumental in first determining the value of the Druid Mile (DM).  It is six DM from Whitmoor Barrow with Merrow Church being on the four DM point.  The two DM point on this alignment is now in the pavement of Marlyn Drive on a housing estate in Burpham.  This point is close to a Romano British settlement site.