Tag Archives: mid winter

A Possibe Standing Stone on High Curley Hill

A Possibe Standing Stone on High Curley Hill

It has recently been pointed out to me by a fellow researcher, David Fernleigh, that if my NEWLANDS LINE is extended as a backsight from my base point at Whitmoor Barrow, there is a clear line of sight for some 7.2 miles across flat countryside to High Curley Hill near Lightwater village.  This line is orientated to the mid-winter sunrise in the south-east and the backsight is to the mid-summer sunset in the north-west. The two opposing bearings align because they fall within the critical band of latitude which passes through the site of Stonehenge where a similar coincidence of sighting may be found.

It is unfortunate that the view toward Whitmoor is now obscured by mature trees, many of which are evergreen pines.  The old photograph below is copied from a notice board at the Surrey Heath Museum and shows that there were once uninterrupted views to the far horizon.  This sarsen stone is unusual; although there are other sarsens in this area this is the most outstanding example.

On my second visit to the hill, I noticed a strange indentation in the sarsen; in the photograph below a conical depression can be seen in the centre.  There are other depressions but I believe these were created by root growth when the sandstone was being formed and had not yet solidified into the hard rock we now see.

 

This depression is obviously man-made.  It is very smooth and regular, unlike any of the natural features.  The remaining rainwater conceals an evenly dished base.  At the surface it is about 15 centimetres in diameter and is some 16 cm deep.  I have no idea of the age or purpose of this feature.

But this stone, although interesting, is not on the alignment, so further site investigation was required.  The summit of the hill is a flat plateau at a height above sea level of around 420 feet. The summit is at the end of a ridge extending from the west and there are views to the horizon in all directions apart from along this ridge.  It would surely have been of significance to prehistoric peoples with its flat top measuring approximately 140 metres by 40 metres wide offering panoramic views to horizons some thirty or more miles away.

Taking a ranging rod; a trowel; and a pruning saw; my next visit was concentrated on the area where the backsight of the alignment crossed the hill about 44 metres from the sarsen.  The area around the sarsen and out to the viewing point in the north-west is well-trodden and clear of scrub, but coming back towards the south-east the ground has a dense covering of heather and gorse.  Working my way from the alignment back north-west towards the sarsen I stumbled across the corner of another sarsen just visible through the growth.  The pruning saw proved ideal for ripping through the covering of heather roots to reveal a large recumbent stone.  The next photograph shows the relationship between the two sarsens – the distance between them is about 21 metres, and the recumbent stone is about 27 metres from the alignment – a very small error over seven miles and without investigation of the rising and setting of the sun at this elevation.

This photograph below is all I have been able to expose to date.  This is a public country park and I did not want to be seen digging around the stone to ascertain its extent – besides which, at my age, the effort to get this far was quite crippling.  The exposed surface measured some six feet long by 2.5 feet wide (1.8m x 1.2m).  Probing the edges did not help in determining the depth or limits of the stone.

As it is so close to the mid-summer sunset alignment, I am going to be so bold as to suggest the possibility that this sarsen was once a standing stone fallen in antiquity.

The pale corner is just visible on Google Earth at  51°20’45.41″N   0°41’30.92″W.  The altitude is given as 411 feet which gives a clear line of sight back to Whitmoor Barrow.  This is best viewed in Google Earth by selecting June 2018 in the ‘Historic Imagery’ option.

It now needs younger and fitter researchers, and with the permission of Surrey Heath Borough Council, to undertake a proper archaeological dig.  I would love to see the whole plateau subjected to examination – at the very least by ground penetration radar.

Best access to this site is from the public car park in the Lightwater Country Park off High View Road, Lightwater, postcode GU18 5YF.

 

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 before the removal of trees.

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.