Tag Archives: St Martha’s

Developments

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 (DM) 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

Entry be added to St Martha’s Church under ST CATHERINE’S LINE

Chilworth is a linear village following the River Tillingbourne and was a centre for the manufacture of gunpowder from the 17th century until the First World War. The parish church has always been St Marthas, sited high above the village to the North, on what has been called Martyrs Hill. The church was rebuilt from ruins in 1848-1850. Of the original church the earliest visible remains date to the early 12th century. The church stands some 574 feet above sea level on a greensand Ridge.

There is an old folk tale that two chapels, St Martha’s and St Catherine’s, were built by two giant sisters to expiate some sin. But having only one hammer between them they tossed it from one to the other across the two-mile gap in the river valley until the chapels were built.  A strange similarity to the belief of some new-agers that these lines are paths of some power.   I have also seen a reference to an old legend that there was a tunnel between the church and Tyting Priory down the hill to the North West, possibly suggesting folk memories of an alignment passing through the two sites.

St Martha's Chapel in winter

St Martha’s Church in winter from the North West

The five circles at St Martha’s were examined by Grinsell in 1931. Since then one has been destroyed by the construction of a reservoir and another nearly obliterated by the path from the village. In 1954, E S Wood excavated Circle number four to the west of the church. He concluded from an examination of the geology that they could have been constructed anything up to 4000 years ago and that they were sacred enclosures of the Bronze Age. Since then it has been suggested that they are more likely to be the steads of tree-clumps of eighteenth or early nineteenth century date. Due to the acidity of the sand nothing was found but a few flakes of flint. Reportedly the diameter of the circles ranges from 72 feet to 77 feet although my GPS readings suggest a figure of 88 feet for the East circle.

St Marthas NW

The church from the South East looking across the site of the two eastern rings

260_1 St Martha’s Church and Rings

St Martha's Church and Rings

Plan updated in May 2016

The following text is adapted from Surrey Archaeological Collection volume 54, 10-16.

There were originally five circles at St Martha’s, first mentioned in 1850. In 1876 Dyer, in British Popular Customs, writes that it was the custom, the origin of which is lost in the obscurity of time, for people to make a pilgrimage to St Martha’s (or Martyrs) Hill on Good Friday, and to spend the time dancing and music making around the Norman church (T F Thistleton Dyer 1876). In 1895 (G Clinch and S W Kershaw in Bygone Surrey) wrote that it clearly had no connection with the solemn event celebrated by Christians in this day. Hillare Belloc (The Old Road 1904), knew of the hill’s reputation as a pagan centre and saw it is the holy meeting place of the tribes of the area. W Johnson (Folk Memory 1908) considered a possibility that the two small mounds to the north of the church wall were tumuli and also volunteers the information that when the early Christians erected a church where a heathen temple formerly stood, they performed a dance to their god as the heathens had done to theirs. He thought that the rings may be the remains of a maze. He speculates on the possibility dancing in church is a Christianization of pagan worship. The Good Friday carousels appear to have ceased around the end of the 19th century.  The Victorian County History, Volume 3 1911, states that the best of the circles was destroyed by the construction of the reservoir.  It is recorded that people still visited the hill on Good Friday in 1914 but the singing and dancing had died out. A fair was held on Ben Piece (open ground down the hill to the west) but had died out before the end of the century.  It is known that a processional dance started in Guildford over Pewley Down, and past Tyting. Possibly similar to Helston Furry dance. Apparently the dance was both processional (symbolic of the passage from life to death and back) and round (fertility), and took place outside of the churchyard.  It is thought that it died out due to the unseemly boisterousness as befitted a spring festival. Old prints indicate that the churchyard wall may have been circular before 1890. It may be coincidence that St Martha’s was built on Martyrs Hill or could early Christians have been put to death there. Could it refer to sacrifices? There is a tradition that the church was built to commemorate the spot where the martyrs died for why else would a church be built in such an inaccessible spot. Unlike many isolated churches this one was never the centre of a vanished hamlet.

St Catherine's from St Martha's Chapel

The view West towards St Catherine’s Chapel

In May 2016 I decided to pay a visit to the prehistoric rings at St Martha’s church.  I wanted to get out there to have a look before the spring growth completely covered them, and knowing that they were very difficult to see due to the shallowness of the ditches and erosion over the years.  I did have a rough survey on plastic film that I carried out possibly in the 1980s, and as I have no memory of it at this distance in time I could not guarantee any sort of accuracy.  I also have a sketch plan from the Surry Archaeological Collections published many years ago, and which seems to be the only time a location plan was ever attempted, this bearing very little resemblance to my survey drawing.  I needed to check the accuracy of my drawing so used the handheld GPS to record what I could find of the circles. After much searching and wandering around all I could find was the top half of the circle nearest to the church.  This was recorded and transposed onto my computer database to compare with the information already entered from my original survey.  Although  it wasn’t a particularly good fit it did at least prove that what I had on my original drawing was more accurate than the sketch plan from the SAS records.  My reason for the interest in these circles was the vague possibility that they may have been positioned in a less arbitrary manner than would seem to be the case on site. Could they reflect the shape of a constellation suggesting an astronomical purpose? Or could they somehow mirror some of the alignments that I have located? Looking at them on the database neither of these seem to be a possibility and at the moment I’m ruling out any interest in these circles, but possibly at a later date their location may be of some relevance.

St Martha's looking South East

St Martha’s looking South East

 

 

To be added to Chilworth Priory under TYTING LINE

Chilworth Manor is shown on older Ordnance Survey maps as the site of a Priory Cell.  There is a persistent legend that this was a monastic site but there is little to substantiate this.  There is certainly no record in the Domesday Book.  Legend has it that it belonged to Newark Priory near Ripley and Augustinian Canons lived there and sometimes officiated at nearby St Martha’s Church.  Chilworth Manor was supposedly part of the patrimony of Newark Priory and fell into disuse during the Reformation.  There is nothing older than the 17th century in the current manor building but it is extraordinary that the point 152/6 is so accurately placed within the fabric of the oldest part of the building.  Further research is needed.

Plan of Chilworth Priory

Site plan Chilworth Priory

Albury New Church added to DEERLEAP LINE

266_7+ Albury New Church

The parish church was built in 1842 by McIntosh Brooks based upon a romanesque building in Normandy.  Although a recent site it is remarkably accurate in alignment and orientation as can be seen in the plan below.  Could the builders have known this when choosing the site?  Or could it be built upon an earlier structure?

Albury New Church

The church from the south east with St Martha’s Church just visible on the hilltop to the left side266_7+ Albury Parish Church

 

Chilworth Moat added to DEERLEAP LINE

266_10.5 Chilworth Moat

266_10.5 Chilworth Moat

An internet search reveals little information on this site.  From memory I recall a trial excavation being carried out some years ago which revealed very little of interest.

Chilworth Moat from South

This site sits in a scrubby meadow just to the north of Chilworth village.  Although it is private land it appears to be well used by local dog walkers.  It is very difficult to make out the moat and I had to locate it using my hand held GPS.  In the photograph the slight depression is visible as a change in the colour of the grass across the picture.  Behind the site the Tillingbourne flows from right to left in the line of trees, eventually entering the River Wey behind Shalford Church.  Beyond the trees the land rises to the wooded area known as The Chantries.

St Marthas from Moat

St Martha’s Church seen from the site one and a half kilometres away.