Weekend Wandering: The hunt for Lanhill Longbarrow

Mystery stone along the A420

Last weekend's walk was a new-to-me-route from home and full of surprises. The quest was to find Lanhill Longbarrow, something I've known about for a while and probably Chippenham's oldest feature, as it dates back to between 3,500 and 2,500 BC i.e. Neolithic times. 

The first surprise I found was the pictured intriguing stone at the side of the road... it looked ancient - especially as my head was full of images of standing stones at the time - but what looks like a mason's mark towards the bottom made me think it's not quite as old as it might be.

  Trees on the top of Lanhill

Then I found the footpath to the barrow, which was surprisingly not at the top of the hill where I thought it would be, especially as there's a tell-tale clump of trees, but I liked the view over the surrounding countryside anyway.

  View from the top of Lanhill

As I walked down the hill, I suddenly saw a low-ish mound with a gaping black hole. I had found the barrow!

First sight of the barrow

The chamber is one of three the mound is reported to contain, but this is the only visible one. Between them they contained the bones of around 20 people, all possibly related to each other from a baby, through a child with a badly injured elbow, through to adults.

  The chamber entrance in the barrow

It's quite easy to get behind the stone which 'guards' the entrance for a good view inside.

View inside the chamber

It's also possible to walk around the entire mound, which is where I found a delightful bank of white violets bordering the ditch.

  Beautiful wild white violets, Viola blanda

On the way home I found the intriguing Long Stone shown on my Ordnance Survey map - it's the unusual sign at the side of the road, not the ancient stone I expected it to be.

  View of the Long Stone along the A420

Who knew that after a year of local walks there's still more to find out there with adventures to be had along the way?

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  1. Oh wow - Jane will be beside herself when I tell her about this - she loves all that time team stuff haha - good find through; and isn't it good to tramp and know your area in such detail.

    1. Mark, it's been brilliant to have a year of local walks and still have something new to see. I took the longer (more offroad) route to find it, but it's actually an easy find just a few yards off the A420 if you know where to look. Today I took the opportunity to walk on the public footpaths on Chippenham Golf Course, another new-to-me walk in which I didn't need to worry about flying golf balls. Tomorrow onwards will be different!


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