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The Rollright Stones sited majestically in the Cotswold Hills on Dr John Dunn.

Soon to be published on my YouTube Channel

A motorcycle excursion into the Cotswold Hills to see the Rollright Stones and Chastleton Barrow

What follows is the draft spoken-word commentary to the short video. (It all serves to keep this home page fresh to Google searches!)

The video will be up and running soon, and the time will be announced first on this website.

Draft commentary

In the Cotswolds today, just about to cross a tributary of the River Evenlode, in a valley east of Little Rollright.

Hello, and welcome to the ride. As ever, it’s good to have you along.

Climbing out of the valley now, to a road running left and right, which broadly aligns with a prehistoric trackway known as the Jurassic Way (not to be confused with the new recreational footpath of the same name). The ancient trackway followed an escarpment of limestone, which stretches from the Humber Estuary all the way down to Wiltshire, and so to the stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge.

And here I am at that very ridge road, or ridgeway.

Straight on at this junction the land falls away quite steeply to the village of Long Compton.

When traffic allows however, I’m turning right along the ridgeway.

Given its prominent position his ridgeway has long been an historical demarkation line. Still today, it marks the boundary between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

Also on this ridgeway are landmarks of immense prehistorical importance.

And up ahead is where I pull in to take a look.

The Rollright Stones.

And of these, here is the stone circle known as the Kings Men.

This stone circle is late Neolithic, about 2,500 years BC. One of many stone circles across Britain. It’s always presumed that they had some sort of religious significance, but no-one really knows for certain.

A stone circle on the way towards the bigger stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge might mean something.

The location affords tremendous views across the valley I’ve just crossed. And over there are more historic stones worth seeing.

It’s a short walk, about a quarter of a mile to a prehistoric burial chamber known as the Whispering Knights dolmen.

The oldest of the stones, this is early Neolithic, about 3,500 years BC, a thousand years older than the stone circle.

This burial chamber would originally have been covered with a mound of earth, long since worn and washed away.

Across the ridgeway road is the newest of the Rollrights, the King’s Stone, erected around 1,500 BC. Again the question is Why? No-one knows.

Back on the ridgeway road now, heading towards Stow-on-the-Wold.

Despite its significance since prehistoric times, it was never turnpiked, and even now remains unclassified.

Here is an old turnpike however, the Chapel on the Hill and Bourton on the Hill Turnpike of 1731, now the A44.

Sad to see the old Cross Hands pub closed there.

From this I turn on to the A436, once part of the Foss and Cross Turnpike of 1755.

Turning right now towards the village of Chastleton.

The name derives from the Old English ceastel meaning a cairn or boundary marker. Ceastelton, Chastleton

Still today this lane forms part of the boundary between Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Looking for a track now to a farm on the right.

And here it is.

I’m heading for another prehistoric site that’s marked on the OS Map, but is rarely visited.

Those trees up ahead mark the earthworks of a round structure known as Chastleton Barrow. But barrow (normally a burial mound) it is not. It’s more likely a fort.

It's certainly a large enough landmark to have been a serious boundary itself marker over the centuries.

The land is on a prominent site, a high point on the same ridgeway as the Rollright Stones.

But this is nothing like as old as the Rollrights. The fort has been dated to the Early Iron Age, which in Britain was about 800 to 400 years BC.

What this place lacks in relative age compared to the Rollrights, it gains in relative scale.

It is fortified with a single bank built of oolitic limestone and earth that encloses an area of about 3.5 acres

Standing in the centre now.

That’s where I entered the circle.

You’ll make out the banked up earth relative to the height of those old sheds.

Scanning around the circle.

It’s difficult to capture on video the extent of the earthwork that I’m now standing in.

But take my word for it, the banked earth is there. You’ll just make out the raised earthwork, now topped by mature trees.

Obviously, worn down over hundreds of years. Nevertheless the earthworks can be seen rising up behind those old sheds there, and I pass through the fortifications as I leave. And only me here to see them,

Thanks for joining me on today’s ride into pre-history. As ever it’s good to have your company here in the Cotswold Hills.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen, please like, subscribe, perhaps even share, I’ll then let you know when I’m next out and about.

For now, I’m done.


© John Dunn.


From the archive: Lurianic Derrida

Turning helix Turning helix
I chose active thinking. I chose Love. This was the resurrection of the self, the victory over death.
And the multiplicity became mine to behold.
John Dunn

Just a thought: Dante had legitimised his own use of metaphor. More than this, he made the Platonic argument that metaphor is essential if man is to fulfil his role in the universe. The materialists and empiricists who would erase metaphor do so in order to limit, imprison and control mankind, whereas the essence of what it means to be human is to breach the cosmic order. That is what makes Paradise IV, indeed the whole of the Comedy, not only a highly politicised statement of Dante’s beliefs, but also a political treatise of lasting value. John Dunn (Renaissance: Counter-Renaissance)

The Oxford to Cambridge Arc 5 The Oxford to Cambridge Arc 5
Further additions to the project, starting with the Bedford to Cambridge leg of Ogilby's 1675 Oxford to Cambridge route.
John Dunn

 

England idyll on Dr John Dunn. Motorcycle England
YouTube Channel

In search of the historical, quirky and unusual features of the English countryside as seen from the saddle.

Join me as I follow maps, park up and take a look around. CLICK HERE

“Seeking out historical places of interest has given me wonderful motorcycling opportunities over the years… roads and little lanes, through a variety of landscapes that bear the scars, marks and imprints of those that have trodden, worked and fought on the land before us.”

“Any excursion, whether it be by motorcycle, car, bicycle or on foot, is always better for having an object, or goal in mind. I could take no pleasure in riding around just for the sake of it. There has to be a mission.”

“I ride my motorcycle to seek out things ancient, quirky and monumental, taking in the views, and ‘reading’ the landscape,its geology and history, as I do so.”

Original commentary to all videos researched, written and read by John Dunn.


© John Dunn.

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