The Hoar Stone, Enstone, Oxfordshire
North Oxfordshire Megaliths
Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of the wonderful standing stones and ancient sites around North Oxfordshire, and occasionally other sites beyond
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North Oxfordshire’s hills have been occupied since pre-history. A number of those sites still exist and can be seen today. Clustered around the north and west of Oxfordshire, extending from the Irondowns into the Cotswolds, there are a number of standing stones, stone circles, barrows and encampments that can be access from the footpath network. These pages and walks journal posts document some of the wonderful sights and scenes available in the area.
North Oxfordshire megalith walks
The follow posts document walks around North Oxfordshire. If you really want to experience these ancient sites than working them into a long walk is the ideal way to do so. It's not just that many are difficult to access by road. If you want to “see” these sites in the way their builders and users did, then crossing the landscape gives a much deeper sense of how these monuments ‘fit’ into that landscape.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Wednesday 20th March 2019:
Due to eye problems, from the end of November to the beginning of February I spent most of the time laid flat on my. During that time I went on a lot of walks… in my head. Those walks would often come back to the same spot – my favourite local megalith, The Hawk Stone. Given today’s auspicious astronomical events it seems a good day to visit it in person, and take care of another ‘anomaly’ along the way.
Route: Chipping Norton, Churchill Standing Stone, Besbury Bowl Barrow, Churchill standing stones, Sarsden Wayfaring Cross, The Roundabout, Lyneham Long Barrow, Chadlington, Dean, The Hawk Stone, Chadlington Downs.
Metrics: Distance, 21.7km/13½ miles; ascension, 350m/1,150ft; duration, 6¼ hours.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Thursday 14th March 2019:
As I leave Hook Norton it begins to rain again; hard. A steady 15-20 mile-an-hour wind, gusting to 30 or more, is blowing. It’s nice to go out in weather like this, "because it’s there"; if only to check your wet gear still works. Rather than struggle in the mud of the wet valleys the best option is to find a long ridge to traverse. Today’s ridge walk, though, is rather special.
Route: Hook Norton, Rollright Heath, Great Rollright, Rollright Stones, Little Rollright, Salford, Chipping Norton.
Metrics: Distance, 15.2km/9½ miles; ascension, 300m/980ft; duration, 4¼ hours.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Tuesday 1st May 2018:
This walk started with a comment from a friend a couple of years ago. When I pointed out that there were far more megaliths in West Oxfordshire than just the Rollright Stones, he wondered if it were possible to walk to them. That thought has been in my mind ever since; today, as a fitting tribute to Beltane – traditionally marking the beginning on the ancient Summer – I thought I'd give it a go.
Route: Train to Kingham, Churchill, Sarsden, Chadlington Downs, Hawk Stone, Dean, Lidstone, Hoar Stone, Taston, Charlbury station.
Metrics: Distance, 26.5km/16½ miles; ascension, 400m/1,300ft; duration, 7½ hours.
More distant walks
As part of the ancient Celtic region, Britain has a diverse collection of standing stones and ancient sites. It's nice to regularly visit my local sites; but those sites only have real meaning when you consider how they fit into that wider set of national ancient monuments.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Thursday 2nd May 2019:
On the third, and unexpectedly final day, I wander around a neolithic quarry before descending across the downs into the Kennet valley. All begins well, but then the rucksack issues develop as the morning wears on. By late morning I have to make a big decision before I get to Marlborough to re-stock.
Route: Berwick Bassett Dewpond, The Ridgeway, Fyfield Down & NNR, Clatford Down, Clatford Bottom, Manton, Marlborough.
Metrics: Distance, 12.7km/8 miles; ascension, 105 metres/340ft; duration, 6 hours.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Wednesday 1st May 2019:
May Day! Or since sunset last night, Beltane. I arise early as a result of a yellowhammer, wanting it's vegan breakfast, bellowing its lungs out from the top of my tent. I watch the dawn while making breakfast. Then I zig-zag across the ancient landscape around Avebury to find some of the lesser-known prehistoric sites that the car- or bus-borne visitors rarely see. By the afternoon though, the weather is on the change.
Route: Knoll Down, Windmill Hill, Avebury Trusloe, West Kennet Long Barrow, East Kennet, West Kennet, Avebury, Avebury Down, The Ridgeway, Berwick Bassett Dewpond.
Metrics: Distance, 19.1km/11⅘ miles; ascension, 295 metres/960ft; duration, 9 hours.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, Tuesday 30th April 2019:
For Beltane last year I did a day-long walk in West Oxfordshire to document its prehistoric sites. This year the idea is slightly more protracted: wild camp for four days across the downs; stopping only twice for water in Avebury and Marlborough; and all along the route, photographing as many of the lesser-known prehistoric sites as possible. I take a train to Swindon, then bus to Devizes, which I leave, on this first day, to follow the escarpment of the west end of the North Wessex Downs.
Route: Devizes, Roundway Hill, Beacon Hill, Wansdyke, Morgan’s Hill, Bishops Cannings Barrows, Cherhill Hill, Old Bath Road, Knoll Down.
Metrics: Distance, 16.6km/10⅓ miles; ascension, 330 metres/1,080ft; duration, 6 hours.
North Oxfordshire ancient sites
Over the coming months I'll be adding pages for
specific sites to the 'megaliths' pages.