Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:
‘The Roundabout’

A single-walled Iron Age hill fort, ravaged by time – its ditch filled in by recent agriculture, its southern flank quarried for stone. Not a grand site, but a well-located one, 196 metres/643 feet up on a hilltop with views over the Evenlode Valley, and where a number of ancient paths meet.

Summary for ‘The Roundabout’:

Location: Lyneham, Oxfordshire

Type: ‘Camps & Settlements’.

Condition: Iron Age walled settlement, badly damaged.

Access: No public access inside; bridleway runs past the southern edge of the site.

OS Grid Ref.: SP299214

Further information: British History On-line.

Walks posts for site:
    • The Anomalous Megalith.

I used to cycle past here on the main road often. For many years I thought it was a quarry, in part because there’s a large hole where the earthwork used to be near the road. Only when I had a detailed look one day, stopping for a rest cycling home from Burford, did I realise it was an earthwork.

Many years after that, walking past on the track from Sarsden for perhaps the fifth or sixth time, I glanced down the field and saw what I’d completely missed on previous visits. The large portal stone of Lyneham Long Barrow.

The relation between the two is not clear. Lyneham Long Barrow is likely one of the earliest surviving structures in this area, built in the ‘New’ Stone Age, about 5,000 to perhaps 6,000 years ago. The Roundabout is a much later earthwork, most likely a settlement, built around 2,500 years ago in the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age.

The listing for the site provides some details. The Oxford County History a little more.

Other than the 1956 excavations, very little has been turned up from this site. The long-standing erosion by weather, and agriculture, will have diminished the amount of evidence to be found in any case.

The modern A361 running past the site roughly follows the route of the Jurassic Way, down to Avebury and Stonehenge. By the time The Roundabout was built, however, the fracturing of the more uniform culture of the Bronze Age into the separate tribes of the Celtic Iron Age may have changed the significance of that route.

Even though the site itself isn’t very spectacular, it’s builders did pick a lovely spot. At any time of year the trackway running past the site gives a brilliant view up and down the Evenlode valley. This is most easily accessed walking between Charlbury and Kingham railway stations (Ascott and Shipton stations being effectively closed at the moment). It is, quite literally, the high point of the walk, and for that alone it is worth a visit.