burial barrows, Castle of Comfort, gruffy, lead mining, Mendip Hills, Pen Hill mast, Priddy barrows, Priddy Circles, Priddy Mineries, skylark, Stockhill Wood, Ukraine
The area, within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB), is known as Priddy Mineries, for the lead mined from prehistoric times, through the Romans, (believed to have been particularly attracted to the area because of its plumbic riches), and at least to the 18th century. It is also rich in burial barrows. Zoe wanted to show some of them to me during our first-Friday walk a couple of days ago.
We met at the Stockhill Wood car park. Each of us had been listening to Woman’s Hour as we drove up. We shared how we had been moved by the account given by a young Ukrainian woman fleeing to Poland with her six-year-old son. Their apartment had been bombed the very day after they left. The husband had been obliged to say goodbye at the frontier in order to remain in Ukraine to fight. The young boy, on being told of a tradition that when you sleep in a new place for the first time you can make a wish, said that he wished that the war would end, and of Mr Putin that … he would become a nice man.
There is a 1987 67-page thematic account of a 1986-88 archaeological survey of the whole of the AONB. I confess to only having skimmed through it. As far as its barrows are concerned, there are many, many of them, and they are said to be of Bronze age origin, in an area where Neolithic remains have been found. A short Wikipedia account of this particular area’s barrows is here.
Nearby are the Priddy Circles, thought to be the site of henges.
The land is known as ‘gruffy’, a Somerset word related to mining, as ‘Botany Karen‘ explains. It is uneven, from the works, and, the mining abandoned, excellent for wildlife. On a chilly March day, there was little in evidence for us, but we were entertained by several skylarks from time to time. I did not have my camera with me, but I took a few photos with my phone.
We came to our first barrow, left, and there was another immediately behind it.
Over to the right in the distance we could see a row of seven.
To our left, some more.
The plan was to go along this path, but a walker with a dog, coming from the other direction, warned us off the flooded lane.
So we sort of retraced our steps, doing a very, very narrow figure-of-eight. In the distance is Pen Hill TV mast.
At this point we were still some way from our cars, but I failed to take any more photos, probably because I was 100% concentrating on not falling over on the very muddy paths making up much of our route!
We planned to have lunch at the Castle of Comfort public house, very near the Priddy Circles as it happened, but when we got there were told there was not a chance of a table without a booking. That was the first time that had happened in some eight years or so of first Friday walks. We abandoned the idea of lunching together. At least it solved my dilemma as to whether I could allow myself to eat out on two consecutive days, and gave me permission to do so at Hestercombe the following day…