A culture-rich walk in Gloucestershire and dressing for April
|Chamber D (photo by author)
They told me it was a steep climb, but in the end
it wasn’t much of an effort. The main issue was how to dress. TS Elliot got it
wrong. April is not the cruellest month, but the most weather-uncertain one.
Layer-shedding is what I call the fourth month of the year. And so it proved to
I started uphill with a jumper, a hoodie and a jacket.
Belas Knap, our destination, beckoned further up ahead. Going through a couple
of fields, I realised that lambing season had already started. The evidence was
the little, Easter-picture-perfect lambs gambolling about, not too far from the
ewes’ watchful gaze.
Belas Knap Long Barrow, in Gloucestershire, is one
of those sites that connects you to history straight away. It’s over 5,500 years
old and it was built by prehistoric people, early Neolithic period. It was a
burial place. At least the remains of 38 people were found within the four
chambers that make up the mound.
The site was first excavated in the 1860s. However
the barrow was left in ruins until 1928 when more digging and restoration took
place. There are four burial chambers and a “false portal” (picture below). The
latter might have been built to deter robbers, even though not many valuables
have been found in the tomb chambers. Another theory suggests that the false
entrance was a “spirit door”, making it easy for the dead to come and take
|False entrance known as portal setting (photo by the author)
By the time we initiated our descent, my hoodie was wrapped around my waist and I was holding my jacket. I was also wishing I had at least put on a T-shirt underneath, instead of a thick top. It wasn’t the climb that was the problem but my sartorial choice.