Thursday, 22 April 2021

Belas Knap Long Barrow: a Piece of British History

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 be today.

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 offerings..

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.

25 comments:

  1. What a nice hike!Very interesting!
    Thanx for sharingūüėä

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  2. Thank you for taking us on this fascinating walk.
    Someone (I cannot remember who) said that the issue was NEVER the weather but how we are dressed. He had a point.

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  3. 5,500 year ago is rather amazing when apparently as some say, we were invented by God 2,000 years ago or sometime thereabouts. I didn't know about this place, so thank you.

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  4. Very interesting! I don't get "old" stuff like this on my walks, but I do see baby animals. We have several new calves. Next time, share photos of the lambs, as well. ;)

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  5. Such a fun adventure! Maine wins on cruel spring weather: light snow this morning!

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  6. What a fabulous location! You'll have to take me there on my next trip to England.

    And, btw: "April is not the cruellest month, but the most weather-uncertain one." Brilliant!

    Greetings from Brooklyn.

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  7. I would love to know all those places. I love London, without knowing why / Its history and customs, its accent. A joy to see you again. Always keep writing

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  8. Greetings, CiL .... it has been a long time ....

    Places like Belas Knap are extraordinary to my way of thinking and I envy you for the rich history and prehistory which abound only a hop, skip and a jump away from you. Love this post ....

    You are correct about April. I frequently go from winter parka to summer shirt the same day. Snow flurries this morning; no shirt this afternoon.

    As for Mr. Eliot, I judge each month on the basis of what it has been for me in the overall scheme of things. At this stage of my life, January is the cruelest and July is the weirdest ....

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  9. thank you for sharing this piece of British history. it's amazing what prehistoric people can built. wonder what the weather is like there 5,500 years ago. :)

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  10. Hi ACIL - it must have been a lovely day ... just to be out and about and up high. Barrows are quite extraordinary ... seeing that the countryside is still full of them. We are lucky we can learn so much about our history, and pre-history ... dressing for the weather is a challenge - it's been freezing out in the wind down here on the coast ... yet in a sheltered spot in the sun it's really warm. Lovely to think about ... and yes clothes - and if we have too many, we have to carry them ... I'm glad you had a happy time - all the best - Hilary

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  11. There is such fascinating archaeology over there. Over here we had snow recently, and it has been darn cold. But then we did have super weather not very long ago.

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  12. Bom dia meu querido amigo, parabéns pela excelente matéria, aprendi um pouco mais com você, bom final de semana.

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  13. Oh what a fabulous post, my friend! I was there in April '19 and found it so atmospheric and fascinating. I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
    If you're interested in history, then you'll love it.ūüėäūüėä

    Have a great weekend and stay safe.

    Greetings from Hampshire.

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  14. Many thanks for this post, I enjoyed the walk through your words and pictures.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    All the best Jan

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  15. Any opportunity for me from London.

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  16. Muy interesante este tipo de arqueología prehistórica, que por ese país abundan.
    En cuanto a tu vestimenta, hay un refr√°n espa√Īol que dice: Parte su tiempo Abril entre llorar y re√≠r.
    Buen fin de semana.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this wonderful place and your experience going there, Friend

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  18. Looks like a lovely part of the country. Here it's back to winter wear!

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  19. Glad you've been able to get out of the city and see some scenery! I haven't left London in more than a year and I am dying to travel. It is VERY hard to know what to wear here in the spring. I find that I am almost always cold.

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  20. Looks like a great site. I usually go too cooly dressed, but mostly because I figure I'm going to warm up on the walk. There's no way to truly anticipate unless you're familiar with the location.

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  21. What a neat sight. We have had warm weather and freezing weather and gale force winds this April. Blessings.

    Jeff
    https://fromarockyhillside.com

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  22. That is some serious history. And so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. Brilliant tour without leaving my home! I did once see a TV programme about this particular site, but your first hand account brought it to life in a different way. Thanks for sharing. ♥

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