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North Oxfordshire Megaliths

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 wondeful sights and scenes available in the area.

Megalith walks:

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.

Berwick Bassett Dewpond, The Ridgeway, Fyfield Down & NNR, Clatford Down, Clatford Bottom, Manton, Marlborough – 12.7km/8 miles, 105 metres/340ft, 6 hours

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.

Knoll Down, Windmill Hill, Avebury Trusloe, West Kennet Long Barrow, East Kennet, West Kennet, Avebury, Avebury Down, The Ridgeway, Berwick Bassett Dewpond – 19.1km/11⅘ miles, 295 metres/960ft, 9 hours

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.

Devizes, Roundway Hill, Beacon Hill, Wansdyke, Morgan’s Hill, Bishops Cannings Barrows, Cherhill Hill, Old Bath Road, Knoll Down – 16.6km/10⅓ miles, 330 metres/1,080ft, 6 hours

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.

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 – 21.7km/13½ miles, 350m/1,150ft, 6¼ hours

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.

Hook Norton, Rollright Heath, Great Rollright, Rollright Stones, Little Rollright, Salford, Chipping Norton – 15.2km/9½ miles, 300m/980ft, 4¼ hours

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.

Train to Kingham, Churchill, Sarsden, Chadlington Downs, Hawk Stone, Dean, Lidstone, Hoar Stone, Taston, Charlbury station – 26.5km/16½ miles, 400m/1,300ft, 7½ hours