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August 2005 - Warbstowbury

Windswept Warbstow Bury

North Cornwall in High Summer


The weather largely ignores the arrival of summer on the exposed hillsides of this part of North Cornwall. There will be few days that the wind does not make its presence felt - all the more reason for building high and lying low.



Quite how such a massive structure had escaped my attention for so long is a mystery in itself. Today, Warbstow Bury is a somewhat degraded Iron Age hill fort, off the beaten track, overlooking sparsely inhabited farmland. In years gone by, its great size and prominent location, looking out over Lundy Island and into the Bristol Channel beyond, must have made it as important a settlement as any in the South West.


A guest appearance by Alan Neal was a bonus for the dozen TDs who found their way to this now little-visited site. We climbed up from the modest car park, through the remaining ramparts and into a plateau of comparative calm, which was once home to a substantial population. We traced the outlines of a number of huts, located a couple of wells and had a debate about if, and how many, burials had been made in the central elongated mound - now known as the Giant's Grave.


There was general agreement that this mound pre-dates the enclosing grass-covered walls by a considerable period. The mound itself appears to mark a crossing point of both water and energy - classic circumstantial evidence for a sacred site. The sides of the construction delineate (or are described by) earth energy lines. However, the only leys present are tangential to the structure of the bury and avoid the central 'grave'.


Alongside what would have been the main gate was another similar potential sacred site - smaller, and now hardly visible at all, but defining the crossing points of both earth and water energy just as clearly. Was this a shrine at the entrance, or was the entrance at the specified spot? Trackways leading to the location added to the intrigue.


While there was a generally militaristic feel about the bury, this may have been due to the presence of the earthworks. There seemed little evidence of active warfare - and little remanence of its former inhabitants. Perhaps the relentless westerly winds really have swept away the traces of those who lived in this place for several centuries.


This is a site that deserves to be better known. The people who built it used it over a long period and, no doubt, more of the traces of their activities lie dormant, awaiting re-discovery.


Another superb TD site - albeit a two-jumper one. Many thanks to Alan for leading the group - and to Annie for providing the handouts.


Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers


August 2005

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