Megalithic Walks

As a walker you will know the main problem is to avoid getting lost. It was no different in 1,500 BC. A Megalithic traveller needed directions too. He used lines of sight, intervisible markers laid out in a straight line, and took his bearings from a local stone circle, scoring lines with a sharp tool onto hide or leather to use as a compass. The direction was indicated by series of ‘signposts’ such as barrows, clefts in a hillside, copses and standing stones, the equivalent of present-day church spires (many, if not most, churches are known to be on top of megalithic sites) and other megalithic markers. Watering-places at regular intervals and overnight stops roughly every ten miles, i.e. a day’s journey in droving terms, were provided and toll-points sited at strategic points along the way, the latter often appearing on modern maps as a Roman fort or Norman motte-and-bailey.

Wherever you walk, make a note of features that could be landmarks. They are there to signal the way ahead but it is all too easy to get lost in the English countryside so when in doubt a Megalithic traveller consulted a stone circle or a hermit (‘servant of Hermes). Evidently all the megalithic markers put in place to guide people were highly visible, required very little maintenance and made to last. The proof is that so many can still be seen today. On your excursions you will learn to identify various signs in the landscape. We may not be able to supply a hermit but for now all you need is a pair of walking boots and a piece of leather.

But assuming you will soon wish to branch out on your own then please do so because we need your research. Once you roughly know what to look out for and once you roughly know what to look up on the internet (and once you have learned to be properly sceptical on both counts) you can send in your results here and if not found wanting they will be posted up.

The Walks