Isle of Albion
Photographed: Saturday 30th January 2010
Site rating:

Stoney Littleton longbarrow is a multi-chambered Neolithic tomb that dates back to around 3000BC. It runs for around 30m along a north-west/south-east axis. At its widest, it measures around 12.5m. The interior passage extends for around 12m, dropping gradually in height from around 1.8m at the entrance to 1.2m at the end chamber.

The site was excavated between 1816-1817AD, at which time the bones of several individuals were discovered. In 1858AD the site was restored, and the surrounding stone border repaired. It passed into the care of the state in 1884AD.

During the 20th Century, Stoney Littleton once again fell into disrepair, and the entrance to the interior was boarded up to prevent access. However in June of 2000AD, further restoration work was completed, and the barrow fully re-opened to the public.

Stoney Littleton was once hard to find for the uninitiated, but these days, access is very straightforward. A short and clearly signposted walk from the parking spaces provides a pleasant approach to the barrow. The footpath crosses a river, and climbs up gently to provide scenic views out over the surrounding countryside.

By Somerset standards, Stony Littleton is relatively secluded. It's tucked away in a quiet corner of the landscape, slightly off the beaten track, and it takes a little effort to locate. It's still fairly popular, and it's not uncommon to encounter other visitors, even during the colder months. However, it doesn't suffer from the same level of tourism as the better-known Neolithic sites, and there's still a good chance of a solitary visit.

This is one of the finest longbarrow's in Britain - second only to West Kennet in my mind. Wayland's Smithy is finer in some respects, but Stoney Littleton offers the advantage of fully accessible interior chambers that extend a good distance back into the mound - evocative and eerily haunting.

Outside the barrow, a concrete slab can still be seen, originally set into the wall of the entrance during the 19th Century restoration. Now illegible, it once read:

THIS TUMULUS - DECLARED BY COMPETENT JUDGES TO BE THE MOST PERFECT SPECIMEN OF CELTIC ANTIQUITY STILL EXISTING IN GREAT BRITAIN - HAVING BEEN MUCH INJURED BY THE LAPSE OF TIME - OR THE CARELESSNESS OF FORMER PROPRIETORS, WAS RESTORED IN 1858 BY MR T. R. JOLIFFE, THE LORD OF THE HUNDRED; THE DESIGN OF THE ORIGINAL STRUCTURE BEING PRESERVED, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITH SCRUPULOUS EXACTNESS.