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Wayland's Smithy - Oxfordshire, England
Long Barrow
National Grid Reference: SU 281 854

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How To Get There

Wayland's Smithy is situated on the Ridgeway not far from the Uffington White Horse. Find junction 15 of the M4, turn south onto the A346 heading towards Marlborough. Just at the top of the hill take a left turn signed for Badbury (if you go past the garage on the right you've gone too far). Follow this narrow road through Hinton Parva and Idston to Ashbury. Turn right and then immediately left. You'll now be on the B4507 heading for Wantage. Look out for a sign pointing up a narrow road heading up the hill to the right. If you reach the White Horse then you've gone too far. Head up the hill and you'll come to a dirt track crossing the road. This is the Ridgeway. Park and walk down the Ridgeway to the right. Wayland's Smithy is about ten minutes walk.

Wayland's Smithy long barrow

Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow dating back around 5500 years. Four huge sarsen stone uprights guard the entrance to the burial chambers and there is some fine dry stone walling to be seen too, similar to that found at Belas Knap. This "wedge shaped" barrow is 196 feet long and 50 feet wide at the widest point. Wayland's Smithy is set in a wonderfully peaceful grove of beech trees, a good place to be on a fine summer day (or for that matter on a freezing cold, snow laden misty day as shown in the photo above).

The name of the site derives from Scandinavian mythology. Wayland was a smith with supernatural powers. Legend has it that if a horse lost its shoe and was left at the barrow along with a coin placed on the stones then the horse would be re-shod and the coin taken in payment.

Excavations have shown that the current monument was built over the top of a much smaller mound. The burial chambers are at the end of a short passage which is now open to the air. The chambers themselves are still topped with a capstone and are quiet small, I have trouble crawling inside!

Don't miss the chance to see lots of other wonderful ancient sites if you visit Wayland's Smithy. I often make it a part of a day long tour of sites in the area. About ten miles to the southwest is Avebury and its associated monuments. Barbury Castle is a splendid hill fort near Wroughton and of course Uffington Castle and the famous White Horse are within comfortable walking distance of Wayland's Smithy. All of these sites (and a lot more besides) were built along the Ridgeway showing what an important route this was thousands of years ago; the prehistoric equivalent of the nearby M4!

Nearby Sites

Avebury
West Kennet
Silbury Hill

Related Sites

Notes

Ridgeway :-

The Great Ridgeway is a prehistoric pathway running predominantly over high ground from The Wash to Axmouth in Devon. There is a proliferation of ancient sites along the Ridgeway including Avebury ,Wayland's Smithy, the Uffington White Horse and Barbury Castle.

 

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