Stoney Littleton

Chambered long barrow
Nearest town: Bath
Nearest village: Wellow
Map reference: ST 735572

Unfortunately, the entrance of this fine chambered tomb is now blocked

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Probably the most interesting chambered long barrow in south-western England, Stoney Littleton is about 30m (98ft) long, 15m (49ft) broad and 2.7m (9ft) high. This excellent monument, recently restored, shows no trace of a facade of standing stones, but the lintelled and deeply recessed entrance is set in dry-stone walling instead. Collected from outcrops over 8km (5mi) away, these stones face the whole perimeter of the mound and evidently must have been considered particularly appropriate.
     The stone chambers lie at the south-eastern end of the long grassy mound, the horns of which create a forecourt in front of the entrance. It is thought that corpses lay first in the entrance passage, only being moved into the chambers when decay had completed. The entrance leads to a 16m (52ft) gallery with three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber. The passage is very narrow, and only 1.2m (4ft) high in places - clearly not recommended to sufferers from claustrophobia.
     A fine fossil ammonite decorates the left-hand door jamb with a spiral; the spiral is a symbol used by various cultures to represent the passage through life and death. There are also a stump of a closing slab at the entrance and a septal slab before the central pair of side-chambers. Excavation by John Skinner in 1816-17 gained the entry through a hole originally made about 1760 by a farmer who took stone for road mending. The excavation revealed the bones (some burned) of several individuals.

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