Sarsen stones can be found in several places on the Marlborough Downs. Last year I discovered an enormous field of them on Fyfield Down which many locals call the "valley of the stones". They are an ancient stone, formed out of a sandstone deposit that formed on the chalk over 30 million years ago. Glaciation cracked that layer and dragged the stones across the landscape, and as the ice melted we were left with these boulders dotted across the fields of Wiltshire. Over time, many of these boulders were used as building materials. Places like Avebury and Stonehenge bear witness to this. But the ones that are left in the wild do need protecting, and in 1908 the National Trust bought the land at Piggledene and Lockeridge Dene to preserve them.
Both sites are not too far apart, but they do take some finding. Walking among them offers a chance to quietly wander and contemplate the past. The rocks are ancient and people will have been walking amongst them for thousands of years.
I went to Lockeridge Dene first, as this one is on the outskirts of the village and while parking is limited, you can drive close enough to the entrance. The first field showed the stones lying in the wild grasses, with butterflies and insects making much use of the grassland to flourish. Walking through to the second field, this one was grazed by cattle and as I walked on an embankment I could see the sarsens on the field below. At places like this I always like to think I am looking at the same view that people have shared for millennia.
The wonderfully named Piggledene was a little harder to find. It is right next to the busy A4 with no parking access, so I had to find a side street half a mile away and walk. Thankfully the A4 does have a small footpath although it was unpleasant to hear the traffic thundering past as I walked.
I had to cross the busy road to access the stile, and the site was signposted by a National Trust sign. Piggledene really grabbed me. As ! walked through the field, I spotted what looked like a circle of sarsens. Were these arranged like this by men or was this something that nature provided?
A little further on I found a large flock of sheep grazing among the stones who eyed me up curiously. Between some of the stones were aged trees, making this landscape feel ancient and wild. It was worth the effort to find this part of Hidden Wiltshire. While a special visit to these places will reward the explorer, they can also be added to a more substantial walk.