The Devil's Den and Fyfield Down



The Devil's Den is a bit of a curiosity. It is hard to find and involves hiking through fields with an ordnance survey map, as it is on private land and not signposted.

It is a dolmen burial chamber, or at least looks like one now, with two standing stones and a capstone on top, but closer inspection reveals some rather modern cement holding the upper stone in place. Apparently this is all that is left of what was once a 230 foot long barrow that has since been ploughed over. These stones were kept and the dolmen was constructed in 1921. Regardless of the dubious history, it is a fascinating place to visit as it is close to Fyfield Down and the "valley of the stones".

Fyfield Down is what I can only describe as an ancient quarry. It is literally covered in hundreds of sarsen stones which are known as grey wethers for their likeness to sheep at a distance. When you look at them, they have a grey, blue colour to them as in the picture below.


But to get a sense of the scale of this neolithic quarry, you have to get into the air to capture it and in this next shot you can see hundreds of these ancient stones standing where they have been for thousands of years.


Finding Fyfield Down was a real challenge, as just like Devil's Den there were no sign posts and the paths take you across wide open fields. Even though it is a National Nature Reserve and officially part of the Avebury World Heritage Site, Fyfield Down is not nearly as well known as other sites.

The field of sarsen stones was hosting a herd of cows which included a huge, fierce looking bull and made us quicken our pace as we made our way through. It is extraordinary to think that this location was probably the place where the Stonehenge sarsen stones were sourced, as if you know your geography Stonehenge is 25 miles south of here.

The logistics involved in moving the stones from here must have been incredible, but move them they did.

Much of our walk on this day was intuitive - another way of saying we followed our noses. But we did supplement this with the Ordnance Survey app, which allowed us to pinpoint the location of the sarsens. On the way back we followed the tram lines in a field of golden corn. In a neighbouring field the farmer was starting the harvest. This area in the downs around Marlborough is very hidden, but quintessential Wiltshire.

Access Information

There is no way to access these sites by car. The closest you can get is to park in Fyfield off the A4, or head up toward Manton House via Downs Lane, where there is a car park at 51°25'43.2"N 1°46'17.9"W

It is a bit of a walk to get there, but well worth it.


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