“The hobbits shuddered. Even in the Shire the rumour of the Barrow-wights of the Barrow-downs beyond the Forest had been heard. But it was not a tale that any hobbit liked to listen to, even by a comfortable fireside far away.” - From ‘The Lord of the Rings’; J.R.R. Tolkien
Maybe my thoughts and feelings about visiting long barrows or a field of burial mounds is informed by reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The association with the dead seems quite tangible and sometimes the imagination cannot help but conjure an immediate connection with the long departed. The spirit of dead chieftains, warriors and queens and a reverence for their ghosts saturates the air.
Well, perhaps not always, but I remember very well when Rupert and I first visited Priddy Nine Barrows on a pre production recce the day was freezing, a hoar frost carpeted the grass and a grey mist hung in the air. We felt quite detached from reality.
Standing in that field, surrounded by the undulating low mounds that make up this remarkable burial ground we certainly felt an awe and a reverence for whoever the internees may once have been. And was not that their very purpose? All the more impressive then, that intent reaches across the millennia to two 21st century men freezing their arses off in a field who’ve walked all of 200 yards from the comfort of a camper van.
Anyway, the truth is of all the different types of ancient monuments, barrows and burial mounds hold a particular kind of magic – at the very least, when they are reasonably intact and we can go inside, we can feel we are inhabiting the same space as our ancestors. We perhaps feel more in touch.
So, less of the waffle – here’s a clip from the film:
Kent, 20th September, 2006
“I wish I had one of these in my back garden” says Rupert.
A glorious day at ‘The Chestnuts‘ in Joan Bygraves garden in Kent. Thank you Joan for looking after, and being so informative about, the remains of this wonderful long barrow. Thank you also for allowing us
to film here.