Arthur's Stone - Map 148 - SO 319431
“The remains of a Neolithic chambered long barrow on ridge above Golden Valley. Its curved entrance passage into main chamber is very rare (if not unique) but may not have been part of the original design. The mound was oriented N/S with entry from the south and was originally some 25m long. The entry passage veers from N to NW, with the main chamber (5.5m x 2m) consisting of 9 uprights supporting a massive roof stone. Although the site is now largely open, the capstone remains crookedly perched aloft the main chamber. Very steep approach by road, so forget it in the snow!”
“Church and Dragon Well. Romanesque church c1150 with a fine carving of St George and the Dragon inside on the North Wall. The Dragon Well stands in a meadow 20m north of church and was enclosed in a concrete culvert in 1977 to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. No right of access to the site and the water not accessible.”
Good remains of the former Templar church, whose circular nave foundations can be seen outside the present rectangular nave. Inside the church are many carvings of Templar origin, including a horned head on the chancel arch, another horned figure with serpent on the piscina in the Lady Chapel (which was used for Templar initiations) and a carved cross and serpent on the font. Other carvings include carved ladder above an inner doorway. Outside the church are about a dozen examples of Templar graffiti.
Near Kington in NE Herefordshire, a long rugged ridge famous in local folklore for its legendary Black Dog, generally believed to be the shape-shifted form of 16th Century local thug, Black Vaughan. The Black Dog of Hergest is also believed to have been the proto-type for the Hound of the Baskervilles as Conan Doyle is known to have stayed at nearby Hergest Hall shortly before he wrote the novel. To meet the Black Dog was locally regarded as an omen of death. (Hergest is pronounced as "Argist" with a hard 'g')
Hergest Hall or Court is also notable as the place where the Red Book of Hergest was kept from about 1465 until the early 17th century. It was donated to Jesus College, Oxford in 1701 and can now be viewed on
line. The manuscript contains the collection of tales known as the Mabinogion as well as a Welsh translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's
Historia Regum Britanniae.
Kilpeck - SW of Hereford
Superb romanesque church of St Mary and St David, built c1120 - 1140. Famous doorway carved in style influenced by Celtic and Viking styles with warriors and dragons, tree of life, serpents, animal heads etc. Carved corbels around eaves, including England's best preserved (and most famous) Sheela-na-Gig.
About half a dozen romanesque strapwork-style Green Man carvings in all (the one on the doorway featured on Beltane 96 cover of WD). Viking-style carvings of saints also on the chancel arch inside. (See on-line article on Sheela-na-Gigs)
King Arthur's Cave - SO 545155 - Monmouth
Investigations show that this cave was inhabited from the Upper Palaeolithic through until Roman times, though most frequent use was made until the end of the Ice Age. Earlier inhabitants appear to have lived inside the cave, while later users lived in the entrance area only. The finds are mainly in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Museums. No problems about access though a torch is needed.
Marden - SO 512471 - north of Hereford
St Ethelbert's Well, named for King Ethelbert of East Anglia who was imprisoned locally before being murdered at Hereford on the orders of King Offa of Mercia in 794ce. He is reputed to have been buried beside the spring and a chapel or shrine (which gradually over the centuries developed into the present parish church) built over the site.
Church with Green Man carvings and ancient hollow yew tree. Four carvings on pillar on north side of nave, joined into a circle by their intertwining leaves, the whole oriented almost perfectly to the quarters. Fifth carving, of a Green Man with a sun-wheel pendant around his neck, on last pillar at west end of nave. The yew tree is of unknown age and its branches are propped up on a double ring of wooden supports - rather like a wooden Stonehenge with an Yggdrasil in the middle. Seating for at least 6 people inside.
St Peter's Church with painting of sacred fish which (allegedly) dwelt in the nearby Golden Well. According to legend it wore a golden chain around its "neck", this being depicted in the painting.
Stoke St Edith
St Edith's Holy Well on private property in a bank below the graveyard. The water emerges from the bank into a stone recess, flows into a large rectangular pool which is covered by a rounded brick vault and finally flows out into a stone trough. The well housing is protected by a metal grille which was erected by a previous owner to prevent access by local people. The present owner, however, generally leaves the gate open to allow access. Due to its seeping through the graveyard above, the water is not safe to drink!
Christian tradition claims that the water sprang forth at the behest of St Edith, a local Anglo-Saxon holy woman, who wished to build a hermit's cell on the spot; finding that there was no water to mix mortar, she prayed for water and struck the ground with her staff and the water appeared.
Sutton Walls - SO 525464 - Hereford
Iron Age fort covering about 29 acres built on a hill which had been inhabited for some time previously. The fort was the site of a massacre of its inhabitants, probably by the Romans in about 48ce, 24 of whose bodies were thrown into one of the ditches. Some had been killed in battle, others capture and beheaded. The fort's defences were subsequently dismantled but the site remained in occupation for several hundred years afterwards. The finds, including a large and rare pre-Roman iron anvil, are mainly in Hereford museum.
Wergin's Stone - Marden
Solitary standing stone of about 4ft (1.2m) high in a field, regarded by Alfred Watkins, author of The Old Straight Track , as an example of the sort of stones he claimed were placed as waymarks beside what he believed to have originally been prehistoric traders' tracks.
The stone fell in the late 1990s ago but was re-erected by persons unknown, when it was also surrounded by metal fencing. It is still possible to get to the stone, but
the fencing stops cattle from pushing it over. There appears to be no folklore connected with this stone.”