Shadows in the Water

June 15, 2012

A tributary of the River Dever, the Cranbourne rises just to the east of the A30 Stockbridge Road, north of Sutton Scotney  – an old Welsh drovers’ route and the main route for centuries between London and the South West.

Abutting a bend in the A30 is this moated site, formed by the Cranbourne, the remains of a ‘homestead moat’, probably the site of a Mediæval Manor House and 14th/15th century chapel.

Looking at it, I can’t help thinking of the island of Angharad Goldenhand in Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, a refuge for Colin and Susan as they take flight from the morthbrood: “Dreams, glamour, they are not easy to tell apart… The Lady of the Lake is a skilled weaver of enchantment.  She knew that without help we could not have survived the night.”

The stream and moat are overlooked from the south by two tree-covered Bronze Age round barrows, known as Cranbourne Clumps.

It seems to be yet another example of the association, noted by researchers and archaeologists, between such funerary monuments and bodies of water.  As Richard Bradley remarks of Bronze Age carvings of footprints in the rock art of southern Sweden: “we might envisage a path cutting across the landscape of the living and linking two distinct domains: the higher ground, the ‘heavens’, where Bronze Age barrows celebrated the ancestors, and the sea of the dead to which they had to travel.  If the footsoles do represent the hel-shoes of the recently deceased, they may record the path from the grave to the world beyond.” (Richard Bradley, 2000, An Archaeology of Natural Places, London: Routledge, p.145).




%d bloggers like this: