Sunday, 2 August 2009

Devil's Den and wild flowers

Devil's Den Dolmen - just outside Marlborough near the village of Manton
The dolmen and wild flowers
Nothing, no abundance of them, can ever make poppies commonplace. There is a genius in them, the genius of colour ... (Richard Jefferies from Field and Hedgerow)

Walking away from the dolmen

Not Swindon at all really but comparatively nearby; hidden away in a field off the A4 between Marlborough and Avebury. Today I met my Ramblers walking group in Swindon's town centre and was given a lift out to Marlborough. Our walk leader today led us on a rather wonderful 10 mile walk which incorporated Wiltshire's only dolmen - known as Devil's Den. It is thought that this particular dolmen was once part of a chambered long barrow and is all that now remains. It was reconstructed in 1921 and is to my eyes an incredible work of archaeological art enhanced by the meadow of wild flowers it sits within. This meadow is now under the jurisdiction of
Since making this post I have received an email with a comment from Jean Saunders from the Richard Jefferies Society
I'm aware that Thomas Hardy mentioned this dolmen in his story entitled "The Devil's Door" or "Marlbury Down". I've often wondered if this is the dolmen that Richard Jefferies had in mind when he wrote the night scene in "Greene Ferne Farm" when Geoffrey and Margaret are lost on the Downs and spend the nigh there. However, the description in GFF of "three large flat stones set on edge, forming the walls, and over an immense flat one" is more likely to be the long barrow at West Kennet or Wayland Smithy.
Thanks Jean, you're comment is appreciated and I have posted it on the Avebury Forum to see if anyone can add further information.