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The cairn, Long Mound and Sacred Circle

There was apparently a religious element to part of the last Neolithic settlement, in the form of the shrine. However following the destruction of this settlement, the religious importance of the site increased considerably. The excavation uncovered a series of religious features which are currently unique in the UK. It seems that in the absence of settlement for the next 1000 years, ritual activity continued in a very significant way.

The first development was for the Neolithic shrine and path leading to it to be modified. Part of the path was covered in a stone cairn which was covered in a very curious set of grooves or channels. Perhaps these were drains, as befitting a slaughtering site, or perhaps short fences.

Some time after the building of the cairn, the monument was considerably expanded. The cairn was covered and extended by a mound of soil, apparently brought from elsewhere than the hill. This Long Mound is still visible today, extends for 100m or so along the whole length of the valley in which it is set, and with slabs marking the edges. Many of the slabs have deposits of slaughtered animal bones underneath. There are other finds, often of bronze, buried in the Mound.

At the end of the Mound where the view over the Severn valley opens out, the site of the shrine was also considerably expanded. It was replaced by a large circular cobbled area, surrounded by small vertical slabs and with a large flat ‘altar’ stone in the middle - the Sacred Circle. The amount of effort involved in constructing this site means it must have been an important religious centre.

Much about these monuments is enigmatic and we will never know how for sure how they were used. Even dating of the Long Mound and Sacred Circle has proved very difficult. It seems likely that it is mostly Bronze Age, perhaps in the centuries after 2000BC. It is clear that the end of its use was abrupt - the ‘altar’ stone was deliberately smashed and vertical stones around the circle were pushed over from the outside. The hill was then abandoned for perhaps as much as a thousand years.

The religious use of the site is explained in the second part of the site video:

Click the photo to see the stone circle at the NW end

Click the photo to see the whole Long Mound

Grooves in the surface of the Cairn