Arthur’s Stone Walk!
Arthur’s Stone is a Neolithic burial chamber.
On the walk, we visit a Motte and Bailey Castle, the pretty St Faith’s church (a church so old we don’t know how old it is), and Merbach Hill- which affords some spectacular views.
Start of the walk
Hello people of the Internet!
We are at Dorstone today and we are going to be doing a nice circuitous walk that is going to take in: a Motte and Bailey Castle a Church, a big hill and then a thing called Arthur Stone which is a Neolithic burial chamber.
Sounds good, sounds like a good itinerary.
We’re gonna be walking approximately five . eight miles and it’s going to be a nice round trip with some interesting things.
We do we do like a nice round trip.
We’re a really pretty village called Dorstone and we’re going to go and visit its castle, which isn’t really much of a castle anymore.
What state will it be in? Come with us to find out.
*whispers* Let’s go, let’s go.
Ian’s First Impressions of the Motte and Bailey Castle
It’s not very far to our first destination, we wander out into this field, and there behind me that is the castle.
I know doesn’t really look like very much, but that’s what’s left of it.
When you think about the fact that it was all built by hand, they moved a lot of soil to dig this thing up.
It’s got a moat
Which, admittedly doesn’t have any water in it anymore.
I like this sort of thing.
It’s home to a spot of wildlife,
Some good oak trees up there.
There are too few oak trees in this country I think.
Jo’s First Impressions of the Motte and Bailey Castle
Jo’s Part- ‘Castle’ is a loose term, it’s what they call a motte-and-bailey castle, which is basically a mound of earth, at the moment, but it was once a fortification built
As a defence position.
There are a lot of them all the way up and down the border between England and Wales because there was an awful lot of conflict between the two countries.
Because they were thrown up in a hurry they were made of earth and wood generally.
Sometimes stone was added onto them to make them more permanent.
As you can see it’s got a good view of the surrounding area, so it’s ideal to see incoming enemy attacks and it’s got a moat that goes all the way around it which you can still see. It’s quite deep.
It would have been much deeper when it was first created, obviously but it’s still pretty steep.
I mean you can see the bank behind me there.
Jo Talks Defence
You’ve got some cool trees up here too.
Those roots are quite something.
Very strong looking.
You can see why this was the ideal place to build this.
You’ve got really good views all the way around this Motte, and the hills slope down and then up, so anybody coming down out of the tree cover has to go down out into the open and they’re going to be spotted pretty easily from here.
I should imagine quite a good line of fire there as well, so if you did see anybody you could pelt them with anything that you had.
Yeah, they picked a good spot here for defence.
It’s pretty as well.
A bit of history
All that remains of Dorstone castle are the earthworks of the Motte and Bailey and some stone foundations of the tower.
It probably originated in the 12th century and was later fortified in and subsequently destroyed a few years later by the Welsh.
So that’s it, we’ve seen the Motte-and-Bailey, the castle.
And now we’re gonna head back the way we came because that’s sort of people we are.
On To The Church
Jo: We came we saw we left.
Jo: After getting a few shots, which is our version of conquering I guess.
Ian: Gave us the opportunity to have a look around and know where we’re going…
…not that we didn’t know the way that we were we were going anyway but we do now.
Jo: I have no sense of direction.
I never know where I’m going.
Ian: That’s true. So now we’re gonna go in have a look at a church.
We’ll tell you all about the church when we get to it.
For now Jo’s gonna climb a style.
Isn’t she ladylike?
Who’s a good doggie?
That’s right. You’re a good doggie.
Silly human that I am.
St Faith’s Church
This funny squat looking building behind me is St. Faith’s Parish Church which was reputedly built by Richard de Brito.
Ahh, you’ve gotta love my pronunciations. He was one of the Knights who murdered
Thomas Becket in and he built the church as penance for the murder, supposedly.
Thomas Becket also known as Thomas Becket was made a saint by Pope Alexander the rd
Ian: Okay well what have we seen so far?
Jo: We’ve seen the Motte, we’ve seen the Church and now we’re going to…..
Ian: Merbach Hill, which is a hill.
Jo: Yeah! Called Merbach.
Ian: You know, ‘cos, currently we’re in the golden valley which sounds really quite appealing. Doesn’t it?
So we’re going to go and climb a hill so that we can look down and see what there is to be seen.
Jo (singing): Off we go, to up the hill, catching up with Ian, who’s in front of me, hello Ian, he waved, but we’re still going up the hill.
On the Way to Merbach Hill
Ian: This is the nice easy bit of the hill.
Apparently it gets a bit steeper.
I have heard it described as a trudge.
Jo: not a trudge?
Ian: A trudge.
Ian: When I say I’ve heard..
I read it, which is different, isn’t it really.
Jo: It’s like hearing through your eyes.
Ian: It is. But either way that’s what we’re doing.
We’re climbing a hill that may or may not be a trudge.
We will let you know when we get to the top whether we thought it was trudgie.
Jo: Just had to stop to tighten the old boots and take the coats off because it’s a bit warm.
We are about to do the next incline.
We can see what they mean by a trudge.
You set a pace, then you stick to it really, don’t you?
Ian: Yeah. They’re accurate, whoever the people on the internet were, what said it…
Jo: They were right.
Ian: They knew what they were talking about.
Ian: That way
Jo: That’s the turn out for the books. Ha ha ha ha.
Jo: This way.
Ian: Turn up for the books dear, not turn out.
Jo: Did I say turn out?
Thoughts on The Journey
Jo: We’ve been going through quite a lot of fields for quite some time now.
Each of them on a range of gradients from ehh to eeeehhhh.
But still we’re making progress; progress is being made.
I can see some hills. I suspect they’re not the hills that we’re going to.
Where are the hills that are going to? Point.
Jo: So over there-ish.
They look like little speckie mumps in the distance.
But the views are gonna be pretty stunning from the top.
I can tell because the views from here pretty stunning and we’re not at the top remotely.
Walking Merbach Hill
Jo: Headed up to Merbach Hill or as we’ve just heard it called merbadge
Jo: Yeah, don’t know. Either way we’re calling it merbach because it sounds better for us.
And it’s quite boggy up here.
Squelch, squelch, squelch.
Ian: It has been raining.
Both: Merbach Hill!
You’ve gotta love a good windswept tree and that’s a good windswept tree, and over here is another good windswept tree.
Not as windswept as the other one.
This one looked a bit more intact but it’s a good looking tree and here we are nearly at the top of Meerbach hill, however you’re supposed to say it.
Apparently the right pronunciation is the Welsh pronunciation which is something like Merbach but people locally call it murbidge.
I don’t, I don’t know why this would be.
Behind me there’s a fantastic view.
Here is a very rustic looking gate at which I have arrived and I will now walk through said rustic looking gate.
Gotta love a good rustic looking gate that’s why I say.
There’s Joey behind me, looking, you know, at the view.
About Merbach Hill
Jo: Merbach Hill.
Ian: Hello we’ve reached the top of this, nearly at the end of our journey but not yet, oh no.
Jo: We’ve still got Arthur’s Stone to go to.
Ian: We have.
Jo: This is the trigonometry point at Merbach Hill and it stands in front of a stunning view of the River Wye that goes through lots of places like Hay-on-Wye and Monmouth and things like that.
Ian: This is the ten thousand eight hundred and eighty third highest peak in the British Isles.
Jo: Like it’s got a runner-up award for trying.
Ian: It’s the one thousand five hundred and sixty ninth tallest in England and it has an elevation of three hundred and ten meters that’s one thousand and forty three feet if you’re, er, if you’re American.
This is how we know how high everything is because of things like this.
Jo: Yeah, trigonometry.
Jo: Look it up
Ian: Look it up.
Jo: Because we can’t be bothered to explain it. We’re giving you homework.
Ian: Yes, homework’s always good. We’d like an essay. One page.
Jo: Send it to anyoneelsebutus.co.uk
To Arthur’s Stone!
Ian: We’re off to see Arthur’s stone, which is a really cool sounding thing.
It’s a Neolithic tomb, because he doesn’t need a good Neolithic tomb in their lives?
That’s what I want to know.
Jo: And I want to know why Arthur needs of stone so (Ian: yeah)
I’ll find that out when we get there.
Ian: he needs loads of stuff.
Ian: He’s got a stone, he’s got a seat, he’s got… there’s one just below Pen y Fan.
Jo: Well there you go, Arthur- the man who needs a lot of seats.
Ian: He does, he clearly likes to sit down but he also likes a good stone as well, so….
Jo: First things first we’re gonna eat a Snickers, so Snickers. Power up. And off.
Jo: Merbach Hill. Come on.
At Arthur’s Stone
Jo: Arthur’s Stone.
Ian: This is the end of our walk. So we are going to show you some fabulous footage of this thing, which is a Neolithic tomb, which for some reason is called Arthur stone even though chances are it had absolutely nothing to do with Arthur and Arthur may or may not have existed, but….
Jo: It might have been an Arthur rather than the Arthur
Ian: It could be, it could be a bloke called Arthur who found it and went”look there’s a stone here” and obviously this has been excavated because originally it would have been covered in earth, so that it would look, you know, more like a burrow.
Somebody would have been buried in there, which was all very Ahhhhhhhhhh.
And now they’re not because, you know, time has passed.
Jo: And the body has evaporated. That’s what happens.
Ian: that’s what happens. Yes.
Ian: Science. Let’s go with that.
A Bit About Arthur’s Stone
Jo: One of the things I love about England and Wales is the variety of history you have just sitting on the surface.
This behind me is prehistoric and although it’s called Arthur’s stone it was only link to Arthurian legend from the th century.
It’s thought that Jack’s slew a giant and the giant fell, and apparently there’s an elbow impression from the giant on one of the stones.
erf…. you know how these things go.
Tourism. Even so it’s quite something that this stone structure has been staying upright with that heavy capstone on it for all these years.
Just goes to show things back then were built to last.
Ian: We are going to end our walk here, even though we have to walk back to the car, but we’re not gonna take you for that because you don’t care about us walking back to the car.
Why would you? Anyway so…
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