Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Belas Knap, Cleeve Hill, Gloucestershire

From the Rollright Stones we decided to visit Belas Knap, a long barrow on Cleeve Hill near Cheltenham, as it was - supposedly - only half a hour's drive away. However, we encountered a hunt (a drag hunt, I sincerely hope) and the journey was extended another half hour.

(Click photos to enlarge).

From the parking space down on the road, it was quite a slog walking half a mile uphill to the site of Belas Knap.

From the sign pictured above:
"Belas Knap is a shrine built around 2500 BC. It was used for successive burials, possibly over a period of several centuries, until eventually the burial chambers were deliberately blocked. The chambers contained the remains of 38 human skeletons, together with animal bones, flint implements and pottery.

At one end is a false entrance which although impressive leads nowhere. It may have been intended to deter robbers or evil spirits or to have some symbolic significance. The space in front of this was probably used for rituals and ceremonies.
The false entrance at the north of the barrow is pictured below:

The entrance to the North West chamber:

Inside the North West chamber, looking out:

The entrance to the sealed South chamber:

The South East chamber (below). I didn't fancy going inside this one...

...because as you can see, there's not exactly a lot of headroom:

The North East chamber contains several standing stones:

Inside the North East chamber, looking out:

I have to say, that in parts - especially around the north "false" entrance this site looks quite modern, although I understand it has been restored, and in the chambers that I entered there was evidence of concrete in the ceilings. It makes me wonder what condition Belas Knap was in before restoration. Nevertheless, it's a great site to visit, but be prepared to exert yourself getting there!

Date visted: 17 January 2009

See also: Belas Knap on The Modern Antiquarian


  1. I remember going to this place. Quite amazing really. I love places like this and things around cheltenham and to be staying in Cheltenham Hotels for a relaxing night away.

  2. good description, looks like it was winter when you visited.
    Hetty Peglers tump, Uley, Stroud is another fine example...about half a mile away is a two tier Hill Fort with stunning views