‘Embarking on a monumental trip for a pint of ale’

May 17, 2015


Matt and slab of stone

ROCK ON: This is one of the stones near the ruin of an old Saxon church in east Dorset. Thankfully I had no intention to carve out promises on it like a certain politician in a recent General election. Picture by Lenka Daisy.


North Worbarrow font

BURIAL CHAMBER: Behind the big sarsten rock is the entrance to the terminal chamber used for community funerals Neolothic-style at the West Kennet Long Barrow.  The skeletons of 46 individuals have been found and represented a cross section of society and were interred there over the past 1,000 years.


Sixpenny Tap

TIDDLY TAVERN: The Sixpenny Tap is featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. It is only 68 square feet, holds enough room for one seated customer, 16 others standing and one barman. The bar is only six feet wide. The brewery and the Sixpenny Handley can be found via the Ordnance Survey reference, check the link on this article to obtain it. With me is Amy, one of my travelling companions for the day.



MELLOW YELLOW: I am walking through a sea of oil seed rape, which tends to proliferate at this time of year. Rapeseed oil was originally produced in the 18th century as a lubricant for steam engines. Nowadays it is grown for the production of animal feed; vegetable oil for human consumption and biodiesel oil.

Avebury stones

ANCIENT HISTORY: The three sets of stone circles at Avebury are said to have been constructed between 2,500 and 2,600BC. There were originally more than three times more than the 27 stones that are left.



STONE circles, communal burial chambers and miniature watering holes were all on the agenda on a weekend trip across the Cranborne Chase and Salisbury Plain.

Courtesy of a close friend, her family and others the weekend before last proved to be a magical mystery tour of neolothic sites and remote breweries I probably wouldn’t have otherwise visited.

Starting with a 2.5o barrel plant in Addlestone, Surrey, in 2007, Scott Wayland launched his own brewery and two years moved to a much more rural location in Sixpenny Handley, right in the heart of the Cranborne Chase. It has a certain amount of support from the Campaign for Real Ale.

A former dairy building was converted into a small off shop for sales of ales with the chance to do a try-before-you-buy. Increased demand for quality ales led to the premises being expanded to a 20 barrel plant involving extension development of the site.

Now has its own shop and bar and produces a range of five regular beers, with a number of seasonal and one-off specials. It produces ales for a number of Wetherspoons pubs.

The Sixpenny Tap is reputed to be the smallest bar in Dorset and was included in the 2013 and 2014 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. It was profiled in The Daily Telegraph on 7 October 2014.

If anyone is out and about in the Cranborne Chase and is searching for the Sixpenny Brewery remember to punch the following figures of 998166 into their satnav or use this is as the Ordnance Survey map reference.

Following the trip to Dorset’s smallest pub, we went up to Wiltshire to visit the Avebury Stones, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Neolithic monument containing three stone henges.

As well as being one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, it contains the largest stone circle in Europe and is a place of religious significance for modern pagans.

The henge monument comprises of a large stone circle and two smaller stone circles. It is not know what it’s original purpose was but archaeologists believe it was used for some sort of ritual or ceremony.

The site had been abandoned by the Iron Age but they also say there is some evidence of human activity during the Roman Occupation.

It was estimated there were 98 stones originally but there are now only 27 of them left. The two inner circles are alleged to have been constructed in 2,600BC with the larger one 100 years later.

One and a half miles south of the Avebury Stone Circles is the West Kennet Long Barrow. It is a Neotholic tomb located on a prominent chalk ridge.

It has two sets of opposing transept chambers and a single terminal chamber used for burial. At 100 metres it is one of the longest barrows recorded in Britain and is estimated to have taken 15,700 man hours to construct.

It was built out of local sarsten stone and limestone and topped with chalk. It was dug from two side ditches which have now silted up.

Excavations have shown that the barrow was used as a communal tomb and 46 people have been buried in there over the past 1,000 years. The remains were from a cross section of the community – men, women, the elderly, children and babies.

The large slabs of sarsten stone in front of the concave entrance were used and strategically placed to seal entry to the tomb.

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