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In pictures: Ancient history in the Cotswolds at Belas Knap

Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire

As part of my local travel summer mission I’ve been searching out the interesting and beautiful in my home area of Gloucestershire, from old to new. So to start off I’ve got one of the oldest, Belas Knap, which was sitting on this patch of Cotswold soil before the Pyramids were built. Belas Knap Long Barrow – to give it its proper name – is a Neolithic burial chamber on a hillside above Winchcombe. From above it looks like a big diamond shaped mound of earth, but underneath are four burial chambers where 38 skeletons were uncovered. Buried over 5800 years ago, the inner chambers were sealed with rock and covered over until they were unearthed in the 1860s. Its strange name comes from the Latin bellas for beautiful and Old English knap for summit, and on the way back down the Cotswold views show you why.

Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire

Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire

Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire
Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire

Belas Knap Long Barrow Neolithic burial chamber Winchcombe Gloucestershire

Belas Knap is located on a hillside just south of the Cotswold town of Winchcombe, 9 miles from Cheltenham. It’s signposted from the main road and after driving a mile and a half there’s a pull in where you can park. From there it’s about a 10–15 minute walk uphill to the site. This also forms part of the Cotswold Way walking route or there’s a good 5 mile circular walk from Winchcombe.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love finding new places around home.
    Feels just like your on vacation without traveling.
    Beautiful place!

    September 5, 2013
    • Thanks, it’s so easy to overlook what’s closest to you isn’t it?

      September 6, 2013
  2. Ben #

    What a fantastic bit of history! It’s amazing what you can find when you start looking at your home as a place to explore, just like any other travel destination. I’ve recently decided I should do the same!

    September 5, 2013
    • That’s very true – I started doing a bit of research into things to do in my local area and came up with loads of things I’d never heard of so should keep me busy til my next trip!

      September 6, 2013
  3. What an interesting spot. I can think of many stories to go with this site.

    September 6, 2013
    • So much history in one spot it’s amazing to think of all the different lives that have passed by.

      September 6, 2013
  4. Hello. What a smashing post about something in your locality. I’ve been doing something similar. I had an afternoon in Highworth (as eulogized about by Betjemen) once a bigger, more important town than Swindon. I was fortunate to be given access to an old ice-house. Belonging to a large house it had interconnecting tunnels so that servants could scurry to and fro without getting in the way of guests in the garden. Unfortunately no photos. I blogged about it here if you are interested:

    Lovely post and pictures. Cheers!

    September 6, 2013
    • Sounds fascinating, I love the idea of the underground tunnels! It’s funny how many different and interesting places you can find near to home when you start looking.

      September 6, 2013
  5. Last time I visited Belas Knap someone was meditating on the top of it! Love how your images capture my home county so beautifully.

    September 6, 2013
    • I imagine it’s a great place to meditate! I’ve lived in Cheltenham for a couple of years and come from Herefordshire but had never heard of it until recently but loved those views.

      September 6, 2013
  6. Lovely pics Lucy. I’m absolutely fascinated by how places like this were built. Great find!

    September 11, 2013
    • It’s hard to get your head around something being so old isn’t it? Glad to come across it though, will have to see what else I can find around here!

      September 12, 2013
  7. Reblogged this on Just Go Places.

    September 17, 2013
  8. ameera #


    I love how you’ve incorporated the images to help understand the environment!

    Also, I am new to the blogging community and would love for you to check out and follow my travel blog and help spread the word! Thanks!

    September 21, 2013
    • Thanks for visiting – and best of luck with your new site, I will be sure to check it out.

      September 24, 2013
  9. They were right about the views, beautiful. As are your shots!

    September 22, 2013
    • Definitely one of the best bits about working at home is to be able to nip out for an hour with the camera when the sun is shining!

      September 24, 2013

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