In pictures: Ancient history in the Cotswolds at Belas Knap
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 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.