Wayland's Smithy

Cotswold-Severn Cairn (Chambered Long Barrow) - Oxfordshire

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SU 28099 85376 (GPS 36min)
Visited June 2000

Although it is difficult to tell today, there are actually two long barrows at Wayland's Smithy. The first tomb was built around 3500BC, this barrow had a 15m long oval mound formed by the digging of chalk from its semicircular lateral ditches. Its burial chamber was wooden, and contained the articulated skeletons of several people, on top of these was a layer of mixed bones, coming from at least fourteen individuals. The remains in this covering were partially decayed when deposited, at least four distinct layers were present, indicating mulitple depositions. 
Around 200 years later, the smaller tomb was buried under the huge mound of the barrow you see today. The later mound is the usual trapezoid shape and is 52m long, it contains three stone-lined burial chambers. Although ransacked over the ages, the chambers still contained the remains of about eight people when excavated in 1921. Several capstones are missing, as are two of the massive sarsen stones that form the facade, and the mound itself has been considerably reduced over the years.
The name of Wayland's Smithy was given by saxons who thought it had been built by one of their gods, Wayland the smith. A legend says that if a traveller was to leave his horse and a silver penny at the tomb overnight, Wayland would re-shoe the mount by morning.

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