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A Quiet Place - Mitchell's Fold

It's raining. Horizontally. Each droplet feels like a NERF bullet blasting into your cheek. A cold wind whips up from the West. Sometimes it's cleansing to pit your wits against the elements. To test yourself the way your ancestors might have done.

We’re over 1000 feet up in the Shropshire Hills, soaking wet. No map, no car. Slipping from stone to slippery stone. The remoteness means you’re best to resort to walking dodgy lanes and trackways to reach your destination. The flat common ground beneath the looming, shadowy Corndon Hill, is home to Mitchell’s Fold. This is an impressive Bronze age stone circle dating from over 3000 years ago. However, I say impressive- if you've just arrived, soaked through, expecting a Stonehenge or Avebury stone circle, you'll probably be seriously underwhelmed. But using some of that old imagination, you can picture what an incredible structure this would have been when completed all those years ago. It's doubtless seen it all in its time - storms, drought, famine, worship, trading and (not so loudly) possibly sacrifice. The peace and quiet in this ancient place here is magical. It is slightly less magical to see huge 21st century tractor tyre marks running right through the centre of the circle, although perhaps a local farmer is still giving his own unique thanks to the Gods for decent crops or livestock..

So, Mitchell's Fold today is an 85 foot stone circle. There were once 30 stones here, all dolerite and ground out of the nearby hills. There are now only 15 visible, ranging in size to around 6 feet in height. The tallest would have been part of a pair, making a very impressive entrance indeed. There may also have been a central stone when originally constructed. It's difficult to say where the stones have disappeared over the millenia - thrifty farmers perhaps, primitive recycling in action perhaps, sunken below ground level perhaps. As much a mystery as the stone circle’s reason for being. Let's have a stab at guessing then - as with Stonehenge et al, ceremony and ritual come out on top, but maybe also used as a trading stop for locally produced high quality axes. A sort of Bronze age B & Q if you will, but with decent opening hours and happier staff. And remember the central stone mentioned earlier? ‘Customer to till number one please…’

The weather here turns quickly from dark and brooding one minute to bright skies and sunshine the next. Avoid the water filled marshy ground and you’ll probably have the whole of Mitchell's Fold to yourself. It's in a beautiful location, surrounded by stunning scenery across into Powys. The whole place feels electric and incredibly atmospheric. A quiet place when the wind drops but also a quiet place to clear your head and step into your ancestors’ undoubtedly waterlogged footwear.

Copyright 2022 Dave Fletcher

Photo: Dave Fletcher

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