Following Julian Cope’s talk last night in Birmingham, some readers may be interested in a visit to some of the oldest sites in the West Midlands.

Although, as someone who spent much of his late youth chasing ley-lines and folklore across south Warwickshire (sadly I couldn’t afford a camera then), I can tell you from experience and wide reading that there’s nothing in the so-called ‘occult’ mumbo-jumbo — and that the story we can reconstruct from the hard archaeology is far more mysterious, if less romantic.

So… some of the finest and oldest wonders that circle the fringes of the West Midlands:—

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Mitchell’s Fold stone circle. Bronze Age, near Shrewsbury. Photo by CW.

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Arthur’s Stone, burial chamber. Neolithic, Herefordshire. Photo by YK.

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Rollright Stones, stone circle. Early Bronze Age?, Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border. Photo by PM.

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Thor’s Cave. Palaeolithic, North Staffordshire. Photo by BW.

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The Bridestones. Neolithic cairn. Cheshire/Staffordshire border at Congleton, near Stoke-on-Trent. Photo by T7.

And of course there are many local (later) Iron Age hill-forts where the hillside ramparts and ditches are still visible. Although the wooden pallisades and structures are long gone. If you want something to last 4,000+ years with reasonable integrity, hard stone or huge amounts of earth-moving is the only way to go. And then, ideally, add an ultra-dry desert rather than the British climate.


Incidentally, Julian recommends a Birmingham band and label who are continuing our grand Birmingham / Black Country tradition of heavy metal…

“Available from www.kingpenda.com, this first full-length Bretwaldas album is a stark and true product of the Wodenist Midlands, the accented vocals and battle-drums somehow reminding me of the semi-rural landscape around Leicestershire and North Warwickshire.”

Free tracks on MySpace.