I have recently discovered an amazing project happening just outside the village of All Cannings in the magical and evocative landscape of the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire. Farmer Tim Daw and his team have designed and built a traditional long barrow to house cremated remains. It has been built with an alignment to the Winter Solstice sunrise, when the sun with send a shaft of light into the internal stone passageway. Here is some more information from the project’s website:
Within the chalk mound there are five chambers arranged off the passageway that starts at the local Sarsen stone entrance, the original plans are for seven chambers, the other three may be added in the future.
The chambers, or columbaria, have niches built into the natural limestone walls. Each niche is about 600mm by 600mm and 400mm tall and is designed to be a family vault for the storage of cremated remains in urns. Depending on the size of the urns six to eight can be placed in each niche. The niches can be sealed with a memorial stone if required. There are also smaller niches for single and paired urns.
The long barrow is for anyone. It is for those of any religion or none. The field it is in is being restored to native chalk grassland and will be kept as natural as possible for visitors to enjoy its beauty and solitude.
All Cannings lies within the Marlborough Downs area of outstanding natural beauty and is between Avebury and Stonehenge. This ancient landscape is renowned for its chalk downland and ancient history. The long barrow is designed to complement it and become part of it.
In recent years many people seem drawn to explore different ways to honour their loved ones after death, not only in the ceremonies that they use but also in the nature of committal. The Woodland Burial Movement has grown rapidly in popularity and The Long Barrow Project is a fascinating and very beautiful alternative for those who wish to be cremated. It is moving to think that for the first time in five millennia, the dead will be laid to rest in a barrow of this kind in a landscape that still speaks so strongly to us of our ancestors.
The barrow is a stunningly beautiful structure and there will be an opportunity to visit it as there will be an open morning at The Long Barrow between 10am-12pm on Saturday 25th October 2014. The project also has a Facebook page here with more wonderful photos and updates.