Deep within Burley moor is a very old, half ruined stone circle. It is one of half a dozen on the moor – but few know about it. The bracken on these moors can grow very long and often obscures many of the old circles and monuments, so this one is really only visible during those months when the bracken is dead and laid flat.
‘Roms Law’ (or ‘Grubstones’) is the name of this circle and it is estimated to be about 4500 to 5000 years old. No one knows what it’s purpose was but it is very near a Neolithic cemetery and fragments of bone and some ashes were discovered in its centre in 1946. Some think it may have been where the dead were rested, or a ritual of some form occurred, before taken on their way to the cemetery beyond.
Whatever it’s purpose it is a very peaceful place and I have spent may an hour sitting there watching red kites soar overhead or listening to the curlew and grouse. It is at it’s best at first light in the morning when the sun rises and illuminates the moors and circle with it’s glow. It is then when you really get a feeling of the age and the mystery of the place.
There is also fragments of an ancient track which leads past the circle and bypasses the remains of a huge ancient tomb nearby – the ‘Great Skirtful of Stones’.
This track is hard to find, especially when the heather is long but it is definitely there – although only a hundred yards or so now remain – the rest is swallowed up by the moors – and the millennia. It is almost like something out of an ‘Indiana Jones’ movie – you really only see the track when crouched looking straight down it – and suddenly the scattered stones which lie on the moors begin to align before your eyes and the track becomes visible!
Some people think the track is an ancient trade route, whilst others believe it is where the dead were carried to the circle for preparation for the afterlife. I like to think the latter, but in truth no-one knows. Like so much on these moors it has never been properly excavated.
A couple of months ago I was visiting another circle a mile or so away from Roms, and on the way back I detoured off the path and had a wander through the old cemetery. There are over a hundred burial mounds there. This is an area where almost no-one goes – it is remote and there are no paths. I was looking for some rock carvings on the stones which cover some of the burial mounds, when before me out of the heather appeared part of the ancient track.
I had no idea it was there and I followed it for a hundred yards or so. It kept getting buried by the heather and reappearing, and it twisted and turned and was heading towards Roms circle a mile or so away. Eventually it petered out and I could follow it no longer.
Maybe the path is an ancient trade route, but as you walk down it you can’t help but imagine, maybe 5000 years ago that the inhabitants of these moors were carrying their loved ones to their final resting place, or to preparation at ROMs circle.
I would to thank Paul Bennett and the Megalithix website for additional information