Knowlton Church and Earthworks

Knowlton Church and Earthworks

Two distant histories

The worlds of two very different times collide in the small town of Knowlton.

Separated by around 4000 years, Knowlton Church and the surrounding Neolithic earthworks point to very separate times in the history books, each with their own distinct and separate ways.

The remains of the Norman church catch your eye first. They stand amidst the Dorset countryside like a lonely scarecrow.

But as you wander further towards the old ruins, it becomes obvious that there’s something very peculiar about the ground below your feet.

Earthen mounds rise, surrounded by banks and ditches covering the whole area.

A Neolithic world

These are in fact henges, raised platforms of earth that date back anywhere from 3000 to 2000 BC.

They would’ve most likely been used for ceremonial purposes back then, but a lot is left unknown and there’s even speculation that the site had a more supernatural purpose.

Perhaps the henges were to keep wandering spirits confined, as one story goes: the earthen ridges a boundary for any adventurous ghosts.

The henges in Knowlton aren’t the only evidence of the place’s ancient history.

One of the largest concentrations of burial mounds can be found in the area, and from the church, you can see the largest of these in the whole county.

Stories between the stones

It’s a unique coupling for sure. Although the church represents a whole other way of life compared to the earthworks, it’s unlikely that one would’ve survived without the other.

But like the ground it sits on, the ruins bring with them their own intriguing stories of ghosts and the supernatural.

You could be right and perhaps the church fell into disrepair after the community it served left.

Or, maybe as the story goes, once the Devil stole the bell and threw it into the river nearby, the church began to crumble.

A rare adventure

Time drifts away as you wander around the area. Your gaze drifts from the tall bell tower to leaning archways, which invite you in further.

See if you can spot the two yew trees behind the church, ribbons drape from the dark green needles, fluttering in the breeze cast off from Cranborne Chase.

It’s hard to forget Knowlton Church and Earthworks once you’ve seen it first-hand. And truly we don’t think one visit will be enough.

You’ll soon be drawn back, delighted to find you’re just as fascinated and intrigued as the first time you arrived.

New Barn Farm,
Dorset,
GB BH21 5AE

Free parking