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THE county of Wiltshire contains over half of Britains 260 long barrows. But Wayland's Smithy is situated just outside Wiltshire in Oxfordshire,
on the Ridgeway near the Uffington White Horse.
A smaller version of West Kennet Long Barrow, Waylands Smithy is a neolithic long barrow dating back about 5500 years - making it at least 1000 years older than the oldest parts of Stonehenge. Situated amid a sheltering grove of beech trees, four of the original six sarsen stones mark the entrance to the burial chambers. It is 60 metres in length (196 ft) and from six to 15 metres (19 - 50 ft) in width.
It got its name when Saxon settlers came across the tomb when they imagined that it was the work of one of their gods, Wayland the Smith. A legend grew that Wayland would reshoe any travellers horse left along with a silver penny beside the tomb.
In the first phase a round barrow was created with material dug from two ditches to either side of the mound. The mound was covered with a wooden mortuary house and the remains of 14 bodies were discovered during excavations in 1962-1973. These excavations showed that the current monument was built over the top of a much smaller mound in a building process that was formed in two stages. Phase Two was begun around 3500BC, the mound was enlarged to its present shape and the cruciform chamber was constructed at the widest end.