Archive for July, 2010

For the ‘Monty Python’ fans……………………
This scene still bring tears to my eyes.
Life of Brian
(1979) (aka Monty Python’s Life of Brian) is a satirical film by the Monty Python comedy troupe about a man who is born at the same time as (and next door to) Jesus, and whose life parallels his.

 Reg: What Jesus blatantly fails to appreciate is that it’s the meek who are the problem.

Reg: But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Roman History

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Stonehenge - a wooden neighbour has been discovered
 Stonehenge – a wooden neighbour has been discovered

Stonehenge had a previously unknown wooden “twin” just 900m to its north-west, according to remarkable new archaeological investigations.

Using the ground-penetrating equivalent of an X-ray, scientists have discovered what appears to have been a circle of massive timber obelisks, constructed more than 4,200 years ago.

The newly discovered “henge” would have been visible from Stonehenge itself – and seems to have been part of a wider prehistoric ritual and religious landscape. Roughly 25m in diameter, it was almost the same size as the central part (the circle of standing stones) at Stonehenge itself.
The newly discovered monument – almost certainly some sort of Neolithic temple – is thought to have consisted of 24 wooden obelisks, each around 75cm in diameter and therefore potentially up to 8m high. The circle of obelisks was enclosed by an inner ditch and probable outer bank.

 Of potential significance is the fact that the newly found henge “mirrors” a similar monument (this time long known to archaeologists) on the other side of Stonehenge – 1,300m south-east of the famous monument. Like the newly discovered site, it is in direct line of sight of Stonehenge and had two entrances. All three monuments would have been roughly aligned.

 The discovery of the site north-west of the stone circle suggests that the Stonehenge landscape was even more complex than people have thought – and archaeologists are now keen to find further unknown elements of it.

The archaeologists – from Birmingham, Bradford, St Andrews and Vienna Universities – are trying to map the unknown aspects of the Stonehenge landscape without digging a single hole.

Instead of conventional excavations, they are using X-ray-style systems which look beneath the ground surface. The techniques – including magnetometry, ground-penetrating radar, electrical imaging and resistivity – are likely to yield huge amounts of previously unknown information about what the Stonehenge landscape looked like 40 to 50 centuries ago.

 Over the next four years the survey, led by Professor Vince Gaffney of Birmingham University’s Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, is likely to produce hundreds of millions of pieces of information from 14 sq km of countryside which will then be collated and analysed to produce a detailed map.  “Some 90 per cent of the Stonehenge landscape is still terra incognita. Our survey will hopefully begin to remedy our current lack of knowledge,” explained Professor Gaffney. “The discovery will significantly change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge.”

 The newly discovered prehistoric temple was found using the subsurface archaeological detection system known as magnetometry, which measures the differences in interaction with the Earth’s magnetic field produced by different layers or deposits of earth or rock.

 Detecting variations in the strength of the magnetic field revealed the existence of the enclosure ditches and the pits believed to have held the timber obelisks at the newly discovered henge.

 Stonehenge Tourist Guide
HisTOURies UK – Stonehenge Guided Sightseeing Trips

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Salisbury Museum is based in the King’s House, a grade I listed building located opposite Salisbury Cathedral. We have a small but friendly staff, supported by over 100 volunteers. We offer a variety of services, including the opportunity to hire this unique location for corporate events and activities.

About the Museum

About SAlisbury MuseumThe Museum is located in the King’s House, situated in the glorious setting of the Cathedral Close. The King’s House is a Grade I listed building, the history of which stretches back to the 13th Century. It formerly housed a teacher training college and was the inspiration for an episode in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure.

The main strength of the Museum rests in its archaeological collections: these include prehistoric material from South Wiltshire, including Stonehenge; the Pitt Rivers’ Wessex collection; and a fine medieval collection including finds from Old Sarum, Clarendon Palace and the city itself. In addition we have fascinating displays of costume and ceramics, and regular temporary exhibitions.

The Museum is a limited liability company (no. 1826436) and a registered charity (no. 289850). It is Accredited by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (no. 878). Its archaeological collections in particular are of national significance and they received Department for Culture, Media and Sport Designated status in 1998.

Salisbury Museum receives some funding from Wiltshire Council, but most of our income derives from a variety of other sources including admission charges, membership, donations and legacies.

The Museum’s mission is to provide a creative and responsive museum, which collects, preserves and presents objects and information of significance relating to the past of Salisbury and south Wiltshire.

Its purpose is to encourage learning, research, publication and enjoyment of its collections, seeking to do this in a professional, friendly and stimulating way. It aims to provide a lively service for the benefit of the whole community within Salisbury and south Wiltshire, as well as for students, scholars, and visitors from this country and around the world.

Whats on2010:

07 Aug 2010 – 14 Aug 2010 Medieval Hats, Masks and Shields Lecture Hall For Families
10 Aug 2010 Art Day – Gorgeous Georgians Lecture Hall For Families
17 Aug 2010 Science Day – Build a Sun Dial Lecture Hall For Families
20 Aug 2010 Make a Mosaic Meetings Room For Families
22 Aug 2010 Romeo and Juliet: Illyria Theatre Company Back Garden Plays
24 Aug 2010 Art Day – Scrap Animals Lecture Hall For Families
31 Aug 2010 Science Day – Design a Wind Sock Lecture Hall For Families
14 Sep 2010 Surveying Historic Buildings: the changing techniques and use of 3d imagery in building recording Lecture Hall Lectures
02 Oct 2010 – 03 Oct 2010 Conference: 150 Years of Salisbury Museum Lecture Hall Events
06 Oct 2010 – 24 Nov 2010 Medieval Life: a series of lectures by Nick Griffiths Lecture Hall Courses
07 Oct 2010 ‘A History of his Affections’: The importance of Salisbury in the wider context of Constable’s art Lecture Hall Lectures
12 Oct 2010 A Day in the Life: a Master Gunner on the Mary Rose Lecture Hall Lectures
20 Oct 2010 – 15 Jan 2011 Walls of Sound Major Exhibition Galleries Exhibitions
20 Oct 2010 Organised Chaos, a series of cock-ups in Royal and Military events Lecture Hall Lectures
03 Nov 2010 SARUM, the Inspiration of Salisbury Lecture Hall Lectures
09 Nov 2010 Collingbourne Ducis – Update Lecture Hall Lectures
17 Nov 2010 Clarendon Lecture Hall Lectures
14 Dec 2010 Bodies from the Bog: what science has told us about the bog people Lecture Hall Lectures

Whilst visiting Salisbury please take the time to visit the Salisbury Museum.

Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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For those who have been on tour with me recently talking about the mysterious ‘warminster triangle’ – thought you may find this intersesting.  Watch this –  Pie in the Sky, a BBC TV programme from 1966 presented by Kenneth Hudson, which investigated the mysterious objects seen above Warminster

Warminster’s long and controversial UFO history began early on Christmas Day, 1964.

Arthur Shuttlewood reported in his book The Warminster Mystery: “The air was brazenly filled with a menacing sound.

“Sudden vibrations came overhead, chilling in intensity.

“They tore the quiet atmosphere to raucous rags and descended upon her savagely. Shockwaves pounded at her head, neck and shoulders.”

Other such “sonic attacks” which occurred at around the same time in different locations around the town were later reported. Shuttlewood, at the time was the features editor on the local weekly newspaper, The Warminster Journal.

Within weeks, the floodgates opened, and the phenomenon was christened “The thing” by the locals, as no one had actually seen anything that could be attributed to the cause. The townsfolk had never heard of UFOs or ‘flying saucers’ at the time.

Strange objects

By June 1965, strange objects were being seen in the skies around the town. Shuttlewood amassed a sizable file on these sightings, and it was not until September, 1965, when he reported seeing a UFO from his home, that he became a believer in the enigma.

Shuttlewood soon became the voice and champion of The Warminster mystery.

Gordon Faulkner's Warminster 'UFO' photo

The iconic image of Warminster’s UFO was taken by Gordon Faulkner in 1965

Some students of the Warminster enigma believe that Shuttlewood became so immersed in the whole concept, that logic went out of the window as far as he was concerned.

The iconic image of Warminster’s UFO activity is a photograph, taken by Gordon Faulkner in 1965. It shows a typical ‘flying saucer’, which is so enlarged that the grain of the film emulsion is clearly visible.

Faulkner handed the picture to Shuttlewood, and told the reporter to “do as he seemed fit with it”.

Shuttlewood handed it to the Daily Mirror. It was printed in the paper on 10 September 1965. It gained the town a vast amount of publicity, and some would say, notoriety.

Within weeks, thousands of people began to converge on the town to see this strange phenomenon for themselves. Such was the concern of the local populace, that a public meeting was held in the town over the August Bank Holiday.

Pie in the Sky

BBC West filmed a half-hour documentary in 1966, entitled Pie in the Sky. Of all the programmes made about the town, this is by far the most level and fair.

Shuttlewood was by now contemplating writing a book on the events in the town. The Warminster Mystery was published in 1967 by Neville Spearman, followed a year later by Warnings from Flying Friends, which was self-published by Shuttlewood.

Sightings of “The thing” continued, but, by the early 1970s, they were beginning to decline.

This was partly due to Warminster being old news, and the numbers of sky-watchers on the hill dropped due in main to lack of nationwide publicity.

Arthur Shuttlewood

Arthur Shuttlewood was Features Editor for the Warminster Journal

A local UFO buff, Ken Rogers, began publishing The Warminster UFO newsletter in August, 1971.

Shuttlewood’s third book on the phenomenon was UFOs: Key to the New Age, which was published in 1971. This book, of all the titles written by Shuttlewood, is probably the most contentious of all. Shuttlewood’s own personal theories seem, by today’s standards to be quite absurd.

The Warminster UFO newsletter continued publication into 1973. Shuttlewood, it seems took a sabbatical from writing books for a number of years, but still took an active part in sky-watches and the local UFO scene.

In the same year, The Warminster mystery was published in paperback by Tandem books.

The Fountain Journal

Late in 1975, or early 1976 saw a new research centre open in the town. The Fountain Centre, located in Carlton Villa, Portway, was run by Peter and Jane Paget.

Along with Jane’s mother, Mrs Margaret Tedder-Shepperd, the Pagets renamed the property Star House with the intention of running not only a research facility in the town, but to offer bed and breakfast to sky-watchers who were visiting the town.

Another project they planned was the publication of The Fountain Journal, a bi-monthly magazine centred on the UFO sightings reported in and around the Warminster area.

Fountain Journal

In the 1970s, a magazine about UFO sightings in the area was published

Shuttlewood joined the editorial team early on, before the publication of issue one.

The first three issues, which were edited by the Pagets, Mrs Tedder-Shepherd and Arthur Shuttlewood, contained much more information on the local UFO scene than later issues.

This was in part due to the input of Shuttlewood himself, until he had a protracted period of ill-health.

Shuttlewood bowed out, and at around the same time, The Flying Saucerers, was published in November 1976.

Mrs Tedder-Shepherd, who was a co-owner of the centre and had a 50% stake in the property, withdrew her support, leaving the Pagets to continue to run the centre with rapidly dwindling funds.

With mounting pressures on them and the local UFO researchers becoming more hostile towards the Fountain Centre, the publication of the Fountain Journal became more sporadic. Issue 11, dated only 1977, was the last to be published.

Another research group, UFO – Info, had set up in the town. This new group, which, unlike the Fountain Centre, was run and staffed by unpaid volunteers.

Shuttlewood had two further books published in the late 1970s – UFO Magic in Motion, and his final book, More UFOs over Warminster in 1979.

Arthur Shuttlewood died in Warminster in 1996. With his death, the last lingering memories slowly faded away.

Warminster enigma

So what does the future hold for Warminster and its rich and diverse UFO history? Warminster will always remain an enigma. It is now largely forgotten in the annals of British UFO history.

Whether Warminster was a cultural/social event or a genuine Ufocal, far too much time has now passed for any accurate investigations to be made.

One thing is certain however. Despite all the new research into the phenomena in this quiet Wiltshire town all I can say is this: something strange did happen there. I know. For a time, I was part of it.

For more information visit Kevin Goodman’s UFO Warminster website.~

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The most mysterious tours in Wiltshire (Ha, ha)

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About 53,000 coins were found buried in a field in Somerset

A hoard of more than 52,500 Roman coins discovered in a Somerset field has been declared treasure.

Dave Crisp, from Wiltshire, found the coins – dating from the 3rd Century AD – in April buried near Frome.

“I’ve been metal detecting since 1988 and it’s the most exciting and important find I’ve made,” he said.

A British Museum spokesman said the 160kg find was the largest single coin haul found in one pot and was probably intended as a religious offering.

Most of the coins, which are made from debased silver or bronze, are currently at the British Museum in London and includes examples from AD286 to 293 during the reign of Carausius who was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain.

A small selection has gone on display at Frome Library.

Mr Crisp had earlier found a hoard of 60 silver coins in the same field before he discovered the larger pot of coins.
The coins date from the 3rd Century AD

That find was also declared treasure earlier.

Somerset County Council Heritage Service can buy the treasure for the Museum of Somerset, which is due to reopen in 2011, under the Treasure Act.

Following the ruling by East Somerset coroner Tony Williams, Mr Crisp, who works as a chef in the NHS, said: “It was a foregone conclusion that treasure would be declared today.”

He said he did not know what reward he was going to get, but would split whatever he did get equally with the farmer who owned the land according to their agreement and the law.

It has been suggested the reward could be up to £1m.

When asked how a share of the money would change his life, Mr Crisp said he did not know but added: “I’m coming up for retirement… I’ll work until I’m 65 then I’ll see.”

He added it was not the money that mattered.

“This is what matters, I’m the finder of the largest single hoard of Roman coins ever.

“I’ll always be the finder, unless someone beats me of course. There are a lot more pots out there.”

The landowner, whose surname is not being released to deter further treasure hunters, said: “I have always loved history but I never expected anything as important, exciting or old as this to be found on my land.”


  • Where the owner of a find cannot be traced, it normally belongs to the landowner but anything declared “treasure” belongs to the Crown
  • Anyone making find that could be treasure must report it to a coroner
  • An inquest will then determine its status
  • Treasure must be at least 300 years old
  • Once something is declared treasure, the finder may be able to keep it, or an institution, such as the British Museum, may buy it
  • Objects are not treasure if their owners can be traced or if they are found on the shore but do not come from a shipwreck

  • In pictures: Roman coin hoard
  • A British Museum spokesman said the Treasure Valuation Committee would recommend a value for the hoard in October, which would be paid out when the finder, landowner and museum agreed with the valuation.

    Anna Booth, from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), said of the reward: “It will be fairly substantial but how substantial, we don’t know.

    “If they find lots of rare coins, the price could go up. It won’t be millions, but beyond that it is hard to speculate.

    “Once it has been evaluated, the British Museum will be given a chance to acquire it. If not, the local museum will have it.

    “The British Museum has already said it hopes the find will be acquired by the Museum of Somerset.

    “We are now going to be on a fundraising drive to get the money.”

    • The story of the excavation will be told in a new BBC Two archaeology series, Digging for Britain, presented by Dr Alice Roberts and made by 360production, to be broadcast in August.

      British Tour Guide
      HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Histoy

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    SALISBURY will be the talk of the art world next year when a John Constable exhibition is staged at the city’s museum.

    The summertime show is being organised to mark the 200th anniversary of the artist’s arrival in Salisbury. His visits to his friend John Fisher, the then Bishop of Salisbury, are widely accepted as inspiring some of his greatest paintings.

    The Constable & Salisbury exhibition will see a multi-million pound collection brought together from both private owners and major art museums.

    A final list of Constable’s paintings is still to be confirmed, but the show starting in May next year will include some of the artist’s most important work including several depicting the cathedral and the Harnham Water Meadows.

    Richard Morgan, who has led a committee of art enthusiasts in developing the project, announced the three-month exhibition this week.

    “This will be a 50-piece collection never seen before. It is work that will be gathered from the leading British galleries and others including the Fitzwilliam in the USA, National Gallery Washington and the Louvre in Paris.”

    He was guest speaker at a garden party held by Salisbury law firm Wilsons in the grounds of the museum.

    Mr Morgan added: “Museums can change places, just as we have seen in Liverpool and St Ives, and we are planning great changes in this museum.”

    He said thanks in part to funding from the English Heritage Lottery Fund they hoped to radically change Salisbury Museum and the Constable exhibition was part of this.

    Stephen Oxley, senior partner at Wilsons, said his firm had a tradition of supporting the arts in the city and they were delighted to be a sponsor of this project. “We have worked with the museum and its people for many years and when they approached us in 2008 with an idea from Lord Congleton to put on an exhibition, the likes of which had never been done before, we jumped at the chance to be involved.”

    Adrian Green, director of Salisbury Museum, said: “It is almost impossible to view Salisbury Cathedral without thinking of Constable, therefore it is surprising that there has never been a major exhibition of his work in the city.

    “As an archaeologist I particularly find Constable’s lesser known views of Old Sarum and Stonehenge evocative. One of Constable’s final exhibits at the Royal Academy was a magnificent watercolour of Stonehenge, shown there in 1836, which will be a major highlight of the exhibition for me.”

    Salisbury Tour Guide
    HisTOURies UK – The best tours of Salsibury, Stonehenge and Wessex

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    An image detailing the new 'henge'
    Archaeologists say the find is “exceptional”

    Archaeologists have discovered a second henge at Stonehenge, described as the most exciting find there in 50 years.

     The circular ditch surrounding a smaller circle of deep pits about a metre (3ft) wide has been unearthed at the world-famous site in Wiltshire.

     Archaeologists conducting a multi-million pound study believe timber posts were in the pits.

     Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said the discovery was “exceptional”.

     The new “henge” – which means a circular monument dating to Neolithic and Bronze Ages – is situated about 900m (2,950ft) from the giant stones on Salisbury Plain.

    It’s a timber equivalent to Stonehenge”

     End Quote Professor Vince Gaffney University of Birmingham

    Images show it has two entrances on the north-east and south-west sides and inside the circle is a burial mound on top which appeared much later, Professor Gaffney said.

     “You seem to have a large-ditched feature, but it seems to be made of individual scoops rather than just a straight trench,” he said.

     “When we looked a bit more closely, we then realised there was a ring of pits about a metre wide going all the way around the edge.

     “When you see that as an archaeologist, you just looked at it and thought, ‘that’s a henge monument’ – it’s a timber equivalent to Stonehenge.

     “From the general shape, we would guess it dates backs to about the time when Stonehenge was emerging at its most complex.

     “This is probably the first major ceremonial monument that has been found in the past 50 years or so.

     ‘Terra incognita’

    “This is really quite interesting and exceptional, it starts to give us a different perspective of the landscape.”

     Data from the site is being collected as part of a virtual excavation to see what the area looked like when Stonehenge was built.

     Speculation as to why the 4,500-year-old landmark was built will continue for years to come, but various experts believe it was a cemetery for 500 years, from the point of its inception.

     In 2008, the first excavation in nearly half a century was carried out at the iconic site on Salisbury Plain.

     This latest project is being funded by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Vienna, and the University of Birmingham, and is assisted by the National Trust and English Heritage.

     Professor Gaffney said he was “certain” they would make further discoveries as 90% of the landscape around the giant stones was “terra incognita” – an unexplored region.

     “The presumption was this was just an empty field – now you’ve got a major ceremonial monument looking at Stonehenge,” he said.

     Stonehenge Tour Guide
    HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History

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    A dwelling, thought to be 4,500 years old, has been discovered by archaeologists in Wiltshire.

     “It looks as if we have a Neolithic building. We’re talking about four and a half thousand years old – so about 2400 or 2500BC.

    Excavation work at the prehistoric site of Marden Henge, near Devizes, started three weeks ago and experts say the find has “exceeded expectations”.

     Marden Henge no longer has any standing stones and is said to be one of Britain’s least understood ancient sites.

     The work is scheduled to last for three more weeks.

     Archaeologist Jim Leary, from English Heritage, said: “It’s absolutely fabulous. It’s exceeded all of our expectations.

    I don’t think we’re looking at a normal house. I think we’re looking at something equivalent to a priest’s quarters.””We have some wonderful finds coming up and some very fresh looking flint flakes and some pieces of pottery, but far and away the most exciting find so far is over in trench C.  – English Heritage

     “Up until a few years ago it would have been unique but a couple of years ago archaeologists were digging at Durrington Walls and they found a number of these buildings.

     “I don’t think we’re looking at a normal house. I think we’re looking at something equivalent to a priest’s quarters.

     “We do seem to have a hearth and it seems that whoever lived there was a very clean person and regularly cleaned out the hearth.

     “Just outside the front door we can see this long spread of charcoal and general rubbish material.

    “It contains really good fresh flint flakes, pottery, bone pins – things that don’t normally survive on archaeological sites. We’re getting a really good insight into life in that building.”

     Stonehenge Tour Guide
    HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours Wiltshire

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    Archaeologists virtually excavate Stonehenge Archaeologists will map an area of 14km around Stonehenge Archaeologists are carrying out a virtual excavation of Stonehenge to discover what the area looked like when the monument was built. The multi-million pound Euro study will map the terrain and its buried archaeological remains with pinpoint accuracy, organisers claim. The millions of measurements will then be analysed and incorporated into gaming technology to produce 2D and 3D images. The research will take three years. Equipment will be spread over an area spanning 4km this year and a total of 14km over the next three years. Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University on Birmingham, said: “We aim to unlock the mysteries of Stonehenge and show people exactly what the local area looked like during the time the monument was created. “The results of this work will be a digital chart of the ‘invisible’ Stonehenge landscape, a seamless map linking one of the world’s most famous monuments with the buried archaeology that surrounds it.” Dr Christopher Gaffney, from the University of Bradford, said: “Rather than looking at typically small discrete areas we intend to cover the whole of the World Heritage Site. “We will do this using emerging technology that allows us to pull large banks of sensors behind a quad bike and using real time GPS to locate the measurements.” The study is funded by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Vienna, and the University of Birmingham, and is assisted by the National Trust and English Heritage.

    Stonehenge Tour Guide
    HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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    A floor of chequered tiles stretches down a long, high-ceilinged corridor with doors leading off each side.

    And the art of crop circles reaches a new height of sophistication.

    The astonishing three-dimensional design, 200ft in diameter, has been created in a wheat field at Silbury Hill, Wiltshire.

    Only yards away are the 5,000-year-old West Kennet Longbarrow burial grounds, one of the largest and most impressive Neolithic graves in Britain.

    crop circleThe astonishing three-dimensional design, 200ft in diameter, has been created in a wheat field at Silbury Hill, Wiltshire

    According to folklore, the mound is traditionally visited at sunrise on Midsummer’s Day by a white figure accompanied by a white hound with red ears.

    It has been the setting for several crop circles in the past, including an elaborate 350ft pattern featuring a giant Egyptian mosaic in the shape of two wings, surrounded by symbols which bear a striking resemblance to the Mayan calendar which predicted that the world will end in 2012.

    The latest design was photographed by Steve Alexander, who with his wife Karen, a writer, has been researching crop circles for more than 15 years.

    crop circleThe art of crop circles reaches a new height of sophistication

    Mrs Alexander-said: “It’s one of the most architectural designs we have seen, rather than purely geometric.

    “In traditional geometry a square represents material reality and a circle represents the divine or heavenly realm.

    “A lot of people are saying this circle represents the passageway through the physical world to the divine world.”

    Wessex Crop Circle Tour Guide
    HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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