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Archive for July, 2011

The Festival for British Archaeology is a fortnight long extravaganza of heritage events, celebrating archaeology for all, and encouraging people to get involved in archaeology. It is made up of hundreds of events across the UK. The Festival of British Archaeology grew out of National Archaeology Week in 2009 to reflect the huge growth of the event in recent years, when it moved from a week-long to a fortnight-long event.

Find out what took place at events around the UK as part of the Festival 2010.

Taking Part

The Festival for British Archaeology is your unique chance to discover and explore the archaeological heritage of the United Kingdom. During this 16 day event, which will run from 16th – 31st July in 2011, you can take part in excavation open days, hands-on activities, family fun days, guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, ancient art and craft workshops and much, much more. Find out what events are happening near you! Put the date in your diary!

Aim of the Festival

The aim of this annual event is to encourage everyone, and especially young people and their families to visit sites of archaeological/historical interest or museums, heritage and resource centres, to see archaeology in action and to take part in activities on-site.

The Festival for British Archaeology is coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, an educational charity working throughout the UK to involve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations. The CBA brings together those for whom archaeology is an interest, an active pastime or a career.

Festival Background

The Festival for British Archaeology originated as National Archaeology Day, first held in 1990 with a total of ten events. Initially it was linked in with European Heritage Days in September of each year, but feedback from participants led to a move to July to make the most of the fieldwork opportunities and to gain maximum publicity. Popularity increased and in 2003 it became a weekend event with 195 events around the country.

A further increase to 232 events in 2004 led to the first nine-day National Archaeology Week being held in July 2005. The number of organisations taking part in National Archaeology Week and public awareness of the event continued to expand rapidly over the next 3 years, and in 2008, over 470 events were held around the UK, with an estimated 160,000 people taking part.

Due to the ongoing success of National Archaeology Week and as a response to positive feedback from both event organisers and members of the public, the event was expanded still further in 2009, to a fortnight long event, and with the new fortnight came the introduction of the new name Festival of British Archaeology. By expanding the number of days the event is held over, event organisers have a greater choice of when to hold events and members of the public have the opportunity to attend a greater number of events. The expanded, newly named Festival is a great success, with 650 events held during the fortnight in 2009, 760 events in 2010, and over 160,000 participants attending events annually.

Link: http://www.britarch.ac.uk

Get involved!

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

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Another circle ‘crops up’ in Wiltshire -Windmill Hill (2), nr Avebury Stone Circle , Wiltshire. Reported 26th July.

Another amazing cropcircle has appeared in Wiltshire.  If you are not visiting with a local tour guide please respect the ‘crop circle etiquette’-see below.

 

 

CROP CIRCLE ETIQUETTE: Guidelines for visiting formations
FOR VISITING THE CROP CIRCLES.

In our attempt to become more responsible for giving out information on the locations for the Circles, we have published a Code of Conduct which was drawn up by the National Farmers Union in collaboration with the Centre for Crop Circle Studies. The Connector does not want to deny our readers the chance to visit a Crop Circle. It merely reminds you to ask for their permission to enter their fields.
 

Do not go onto private land unless you have permission from the farmer or landowner. If you can’t find the farmer or landowner to ask permission-you have no right to enter private property.

IF you can not find the farmer DO NOT enter the field.

IF you wander into a formation without permission and a farmer catches you, DO NOT argue with him if he wishes you to leave his land.

Better still – go with a local tour guide who knows exactly where they are, how to get there and has permission from the farmer.

Wilthire Crop Circle Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Mystical landscape, magical tours……..

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Scour the floor near most offices and there’ll be plenty of signs of the modern worker’s addiction to tobacco.

But archaeologists investigating a site in Bath have found evidence of the grip on life of smoking two centuries ago.

A dig at a city centre car park has unearthed clay smoking pipes.

The pipes were discovered by specialists exploring the area under the Sawclose car park.

They date back to the 19th century, when there was a factory at the site.

Senior project officer for Cotswold Archaeology Chiz Harward said: “We found quite a few clay pipes while digging. Pipes were the principal way of smoking tobacco until the late 19th century when cigarettes came in.

“Some of the bowls are still intact, which is good as clay pipes are very fragile.”

The dig is being carried out ahead of possible redevelopment in the area and the private car park behind the public spaces has been closed while the work takes place.

Meanwhile, an open day was held at the scene of a dig carried out by the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society at Laverton near Norton St Philip.

The group is excavating a medieval building at Upper Row Farm as part of the Homefield Project, which aims to answer specific questions about settlement in the area.

The event was part of the National Festival of Archaeology, which will also see two free events at the Museum of Bath at Work this Saturday.

There will be a walking tour of the working heritage of Bathampton, presented by director of the museum Stuart Burroughs, starting at 11am from the car park of the Bathampton Mill restaurant. It will feature the Kennet and Avon Canal, and the site of the village’s Plasticine factory.

The second event is a discussion called Industrial Heritage at Risk: Bath and Beyond, led by Keith Falconer from English Heritage.

It starts at 2pm at the Julian Road museum, with a light lunch available from 1pm.
Join us on a private guided tour of Bath soon and discover more……….

The Best Tours of Stonehenge and Bath
HisTOURies UK – Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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THE first two crop circles of the summer have appeared close to Stonehenge.Stonehenge crop circle

Both lie in a barley field just off the A360, near Airman’s Corner.

Francine Blake of the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group said the first, which is 170ft in diameter, is an important symbol similar to one from the ancient Mayan culture, lying east-west and linking past and future.

Some enthusiasts have pointed out that it is identical to a logo used by the anarchist punk band Crass 30 years ago, representing the idea that great power will eventually destroy itself.

The second symbol, of two circles touching, measures 130ft by 80ft, and is said to relate to a partial solar eclipse on July 1.
Link: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/9132878.Crop_circles_appear/?ref=ms

Visit this and other mysterious crop circles in the Wessex area with one of our private guided tours
HisTOURies UK – Mystical landscape, magical tours…………

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Stories of yokels getting the better of townies pepper British folklore – perhaps the best known being one reading of the Nottinghamshire legend The Wise Men of Gotham .
Wiltshire MoonrakerRivalling that tale is the Wiltshire story of The Moonrakers, so dear to the heart of the county that to this day anyone born in Wiltshire is known as a Moonraker.
The story goes that a couple of lads from a village near Devizes were involved in the spirits trade, and were not troubling the Excise with paperwork or duties. Depending on the source they were either distilling ‘brandy’ themselves, or obtaining it through illicit channels. These two entrepreneurs were warned of a raid by the Revenue, so for want of time and better cover they hid their contraband, including a couple of barrels of the good stuff, in a pond.

When the customs officials arrived it was unfortunately a clear night, with a full moon and not a breath of wind to stir the water’s surface. The Wiltshire lads could see the barrels clearly, so they quickly came up with a ruse: grabbing rakes they waded into the pond and used the implements to disturb surface and silt, masking the tuns. When the Revenue men spotted them and asked what they were doing, the yokels replied they were raking the moon in the pond in order to gather cheese from it. The clever Revenue men shook their heads at the peasants’ stupidity and searched the rest of the village, then finding nothing moved on.

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

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Legends of Glastonbury

There are so many myths associated with Glastonbury that it is difficult

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

to know where to begin to talk about them. There are two main streams of legend that surround Glastonbury, though they twine around each other to some degree. The two streams revolve around the romantic figures of Joseph of Arimathea and King Arthur. Let’s take them one at a time.

Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph was the Biblical figure who took Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. According to some legends he was actually Jesus’ uncle, and had visited Britain years before with Jesus in the pursuit of his interests in the tin trade. It appears that there actually was a strong Jewish presence in the west of England at that time, and many of the tin miners may have been Jewish settlers.

At any rate, when Jesus died, Joseph thought it prudent to flee Palestine, and after many travails he came to Britain with a company of followers. He brought with him the Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Some versions of the legend have it that the Grail contained two drops of blood captured from Jesus’ side when he was wounded on the cross.

When Joseph came to Britain he was granted land at Glastonbury by the local king. When he arrived at Glastonbury, Joseph stuck his thorn staff in the earth, whereupon it rooted and burst into bloom. A cutting from that first tree was planted in the grounds of the later Glastonbury Abbey, where it continued to bloom every year therafter at Christmas time. There is still a thorn tree in the Abbey grounds, of a variety native to the Holy Lands, and it does indeed bloom around Christmas time.

Joseph was said to have established the first church in England at Glastonbury, and archaeological records show that there may well have been an extremely early Christian church here. What happened to the Holy Grail is another matter. Some legends have it that Joseph buried the Grail at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, whereupon a spring of blood gushed forth from the ground.

There is a well at the base of the Tor, Chalice Well, and the water that issues from it does indeed have a reddish tinge to it, from the iron content of the water.

Other legends have it that the Holy Grail was interred with Joseph when he died, in a secret grave. The search for the mysterious Grail emerges again and again in the tales of Glastonbury.

Further legends tell that the church founded by Joseph continued for many years. Eventually it became a monastery, and one of the first abbots was the future St Patrick, who was born in the west country.

King Arthur and Glastonbury

Glastonbury Abbey, where King Arthur is said to lie buriedLegends of King Arthur swirl about Glastonbury like a tantalizing fog from the nearby Somerset marshes. The nearby hill fort at South Cadbury has long been suggested as the location for Camelot. Indeed, excavations of South Cadbury suggest that it was in use during the early 6th century, which is the likeliest era for the real Arthur to have lived.

The association of Arthur and Glastonbury goes back at least to the early Middle Ages. In the late 12th century the monks of Glastonbury Abbey announced that they had found the grave of Arthur and Guinivere, his queen. According to the monks, an excavation found a stone inscribed “Here lies Arthur, king.” Below the stone they found the bones of a large man, and the smaller skeleton of a woman. The monks reburied the bones in the grounds of the abbey, where they were a very handy draw for pilgrims. The site of the grave can be seen today in the abbey grounds.

Glastonbury Tor, the enigmatic conical hill that rises above Glastonbury, has been linked with the Isle of Avalon, where King Arthur was buried after his death. This isn’t so farfetched as it may sound, for a millennium ago the water level was much higher, and the tor would indeed have been an island. Avalon was also called “the isle of glass” which does suggest similarities to the name “Glastonbury”.

The Holy Grail, the object of Arthur’s questing, is said to be buried beneath Glastonbury Tor, and has also been linked to Chalice Well at the base of the Tor.

One final myth of Arthur at Glastonbury: the landscape around Glastonbury is said to have been moulded and shaped so that the features (such as roads, churches, and burial mounds) create a zodiac calendar replete with Arthurian symbology. Like so many of the Arthurian myths, so much is open to interpretation and your own predisposition to believe or disbelieve.

Glastonbury Abbey
Is there a place more steeped in legend and myth than Glastonbury? Glastonbury AbbeyProbably not. Legend holds that the earliest church here was founded by St. Joseph of Arimathea in about 60AD, and that when he planted his staff in the earth a thorn tree burst forth.

In the grounds of the ruined Benedictine monastery there is a thorn tree of a variety common to the Middle East which is given to bloom around Christmas time.

By the late Middle Ages Glastonbury had become the richest abbey in England, due to the heavy pilgrimage trade. It was rich enough to build an inn for well-to-do pilgrims (the George Inn, on nearby High Street, which still welcomes guests 500 years later). The best preserved building in the abbey grounds is the old Abbot’s Kitchen (see photo), a curious square building which appears round due to its octagonal roof. In the abbey grounds are the reputed graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, which were conveniently discovered by the Glastonbury monks in the 12th century, when the abbey needed a financial boost. Outside the grounds are the abbey tithe barn, which now serves as the Somerset Rural Life Museum (well worth a visit), and 4 miles away at Mere is the abbey’s Fish House, were fish was salted and cured.

The abbey is entered through the Abbey Gatehouse  an imposing arched gateway located on off Magdalene Street. Visitors pass through a fascinating museum depicting life at Glastonbury during the Middle Ages, and then enter the Abbey grounds proper. The first building you see on entering the grounds is St Mary’s Chapel, a roofless structure that boasts wonderful architectural details, from the recessed arches of the door to the repetitive arcading that rings the interior. Look up, where the curious small towers at each corner of the chapel seem almost Georgian in style.

If you continue past the chapel you will soon reach the Abbot’s Kitchen, probably the most recognizable symbol of the Abbey, and subject of numerous postcards! This is a peculiar building, with a high octagonnal tower over a square base bedecked with gargoyles. The interior is notable for the very large ovens and the high dome supported on reed-thin vaulting ribs.

Return from the Abbot’s Kitchen towards St Mary’s Chapel and you will pass a small sign on the green lawn. This marks the old burial ground, where, in the 12th century, monks conveniently found bones beneath an engraved stone indicating the burial place of legendary King Arthur. The bones and those presumed to belong to Arthur’s queen, Guinivere, were reburied within the Abbey Church, where a small memorial can be seen.

The grounds of Glastonbury Abbey emanate a sense of calm and peace; it is truly a magical place, and taken as a whole with the other attractions of this ancient town, make Glastonbury well worth an extended visit.

Visitor Information
Glastonbury Abbey
The Abbey Gatehouse
Magdalene Street
Glastonbury
Somerset
UK
BA6 9EL
Web: http://www.glastonburyabbey.com
Email: nfo@glastonburyabbey.com
 
Join us on a private guided tour of the West Country.   Visit Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle.

Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours……………….
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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Silbury HillIN A modest house in Swindon, an 86-year-old man formulates exquisitely-detailed theories that turn conventional Wiltshire arch- aeology on its head.

If retired builder Eric Crook is right – and his belief that he’s right is unshakeable – the remains of a neolithic princess have lain deep beneath Silbury Hill for more than 4,000 years.

Even more startling is his insistence that the stones of Avebury once formed a carved amphitheatre of countless thousands of human and animal faces. These carvings would have appeared to move in flickering firelight; an illusion to thrill audiences of people who were centuries dead before Christ was born or the invading legions of Rome set foot on English soil.

These stone faces, Mr Crook says, can still be found in fragments hacked from the stones down the centuries, whether for buildings or perhaps because the powers that be disapproved of such images.

The reaction from the archaeological mainstream has so far been distinctly underwhelming, but Mr Crook, having spent well over 50 years researching and documenting his subject, is undaunted.

“Archaeologists are trained by other archaeologists,” he said. “But they are not trained in a natural learning process going through building technology.

“They learn only through what they can see. I heard of a professor who was asked the question, ‘when do you think you’ll get the answers to Silbury Hill and Avebury?’ “She said it would be another generation, but I thought to myself, ‘The answers are already there and you’re the generation behind.’”

Wiltshire, A Journeyman’s Tale, is £9.99 and can be ordered from Amazon and bookshops, ISBN978-0-7223-3900-8

Well worth touring Avebury and Silbury Hill at the moment.  There are several amazing crop circles in the area

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

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