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This rich archaeological landscape offers a wealth of prehistoric temples, Neolithic harvest hills for fertility rituals and communal tombs. Visit mysterious Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest artificial mound, the Neolithic communal tomb of West Kennet Long Barrow, Old Sarum, Overton Hill Sanctuary, Avebury, Britain’s largest henge and Stonehenge. These tours depart from Bath but can be organised from Salisbury or even London

At Wessex Guided Tours we aim to provide the best planned, best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable archaeological tours available.  Our private day excursions offer the best opportunity to explore and experience some of Britain’s most iconic and significant ancient sites, guided by our archaeologist guides.

We specialise in archaeology tours, and as a result we believe we offer an excellent Stonehenge Access Toursspecialist service.

Private Tours:

Our itineraries are original, imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced. Knowledge of the subject matter and the destinations combine with detailed attention to practical matters to ensure an enriching and smooth-running experience.

If you are travelling as a small group, you can design your own day trip or simply select one of our regular itineraries but have exclusive use of the vehicle for the day. We will collect you from any location within central London, Bath or Salisbury. The duration of your vehicle hire is 8-10 hours depending on the places that you are visiting and traffic conditions on the day.

Our most popular tours include:

Stonehenge, Bath and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites.

Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites. Britain’s most beautiful landscapes. Visit one of England’s most impressive Cathedrals at Salisbury.

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VisitWiltshire has launched the county’s first ever tourism App, which showcases the best of the Wiltshire tourism offering and provides unique content, including App-only special offers, and will be an interactive and invaluable source of information for visitors.

The App is part of VisitWiltshire’s marketing strategy to boost tourism visits and spend to the county. Wiltshire snow

The mobile app is now available to download for free from the Apple and Google Play stores. The wide range of content on the app will reflect the breadth of attractions and activities the county has to offer, including Salisbury Cathedral; the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site; Longleat and Wiltshire’s renowned white horses; the Kennett and Avon Canal and Caen Hill Locks; and Wiltshire’s variety of scenic villages and historic market towns.

It also includes details of all VisitWiltshire’s 480+ tourism partners, as well as sections on towns and villages, things to do, accommodation, shopping, food and drink, outdoor activities, and what’s on in the county. Other features include interactive mapping – so visitors will be able to find places nearby, special offers, Wiltshire-themed games, and weather updates.

Fiona Errington, Marketing Manager, VisitWiltshire said:

We’re delighted to be launching our new VisitWiltshire App, which will showcase Wiltshire as a fantastic tourist destination and offer visitors a wealth of ideas and information on what to see and do when out and about or planning a visit to our county. The VisitWiltshire App shows visitors our fantastic attractions, great range of accommodation, restaurants, pubs, great shops, and many other highlights and locations. Having over 480 Wiltshire tourism businesses contribute makes this a tremendous resource for our visitors.

Almost a third of visitors to visitwiltshire.co.uk now use a smart phone or tablet and are increasingly looking for tourist information in their hand and on the move. This new App gives them access to the best of Wiltshire at their fingertips .”
Wiltshire tourism business interested in being included on the App should contact Fiona Errington on: fionaerrington@visitwiltshire.co.uk

Full story: http://www.heart.co.uk/wiltshire/news/local/first-tourism-app-wiltshire/

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With the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, equally remarkable Avebury and the mighty Iron Age hill fort of Old Sarum, there really is plenty for the whole family to enjoy on a day out in Wiltshire. Discover the secrets of this seemingly ‘sacred landscape’ or get away from it all and explore a romantic ruined castle.

Please note English Heritage have now switched to our winter opening hours, meaning that while many properties are open at weekends, there may be restricted access during the week. Please check opening times before travelling.

PLACES TO VISIT : WILTSHIRE (ENGLISH HERITAGE)

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Visit Stonehenge! Sun worship temple? Healing centre? Huge calendar? How did they carry the great stones so far and build this amazing structure using only basic tools?

Old Sarum

Old Sarum

Site of the original Salisbury, this mighty Iron Age hill fort was where the first cathedral once stood and the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark during 5000 years of history.

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle

Set in landscaped grounds beside a lake in peaceful Wiltshire countryside, these 14th century ruins provide a relaxed, romantic day out for couples, families and budding historians alike.

Avebury

Avebury

With its huge circular bank and ditch and inner circle of great standing stones, covering an area of over 28 acres, Avebury forms one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in Britain

Hatfield Earthworks (Marden Henge)

Hatfield Earthworks (Marden Henge)

The earthworks of a Neolithic henge and monumental mound, by a loop in the River Avon. Recent archaeological find of building equivalent to a priest’s quarters.

Woodhenge

Woodhenge

Dating from about 2300 BC, markers now replace rings of timber posts, which once possibly supported a ring-shaped building. Discovered in 1925 when rings of dark spots were noticed in a crop of wheat.

 

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Saturday 13 October 2012 – Saturday 26 January 2013.

An exhibition of paintings and drawings that reflect one artist’s travels through the ancient sites of Wiltshire.  Over the last 50 years, Stonehenge and Salisbury MuseumPhilip Hughes has returned time and again to the Ridgeway, Avebury, Silbury Hill and Stonehenge.   Informed by maps, photography and electronic survey techniques, his work ranges from accurate topographical observation to abstract and emotional representation of the landscape.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of the book on Hughes’s work: Tracks: Walking the Ancient Landscapes of Britain (Thames & Hudson, 2012).

Hughes is represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery.

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.

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

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The 2012 Circles of Knowledge Conference will take place on 14th and 15th July 2012 (with extra tours on the 13th and 16th).  Once again we will welcome crop circle and ancient knowledge enthusiasts from all over the world and bring them together in the beautiful surroundings of Marlborough College in Wiltshire.  This year the lectures will be taking plave in the modern Ellis Theatre, offering us state of the art audio and visual facilities.

There are many unknown factors to the crop circle phenomenon and under such circumstances it is best to

July 2012 Crop Circle

July 2012 Crop Circle near Avebury

stick to facts. Crop circles are happening in our reality here and now, and as the designs are imprinted in real fields in the countryside, they can be visited and studied at close hand.

Many people, several of whom live in Wiltshire full time, are actively engaged in full time research in an attempt to establish what this phenomenon is about and where it is leading us.  Since 1980 thousands of designs have been investigated and recorded in databases worldwide. This is impressive by anyone’s standard.

The Study of Crop Circles is based on facts:

  • Crop Circles exist.
  • They are found all over the world.
  • More than 6,000 have been documented since 1980.
  • Over the last twenty years analyses of thousands of plant and soil specimens from hundreds of formations worldwide have been carried out in laboratories in various countries, and most extensively in the UK and in the USA.
  • These analyses show that the cellular structure of the plants has been strongly affected and that the composition of the soil greatly altered in crop circles (man made designs exhibit no such results).
  • Their designs are based on complex geometry, ancient symbology and advanced mathematics.
  • They can be decoded.
  • The message that comes through is important for mankind at present.

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Go rambling around England with your little ones, on these 10 buggy friendly walks, selected by Richard Happer from his new book Beautiful Buggy Walks: England

Avebury, Wiltshire

Avebury

Avebury

Strolling through an ancient stone circle is just the start of this adventure. Avebury’s fine historical monument also forms the hub of a cracking day’s countryside wandering. Avebury is the world’s biggest stone circle – so large it has a whole village in its centre – but it doesn’t attract the huge numbers that Stonehenge does. This walk introduces you to the circle via West Kennet Avenue, a ceremonial approach that originally had 100 pairs of stones. It’s half a mile long and still impressive. People can wander freely among the ancient monoliths, unlike Stonehenge. Tourists touch them, kids lean on them and wild-bearded men in rainbow trousers do yoga beneath them. Our tour concludes with a relaxing stretch through the surrounding fields.

OS map: Explorer 157
How far: about 3 miles
Route: Enter the field to the west of the parking area.

• Walk between the stones up West Kennet Avenue.

• When the road to your right joins the main road, cross the smaller road and walk past the trees to the embankment that runs around the ditch.

• Follow the path on top to your right. When you reach a small road, cross it and continue around the circle.

• At the main road follow the path in, towards the centre of the circle, cross the road and take the path out and around the next sector of the circle.

• Detour to your right to visit the café and visitor centre.

• Join the minor road in the village and walk west to east, right through the circle, passing the pub and the point at which you crossed the road earlier.

• You are now walking away from the circle, down a country lane; continue for 1/2 mile, passing Manor Farm, then turn right, down a byway.

• After 1/2 mile, turn right along the edge of a fi eld. Another 1/2 mile will take you back to the start.

Rest and refresh: The Red Lion pub has outdoor space (01672 539266, red-lion-pub-avebury.co.uk). The National Trust visitor centre has a spacious cafe with outside benches. Visitor centre: 01672 539250,nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury

Article Source and more walks:http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/may/06/buggy-walks-family-holidays-england 

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The first formation to be reported in 2012. It was first reported on Sunday 15th April and is in oilseed rape (canola/colza) measuring approx. 140 feet in diameter. A pretty 12 pointed double flower at Lurkeley Hill on the outskirts of the village of East Kennett close to Marlborough in Wiltshire

East Kennett, Wiltshire
Crop Circle 2012
 This is a beautiful pattern to open the 2012 season, although because we were unable to photograph it straight away (the pictures here were taken when the formation was approximately 5 days old), we assume the plants have sprung back up quite a lot. 

Follow our Blogs and on Twitter for all the latest Crop Circle news (https://twitter.com/#!/HisT0URies)

Wiltshire Crop Circles

In the early 1970’s Crop circles used to be unexplained patterns that were generally found in corn fields – hence the terminology ‘corn circles’. However, in more recent years teams of ‘circle-makers’ within the South of England have openly admitted creating some of these fantastic formations, and have constructed them in crops as diverse as Linseed and Rapeseed.

Most frequently these art forms have appeared in Wiltshire near ancient monuments that are themselves considered to be built on sites of powerful natural energies. Many people believe that it’s no coincidence that the phenomenon appears close to these ancient sites, and some have even reported crop circles forming in under 20 seconds under incandescent or brightly coloured balls of light.

Whatever you choose to believe about the crop circle phenomenon, there is no doubt that the circles are responsible for attracting huge amounts of media attention, which consequently results in thousands of visitors coming to Wiltshire every year in order to catch a glimpse of some of the more spectacular ones.

Link: http://www.wccsg.com
Link:  http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/

Needless to say we will be offering guided tours of all the best formations in the Wiltshire throughout 2012

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A major West museum which last week feared it would have to close in a funding crisis has been saved and will be better than ever thanks to a whopping £370,000 lottery bonanza.

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum has been awarded the cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of a month which started with local council chiefs refusing its pleas for more cash.

The lottery money will not only save the museum’s immediate future, but create a new gallery focusing on its prize collections of Bronze Age artefacts.

The Devizes-based museum has long been recognised as housing one of Britain’s most important prehistoric collections outside of London, but after Wiltshire Council refused to increase its annual grant, raised the level of council tax the museum had to pay and reinforced a costly pensions deal, the museum said redundancies would follow and the museum could end up being mothballed. But now the future is bright for the museum after the successful lottery bid, which has been made as part of the beneficial ripple effect of the £25million plan to revive the visitor experience at Stonehenge.

Museum chairman Negley Harte said “We are delighted as this project is vital for the future sustainability of the museum. “The grants from the HLF and English Heritage will enable us to develop this new gallery to tell the stories of this unique collection in a more engaging way. It will bring more visitors to the museum, help us with our battle to make the museum financially sustainable and bring economic development to Devizes,” he added. The new gallery will tell the story of the people who built and used the world renowned monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury. The new Prehistoric Galleries will provide an opportunity to display for the first time in generations the unique gold and amber finds from Wiltshire that date back to the Bronze Age, over 4,000 years ago. “This was a time of shaman and priests, learning and culture and contacts across Europe.

The museum will be able to build on its existing learning and outreach programme, and inspire local people and visitors to become engaged and informed about the prehistoric landscapes of Wiltshire,” added a museum spokesman. Regional Heritage Lottery Fund boss Richard Bellamy said the links between the museum at Devizes and Wiltshire’s famous Neolithic sites were key. “These Neolithic and Bronze Age collections provide a fascinating insight into our prehistoric past, and they have the potential to play a key role in telling the wider story of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site,” he said.

Source: http://www.thisisbath.co.uk

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Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween. 

Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means “summer’s end.” In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as O�che Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter’s calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

 

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in — barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples — for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal. 

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year.   The greatest assembly was the ‘Feast of Tara,’ focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year — not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the north-west. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age. 

At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire,  and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come. 

The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries.  In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War. Young people and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with a magic circle of light. Afterwards, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months — and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you could for home, raising the cry, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!”

Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen! Whatever the reason, there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the winter’s dark.

Divination at Halloween  

Samhain was a significant time for divination, perhaps even more so than May or Midsummer’s Eve, because this was the chief of the three Spirit Nights. Divination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles played an important part in adding atmosphere to the mysteries. In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with an d� shealladh, “The Two Sights” commonly known as “second sight,” or clairvoyance. 

Apple Magic
At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon. At Samhain, the apple harvest is in, and old hearthside games, such as apple-bobbing, called apple-dookin’ in Scotland, reflect the journey across water to obtain the magic apple. 

Dookin’ for Apples
Place a large tub, preferably wooden, on the floor, and half fill it with water. Tumble in plenty of apples, and have one person stir them around vigorously with a long wooden spoon or rod of hazel, ash or any other sacred tree. 

Each player takes their turn kneeling on the floor, trying to capture the apples with their teeth as they go bobbing around. Each gets three tries before the next person has a go. Best to wear old clothes for this one, and have a roaring fire nearby so you can dry off while eating your prize!
If you do manage to capture an apple, you might want to keep it for a divination ritual, such as this one: 

The Apple and the Mirror
Before the stroke of midnight, sit in front of a mirror in a room lit only by one candle or the moon. Go into the silence, and ask a question. Cut the apple into nine pieces. With your back to the mirror, eat eight of the pieces, then throw the ninth over your left shoulder. Turn your head to look over the same shoulder, and you will see and in image or symbol in the mirror that will tell you your answer.

(When you look in the mirror, let your focus go “soft,” and allow the patterns made by the moon or candlelight and shadows to suggest forms, symbols and other dreamlike images that speak to your intuition.) 

Dreaming Stones
Go to a boundary stream and with closed eyes, take from the water three stones between middle finger and thumb, saying these words as each is gathered:                        

         I will lift the stone
           As Mary lifted it for her Son,
           For substance, virtue, and strength;
           May this stone be in my hand
           Till I reach my journey’s end.
 

(Scots Gaelic)
          Togaidh mise chlach,
          Mar a thog Moire da Mac,
          Air bhr�gh, air bhuaidh, ‘s air neart;
          Gun robh a chlachsa am dh�rn,
          Gus an ruig mi mo cheann uidhe.

Carry them home carefully and place them under your pillow. That night, ask for a dream that will give you guidance or a solution to a problem, and the stones will bring it for you.
Article from ‘The Stonehenge Stone Circle’ Website

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Penelope Keith hosts To The Manor Reborn at AveburyA manor house in Wiltshire is to be completely restored for a new BBC One series presented by Penelope Keith.

Avebury Manor House

Avebury Manor House

The four hour-long episodes will see the National Trust property Avebury Manor refurbished by a team of historians, experts, and volunteers.

Keith, who played snobbish aristocrat Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in the sitcom To The Manor Born, will be joined by Flog It! presenter Paul Martin.

To the Manor Reborn will be broadcast later in the year.

The series will follow the refurbishment of the 500-year-old property in Avebury as it is brought back to life.

Teams of craftsmen, furniture makers and interior design experts will restore the interior of the Grade I listed house to reflect its long history.

‘Push the boundaries’

BBC One controller Danny Cohen said: “Our partnership with the National Trust on this ambitious project encapsulates so many of the BBC’s ambitions.

“The channel aims to keep engaging audiences in new ways and this series offers them the chance to follow the story on screen, and to experience it first hand.”

Sarah Staniforth, the museums and collections director for the National Trust, said: “It is not only a unique opportunity to engage viewers in the history of interior design and architecture but is also a way for the trust to push the boundaries in bringing properties to life.”

Among the guests on To The Manor Reborn will be architectural expert Dan Cruickshank and gardener David Howard.

Avebury Manor will be closed for much of the year while the series is being filmed. It will be reopened as an “immersive experience” in the autumn.

Avebury Manor and Garden

An establishment of monastic origins, the present buildings dates from early 16th century with Queen Anne alterations and Edwardian renovations. The gardens are of an Edwardian style and features much topiary.

Link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-avebury/w-visit-avebury_filming-at-avebury-manor.htm

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