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Another crop circle in the United Kingdom was found on July 29. Like most crop circles, little to nothing is known about how, who or what created it. As mysterious as Stonehenge, crop circles continue to stump the brightest scientists and UFO fanatics alike.

Crop circles are a flattening of wheat, barley, rye, maize, and other crops. Cases have been documented for more than 40 years now in over 20 countries, but mainly in the United Kingdom — and more specifically in southern England. Circle makers typically avoiding being caught by working at night.

In July, a crop circle appeared across the field from Stonehenge, adding mystery to what was an already mind-boggling location. Many people believe that crop circles are an act of aliens, God, or mankind; some believe they spawn from earth’s magnetic field and energy. Yet, no one theory has proven what crop circles are, why they are here, or what created them

More than 2,000 different shapes have been recorded, and mathematical analysis has revealed the use of construction lines, invisible to the eye, are used to design the patterns. However, how these circles are created, or who is creating them remains a burning question many would like answered.

Crop circles and physics

In this month’s Physics World edition, Richard Taylor, director of the Materials Science Institute at the University of Oregon, states that physics and the arts are grouping together to work toward solving the secrets behind the ever complex crop circles.

According to Taylor, via EurekAlert.org, “physics could potentially hold the answer, with crop-circle artists possibly using the Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as lasers and microwaves to create their patterns, dispensing with the rope, planks of wood and bar stools that have traditionally been used.”

Microwaves, Taylor suggests, could be used to make crop stalks fall over and cool in a horizontal position — a technique that could explain the speed and efficiency of the artists and the incredible detail that some crop circles exhibit.

However, Taylor states that “Crop-circle artists are not going to give up their secrets easily. This summer, unknown artists will venture into the countryside close to your homes and carry out their craft, safe in the knowledge that they are continuing the legacy of the most science-oriented art movement in history.”

“It may seem odd for a physicist such as Taylor to be studying crop circles,” said Matin Durrani, editor of Physics World, “but then he is merely trying to act like any good scientist — examining the evidence for the design and construction of crop circles without getting carried away by the side-show of UFOs, hoaxes and aliens.”

Crop circles: Rob Dickinson and John Lundberg

Rob Dickinson and John Lundberg are known crop circle artists residing in the UK. On their personal website, the artists/circle makers address one researcher’s findings on crop circles.

Dickinson and Lundberg wrote:

“With our unique insider’s perspective to the crop circle phenomenon we’ve always known crop circle research has centered on beliefs – rather than empirical derived evidence. Without studying the detail of researchers’ statements this is a difficult point to demonstrate, let alone articulate in sound bites in the media.

“During the summer of 2000 the media focused on crop circle researcher Colin Andrews assertions that 80% of circles were man made and 20% were the product of some kind of magnetic energy. Colin was featured on almost every TV and radio channel, often with us arguing that Colin’s estimate…was just that, an estimate without substantial proof, or evidence.

“Andrews [has] presented erroneous information to support their own beliefs and to inflate their importance and perceived knowledge of the subject. In the case of Andrews, the media accepted his statements with little skepticism or scrutiny, and his beliefs have been portrayed as scientific fact across the globe.”

Andrews replied:

“I have invested my reputation, profession and marriage in trying to resolve the apparent puzzle. At this point I have proven to myself that you and your friends (and others before) are at least 80 percent of that puzzle and if you are proud of that, so be it. I am proud to have put myself on the line to be honest with my conclusions. The 80/20 percent have not made me friends amongst those who want to believe everything comes from ET’s etc.

“I look forward to the day you make my job and that of serious fellow researchers easy and post all the formations you have made and call them what they are man made art – without all the deliberate deception and trouble making.”

Visit Wiltshire and see a crop circle for yourself.  Seeing is believing!

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Mystical landscape, magical tours

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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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Chalk from Hampshire is used to re-chalk the ancient Wiltshire hill figure

Chalk from Hampshire is used to re-chalk the ancient Wiltshire hill figure

A restoration group is appealing for volunteers to help re-chalk one of Wiltshire’s oldest hill figures.

The Cherhill White horse, cut into the Marlborough Downs, is owned and maintained by the village of Cherhill.

The 232-year-old hill figure underwent a major facelift in 2002 after losing both its whiteness and its horse shape.

Since then the 18th Century landmark, the second oldest in the county, has required a “re-chalking” every two years.

“It had been continuously scraped to reveal fresh chalk but that left a three foot cliff at the top of the horse,” said the restoration group’s chairman, Rob Pickford.

“Now we top it up with extra chalk to level it with the surrounding ground.”

Yellow horse

The horse, one of nine such monuments in the county, requires up to 10 tonnes of chalk to restore it to its former splendour.

The chalk, funded by donations from visitors to the Downs, is being “brought in” after the last chalk quarry in the county at Mere closed down.

“The first top dressing we did we got the chalk from Somerset,” said Mr Pickford. “It was very yellow with bits of grey flint in it so we ended up with a yellow horse with grey spots. This year we’re getting it from a quarry in Hampshire.”

Natural erosion from the weather is normally responsible for the discolouring of the ancient monument.

However, this year’s unusually dry and sunny conditions have “bleached the chalk”.

“It’s looking quite white at the moment but in February it was looking particularly grey,” said Mr Pickford.

“And some of the boards used to hold the chalk in place have become exposed, so it does need top dressing.”

The re-chalking is due to take place on Saturday 14 May and is expected to take up to six hours.

Volunteers are being asked to meet at the Black Horse car park at 9:30 am “armed with spades.”  I am taking the kids and a picnic – see you there ?

Wiltshire’s White Horses

The Wiltshire Countryside is famous for its white horse chalk hill figures. It is thought that there have been 13 white horses in existence in Wiltshire, but only 8 are still visible today.

The oldest, largest and perhaps the most well known white horse is carved into the chalk hillside across the border in Oxfordshire. Little is known of the history of the Uffington White Horse, but it is believed to have influenced the cutting of the subsequent Wiltshire horses.

The first of the Wiltshire white horses to appear was at Westbury in 878AD, although this figure is no longer visible as a new horse was cut on top in 1778. The most recent horse was cut on the hill above Devizes to celebrate the Millennium.
Links:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-13294489

http://www.wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/
http://www.StonehengeTours.com
http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/site/things-to-do/attractions/history-and-heritage/white-horses
We continue to offer private guided tours of Wiltshire that include ‘Chalk Hill Figures’

Wiltshite Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Ancient Wiltshire

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Few things have helped create the look of the English countryside more British Hedgerowthan hedgerows. Hedges have been used for a long time in England, yet for all their antiquity, much of the familiar checkerboard pattern they help create is of very recent vintage.

Hedges have been used as field boundaries in England since the times of the Romans. Excavations at Farmoor (Oxon) reveals Roman hedges made of thorn. The Anglo-Saxons also used hedgerows extensively, and many that were used as estate boundaries still exist. Although these early hedges were used as field enclosures or to mark the boundaries of one person’s property, there was no systematic planting of hedges in England until the first enclosure movement of the 13th century.

The pressures of population expansion led to a widespread clearing of land for agriculture, and the new fields needed to be marked clearly.

Later, farming expansion in the 15th century led to more widespread hedge planting, but the greatest use of hedges came in the Enclosure Movement of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Enclosure Movement is a fancy term that historians use to describe the habit of wealthy landowners enclosing common fields for their own use, usually for the purpose of raising sheep.

Hedges are used as field boundaries in the lowland regions of England. In the highlands, such as the Yorkshire Dales, dry stone walls are commonly used.

Aerial Hedgerow ViewSo great was the need for hedges during the Enclosures, that a whole new industry sprang up supplying hawthorn plants to be used in planting new hedges.

In the process of enclosure many rural labourers lost their livelihood and had to move to the new industrial urban centres. So the next time you sigh over the timeless quality of the English hedge-shaped countryside, spare a thought for the misery and hardship caused by the erection of hedged fields to much of England’s rural population.

Hedge Facts
When: Roman, Anglo-Saxon, 13thC, 15thC, 18th-19thC
Where: Lowland areas
Why: Field boundaries
How
: planting bushes or trees and pleating them together at an angle as they grew
Materials: huge variety based on local availability, but the most common were hawthorn, blackthorn, and holly

A lot of effort and ingenuity has been brought to bear on the problem of dating hedges. Several historians have advanced mathematical formulae for calculating the age of a hedgerow based on the number of plant species found in a certain length of hedge. As an extremely rough rule of thumb, one species of hedge plant per 100 years seems to get close to the truth.

Unfortunately, recent years have seen the disappearance of many miles of English hedgerows. It is easier for modern farmers to string new metal fence wire than to maintain ancient hedgerows. Conservation efforts have introduced incentives to farmers to maintain the hedges, and losses have slowed somewhat. Estimates vary, but there may be upwards of 500,000 miles of hedgerows in England today.

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge
http://www.britainexpress.com
http://www.BestValueTours.co.uk

The Best Tours of the Britich Countryside
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