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Archive for the ‘silbury hill’ Category

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/

HisTOURies UK
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours.

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The ancient standing stones at Avebury, lie between Swindon and Devizes on the A4361. Avebury rings are a World Heritage site and attracts thousands of visitors annually, who are no doubt intrigued by the mystery that surrounds their construction.
Avebury Stone Circle
The henge is believed to date back to around 2600BC; just what motivated our ancestors to construct such an elaborate site and their ultimate purpose in doing so remains largely a mystery. It has been suggested (one of many theories) it may have been used as a place of worship and sacrifice. Some favour an astral observatory, difficult to prove I shouldn’t wonder, in view of the fact that many of the stones are missing and any alignment with the stars must be considered near impossible. Others believe it had a connection with Silbury Hill (see sidebar for more info)and was used to gauge the seasons for agriculture. Whatever the reasons for its construction, its true purpose still eludes archaeologists and scholars to this day.

It is unfortunate that not all of Avebury’s 154 sarsen stones (most likely quarried and transported on wooden rollers from the Marlborough hills) have survived. Of the three rings and the Avenue that make up the henge, only 36 stones are still standing. Many were destroyed or buried (some still are) in massive pits during the 14th century by devout local Christians because a) they believed them to be the harbingers of ill luck and b) to eradicate pagan worship from the monument.

It was during the 18th century that the stones came under attack once more, not from zealous Christians this time but from local construction workers who decided it would be a jolly good idea to utilizes the stones to construct several of the cottages in the village; the grand 15th century Tudor manor and the modernization of 12th century church of St. James. Some of these magnificent stones even went to cobble the streets of Devizes seven miles to the south.

It wasn’t until the intervention and purchase of the site by Marmalade tycoon and archaeologist – Alexander Keiller in the 1930’s, that the destruction ceased. Keiller was responsible for much of the conservation and re-erection of the stones. His work was interrupted during the outbreak of the WWII and remains unfinished to this day, unfinished because there are still stones which lay buried.

Keiller purchased Avebury Manor in 1937 and utilized and modernized the stable block to house a museum of his work and findings. Although small, it is well worth a visit.

Folklore

Folklore has evolved over a millennia regarding the alleged power of Avebury’s standing stones. A fascination has grown for these enigmatic sarsens, which appear to cast their spell on many who see them. The stones are often referred to as ‘grey wethers’ on account of their resemblance to grazing sheep when seen from a distance. Some believe the sarsens have healing properties and by a ‘hugging’ one, it will release its magical properties and cure most ills. Others have claimed whilst hugging a stone, to have felt vibrations emanating from within its very core. ‘Stone hugging’ is a common sight at Avebury. Often when I have been driving past, I can pretty much guarantee that someone will be flat against a stone, adopting a pose reminiscent of the crucifixion and gazing heavenward in eager anticipation of “the vibe‘. I think “the vibe,” can more than likely be attributed to the rumble and subsequent vibration of traffic passing close by on the A4361. There’s nout queerer than folk and Avebury attracts them in swarms – bless ‘em. As mentioned earlier, the locals used to believe the stones were harbingers of ill luck, so hugging one is probably not such a good idea.

Dowsers, crystal pendulum swingers, new age folk, druids, pagans and an assortment of other folk all looking for that something, descend on the village annually, and why not, everyone to their own I say.

With all the magic, mystery and ancient rituals which have grown up around the stones, you would have thought the circle would be a paranormal hotspot. If truth be known, the opposite is very much the case, especially when compared to the generous helping of ghostly history from the likes of The Red Lion pub, which stands within the circle; the resplendent Tudor Manor and the 12th century church of St. James. All these buildings positively exude tales to chill you to the marrow. The few hauntings and folklore that have been reported from the henge are as follows:

Back in the Sixties, a woman driving through the village late at night, reported seeing ghostly figures dressed in period costumes dancing amongst the stones. I would question, that what she actually saw, was probably nothing more than one of the many rituals and parties which take place regularly at Avebury.

There are claims of dwarf like creatures seen darting amongst the stones in the dead of night and of a spectrum of tiny twinkling lights believed by some to be fairy folk. These lights have been seen countless times dancing above the stones, especially the mysterious Diamond Stone, which is located at the north-west quadrant, a stone incidentally, said to uproot itself and crosses the A4361 at the stroke of midnight, no mean feat at around 40 tonnes.

The henge is thought to have several ley lines (hypothetical veins of invisible energy beneath the earth, said to connect ancient megalithic sites, monuments and even buildings, particularly churches) which dowsers especially believe crisscross beneath the henge and are most likely responsible for generating subterranean “earth energy.”

Avebury is a fascinating place and well worth a visit, if only to marvel at its construction and debate its mystery. That said, the claims surrounding the stones abilities will, I’m sure, stretch even the most vivid of imaginations.

Links:
http://hauntedwiltshire.blogspot.com
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-avebury
http://www.StonehengeTours.com

Guided tours of Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Ancient History
Mystical Landscape, magical tours………….

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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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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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The Trundle near Chichester, Sussex, is one of the first large monuments built in Britain

The Trundle near Chichester, Sussex, is one of the first large monuments built in Britain

Researchers have developed a new dating technique that has given the first detailed picture of the emergence of an agricultural way of life in Britain more than 5,000 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

A new analysis of artefacts recovered from the first monuments built in Britain shows that the Neolithic period had a slow start followed by a rapid growth in trade and technology.

Scientists say the new approach can be used to unravel the detailed sequence of events of many more important moments in human prehistory.

It relies in part on radio-carbon dating – counting the amount of a radioactive type of carbon atom in decaying matter. But the methodology also incorporates many other dating sources, together with some powerful statistical analysis, to produce far more discrete timings for happenings in the past.

The Neolithic period in Britain occurred between 4000 and 2000BC.

It was when people took up agriculture as a way of life and stopped being nomadic hunter-gatherers.

It also saw the emergence of trade across the British Isles and the development of new technologies. But until now, we have had only a rather coarse picture of the chronology of events during this eventful period in our history.

The new analysis by Dr Alex Bayliss, an English Heritage dating expert, has brought the occurrences of that time into sharper focus.

“We can start to tell a bigger story and write a history for the prehistory of Neolithic Britain,” she told BBC News.

“What we thought before was very imprecise. We simply knew that all sorts of different sites and all sorts of new kinds of practices started to happen sometime in the 500 or 600 years of the early Neolithic in Britain.

“We’ve actually now been able to give a timetable, or story of what happened when, to disentangle these things so that we can start to see why certain things may have followed others.”

According to Dr Bayliss’s analysis, Neolithic farming practices began in south-east England probably a few decades before 4,000BC. But then they spread very, very slowly, taking about two centuries to reach western parts of England. And then, she says, there was a sudden increase in activity.

“Monuments, cattle, sheep, the whole farming way of life, bursts across Britain and suddenly – having taken 200 years from getting from Kent to Gloucestershire – it then takes 50 years to get from Cheltenham to Aberdeen.”

The new dating also indicates that by 3700-3800BC, early Britons had developed pottery with regional styles of decorations. Long-distance trading networks were also being established in stone axes and certain other types of pottery

Windmill Hill, a large Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Avebury, was previously thought to have been built around 3700-3100 BC. The new dating shows it was built in 3700-3640 BC
Windmill Hill, a large Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Avebury, was previously thought to have been built around 3700-3100 BC. The new dating shows it was built in 3700-3640 BC

Of particular interest are the first monuments that were built in Britain, called causewayed enclosures. These were made up of concentric rings of ditches and banks – the largest of which can span 300m (1,000ft).

It had been thought that they spread slowly across the country over five centuries. But the new dating approach suggests they spread rapidly within 75 years.

This revelation has been described by archaeologists working on the project as Britain’s first “building boom”.

Professor Alistair Whittle of Cardiff University said: “With more accurate dating, the Neolithic period is no longer the sleepy, hazy swathe of time where it is the default position to lump everything together.

“This research fundamentally challenges the notion that little happened among our Stone Age farmers. We can now think about the Neolithic period in terms of more rapid changes, constant movement of people and fast diffusion of ideas.”

Collective violence

One interpretation of these events is that once the initial “pioneer” phase of the Neolithic period was over, independent groups of people came over from the continent and set up villages across Britain and social structures began to form.

These social structures led to the construction of the enclosures for people to gather and possibly for chieftains to emerge and amass power.

The new dating suggests that there was more collective violence once the enclosures were built. Several of them, particularly in western Britain, were attacked by large numbers of people with showers of arrows, and enclosures’ ramparts were burned down.

This indicates that the enclosures created a hierarchy that was being contested in some way.

The new dating technique involves comparing carbon dates with other markers in the archaeological record. On its own carbon dating is imprecise, but when it is cross-reference with documented events it allows researchers to more accurately date artefacts.

Researchers say this new methodology could in principle be used shed further light on any significant event in our prehistory, such as the emergence of farming in China and the collapse of the Mayan civilisation in the Americas.

 

A reconstruction of the Whitehawk causewayed enclosure in the South Downs, Sussex
A reconstruction of the Whitehawk causewayed enclosure in the South Downs, Sussex

Why not visit Windmill Hill and nearby Avebury and learn more about Neolithic Britain?

Stonehenge and Avebury stone Circle Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Ancient Wiltshire

 

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Archaeological investigation dates Marlborough Mound at around 2400 BC 

The Wiltshire landscape around Avebury and Silbury Hill is the heart of prehistoric Britain, and has World Heritage designation. Now another monument can be added to its archaeological treasures: the Marlborough Mound.

William Stukeley’s 1723 image of Marlborough “Mount”

William Stukeley’s 1723 image of Marlborough “Mount”

The Mound, in the grounds of Marlborough College, was already recognised as a feature of considerable historical significance. It was the motte on which the keep of Marlborough Castle was built fifty years after the Norman Conquest and it subsequently became the centrepiece of a major seventeenth century garden. The latest research has extended its history back by three millennia.

Recent coring of the mound at Marlborough College produced four samples of charcoal, allowing radiocarbon dating for the first time. The samples, which came from different levels in the mound, were taken from two bore holes through the height of the 19m monument, showing that it was built in the years around 2400 BC. This is the first firm evidence proving the theory that the castle motte is largely a re-used prehistoric structure of the highest national standing.

Jim Leary, who led the recent archaeological investigations for English Heritage at the nearby Silbury Hill, and is co-author of the recently published ‘The Story of Silbury Hill’ coordinated EH’s contribution, which also included radiocarbon dating. He says, “This is an astonishing discovery. The Marlborough Mound has been one of the biggest mysteries in the Wessex landscape. For centuries people have wondered whether it is Silbury’s little sister; and now we have an answer. This is a very exciting time for British prehistory”

After the prehistoric mound was re-used as a castle motte – the only known example of its kind – it became an important royal castle for the Norman and Plantagenet kings. It was occasionally the scene of major political events, such as the general oath of allegiance to King John in 1209, as well as being a favourite royal hunting lodge. In the fourteenth century the castle passed to the queens of England, and gradually became neglected.

In the seventeenth century it came into the possession of the Seymour family, and its next avatar was as a feature in a historically significant early romantic garden: a spiral ramp was cut in its side, with a hawthorn hedge enclosing the path which wound to the summit, where there was a water feature.

The Master of Marlborough College, Mr Nicholas Sampson, said: ‘We are thrilled at this discovery, which confirms the long and dramatic history of this beautiful site and offers opportunity for tremendous educational enrichment.’

The work is part of a major conservation programme being undertaken by the Marlborough Mound Trust, specially formed at the invitation of the College and under the coordination of Donald Insall Associates. The Chairman of the Trust, Mr Michael Macfadyen says, ‘The inspiration for this was our founder Eric Elstob, a former pupil at the College, whose generous legacy has provided the means for this work. He would have been totally delighted by this news.’

Links: https://www.marlboroughcollege.org

“This is an astonishing discovery. The Marlborough Mound has been one of the biggest mysteries in the Wessex landscape. For centuries people have wondered whether it is Silbury’s little sister; and now we have an answer. This is a very exciting time for British prehistory”

Wiltshire Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK - The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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