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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 rain failed to dampen spirits as thousands of Druids, Pagans and tourists gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice on Tuesday morning.

About 18,000 revellers from across the country and abroad braved the weather to welcome the longest day at the ancient stone circle.

Although the sun did not make an appearance as dawn broke in an overcast sky, people enjoyed the festival atmosphere with Morris dancers, musicians and people in traditional robes.

The rain stopped before the sun rose at about 4.51am and crowds cheered as the sky started to brighten.

Denny Bartley, who travels from Essex with friends every year for the Solstice, said: “It’s been good – the Solstice is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and I enjoy being with the other druids.”

Pagan rituals were led by senior druid King Arthur Pendragon at the Heel Stone, which included two pagan marriage ceremonies.

Mr Pendragon said: “It has been a good night. There are a lot of youngsters and a lot of people here asking all the right questions – they’re here for the right reasons.

“A lot of people came here to celebrate the birth of the sun for the longest day.”

Fewer people attended than last year, something which head of Stonehenge Peter Carson put down to the weather and the fact that the Solstice fell mid-week.

“It’s gone extremely well considering how poor the weather was. Everyone has come along and had a fantastic time yet again and they are leaving with big smiles on their faces,” said Mr Carson.

By Hannah White http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Private Guided Tours

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Bath | Stonehenge | Paganism | Ley Lines| Druids | Masonic Lodge

It is said that the Circus is joined to the Royal Crescent by a ley-line, that they

The Royal Circus is the same circumference as Stonehenge

represent the sun and the moon, and that Brock St which links them is the most paranormally active street in Bath!  The circumference of the Circus also matches – almost exactly – that of the inner circle of rocks at Stonehenge, the most famous druid monument of them all.

The Circus really does epitomise the elegance of Georgian Bath. Beautiful curved terraces of Bath limestone sweep round in a circle, and it doesn’t take much to imagine the ladies and gentlemen of society on this street. So charming and respectable – but look closer….

The Circus was designed by the architect John Wood, who had a fascination with Paganism. He incorporated his interest into the buildings around the crescent, all of which are adorned with Pagan and naturalistic carvings such as pan pipes and mystical figures, each one quite individual. At the top of each house is an acorn. The circular crescent represents the sun, and the Royal Crescent, which he also designed, represents the moon. It is said that the road that connects the two is an ancient ley line.

John Wood the Elder – Stanton Drew Circle and Stonehenge.

Bath is famed for its neo-classical architecture but what underpins the thinking of the 18th century architect John Wood when he drew the designs for The Circus is a strange mish-mash of legend and myth, this of course is the age of the new ‘druidism’ that took hold when such figures as William Stukeley called such places as Stonehenge the Druidical Temple.

Fertile imaginations played with the ideas of sacrificial wicker constructions filled with victims, and Wood took it much further and in his book – A Description of Bath, he writes a history for Bath that is at once absurd yet full of that energetic imaginings that are still to be found in today’s new age books.

To understand why Wood designed The Circus as he did one must go back to the myths that formed the literature of the 18th century. Wood, though including neo-classical forms in the building, was not returning to a Roman past but a pre-Roman past steeped in the myths of a Britannic origin. The myth can be found in the 12th century writings of Geoffrey of Monmouthshire, and according to (R. S. Neal – Bath, A Social History) a 16th century edition of Monmouth’s book written in Paris was very much alive in the oral tradition of Bath. Putting stone circles and Druids together seems rather strange, but Wood thought that the chief ensign of the Druids was a ring.

So as he began to plan his city on paper, he incorporated the pagan elements, but also he was relating the pagan symbol of the circle back to Jewish symbolism, therefore Christian, and then British and Greek, which led quite nicely to the “Divine Architect” who was of course God. This is all creative flummery, a mixing of ideas, so when we look at The Circus we see classical lines, but with little touches of druidism – in the acorns that sit atop the surrounds of the roofs – and the frieze which incorporates specific symbols of Masonic details.

First  though must come the story of Bladud, the founding father of Bath, an exiled prince because of his leprosy, whilst out herding pigs one day happened to notice that the pigs loved to roll in the hot muds of the spring. Bladud also tried this and was cured, and then went on to found the city of Bath on the spot. Our mythical King Bladud is given a date of 480 BC, and as Wood saw it Bladud created the city about the size of Babylon. Bladud was a descendant of a Trojan prince, a high priest of Apollo and a ‘Master of Pythagoras’. Therefore this high priest was a devotee of the heliocentric systems of the planets from which the Pythagorean system was derived. That the Works of Stantondriu (Stanton Drew) form a perfect model of the Pythagorean system of the planetary world

Do the 108 acorns on the parapets refer to the story of ‘Prince Bladud’ (the founder of Bath) or a reference to the Druids and oak trees ?

At Stanton Drew it must have taken him many hours, with his assistant wandering round taking measurements of the circles, which were probably at this time partly covered in orchards. There was a precedence for this fascination with megalithic stones, Stukeley and Inigo Jones were all entranced by these heathen stones of an earlier age, and the development of myths round druidic religions were already forming and capturing imaginative minds – a bit like today.

Now Stanton Drew was, according to Wood, the university for British Druids, which thereby made Bath the metropolitan city seat of the British Druids. ‘And since there is an apparent connection between the ancient works of Akmanchester (Bath) and those of Stantondriu, it seems manifest that the latter constituted the University of the British Druids; that this was the university which King Bladud, according to Merlyn of Caledon planted; that it was at Stantondrui the king feated his four Athenian colleagues and that they were not only the heads of the British Druids in those early ages, but, under Bladud, the very founder of them‘ 

The Circus is based on a diameter of 318 feet, Wood’s rough measurements of the circumference of the stone circle at Stonehenge, the terraced houses form a perfect circle around a ‘timber’ circle of planted trees in the centre. There is an early drawing by J.R.Cozens which shows hitching stone post for the horses arranged symmetrically round the The Circus which would give the allusion of stones.

Wood also incorporated into his thinking the hills around Bath, giving them various titles such as Sun and Moon Hill, and The Parade is also aligned on Solsbury Hill which had an Iron Age settlement on top. The Royal Crescent built by his son John Wood the Younger, was crescent shaped representing the moon.

Where you might ask is the masonic symbolism, well it is only seen from the air, taking The Circus as the round part of the key walk down Gay Street to Queens Square which is square, and you will see the ‘key’ of Bath.

What is a Ley Line?
Ley lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords. Their existence was suggested in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, in his books Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track. Watkins theorized that these alignments were created for ease of overland trekking by line of sight navigation during neolithic times and had persisted in the landscape over millennia.  In more recent times, the term ley lines has come to be associated with spiritual and mystical theories about land forms, including Chinese feng shui.

 I wonder if the fashionable Georgians who lived in these houses knew of the symbolism?
Links:
Stonehenge and Bath Tour Guide
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What was there before Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is a multiphased monument ie built in phases over a long period of time. It was built between 3000 and 2000 BC, but is part of a much larger ceremonial landscape which dates back somewhere up to 10,500 years ago. The earliest monuments in the landscape are markedSite of mesolithic post holes in the car park at Stonehenge by 3 small white discs on the tarmac at the lower end of the car-park. Chances are you will drive over them if you visit! The white discs mark where wooden postholes stood during the early mesolithic – the hunter gatherers – at least 3,500 years before the first phase of Stonehenge.Later features which predate Stonehenge that can still be seen are the Cursus and barrows or burial mounds. You will need more time or to go on a specialist tour to see these features.

Early ditch and bank at Stonehenge.

Though people had been meeting and using the landscape for some considerable time beforehand, the first phase of Stonehenge dates to between 3000 and 2920 BC with the creation of a ditch with internal bank. The bank has the appearance of a ‘…string of sausages’ and may have been upto 2m high though it is now much eroded.The dating of this part of the monument is believed to be fairly accurate because of the large amount of good dating evidence from antler and bone found in the ditch. After that the date for every other stage of Stonehenge is somewhat tenuous and subject to great debate.

Was there a timber phase at Stonehenge?

At the moment the theory is that from its beginnings to around 2600 BC there was a timber phase at Stonehenge. This included 56 timber posts just inside the bank and the post holes were later filled with cremated human remains and now known as Aubrey holes.In 2008 Aubrey hole 7 was opened by the Stonehenge Riverside Project and it looks more like a hole for a stone rather than timber. It may be that stones were here from the start rather than later. The results from the most recent dig are due out in 2011 so we may have the 3rd major rewrite of the Stonehenge story within 20 years!

Early stone phase.

Current dating assumptions suggest the first stones to arrive were the ‘bluestones’ from the Preseli Hills in west Wales. Bluestones inside StonehengeBluestone is a generic term for several types of volcanic rocks and each of them at Stonehenge weighs 4 – 6 tons.They are the ones that stand about man height as one looks into the stones. They don’t look blue until dressed (ie shaped) and the outer covering of the stone removed.You can how blue on a tour out of hours to the inner circle.
The bluestones were originally set in double concentric arcs with the open end facing the south/southwest. When removed they were filled are now known as Q & R holes.
Artist's impression of bluestone henge discovered in September 2009.In its final layout there are estimated to be 79 or 80 bluestones. An exciting discovery in September 2009 at the end of the Avenue where it meets the River Avon was a series of stone holes possibly holding bluestones. This ‘Bluestone’ henge may have held 24 stones. If the 56 Aubrey holes held stone rather than timbers it may be that there were two separate monuments that became united as the finishing phase of Stonehenge.

Late stone phase.

Around 2400 BC sees the arrival from 19 miles to the north of 75 sarsen stones. A very hard form of silicified sandstone it lies on or just below the ground surface. A circle of 30 uprights were erected in the outer circle each weighing around 25 tonnes. These were topped with 30 lintels each weighing 6 – 7 tonnes. Jointing to sarsens at Stonehenge.The lintels don’t rely on gravity to keep them in place they have mortice & tenon, and tongue & groove joints that we would normally find in a wood setting, but in stone. Each of the lintels also has some shaping on the inner and outer circular face to produce not far off a perfect circle.

The 5 trilithons (tri=3, lithon=stone) stand like a set of croquet hoops arranged in a horshoe shape in the centre of the circle. They step up in height as they go from the outer two to the remains of the Great Trilithon in the centre. Only 3 of the 5 trilithons still stand.

Final phase.

Around 2000BC the bluestones were re-erected. The altar stone was placed in the circle. Some realignments of external stones took place.

What is Stonehenge for?

Hundreds if not thousands of theories abound. A temple to the sun? Probably, but more about winter solstice sunset after which the days get lighter and warmer, rather than the more popularly attended summer solstice sunrise. A necropolis? Certainly. There are probably more than a tousand burials in the immediate area. Druidic temple? Probably not. They were a later ‘priesthood’ and the neo druids are an 18th century invention. A mystery?. Certainly.

Links:  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
http://www.StonehengeTours.com#

Stonehenge Guided Tours
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The unseasonably warm spring weather has not only brought forward many summer flowers – it has sparked the usual round of crop circles.

An elaborate 100ft circle which appeared overnight has caused a stir after it was found in a field of oil seed rape near Silbury Hill, Wiltshire.

The extraordinary floral creation is comprised of six interlocking ‘petal’ like crescents.

The ancient site, the tallest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe, is considered a hot spot for the bizarre phenomena and this new design proves the crop circle season is now under way.

Expert Lucy Pringle, widely known as an international authority on crop circles, believes this is the first ‘proper’ design of the year.

She added: ‘The start of the season is always exciting, I never know what’s going to happen for the rest of the year.

‘The latest circle is a floral pattern, I’ve never seen this before. There’s never been one identical to another.’

crop-circle-avebury

Miss Pringle, from Petersfield, Hants, is a founder member of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies.

She has conducted years of research in to the physiological and psychological effects reported by people after visiting the formations.

She says her findings suggest there are measured changes in human hormones and brain activity following contact with the circles.

The new ‘floral’ design is the latest in a long line of patterns to be spotted in the UK over the years.

Previous formations have included stars, triangles, birds, complicated three dimensional geometric shapes and even intricate patterns with hidden mathematical codes.

One, discovered in 2008 near Wroughton in Wiltshire, was thought to represent the first ten digits of pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1383035/First-crop-circle-season-appears-historic-Wiltshire-field.html

Crop Circle Tours 2011:  We operate guided tours of Wiltshire including all the best crp circles.  We know where they are, when thay happen and get you inside – a unique experience.  THere are already more formations in Wiltshire that we are visiting

http://www.histouries.co.uk/crop-circle-tours.htm

Crop Circle Tour Guide
HisTOURis UK – Private guided tours of Wessex

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STATE of the art technology is being used to create the most accurate digital model ever of Stonehenge English Heritage is using a combination of modern 3D laser scanning and digital imaging technology to survey every inch of every stone that makes up the prehistoric monument.

The survey includes all the visible faces of the standing and fallen stones of Stonehenge, including Station, Heel and Slaughter stones, as well as the top of the horizontal lintels which have never before been surveyed at this level of detail.

Despite the vast amount of archaeological activity and academic study into Stonehenge and its landscape over the centuries, relatively little is known about the lichen-covered surfaces of the sarsens and bluestones that make up the stone circle.

The availability of high resolution laser scanners that can produce highly accurate surface models means that it is now possible to record details and irregularities on the stone surfaces down to a resolution of 0.5mm. It is also hoped that secrets hidden underneath the thick cover of lichens may be revealed in the analysis using sophisticated software.

The study serves a number of purposes. It will provide precise base-line data to monitor the physical condition of the monument which is subjected to daily weathering.

Digital data of this unprecedented level of detail will also be a valuable resource to anyone who is tasked with producing reconstruction models, drawings and computer generated images of the monument for public understanding and interpretation, including the English Heritage interpretation team who is working on the new displays of the proposed visitor centre.

Understanding of the known Neolithic “dagger” and Bronze Age carvings as well as modern graffiti carvings might also be enhanced, and new ones might be discovered.

Dave Batchelor, English Heritage’s Stonehenge archaeologist, said: “The surfaces of the stones of Stonehenge hold fascinating clues to the past. They are like manuscripts, a whole palimpsest of the ideas, efforts and idiosyncrasies that marked the lives of people over millennia. I look forward very much to seeing what we are about to find.”

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/stonehenge-in-high-definition/

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

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Start: Avebury |Finish: Old Sarum
Distance: Approximately 42 miles

Wiltshire is a county of history and mystery set in a dramatic landscape. The combination of heritage and scenery provides a truly memorable day out. So come with us on a journey through the countryside and across the ages as we go back to the time of our prehistoric ancestors. Hundreds of thousands of years may have passed but all over the county there’s evidence of human activity from the end of the Ice Age through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages right up to the invasion of the Romans in AD43.

Click here for audio / visual tour

This driving tour will take you through the heart of Wiltshire. En route you’ll discover more about how our enigmatic and mysterious ancestors lived, worked, fought and died.

This tour can be undertaken in a variety of ways; as a day-long journey, in short sections or you can use the information as a guide to individual visits.

You might also consider embarking on the tour using public transport but keeping up to date with bus service and timetable changes will require plenty of preparation.

Before you set off make sure that you’re properly equipped. Nothing beats a really good Ordnance Survey map, marked with contours and ancient monuments. A compass and a torch would also be useful. Some of these historical gems are in fields and away from roads or footpaths, so good walking boots are a must. Some sites have few or no facilities and it’s also worth noting that mobile phone coverage can’t be guaranteed in parts of rural Wiltshire. For news of road works or route closures, check BBC Local Radio and bbc.co.uk/travelnews

This guide has been produced with the generous assistance of Phil Harding, Wessex Archaeology, English Heritage, Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service, Bob Clarke, Martin Kellett, David Dawson and the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

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

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Neil Oliver tells the epic story of how Britain and its people came to be over thousands of years of ancient history – the beginnings of our world forged in ice, stone, and bronze.

About the Programme

A History Of Ancient Britain will turn the spotlight onto the very beginning of Britain’s story. From the last retreat of the glaciers 12,000 years ago, until the departure of the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century AD this epic series will reveal how and why these islands and nations of ours developed as they did and why we have become the people we are today. The first series transmits in early 2011 and there will be a following series in 2012.

As well as being a presenter, Neil is also an archaeologist, historian and author. He began his television career in 2002 with the BBC2 series ‘Two Men in a Trench’. This battlefield archaeology series explored iconic British battle sites, focusing on human stories, tragedies and drama.

Neil became a familiar face on television thanks to the hugely popular, award winning programme, ‘Coast’, in which the landscapes, history, geography and people of the British Isles are given centre stage in a continuing voyage of discovery, remembrance and reminiscence.

Neil also presented ‘A History of Scotland’ on BBC 1 and BBC2. In this series he revealed how the story of his native Scotland is instrumental to the history of, not only Britain, but also Europe and much of the wider world.
Neil Oliver takes us on an epic journey expoloring how Britain and its people came to be.
Watch the trail here
Neil Oliver’s official website

Stonehenge and Ancient Britain Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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The Hero Walk – In support of our wounded – 26th June 2011
The Hero Walk is a very tough challenge over the high chalk downs and ridge ways of Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain. At 26 miles it forms a marathon for runners and a great challenge for walkers. This challenge is a diverse trek over marathon distance, going back through 6,000 years of British history; the magnificent prehistoric stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge need little introduction. The challenge will start in Avebury, where we will be able to get up close to the ancient stones before heading off via the mysterious ancient landmark of Silbury Hill. Silbury is the tallest man-made mound in Europe, however its purpose is still unknown.

Stonehenge - Avebury walk 2011

Stonehenge - Avebury walk 2011

We will then cross the spectacular chalk downs dotted with ancient earth-works, burial mounds and get up close to the enigmatic white horses carved into the chalk. In clear weather we will be able to see more here, as views of other valleys open up to us. The route takes in the highest point in Wiltshire (295m) and travels through the most active crop circle area in the world – keep your eyes open!

Crossing into MOD land you will either walk (or run!) through stunning areas little used by the general public, that have become a haven for wildlife and plants. Our route continues to undulate but the main hills are behind us and we start to anticipate the finish line at the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. A short section of quiet road is a sign that we are nearing civilisation, and before long the world-renowned ancient circle of stones looms on the horizon before us. There is then time to celebrate with fellow walkers and runners before returning home. We look forward to seeing you there!

Avebury to Stonehenge Hero Walk 2011 Itinerary . . .

The 26-mile walk will take approximately 8-9 hours for fit and strong walkers. Our day starts at Avebury, which lies at the centre of one of the greatest surviving concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in Western Europe. We’ll enjoy Avebury’s magic in the quiet of the early morning before heading via the Silbury Hill.

Help for Heroes 
Help for Heroes

Dropping down into the village of Alton Barnes, we follow the Kennet and Avon canal east. From there we head south and join the White Horse trail to the Pewsey White Horse from where we have fabulous views of the surrounding chalk landscape. We descend the hill and continue along the trail to the Kennet and Avon Canal; this is a fabulous example of industrial revolution engineering. Crossing into MOD land we will either walk (or run!) through stunning areas little used by the general public and a haven for wildlife and plants. After this long day of great views and leg-stretching hills we will reach the final destination: Stonehenge, the most famous stone circle in the world.

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http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/challenges-2011-avebury-stonehenge.html

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Today, we must celebrate John Aubrey’s dramatic rediscovery of Avebury – the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle. 

Avebury Stone Circle today: with its ditches excavated, unsightly cottages demolished, and unnecessary enclosures removed, it’s difficult to imagine the snarl of 17th-century domestic chaos that greeted John Aubrey’s visionary gaze that January morn.

Avebury Stone Circle today: with its ditches excavated, unsightly cottages demolished, and unnecessary enclosures removed, it’s difficult to imagine the snarl of 17th-century domestic chaos that greeted John Aubrey’s visionary gaze that January morn.

Whilst out hunting with fellow royalists during the English Civil War, exactly three hundred and sixty-two years ago. For Aubrey’s heroic retrieval of this vast but (by then) long forgotten Stone Age temple confronted the then-accepted notion that only the coming of the Romans had forced a degree of culture upon the barbaric Ancient British, and also confounded the then-popular 17th-century belief – propounded by the highly influential Scandinavian antiquaries Olaus Magnus and Ole Worm – that all such megalithic culture had its archaic origins in Europe’s far north. Indeed, so rich were the cultural implications of John Aubrey’s re-discovery that – come the fall of Oliver Cromwell’s 11-year-long Commonwealth and the subsequent Restoration of the Monarchy – even the returned King Charles II would himself insist on taking one of Aubrey’s celebrated tours of the Avebury area. But how could the world’s largest stone circle have suffered such a total cultural extinction in the first place? Why, the Avebury standing stones themselves must average at least ten feet in height apiece, while the temple’s enormously bulky northern and southern entrance stones rivalled even nearby Stonehenge’s celebrated trilithons. And how could Avebury’s vast 400-metre-diameter earthen embankment and the equally deep ditch that encircled these huge monoliths have for several centuries become invisible even to local historians? Ironically perhaps, the initial blame for this pagan temple’s centuries in cultural oblivion goes not to scheming Christians but to the 5th century arrival from Germany of another group of pagans – the invading Saxons – who, recognising Avebury’s possible use as a defended settlement, broke with the traditions of the previous Roman and Romano-British occupiers by setting up their homes and farmsteads directly within the mighty earth banks of the temple itself. Blasphemers! Thereafter, many centuries of harsh day-to-day living within the Avebury henge conspired to obscure then finally obliterate all physical traces of this vast Earthen Temple. Saxon ploughing within the henge tumbled soil into the deep ditches, which silted up considerably and became repositories of household refuse. Residents fearful of disturbing the ‘Devil’s work’ incorporated the Avebury megaliths into the hedges of their allotments, gardens, fields, and even saved energy by employing those monoliths most vertically aligned as supporting walls for their stone cottages. And when villagers lost their fears of the stones, deep pits were dug into whose depths several of the most intrusive monoliths were unceremoniously tumbled. Thereafter, the magnificent geometric shape of this robust 4,500 year-old landscape temple became lost in the chaos of domesticity; until that fateful day three hundred and sixty-two years ago, that is, when John Aubrey and his friend Dr. Walter Charleton joined their hunting party and galloped westwards across Fyfield Down along the chalky London-Bath ‘rode’. Aubrey himself recounts in his posthumously published two-volume tome Monumenta Britannica:

“The chase led us at length through the village of Avebury, into the closes there: where I was wonderfully surprised at the sight of those vast stones: of which I had never heard before… I observed in the enclosures some segments of rude circles, made with these stones; whence I concluded, they had been in the old time complete.”

It’s been my experience that no story about Avebury ever concludes without some vicious act of destruction by some pious know-it-all or other; this On This Deity entry is no different. For, despite King Charles II’s fascination with the Avebury stone circle, it was his return to the English throne that prompted the temple’s most vivid and desperate period of destruction. For in their determination to stamp out the Non-Conformism of Cromwell’s time, Charles II’s paranoid Restoration Government in 1665 passed the Five Mile Act (or Non-Conformist Act 1665), which specifically forbade all itinerant Non-Conformist preachers from speaking within five miles of their old parishes. Avebury stone circle is nine miles south of Swindon, eight miles north-east of Devizes, five miles west of Marlborough and six miles east of Calne. Non-conformist preachers throughout northern Wiltshire looked to the ancient pagan temple and regarded the Five Mile Act as a divine sign: let us make our new home here, and every pagan stone we break we’ll make righteous by incorporating it into our Non-Conformist church. And so to Avebury they did come and such destruction so they did: the church remains at the circle’s centre even to this day, self-effacing and easily overlooked but engorged nevertheless with as many splendid sarsen stones of that former 4,500 year-old monument as those Non-Conformist preachers could muster. Our hero John Aubrey would, for his pains, die unpublished and in penury. Today, however, his legend burns with an unquenchable fame due to that pioneering archaeological tome Monumenta Britannica, that gossipy biography of his many contemporaries Brief Lives, and – most of all – for that splendid vision of Avebury exactly three hundred and sixty-two years ago today. To John Aubrey – Culture Hero and how!
http://www.onthisdeity.com

Stonehenge and Avebury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Ancient Britain

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