Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I am aware that this blog has devolved into a bit of a travelogue of late, however, as these visits are part and parcel of the stuff that makes up the internal dreamscape from which I draw my work, I feel justified on reporting some of the wonders to which I bear witness.


Okay -- rationalization over, today I've brought you a taste of Wiltshire, as experienced under the able guidance of Vic, our driver and guide for the day.

Here's Vic. He is wonderful -- a retired RAF gent who kept us hopping for 12 full hours on an unforgetable 131-mile tour of Wiltshire.

Here's his website.

To begin...Avebury.

Avebury is the site of an ancient henge -- older and much larger in scope than Stonehenge. The stones are not so imposing as those at Stonehenge, nor linked with lintels, and yet it is an amazing site. The mammoth circle runs through the village, surrounded by an enormous ditch that may have been far deeper in ancient times.

The first sight of Avebury comes with an avenue of stones leading to the site. Many of the ones closer to the village were stolen in Victorian times for use in building, as this area is all chalk, and building stones had to be brought from far away.

Due to it's size, I couldn't get a shot of the whole site -- the massive ditch that rings the site contains a circle of stones, and within that two further stone circles can be found.

Avebury is also different from its more famous sister in that it is fully walkable, without any special permissions. In fact, a part of the small village of Avebury is enclosed within the outer circle, including a pub.

We stopped and had a lovely tea at the community hall, where the local ladies provided home-made sandwiches and cakes in a not-at-all mystical setting.

The stones each have a personality and every face is unique. The neolithic age of the site has led to many theories, of course, including one which indicates that the tall stones are representative of males, and the short, squat stones of females.

I hesitate to offer an opinion.

We spent some time in the churchyard of Avebury St. James, located just beside the outer circle. The church dates back to Norman times, circa 1000, and has a Norman-era square tower and a lovely lush graveyard.

Many of the stones are too ancient to read an inscription, but the local people take care to keep the graveyard in good condition.

There were also a number of wonderful crypts, including this one, an austere little number with ivy growing out of its interior and cascading down the sides. The inscription was too worn to read.

Not all the graves were totally ancient -- this one belonging to a member of the Paradise family [quite populous in this graveyard] was dated a relatively modern 1898.

In addition to the Paradises, I also found several Crooks -- which I read as a sign that the graveyard was home to members from all elements of the religious and secular spectrum.

To finish, a more lively [and amphibial] Aveburian hopped by to wish us well in our travels.

More on our day with Vic in the next post.


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