Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A cold morning; air misty and everything tinged with grey.

We sped down the M5 to junction 11A and onwards ever onwards into Wessex, as above us the sun boiled away cloud.
The first thing one sees are the barrows. From Marlborough towards Avebury the road leads down dale and up hill. The barrows on the right hand side mark the position to the layby where one parks to visit The Sanctuary.

Barrows belong to the Bronze age and usually contain the interment of a single body, usually 'a Beaker' burial. Without a map it is hard to know which barrow is which (as I stand, camera in hand and eating a Geobar (apricot). The Beaker monuments represent to me a specifically Avebury tradition, by being within the same time frame; that of burying a body against a standing stone. This does not happen within the Avebury circle, but in the avenues and at The Sanctuary. There are four stones along the West Kennet avenue at whose foot were placed crouched bodies: three single burials of adult men, the fourth burial was of an adult and an adolescent.

The burials were placed on the North-East side of the stones.

The burials belong to the latter 'Beaker' period, are the Avebury stones older?

And of course, within The Sanctuary, the body of an adolescent girl.

The air was punctuated by thousands of black flies, we went into The Sanctuary. This time the sense of extra gravity wasn't so marked. I think that the first time I'd experienced it it had taken me by surprise, this time it greeted me and we decided to ignore each other.

I walked around, I took photographs, we ate.

Then I set my timer to 20 mins and recorded everything that crossed my mind, or my path (ignoring the flies) until the 20 minutes were done.
Then off to Avebury which has changed considerably over the years that I've known it. No longer the haunt of travellers (late 80's) hassling anyone who looked well off for spare change, no longer the place where the best and most delicious food was served.

The Sanctuary.
Avebury is now a 'Villiage Green' experience, more ersatz AD 1700 than 2500 BC. I kept expecting to see Ray Davis. The coffee was horrible, should have had tea!

We left Avebury, past Silbury and headed towards Devizes and then onwards through the military zone, the sinister Salisbury Plain. I am ever hopeful of seeing a tank crossing the road.

Stonehenge on my right, as always extremely busy, people clustered around the Heel stone, I wish I had time to ask them why? The first time I went to Stonehenge was in the late 1960's, you could just wonder around...latter, mid 80's there were lots of pyramid shaped security boxes, for individual security guards to hide in and no access to the stones, just the widdershens circumnavigatory path.

Stonehenge is more relaxed these days, but so busy.

Woodhenge is much quieter than The Sanctuary, though it had more visitors whilst we were there. The road past Woodhenge doesn't lead anywhere as far as I know...

This time, we were determined to find The Cuckoo stone.

Here it is in all its (fallen over) glory:
On the horizon the hills are like barrows, the Cuckoo stone is West of Woodhenge (sorry, forgot my compass) and as we sat at Woodhenge, I saw that the setting sun would be close to the stone. In the photo, Woodhenge is directly straight ahead and to your left.

Back at Woodhenge, I set my timer to twenty minutes and wrote down all that I noticed.

So, that concludes the physical locations for The Bronze Age; just need to wrangle the words into some kind of order!