Landscape with Stones: Paintings and woodcuts by Nick Schlee
"An exhibition of oil paintings and woodcuts by British landscape artist Nick Schlee, focusing on Avebury and the Ridgeway. This new exhibition features some of Nick Schlee's most bold and vivid work portraying the ancient monument of Avebury and the nearby Ridgeway... continues...
"The gateway to the Avebury World Heritage Site has been transformed after work to bury unsightly electricity cables was completed…"
"The project, which started over three years ago, was made possible by a partnership involving Wiltshire Council, the National Trust, North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding National Beauty, English... continues...
Following the request made by certain members of the Council of British Druid Orders in June 2006 for the reburial of ancient ancestral remains excavated from the Avebury Complex in Wiltshire, in 2008 English Heritage and the National Trust launched a consultation exercise to take public input... continues...
This year the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Sarsen Trail, and to mark this milestone is encouraging us to take part in the 'Walk for Wildlife Week' which precedes the Trail, Saturday 26th April to Sunday 4th May.
The Week will culminate with the Sarsen Trail and Neolithic Marathon on Sunday 4th May... continues...
Sometimes there breaks out water in the manner of a sudden land flood, out of certain stones (that are like rocks) standing aloft in open fields near the rising of the river Kenet in this shire, which is reputed by the common people a fore runner of death. That the sudden eruption of Springs in places, where they use not always to run, should be a sign of death, is no wonder. For these usuall eruptions (which in Kent we call Nailbourns) are caused by extream gluts of rain, or lasting wet weather, and never happen but in wet years (witness the year 1648 when there were many of them) In which years Wheat, and most other grain thrive not well (for a plain reason) and therefore a dearth succeeds the year following.
From 'Britania Baconica: or, The natural rarities of England, Scotland, and Wales', written by J Childrey (1662).
Always beware of local people spinning a yarn. Could this be useful advice to visitors during the circus surrounding Silbury's latest excavations?
[Around 1776 when the miners were excavating Silbury] a correspondent of the Salisbury Journal, with the intention of throwing ridicule on the undertaking, narrated [..] that some years previously a poor boy who was carrying a pitcher of milk along the high road at that spot, fell down and broke the vessel. A tailor, who lived at Avebury close by, met the boy lamenting his case just at the same moment that a carriage appeared in sight. He, therefore, directed him to shout out lustily in order to excite the compassion of the passengers, and advancing up to the coach himself, observed that the poor lad had but too much reason for his lamentations, for the urn which he had broken had but just before been exhumed by his father, and as a piece of antiquity was of such rare value, that Dr. Davis of Devizes would no doubt have given a guinea for it. This declaration so wrought upon the curiosity of the travellers, that after due examination of the fractured vessel, and a consultation as to the possibility of uniting the fragments, they agreed to give a crown for the article, and drove off with their prize. The tailor then gave the boy one shilling, and appropriated four to himself.
From 'A History Military and Municipal of the Town of Malborough. James Waylen. 1854. p406.
The cuckoo's double note
Loosened like bubbles from a drowning throat
Floats through the air
In mockery of pipit, lark and stare.
The stable boys thud by
Their horses slinging divots at the sky
And with bright hooves
Printing the sodden turf with lucky grooves.
As still as a windhover
A shepherd in his napping coat leans over
His tall sheep-crook
And shearlings, tegs and yoes cons like a book.
And one tree-crowned long barrow
Stretched like a sow that has brought forth her farrow
Hides a king's bones
Lying like broken sticks among the stones.
Sarsen is a village that has no great landlord. There are fifty small proprietors, and not a single resident magistrate. Besides the small farmers, there are scores of cottage owners, every one of whom is perfectly independent.
Nobody cares for anybody. It is a republic without even the semblance of a Government. It is liberty, equality, and swearing. As it is just within the limit of a borough, almost all the cottagers have votes, and are not to be trifled
with. The proximity of horse-racing establishments adds to the general atmosphere of dissipation. Betting, card-playing, ferret-breeding and dogfancying, poaching and politics, are the occupations of the populace.
A little illicit badger-baiting is varied by a little vicar-baiting.
"These downes looke as if they were sowen with great Stones, very thick, and in a dusky evening they looke like a flock of Sheep: one might fancy it to have been the scene, where the giants fought with huge stones against the Gods. " Twas here that our game began, and the chase led us through the village of Avbury...."
A curious watery factoid about the edge of the downs:
..The chalk ridge of Martinsell and St. Anne's Hill, not far from the centre of the county, furnishes three springs, which, as old Aubrey, the Wiltshire antiquary of the seventeenth century observed, 'do take their courses thence three several waies:' one to the German ocean through the Thames, one by Salisbury to the Channel, the third by Calne and Bristol into the Atlantic.
Renoted on p109 of a curiously anonymous article on Wiltshire in 'The Quarterly Review' no205, v103.(1858)
Chris outlines his life in stone(s) writing that, "Eventually we had our first field trip and were taken to Lanhill and Lugbury Longbarrows. These two places are just a few miles from my doorstep and I never knew they existed. I was particularly interested in Lanhill with its stone walled entrance and little chamber. This was my first barrow experience and until this day I feel quite protective about it. Our next field trip was to the Avebury Complex including Windmill Hill, Silbury and West Kennet which just blew me away. The lectures and the field trip had such a big impact on me and gave me a love of the Neolithic people and their awesome structures which has remained with me ever since."
One of the Web sites relating to a collaboration between the Universities of Leicester, Newport and Southampton. This page links to interim reports on the 2001 and 2002 seasons, including the excavation of Falkner's Circle.
The "Fallen Kistvaen" lies about three quarters of a mile due south of that in Temple Bottom, and owing to the heath and furze which abound thereabouts is not easily discovered. Parts of the mound which once covered it, and some of the stones which apparently surrounded it, are still to be seen.
When I first became acquainted with it - some twenty-five years ago - the covering stone, a very massive slab, was entire, but one or more of its supporters having given way, it had slid from its original position, and rested on the ground, still, however, in part upheld by some of its props; and thus, though fallen, presenting an interesting specimen of the kistvaen.
When, however, I visited it about ten years since (and I generally do visit it annually), judge of my dismay at finding the capstone split across by some workmen, who - ignorant that it differed in any respect from the many other sarsen stones lying all round - had selected that unfortunate stone for some building purpose. To arrest the work of destruction was not difficult, for on communication with the then owner, Mr. Baskerville, orders were immediately given that the stones should be spared; adn now that the property has passed into the hands of the noble President of this Meeting, we need not fear any farther injury to it.
The indifference of the stone-masons to the covering stone of the kistvaen is not so surprizing when even so good an antiquary as Aubrey relates how he and Dr. Charleton pointed it out to His Majesty Charles II. and the Duke of York as one of the stones intended for Stonehenge, and "resting on three low stones, as a suffulciment as in order to be carried away"!
The "Mutilated Kistvaen" lies in the centre of the valley known as Temple Bottom, and south-east of Temple Farm, conjectured to be so called from the preceptory of Knights Templars established there in the reign of Henry II. It occupies the corner of a field, very near some detached farm buildings on the estate of Rockley. Sir Richard Hoare spoke of it in his time as "the mutilated remains of a stone barrow, having a kistvaen at the end of it;" and said "it is the finest example we have yet found of this species of interment, excepting the one in Clatford Bottom." (North Wilts, page 42.) I fear Sir Richard would not say the same of it now.
When I first saw it some twenty years ago, it presented little more than the appearance of a heap of stones: indeed a great many loose stones were scattered round the large and more prominent ones, and it was choked with briars and brambles. Unpromising however as was its exterior, I had a great desire to examine its interior, and having received the ready permission of the owner of the property (the same liberal gentleman who so kindly allows us to examine the barrows at Rockley on Thursday next, Mr. William Tanner), I enlisted the help of my friends, Mr. Lukis (then my colleague as one of the Secretaries of this Society) and Mr. Spicer, Rector of Byfleet, in Surrey, and on June 12th, 1861, we proceeded to excavate the stone chamber.
With regard to the formation of the exterior part of it, whether it was originally covered with one or more roofing slabs, and whether it had a covered passage leading to it, we were unable to form any decided opinion, owing to the confusion of stones and its generally dilapidated condition: but we found a sepulchral chamber, guarded by a circle of upright stones, some of them in position; and on the floor of this chamber indications of a layer of charcoal, calcined human bones, and fragments of coarse pottery: we found also several unburnt bones, portions of a human skull and teeth; some of the bones of a hand and foot; and above all a well-formed and perfect bone chisel (now in our Museum at Devizes), of which a sketch is annexed.
We then examined the narrow space between the two parallel upright stones, and at B found unburnt bones of a hand and foot and fragments of pottery, and at C portions of a human skull and teeth, and a stone muller or rubber. The orientation of this chamber was probably east and west.
Something is amiss here, because the very precise grid reference on Pastscape is not to the SE of Temple Farm at all. But is perhaps the reverend misremembering - he is talking about something that happened 20 years ago. But then again, he knew the area very well.
Mr. H. St. George Gray writes: "On Saturday morning, December 2, the southern of the two large stones at Beckhampton, in the parish of Avebury, North Wilts, fell without giving any warning. Had there been any indication of the likelihood of a fall, the owner of the arable field in which these large sarsens are situated (Mr. George Brown) would have had the stone propped. Within living memory it has always leaned to the south, whereas the stone standing some twenty-five paces to the north-east leans in a northerly direction. The fallen stone is rather the larger of the two. In its prostrate position it measures 18 feet 4 inches in length, its maximum width being nearly 16 feet; approximate thickness, 4 feet 7 inches. Its depth below the surface fo the field was found to be only 2 feet 6 inches; any sockethole there may be cut into the solid chalk must therefore be very shallow. Several small blocks of stones have been revealed by the fall of the monolith.
[...] On the Ordnance sheet the stones at Beckhampton are called 'Long Stones.' They are also known as the 'Longstone Cove,' and the'Devil's Quoits.' Aubrey spoke of three upright stones, but only two remained in Stukeley's time. [...]"
Was over at WK long barrow today when I bumped into a rather large but very well behaved group of people (inside the barrow). Dr Nick Snashall was leading a 'walking through the landscape' guided walk on behalf of the National Trust. The little bit of the talk I caught about WKLB sounded informative and, yes, I did learn something in a few short minutes.
Dr Snashall told me there is another such walk on 8th May (see her blog).