The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

14th March 2013.

For all my frequent trips to Uffington, Wayland's Smithy is an oft-missed destination. I've always viewed the area like a theme park of the ancient world. No matter how determined, you never really get to go on all the rides.

This time round, the delights of the Ridgeway and Wayland's Smithy were top on the list and the first thing I made for. The journey along Britain's oldest road was contemplative and inspiring enough, with the arrival at the Smithy a just reward for such pilgrimage.

My decision to go in the early afternoon on a weekday was well placed. With most folk at work I had the chance to soak in the Smithy's charm undisturbed. Free from the click of cameras and excitable children jumping up and down on the capstone.

The Smithy is a monument that commands respect. Four stone guardians stand watch over the entrance to the inner sanctum, flanked by a horseshoe of trees. To clamber at will over the monument doesn't seem right; one has to be invited to cross the threshold and experience the Smithy's secrets.

Once I'd perceived permission was given, I discovered a new secret as I passed the gateway into the cruciform chamber. An arrangement of wild flowers lay in the middle of the terminal chamber, no doubt an offering from another pilgrim who arrived before me.

It wasn't the only gift. On closer inspection, I noticed a number of coins inserted in the crevices of the pock-marked sarsen standing left to the entrance. The legend of Wayland sprang to mind, with visitors perhaps asking the smith to shod their wishes in place of the traditional horse. I left a similar offering of my own in a free space, before standing back to regard the Smithy one last time before heading back up the Ridgeway.

In the tranquility of the moment, it was almost as if I heard the Smithy speak. "Don't leave it so long next time," it said. And on such a similar well-placed day in the future, I won't.

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by Spiddly

Avebury (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

7th September 2012.

Today marks a return to Avebury after a lengthy absence of 30 years or so. I've been assured that I visited as a child, but the experience must've been lost on so young a mind, unable to appreciate the cultural and historical significance of the stones.

Today is different. And what a day to attend - without a cloud in the sky and a host of visitors equally keen to experience the stones. Where such large numbers might prove to be a hinderance at tourist hotspots such as Stonehenge, here things are different. All have gathered for quiet and happy contemplation, giving space to others and a smile to those whose paths they cross. Here, you can walk among the stones and touch them, an experience not lost to those who do so.

The overall mood is one of welcome, the stones offering shade to sheep tired of the midday sun. Despite the cruelties suffered by generations intent on destroying the stones for religious propaganda or to build homes, Avebury stands proud, her toothless grin possibly as charming as her once full smile, one which the mind can only imagine.

In comparison to the energy and freedom offered by a stroll among the stones, the nearby National Trust centre is a stifling experience - with overpriced stale scones and attendants barking at visitors to show their passes, or touting membership of the organisation. For those looking for an untainted experience, the centre is best avoided in favour of researching Avebury before or after your visit - and of course, by strolling among the stones.

My next visit will be so much sooner than 30 years, perhaps even in the next few days while the weather holds. For a fleeting visit offers only a fraction of the mystery held by Avebury and I look forward to exploring it in greater detail.

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound) — Images

<b>Silbury Hill</b>Posted by Spiddly

Avebury (Stone Circle) — Images

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Stonehenge Cursus Group (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

13th June 2012.

Equally as impressive as Stonehenge were the sight of barrow graves on the horizon as far as the eye could see.

I was saddened to see the lack of interest from tourists in the final resting place of tribal kings of old, but their indifference was my gain as I and occasional souls explored the Cursus.

I found it to be a peaceful respite from the chatter and commercial nature of Stonehenge. Sitting atop on a barrow, one can easily imagine what it was like before the arrival of roads, car parks and coaches. It seems there is a greater sense of energy to be found here than in the famed stones.

I've made a short film that details my time at the Cursus and Stonehenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Stonehenge Cursus Group (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images

<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Stonehenge Cursus Group</b>Posted by Spiddly

Uffington White Horse (Hill Figure) — Images

<b>Uffington White Horse</b>Posted by Spiddly

Dragon Hill (Artificial Mound) — Images

<b>Dragon Hill</b>Posted by Spiddly<b>Dragon Hill</b>Posted by Spiddly
Screenwriter. Likes words. A lot.

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