Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Land of the Dead

Back in Weymouth for half term, we headed north to Wiltshire, and the area where Mrs D grew up.

The landscape of Wiltshire is one defined largely by the long-dead. Apart from well known sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, there are hundreds of ancient barrows, and every hill seems to have a hill-fort on top and strip-lychetts on the side.

We started in Devizes at the museum, which was having an exhibition of some of the gold artefacts found 200 years ago in Bush Barrow. Then braved the weather to visit a couple of the less famous sites. Firstly West Kennet Longbarrow, a set of three burial chambers that pre-dates Stonehenge by a couple of thousand years.

I have no idea whether the fine layers of sates between the Sarsens are original or added later.

The barrow is close to Silbury hill. The purpose of this huge manmade structure has so far eluded archaeologists. One theory is that the surrounding depression would have been flooded in Neolithic times so making the hill a large island.

Finally we headed up to Avebury. We approached from the south past the avenue.

My appreciation of this landscape has been helped by reading Time Team’s France Pryor excellent “Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland Before the Romans.“

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