Avebury, Salisbury and Stonehenge

Trip Start Jun 12, 2006
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Trip End Jul 01, 2007


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Saturday, May 13, 2006

With only a couple more weeks left in the UK I thought it was important to visit some of the sites this ancient country had to offer. A couple of weeks ago, when in Waterstones, I grabbed a lonely planet guide to the UK to gain a couple of ideas. One place I have wanted to see for years is Stonehenge. I started reading about the surrounding area and discovered an interesting place called Avebury, about 30 miles to the North.

Therefore on Saturday morning I decided to drive east along the M4 to visit Avebury with a view to going to Salisbury and Stonehenge later in the day.

Avebury
I arrived in Avebury just after lunch, parked up grabbed my rucksack and walked into the village centre. Inside the village are two museums showing the history of the stones and the surrounding area. Amazing the stones are over 6000 years old, dating around 4000BC and built before Stonehenge. No one really knows what they are for. The area contains huge moats carved from animal bone, massive burial mounds and large stones erected in circles similar to Stonehenge, but on grander scale. Many stones were removed during the last 1000 years, mostly because locals believed they had a pagan significant. Bones from one man was found under a stone, possibly while he was trying to remove it. In one of the museums a time map showed that this site was older than Mayan, Inca or Egyptian history. I spent an hour wondering around the site and then drove to the nearby burial mounds. One such mound is called Silbury Hill, it looks like a hill but it's more like an early pyramid and is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Built from rock and stone this weird mound has only just started to be excavated and again no one completely under what it was for. It certainly looks strange on a fairly flat landscape this small hill does look out of place. A half a mile walk from Silbury is West Kennet Barrow, an interesting stone burial mound only discovered recently, you can partially climb inside, but still a lot of the area is still not been un earthed.

Salisbury
One hour drive from Avebury is Salisbury. On route I stopped at Woodhenge, an earlier site than Stonehenge. Again this was only discovered recently when an aerial photograph picked out strange circular patterns. Originally wooden posts stood here, these are now replaced with stone circles. Once in Salisbury I headed straight to the Cathedral which contains the oldest working clock in the UK and the tallest spire. The cathedral reminded me St Stephens in Vienna, similar gothic style.

Stonehenge
After a couple of hours in the city centre I decided to head up to Stonehenge, it probably a good thing I did as the site shut a 6pm and it was getting late in the day. Right next to the A303 there are plans to build a tunnel under the Henge and close the truck road; this is to give the site an authentic feel. A car park next to Stonehenge also contained the visitor centre and audio commentary while working around the stones. A subway under the A303 leads to the Henge and walkway circles to stones. Apparently Stonehenge is the forth Henge here and has been changed over the years, again no one knows why it is there at what it was used for, it does however link in with the summer/winter circles on the sun. Across the fields are ancient walk ways from where the Stone Age people would approach. Many of the stones have been damaged, but one of the most amazing parts of the Henge are the blue stones from Wales, probably floated down the river Avon and transported across the valleys on wooden logs.

A few more historical sites off the list I drove back to London in time to watch highlights of the cup final.
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