National Trust website
We gathered together outside the stone ring at Avebury – it is the world’s oldest dating from between 2,500-2,600 BC)and one of the largest with a diameter of 331.6m – to experience a bit of druid magic. Surprisingly enough, we did.
Equipped with copper divining rods (on loan) and open minds we began the circuit allowing our steps to be guided by touch, ley lines and gravitational pull. The divining rods did rotate in our hands and quietly and surely guided us. Most interestingly, it seems the sheep are also guided by the same forces! Invariable the rods would cross as we reached the matted down depressions, where one of our furry friends had bedded down (or in some cases recently quickly vacated at our approach!)
The rings symbolize an ancient power. These megalithic monuments making it up are of an age with the Pyramids at Giza – and represent another engineering feet. There were originally 98 sarsen (sandstone blocks) standing stones, some weighting up to 40 tons and heights varying between 3 and 4.2 meters (10 & 13 ft.) The moving and standing of these mammoth stones required a level of cooperation that to erect that still mystifies to this day. If you find yourself anywhere near the ring – even if it is just as a country outing – it is worth the time 🙂
(above photo South Circle stones 103, 102, 101 & 105 and the Tower of St James church © Jim Champion)
(above photo The Cove, which is the remains of the northern inner circle © Steve Watson)
(above photo The Cove, which is the remains of the northern inner circle © Robert C)
Nearby is Silbury Hill which is the largest man-made mound in old Europe
(above photo Silbury Hill © Martin Avtost)
(44) 0 198 – 584 5420
(44) 0 198 – 584 4400
Wiltshire, BA12 7NW England
LONGLEAT HOUSE OPEN HOURS:
10:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Thursday
10:00am – 5:30pm Friday – Sunday & Bank Holidays
SAFARI OPEN HOURS:
10:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Thursday
10:00am – 5:00pm Friday – Sunday & Bank Holidays
14th February- 22nd February, Open daily
28th February- 29th March, Weekends only
4th April – 1st November, Open daily
Set deep beyond the forests edge, past the rolloing lawns is Longleat House, one Britain’s most beautiful and stately homes and among the best examples of High Elizabethan architecture. The first private residence to open its enormous doors to the public, Longleat is located near the towns of Warminster in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset. Built by Sir John Thynne, mainly designed by Robert Smythson, in 1580, Longleat recalls countless storybooks and postcards. It is now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath, a direct descendant of Sir John Thynne, who is an artist, mural painter and sponsor to many aspiring artists.
Longleat House is set within 900 acres (400 hectares) of magnificent Capability Brown landscaped parkland. A further 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of woodland, lakes and farmland surround the estate! In the late 13th Century, a priory belonging to the Black Canons of the Order of St Augustine occupied the site where Longleat House now stands.
As you enter the property during spring, the road is bordered by a most beautiful garden of rhododendrons blooming in every colour. There are many different activities to partake in, including the House tour, Longleat Hedge Maze, the Safari Animal park, Safari Boat ride, Longleat Railway, Grounds & Garden Walks. The Library is also quite expansive, where books range from early medieval manuscripts to 19th and 20th-century children’s tales- much like air Longleat itself!
About two hours from London by car (the nearest railway station is at Chippenham 5k away) you find the most picturesque village i
n the West Country. The village dates back to the 13th century, although the stone cottages where built in 18th century, and it looks like it!
During the Middle Ages Lacock became a centre of wool trade and is now almost entirely owned by the National Trust. Wandering around Lacock gives a wonderful idea of what mid-millennial life looked like. A small town surrounded by farms, fields & abbey. Well worth the trip, there are wonderful little shops and eateries. It is quite nice that while they cater to the tourist, they do not capitulate; staying true to their historic roots and ideals. This is a functioning town that has life outside of your visit- and that makes it all the more special.
Lacock was also home to William Henry Fox Talbot- the father of modern photography- who invented the positive-negative film process. He was also one of the last owners of the lovely Lacock Abbey, and it was his granddaughter Matilda Talbot, who presented the Abbey and village to the National Trust in 1944
The town itself is favorite as a location for period films including Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, The Other Boleyn Girl, Emma… for a complete list of films check the wiki.
So while wandering around the West Country, put Lacock on the short list of places to visit.