Man has enjoyed a close relationship with the landscape in the environs of Stonehenge since Mesolithic times and the first 10,000 year old Stonehenge monument was erected of pine posts . By the time the ditch and bank structure that surrounds the monument that we are all familiar with today was constructed around 3,000 BC, that first monumentalised relationship with the area had existed for 5,000 years. Stonehenge has therefore been many 'buildings' over countless generations. Wooden posts and later stones have been frequently dismantled, moved, re-erected, added to and subtracted from. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that smaller-roofed structures may have existed over the millennia, as enigmatic post holes also exist within the monument site and these structures at times may have been ... Read More

"For most of the history of humankind, going back to Stone Age, the sky has served as a tool. [...] The regularity of the motions of celestial objects enabled them to orient themselves in time and space. [...] From the sky they gained -- and we, their descendents, have inherited -- a profound sense of cyclic time, of order and symmetry, and of the predictability of nature. In this awareness lie not only the foundations of science, but our view of the universe and our place in it." -Dr Edwin C Krupp Echoes of the Ancient Skies, 1983 I was booked to attend the press preview of Grant Wakefield's documentary Ancient Skies at the Winchester Science Centre on 2 September 2014. Due to work commitments ... Read More

'The History of Ancient Wiltshire'  First Edition Published 1812 ( Volume 1) 'We speak from facts not theory' Working alongside William Cunnington (who unfortunately died just before this book was published). Sir Richard Colt Hoare excavated 379 barrows on Salisbury Plain as well as identifying many other sites in the area. A dedication is included to William Cunnington at the beginning of the book, which is digitsed below . Sir Richard Colt Hoare was born on 9 December 1758 and died on 19 May 1838. He purchased Glastonbury Tor in 1786 and funded the restoration of the church tower on top of it. His mausoleum is in St Peters church Stourton Wiltshire. Thank you to Sir Antrobus, Fred Westmoreland , Amesbury History Centre,  Colin Wheeler ... Read More

On reviewing an archive earlier this year , I  discovered this article and  transcript of  the auction in Salisbury 0n 21 September 1915 at which Stonehenge was sold and have replicated the document as faithfully as possible below . Amesbury Abbey Estate Sale. Stonehenge bought by a Salisbury Resident An Unpremeditated Purchase. Amesbury Abbey estate, the historic domain which was fully described in our issue of a fortnight ago, was brought under the hammer at the New Street Theatre, Salisbury, on Tuesday afternoon. No purchaser was found to undertake the responsibility of the estate as a whole, extending to about 6,420 acres. With an estimated rent roll of £5,359, it was broken up into lots, the greater number of which were sold, the purchase money ... Read More

The above photograph was taken at Stonehenge by Mr. Paul Barlow on Midsummer's Day, 21 June 2014. Given the vagaries of British summer weather and frequent early morning mists and fogs arising in this region of Salisbury Plain from the confluence of five rivers near Salisbury to the south, a perfect sunrise is the exception rather than the rule. For a photograph to also capture a perfect sunrise relative to the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, rarer still. These factors combine to elevate this image into something special. This is the first perfect summer solstice sunrise after the removal of the road  immediately to the north of the Heel Stone. As the people were gathering in anticipation before the sun first rose it struck me when ... Read More

The above watercolour with a photograph of the gentleman's face inserted was painted by Mary Anne Antrobus of her brother Sir Edmund Antrobus c.1869 and was subsequently placed by Lady Florence Caroline Mathilde Antrobus (Nee Satoris), his wife, into her personal scrapbook. Sir Edmund is portrayed on a step outside the diningroom window of 461 Piccadilly with his dog Toby. On 23 December 1886 at 7A Eaton Square, London, a son and heir was born to 'the wife of Lieutenant-Colonel Antrobus of the Grenadier Guards, Edmund Antrobus'. He was educated at Park Hill School in Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Eton, and in France before becoming a professional soldier. He played cricket, football and golf. On 27 May 1908, the War Office published the following (extract): 'foot ... Read More

September 15th, 2014

Will Self offered his observations here on 21 June 2014, of the 'museumification' of Stonehenge by the current custodians/gatekeepers, arising from the demands of modern day visitors and mammon. The charming photograph above, in the context of the history of Stonehenge, was taken in recent times, and represents a Stonehenge as much lost to us now as the Stonehenge of Neolithic times. I have been informed by the Bradbury family, who have kindly allowed me to publish the photograph above, that it was captured in 1929. A work colleague recently informed me that his mother and her cousins used to clamber freely over the stones while accompanying her father, who worked as a shepherd in the Stonehenge environs. As a result of this conversation, Mrs. E. Bradbury of Ludgershall has ... Read More

August 17th, 2014

A biography of Queen Eleanor of Provence can be found here together with many of her letters. She remains the only English queen without a marked grave to this day, and what is known of her relationship with Amesbury Priory I wish to explore briefly in this post. In the 1280s, in her usual practical way, Queen Eleanor made arrangements to take the veil at the nunnery at Amesbury Priory. In May 1280, the king ordered ten oaks be delivered from Chute Forest to the prioress of the priory 'for certain works' that Queen Eleanor, the king's mother, was causing to be made at Amesbury, and a further 20 oaks were ordered from Clarendon. In 1281, a further 15 Oaks from Chute and 12 from Melksham were cut down ... Read More

August 16th, 2014

Contemplating the writings of Taliesin recently, a few quotes, fragments and thoughts are gathered below, as a repository. Below is a translation of the poem "The Chair of the Sovereign" from pages 292 to 294 of John Matthews book Taliesin The Last Celtic Shaman: "Sing a brilliant song Of boundless inspiration, Concerning the man who is to come To destroy the nations. His staff and his entrenchment, And his swift devastations, And his ruling leadership, And his written number And his red purple robes, And his assault against the rampart, And his appropriate seat Amid the great assembly. Has he not brought from Anwyn The horses of the pale burden-bearer, The princely old man, The cupbearing feeder, The third deeply wise one, Is the blessed Arthur. Arthur the blessed ... Read More

Sir Richard Colt Hoare is often cited as one of the founding fathers of modern archaeological methods. With William Cunnington, in the early 19th century, he excavated 379 barrows on Salisbury Plain, as well as digging around a fallen trilithon and the Slaughter Stone at Stonehenge. His findings were meticulously recorded (for the time) and published partially in the 1812 publication The Ancient History of Wiltshire, which begins and ends with the words 'We speak from facts not theories'. On the bicentenary of the publication of this seminal publication, Angie Wickenden wrote a celebration of it which can be read here. As well as excavating the well-known barrows at -- and surrounding -- Stonehenge, he also dug the barrows shown on the map below at Woodyates, ... Read More

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