February 7th, 2016

I visited Stanton Drew Stone Circles and Cove in Somerset for the first time on a leaden-skied Sunday 13th December 2015. 'Although this is the third largest complex of prehistoric standing stones in England, the three circles and three-stone ‘cove’ of Stanton Drew in Somerset are surprisingly little known. The Great Circle, 113 metres in diameter, is one of the largest stone circles in the country and has 26 surviving upright stones' - English Heritage 'Stanton Drew Stone Circles and Cove comprise a large regular stone circle ('the Great Circle'), two large irregular stone circles, two associated stone avenues and 'the Cove' a closely spaced group of three standing stones. These Late Neolithic monuments are situated in close proximity, near to the village of Stanton Drew, ... Read More

Carol Druce recently kindly sent me the above image of one of the resident rooks of Stonehenge, adding, 'There are three that sit on my hand for food now -- one in particular. This one follows me around quietly and prefers to take food from my hand. (I work there).' The jackdaws have nested under the lintels for centuries. The real guardians of Stonehenge! In his Natural History & Antiquities of Selborne, a series of letters written following visits around the area, the famous ecologist, Gilbert White, recorded in 1788 that "Another very unlikely spot is made use of by daws as a place to breed in, and that is Stonehenge. These birds deposit their nests in the interstices between the upright and the impost stones ... Read More

On the morning of Monday 28 December I witnessed sunrise and moonset at Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wiltshire. I took the above photograph of an ethereal waning gibbous moon over Stonehenge setting to the west on arrival. This was a few days after the lunar minimum standstill point, which won't happen for another 18.61 years. The preceding days were typical of the often relentless mild grey gloom of what now forms much of an English winter here in southern England. Driving up in the dark from Bournemouth early that morning, as soon as I was north of Breamore I could see from the first inkling of light in a perfectly clear sky that the sunrise that morning might be something special. I arrived at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre ... Read More

December 5th, 2015

English Heritage write Maiden Castle, Dorset is 'the finest Iron Age fort in Britain and was first laid out in 600 BC over the remains of a Neolithic settlement. During the following centuries the hill fort was extended and additional defences thrown up around it. In AD 43 it was taken by the Roman army and its inhabitants moved to the new town of Durnovaria, modern Dorchester'. A brief history of the hill fort is here. I visited the site on Friday 4 December 2015 on a mild sunny day interspersed with cloud and a persistent prevailing south-westerly wind. On first sight, as always, the sheer feat of construction of the fort left me in awe of the achievements of our prehistoric ancestors. The above ... Read More

November 28th, 2015

This year my interest in the prehistoric sites of Britain has opened up 'the view from above', more by chance than design. The result has been an ongoing  joint film project with Pete Glastonbury and a close working relationship with the aerial photography company CamAero based in Dorset  The photograph above is Badbury Rings Iron Age hill fort in east Dorset. During the Roman era, five Roman roads formed a complex junction on the north side of Badbury.  Aerial footage seems to further reveal the sheer scale of the achievements of our prehistoric ancestors.   Below are Bronze Age barrows at the northwestern approach to Badbury Rings:   [caption id="attachment_1853" align="aligncenter" width="743"] Bronze Age barrows Badbury Rings[/caption] The Badbury barrow carving in the British Museum, described by Aubrey Burl ... Read More

October 30th, 2015

A recurring theme for me of this year was sketched in an article by Robert MacFarlane in The Guardian newspaper on 10 April 2015, 'The Eeriness of the English Countryside', found here. I spent many hours during 2015 in the woods and fields of England at locations such as: The valley of the stones in Dorset Cerne Abbas and the Cerne Abbas Giant The Vale of Pewsey Avebury and its landscape  Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain and its landscape Corfe, Goldlingston Heath and Agglestone Rock in Dorset Badbury Rings, Knowlton church and henge, and Hengistbury Head in Dorset Bodmin Moor in Cornwall The fabric and shape of the land is textured in history, myth, lore and legend, and the earth itself a repository and memory of all that's ... Read More

October 25th, 2015

The lure of Stonehenge is self-evident by the millions of annual visitors who gather daily from the four corners of the earth and take time out from their time poor modern day lives to cast their eyes upon the stones. My personal 'journey to the stones' began as a teenager living in Bournemouth on the central south coast of England. At that time, it was traditional for many of my peers and myself to spend a week or so camping at the 'Henge' prior to the summer solstice, and to experience the day with the longest period of daylight at the monument, after staying up all night to welcome in first light and the dawn. At the heart of the 'lure' for me, something impossible to ... Read More

On Sunday, 27 September, 2015, 28 amateur and professional astronomers and photographers ranging from ages 5 to 65 descended upon the English countryside in Salisbury, UK, to the Stonehenge monument in Amesbury. The reason for this occasion that has been occurring for the past twelve years was to view the full moon rise amongst the stones. Since 2002, Pete Glastonbury has been organizing this special access event to view the full moon risings for the last 12 years. The first was a special commission for Stonehenge that included renowned archaeoastronomers Professor Gerald Hawkins, Professor Vance Tiede and Professor Hubert Allen. Fast-forward a dozen years and we have English Heritage's steward Simon Banton as unofficial guide and new generations of astronomers.     This year wasn't ... Read More

A Silent Earth and Pete Glastonbury film project is underway, recording our own story of the prehistoric landscape of the British Isles and Ireland. The footage will be heavily illustrated with our own aerial photography, working in association with CamAero, revealing the landscape and associated celestial sphere above in a unique and previously unseen way. Pete Glastonbury was recently involved in the production of Ancient Skies, a documentary by Grant Wakefield, previously reviewed here.  His work has either been featured on, or he has worked with (in his own words), The Sky at Night, BBC News and Local Weather, ITV, and Al Jazeera. He has been published in National Geographic, Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, Kindred Spirit, Fortean Times, as well as local newspapers, various books, and ... Read More

September 26th, 2015

On 16 September 2015, during a brief visit to Harlyn in north Cornwall, I set out in the morning in search of Trethevy Quoit on Bodmin Moor. As soon as I entered the environs of Bodmin, the weather shifted from earlier sunshine on the coast to sunshine and showers, with an occasional blustery wind accompanying the rain. Rather than religiously consorting with a map, I motored on with a broad idea of where I was heading, and followed my nose.   [caption id="attachment_1762" align="aligncenter" width="743"] King Doniert's Stone[/caption]   The first site I happened across that morning was King Doniert's Stone, Men Myghtern Doniert. These two granite cross bases are decorated in late 9th century style and probably date from that time. The shorter stone carries ... Read More

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