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

September 20th, 2015

St Nectan's Waterfall is in St Nectan's Glen, an area of woodland in Trethevy near Tintagel, north Cornwall, stretching for around one mile along both banks of the Trevillet River. A link to the history of the site is here. In the Cornish language St Nectan's Glen is Glynn Nathan, meaning deep wooded valley of Nathan. The sixth-century Saint Nectan is believed to have sited his hermitage above the waterfall. According to legend, Saint Nectan rang a silver bell in times of stormy weather to warn shipping of the perils of the rocks at the mouth of the Rocky Valley. 'The sunset of life gave to the saint the spirit of prophecy, and he told his weeping followers that the light of their religion would grow dim in ... Read More

August 29th, 2015

Bisterne is a hamlet on the Christchurch to Ringwood B3347 road in Hampshire running parallel to the eastern bank of the nearby River Avon. It holds an annual 'Bisterne scarecrow festival' which in 2015 runs until 1 September. The annual appearance of these human-like effigies at the side of the road is one of the first signs that the season is moving towards late summer and one of the earliest signs of an encroaching Autumn.   [caption id="attachment_1737" align="alignnone" width="742"] Bisterne scarecrow[/caption]   In Britain, scarecrows have been used as protectors of crops and guardians of the harvest since time immemorial, and have local names such as 'hodmedod', 'murmet', 'hay-man', 'tattie bogal', 'mommet', 'mawkin', and 'bwbach'.     Bisterne is notable in English folklore for being ... Read More

August 22nd, 2015

Above is a photograph of the final Stonehenge Avenue approach to the monument from the northeast. English Heritage states  'Recent excavations have shown that the line of the Avenue follows the line of natural geological features -- gullies and banks in the surface of the chalk, formed at the end of the last ice age, but which could have been visible as shallow ridges to the builders of Stonehenge. The Avenue was probably constructed in about 2300 BC, more than a century after the great central stone structures had been built. It is interpreted as a ceremonial approach to Stonehenge. Following the solstice alignment in its first straight section, the ditches and banks then curve off to the east before sweeping off down to the ... Read More

The Winterbourne Stoke long barrow and Bronze Age barrow group at Stonehenge are an often overlooked site within the Stonehenge environs, west of the monument and immediately northeast of Winterbourne Stoke/Long barrow Roundabout on the A303. The location of the site, immediately north of the A303, and the constant accompaniment of passing road traffic, no doubt deter visitors. For those who do park up in the lay-by entrance area on the northbound side of the A303 (east of Longbarrow Roundabout), it does have a great deal to offer. Much is known of the prominent Neolithic 'leader' who was buried in this long barrow approximately 5500 years ago here, and the gentleman's bones are currently on display in the English Heritage visitor centre at Stonehenge, less than ... Read More



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