Thursday, June 6, 2013

England Half Remembered - Avebury Stone Circle

Sometimes it's hard to accurately describe what I miss about Britain so I fall back on the trite in conversations - proper fish and chips and warm beer. That kind of thing.

But if I'm honest it's probably the gentleness of the land, the soft contours and days that are more subtle in their hues than here and the landscapes that are less savage; the autums when the nights are closing in and you find yourself in a remote country pub with the woodsmoke drifting over the moors.



It can be difficult to describe. The longer you live in America, the greater danger you are in of slipping into stereotype, until you have to don a red baseball jacket and white sneakers and fly to Stratford on Avon to yell: "It's so quaint. These houses must be 200 years old."

Once I lived a few score miles from Avebury Stone Circle on the Wiltshire Downs. It's less well known than Stonehenge but is the biggest stone circle in Europe. In many ways I prefer it to Stonehenge because it isn't surrounded by visitor centers, ropes and gaggles of visitors. Instead the stones circle a pleasant little village and you can walk around it in solitude on a spring evening when the clouds cast long shadows on England's green and pleasant land.

All around there is magic and strange feeling of a mysterious past long before Christianity. Nearby Silbury Hill is the largest man made mound in Europe. It rises like a strange angular spaceship from an early Sci Fi movie from the level downs. It remains a mystery.



Avebury Stone Circle is Neolithic and was constructed in about 2600 BC. Archaeologists believe that it was most likely used for some form of ritual or ceremony.

It's humbling to stand in the shadow of the stones as twilight falls on the downs and tiny flinty stars spring up in the evening sky. You realize your place in the great sweep of manind, the universe and the strange mystery of creation. And all of your daily worries are frankly insignificant. You could lose yourself on these downs and nothing would really matter.

14 comments:

  1. I'm surprised Stonehenge overshadows these other phenoms. I find them all pretty fascinating, especially that mound. Wtf was it used for?!

    I think it would be so beyond cool to live someplace that had such ancient history embedded in it. I mean, I get all excited when I see a wagon wheel from the Oregon trail days unearthed in someone's backyard. I can't even imagine how I would feel if I saw, in person, something like the Avebury Stone Circle.

    Kind of makes me wonder if civilization (or earth) is still around a thousand years from now, what will they find of ours? And what will they make of it? I bet the answers they'll come up with will be pretty silly. I mean, you never really do know the truth...

    I'm also kind of worried that with computers and the internet, with everything we write being in space, we might not leave much behind these days that really tell our story. It will disappear.

    Wow you have me thinking pretty deep on a Thursday night, David. ;)

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    1. always nice for a Thursday night that Jen - yep it is fascinating - certainly there is evidence it was used as a defensive position later but it's original purpose remains mysterious - re our civilization I do shudder - a golden arch of McDonalds maybe :)

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  2. I would love to see that someday. Has anyone dug into that mound to see what's in it?

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    1. Yep JoJo - recently they dug in there and found tunnel but this seems to have been linked to a later use.

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  3. It sounds lovely. Wonderfully written piece, David.

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  4. I love the atmosphere at these places. It's different from elsewhere, you can feel something extra, mysterious, ancient. :)

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    1. definitely Sarah - spoken like a true Brit

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  5. You're making me want to visit England more and more. =)

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    1. You really should Patricia - to some extent I took it for granted, until now..

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  6. I would love to visit England. It looks magical.

    Not to mention its given us amazing things like Doctor Who and Harry Potter!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. well indeed yay for that Valerie, not to mention Basil Fawlty

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  7. Well David, You've made me happy to be here after that piece! No finer place on the planet :)

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    1. absolutely Juliette, but not when it pisses down for days :)

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