Monday, 1 October 2007

Off to Avebury

So yesterday, Sunday, saw us travelling to Avebury. We were spending the weekend with friends of ours in Swindon and this trip was our Sunday outing. Avebury is in Wiltshire, nearer to Marlborough than Swindon but still only a short drive away through rolling countryside. I enjoyed being a passenger in the back of the car having the leisure to look at the leaves on the trees, which are turning to red and gold, in the clear, autumn light while our friend drove and navigated diversions on the road.

Avebury is a World Heritage Site and is one of Europe's largest stone circles and some of the stones are impressively colossal. Unlike Stonehenge which is two miles west of Amesbury (also in Wiltshire) and is on a small, contained site, Avebury extends in a large straggling sort of way across a number of fields. It accommodates a pretty little village and some roads run round some of the larger stones. Apparently the stone circles were constructed 4000 years ago and originally comprised more than 180 stones. Where the stones are missing pointed stone markers have been put in their place so you can see the shape the circles would have made.

I have to confess that I'm not that interested in speculating what the original purpose of the Avebury stones might have been since the circles were created so long ago, but I do find the maps of earth energies you can buy in the village shop that some people have taken the trouble to dowse, and map, entertaining. What I do enjoy about the place is the atmosphere of tranquility and peace inspite of the numbers of people, and grazing sheep, you meet along the way traversing the various paths. At one point I was passed by a large party, who may have been one family, complete with young and older people and at least one dog. They were so close to me that as they walked I could clearly hear their conversation. Within a few minutes I saw them in the distance walking in a line from right to left, up and down a small hill and they suddenly looked more like pilgrims en route to a destination known only to them and their conversation was completely private. We finished our stroll to the site with a visit to a stand of old, knarled beech trees that have roots that extend so far from the base of the trunks that they have formed an interlacing pattern. It was like standing under a tent and every so often some people would leave the protection of the trees and others would join them.

It seemed natural at this point to visit the Red Lion pub and I quote "it is the only Inn the world positioned within an ancient stone circle and is said to be one of the top ten most haunted locations in the world". They apparently have a resident ghost called Florrie who "is said to have had her throat slit by her husband after he caught her with another man and threw her down the well with a boulder thrown on top of her". The said well is in the bar and is safely covered with a glass lid. Frankly it looked to be a tight fit for any but the slimmest adulteress to end her days in but no-one seemed to care one way or the other since eating lunch was the chief activity going on.

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