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A chance to meet Stonehenge ancestors. Neolithic long barrow burial mound discovered between Stonehenge and Avebury.
A “house of the dead” dating from more than 5,000 years ago could contain the remains of the ancestors of people who lived around Stonehenge, archaeologists have said.
A Neolithic long barrow burial mound in a place known as Cat’s Brain, in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, is being excavated by experts and students from the University of Reading in the first full investigation of such a monument in the county for 50 years.
The barrow, which is in the middle of a farmer’s field halfway between the important monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge, was spotted by aerial photography and assessed by geophysical survey imagery.
It consists of two ditches flanking what may be a central building covered with a mound made of the earth…
Stonehenge Travel Co, Salisbury, Wiltshire
A Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain 4,000 years ago: Intruders forced out ancient farmers that built famous relics such as Stonehenge
- New research carried out one of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes
- It found that beaker people forced prehistoric Neolithic farmers out of Britain
- DNA analyses found that Britain underwent a 90 per cent shift in its genetic make-up when the beaker folk arrived
One of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes has found that a Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain around 4,000 years ago.
The immigrant group, named after the famous bell-shaped pots they carried, likely forced out native Neolithic farmers.
These ancient British farmers were famed for leaving behind massive rock relics, including Stonehenge.
THE BEAKER CULTURE MYSTERY
Beaker folk lived about 4,500 years ago in the temperate zones of Europe.
They received their name from their distinctive bell-shaped beakers, decorated in horizontal zones by finely toothed stamps.
The decorated pots are almost ubiquitous across Europe, and could have been used as drinking vessels or ceremonious urns.
Believed to be originally from Spain, the Beaker folk soon spread into central and western Europe in their search for metals.
But the sheer variety of beaker artefacts across Europe has made the pottery difficult to define as coming from one distinctive culture.
The new study suggests the beaker culture did not always pass from a single migrating entity.
DNA samples from beaker folk in Iberia and Central Europe were found to be genetically distinct.
To me, that’s definitely surprising,’ Dr Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study, told Nature News.
‘The people who built Stonehenge probably didn’t contribute any ancestry to later people, or if they did, it was very little.’
Around 4,500 years ago bell-shaped pottery became popular across much of prehistoric Europe.
The Bronze Age trend has been debated by archaeologists for over a century.
Some argue that it was simply a fashion trend shared by several distinct cultural groups.
But other suggest that an immense migration of ‘beaker folk’ spread across the continent.
The new ancient genome research suggests that both theories are true.
The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, analysed the DNA of 170 ancient Europeans.
They compared this DNA to the genomes of hundreds of other modern and prehistoric Europeans.
Ancient skeletons found in the Iberian peninsula were found to share little genetic connection with bones found in central Europe.
By HARRY PETTIT FOR MAILONLINE
Read the full story n the Daily Mail online
Join us on a guided tour exploring the prehistoric landscape around Stonehenge.
The local Stonehenge Experts
Major archaological find in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire: metal detectors’ Roman hoard gives up rare evidence about ancient plant life
Mick Rae, Rob Abbott and their friend Dave were detecting in a field in the Vale of Pewsey in October 2014 when they came across a hoard of eight metal vessels – including a cauldron and four small pans from weighing scales.The vessels were buried in a pit beneath about 350 millimetres of top-soil and, as one would expect, were in varying states of disrepair.
The find was quickly identified as Roman. The discovery was reported to Richard Henry who is Wiltshire’s Finds Liaison Officer. His role is to record archaeological finds made by members of the public – mostly metal detectorists, but also by people who are just walking in fields or digging in their back garden.
Most of the cauldron survives and a large copper-alloy vessel had been placed upside down into the cauldron – forming a sealed cavity. What was inside?
There were no gold necklaces or bronze coins in this hoard of Roman vessels. But what was found inside is worth its weight in gold to archaeologists – remains of plants preserved by the copper vessels’ own micro-environment.
Among the remains of the dried plants were heads of common knapweed and pieces of bracken. They also found seeds of cowslips or primrose, milkwort, lesser hawkbit, sedges, clovers, vetches and sweet violet, fat hen, knot grass, black bindweed, buttercup and corn spurrey. They may be what is left of some careful packing.
Remains of the flowers and bracken are now on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Organic matter never survives if buried unprotected in the Pewsey Vale’s greensand – so to find dried plants and pollen this old provided the scientists with many opportunities for research.
The find did not count as ‘treasure’ so remains the property of the finder and the landowner. The detectorists donated the organic material to Wiltshire Museum – the scientific processes used to test it with would ultimately destroy it.
Richard Henry led the quest to discover more about the find. He brought in a team to excavate the site of the discovery, led by David Roberts of Historic England with the Assistant County Archaeologist, members of the Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group and the finders. They found shards of domestic and imported ceramics and ceramic building materials.
The project to analyse the plant remains has been led by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and supported by Historic England, Southampton University, the Association for Roman Archaeology and Wiltshire Museum.
The scientists discovered that the plants were dated between AD380 and AD550. Theybelieve the hoard was hidden sometime in the fifth and sixth centuries – during the early Anglo-Saxon period. And interestingly, the find was within striking distance of the major Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Blacknall Field – finds from which can be seen in the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.
But if the age in years is a little speculative, the state of the plants reveals pretty accurately that they were picked and packed away in late summer soon after the harvest – late August to early October.
When their own kind of Brexit happened, the Romans obviously left much more behind them than roads, mosaics, villas and hoards of coins.
Wiltshire Museum’s Director, David Dawson, is thrilled they can display this important material: “Richard Henry has led this remarkable partnership project, drawing specialists from across the country to piece together the fascinating story of the burial of Roman bronze cauldrons that took place on a summer’s day 1,500 years ago.”
Richard Henry said “Such discoveries should be left in situ to allow full archaeological study of the find and its context. The finders did not clean or disturb the vessels which has allowed us to undertake detailed further research. If the vessels had been cleaned none of this research would have been possible.”
It is very tempting to imagine how this hoard came to be made so long after the vessels were first used. It is as though someone today decided to bury the Victorian kitchen pots Aunt Bertha inherited – and packed them with plants.
Why they were buried remains a matter for speculation. Does the careful packing of the metal vessels mean they were the antiques of their day? Were they, so long after the Roman era, still valued as useful cooking pots? Or was this some kind of votive offering?
Marlborough.News understands that metal detector Dave aims to have the vessels professionally conserved.
Ruth Pelling and Stacey Adams will be talking about their research on the flowers and other recent Wiltshire discoveries at the Archaeology in Wiltshire Conference on April 1 in Devizes. Their talk is titled “Bake Off and Brewing in Roman and Early Saxon Wiltshire: recent archaeobotanical finds.”
Article written by Written by Tony Millett and published on the Marlborough News Online Website
Join us on a guided tour from Salisbury and explore hear more about the recent archaeological discoveries.
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
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The winter solstice occurs at the moment when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun, giving us the shortest day of the year. (Metro U.K)
It happens at the same moment for everyone around the world. This year, in the UK it’s happening at 10:44 GMT on Wednesday 21st December.
It falls on a different date each time – between 21 and 23 December, thanks to the fact that the 365-day year is actually 365 days, five hours and 45 seconds long.
The solstice occurs around six hours later each year, meaning the date gradually adjusts over time. Each leap year, the date jumps back to December 21 and we begin again.
The average duration of a year is approximately 365 days five hours 48 minutes and 45 seconds,’ Dr Somak Raychaudhury, Reader in Astrophysics at Birmingham University told the BBC.
‘Even this varies by a few seconds every year, since the Earth’s motion is not just caused by the Sun’s pull of gravity.
‘It is perturbed by the pull of the planets and moons in the Solar System. The relative positions of these change from year to year.’
How much daylight will we get on the shortest day?
On 21 December, the sun will rise in the UK at 8:04am and set at 3:45pm. This gives us just 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.
Where does the winter solstice come from?
Tracking the sun’s yearly progress dates back to the earliest people on Earth, who knew that its path across the sky, amount of daylight and location of the sunrise and sunset changed according to a regular pattern throughout the year.
Monuments such as Stonehenge in England and Machu Picchu in Peru were built to track the sun’s progress over the course of the year.
The winter solstice was seen as especially important in the past, as people were economically dependent on the seasons, with starvation a common occurrence in the early months of winter.
Is the winter solstice linked to Christmas trees?
Winter solstice customs led to the Christmas tree becoming a major symbol. The Druids used evergreen trees, holly and mistletoe to symbolise everlasting life during their winter solstice rituals.
Centuries before the time of Jesus, cultures brought plants and leaves into their homes when the winter solstice arrived to celebrate the return of life at the start of winter’s decline.
Why are mornings still dark after the solstice?
The mornings remain dark until January due to a formula called the Equation of Time.
The equation explains how solar time, which is measured on sundials, differs from clock time.
Because the Earth’s axis is tilted, and its orbit is the shape of an oval, the two times don’t always match – they can be as much as 16 minutes out of sync.
Solar noon – when the sun is at its highest in the sky – isn’t always the same time as noon according to clock time.
As the Earth moves faster in the part of its orbit where it’s nearest to the sun – which comes after the winter solstice – this increased speed pushes the solar noon back, causing winter sunrise time to stand still for a few days.
In other words, the sunrise is ‘hanging’ during the late December – early January period, making mornings remain darker for a bit longer.
When’s the next solstice?
The summer solstice is on Wednesday 21 June 2017.
The Stonehenge Travel Company based in Salisbury are offering a guided tour with a local expert on the 21st December 2016. Witness the sun setting on the shortest day of the year and hear why Stonehenge is astronomically aligned. Their exclusive small group Stonehenge Winter Solstice sunset tour departs from Salisbury.
The Stonehenge Experts
For a town which has such a close association with Stonehenge, a history of royal patronage, military activity and Arthurian legend, it has always seemed strange to me that there was no museum or interpretation centre.
In 2012 that situation changed when the Town Council purchased Melor Hall on Church Street and with the help of a team of volunteers created what has become the Amesbury History Centre.
The centre is open from 10am until 3.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and is an excellent starting point for your exploration of this remarkable area. Tour groups and educational visits are welcomed and you can book in advance to have exclusive access to the facilities.
Exhibits and displays tell you about the discovery of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer settlement at Blick Mead which dates back at least 10,000 years and has led the Guinness Book of Records to label Amesbury as the longest continually inhabited settlement in Britain.
Finds from the University of Buckingham’s archaeological digs from the last several years are on show, from Mesolithic flint tools and bones of prehistoric cattle called aurochs through to the astonishing magenta pink flints that are found in the spring.
You can also learn about the discovery of the Amesbury Archer, a Bronze Age burial found in 2002 when a new housing estate was being built in the town.
This man was obviously someone of huge importance because he was buried with extensive grave goods including five beaker pots, three copper knives, 16 barbed flint arrowheads, some boar’s tusks, a flint-knapping and metalworking kit and two beautiful gold hair ornaments – the earliest gold yet found in England.
Analysis of the Archer’s teeth indicates that he wasn’t a local man, but had travelled from central Europe. He may have been one of the first metalworkers to bring his skill to Britain.
Amesbury’s fascinating history continues through the Iron Age, Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon times and beyond. There is a tale that the legendary King Arthur’s wife Guinevere retired to a convent in the town.
Outside of legend, Henry III’s wife Eleanor of Provence was buried within the grounds of Amesbury Abbey in 1291 although her burial place has been lost and she is the only Queen of England with no known grave.
In more modern times, the military have had a large presence in the surrounding area beginning over 100 years ago with the use and eventual purchase of land on Salisbury Plain for their training.
Nearby, military aviation began at Larkhill in the early 20th century and later Boscombe Down airfield – Britain’s “Area 51” – was the site of the development of many types of experimental aircraft.
All these stories are told in the History Centre, which also has an extensive reference library, maps, interactive models and souvenirs as well as excellent tea and cakes.
Outside in the car park there is the famous mural that used to adorn the wall of the underpass that led up to Stonehenge from the old visitor centre, so if you’ve ever had your photo taken pretending to climb over the stones into the middle of the monument, you can recreate it here.
The Amesbury History Centre has its own website (http://www.amesburyhistorycentre.co.uk/) where you can find out more.
Article submitted by local historian Simon Banton
The Stonehenge Travel Company
The Local Stonehenge Tour Experts
VisitWiltshire has secured funding for its plan to create one of the world’s long-distance touring routes between London and Bristol with about a quarter being in Wiltshire.
The project is currently operating under the working title of ‘The Great West Way’, and aims to create a world class tourism experience, winning new business and market share for Britain, raising awareness, boosting the visitor economy and transforming the visitor experience along and around the route.
‘The Great West Way’ is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the £40m Discover England Fund administered by VisitEngland.
It is a Government-funded programme of activity aimed at offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time and will be supported by match funding from partners in the public and private sectors.
VisitWiltshire is leading on the project with a £250,000 grant to be spent between October and March 31, 2017.
The project will include:
- Concept testing and case study analysis
- An environmental assessment and economic impact study
- Developing a brand proposition and messaging for the route
- Developing new pilot itineraries for launch in key target markets.
Those supporting the bid include Local Enterprise Partnerships and towns along the route, transport operators, arts and heritage organisations, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, tour operators, guiding companies and a wide range of tourism businesses.
Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland chief executive, said: “We had an exceptionally high number of submissions far outweighing the allocated funding available and following a rigorous applications process we are delighted to work closely with those excellent winners on building world-class ‘bookable’ tourism products showcasing the best of England to international and domestic visitors.
“VisitWiltshire’s project will test the concept of a long-distance touring route in England that will promote places to visit and stay and feature an outstanding, high quality local food and drink offer, providing visitors with a new and exciting experience of rural England.”
And David Andrews, chief executive of VisitWiltshire, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding for this project, and particularly pleased that it has been so well received by so many partners.
“We now have the opportunity to open up a new touring corridor to encourage visitors to travel west of London, creating compelling road, rail, canal, cycling and walking tourism experiences.
“For an international visitor, this route presents many of England’s most iconic attractions – London, Bristol and Bath, the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, Windsor, Castle Combe, Lacock and the Cotswolds.
“The aim of the project is to encourage visitors to tour and explore more of the region using a range of new itineraries to experience less-well known areas, slowing and lengthening visits.
“This new project will create a new and exciting addition to England’s existing tourism offer.”
The Discover England Fund was announced by the Government in November 2015, which is aimed at supporting tourism partly through joined-up geographies, themes and transport.
The Stonehenge Travel Company
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
The Anglo Saxon cemetery near Stonehenge: Graves reveal a curious ‘work box’ and ‘fertility’ shells at a site that may have been used for 5,000 years
- Around 150 Anglo Saxon graves found in the village of Bulford, Wiltshire
- Grave goods include a ‘work box’, shells a spear tip and intricate comb
- Nearby site is home to Neolithic chalk goods and carefully arranged bones
- Army site may have been of spiritual significance 5,000 years ago
Salisbury Plain may be best known for Stonehenge, but the chalk plateau hides other secrets too.
Archaeologists have unearthed an Anglo Saxon cemetery of about 150 graves holding beautiful grave goods, including an intricate comb, jewellery, a ‘sewing box’ and intriguing shells in the village of Bulford, Wiltshire.
There are also indications the site has been of spiritual significance for 5,000 years with collections of Neolithic goods suggesting it may also have been an important burial site for Stone Age man.
Experts at Wessex Archaeology excavated the site, earmarked for 227 new Army family homes. It is around four miles from the famous Stonehenge circle.
Investigations revealed about 150 graves from the mid-Anglo-Saxon period in England, with one grave dated to between AD 660 and 780.
It held the remains of an Anglo Saxon woman who died in her mid to late 20s and was laid to rest with two boxes and a cowrie shell.
Simon Cleggett of Wessex Archaeology told MailOnline the grave contained a copper alloy ‘work box’ that may have been used as a little sewing box, because pins have been found in similar cylindrical boxes at other sites.
‘But they might be amuletic [served as a lucky charm] – on some occasions they might contain a piece of bone from a saint or a piece of cloth’ he explained, because at the time Christian influences were spreading across the largely pagan population.
The small cylindrical boxes have been found in tens of Anglo Saxon graves as far north as Northumberland and south as the Thames Valley, according to a study by Catherine Hills of the University of Cambridge.
‘Most have some indication that they could be suspended – they have attachment loops and/or chains,’ she wrote.
The work boxes may have been suspended from a woman’s girdle, but then again, they may have been too fragile and unwieldy and could have been carried in a bag, for example.
The box in the grave was found placed next to the woman’s head, which is relatively unusual as it was more normal for them to be buried by the wearer’s legs, based upon others unearthed.
The boxes have largely only been found in the graves of Anglo Saxon women, as have shells.
Two cowrie shells, possibly from as far away as the Red Sea or India, were also found at the site. Mr Cleggett said they may have come from Cyprus, Egypt, Syria or even India.
‘They are almost always buried with women and children,’ he said, explaining they may have symbolised fertility.
Because of the shells’ origins, they shed light on trade links at the time, stretching across the Mediterranean sea and beyond.
One large shell was found in the woman’s grave along with the work box, while another – buried with a child – has a hole in it, meaning it could have been used as a pendant.
Read the full story and see the image gallery on the Daily Mail website
The Stonehenge Travel Company
Stonehenge and Salisbury guided Tours
Stonehenge and Avebury form part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site which stands testament to the ages. The explanations behind why the sites are located where they are and what their exact purposes are still remain a mystery to this day with a magnetism that has drawn people to them for centuries.
We are pleased to offer exclusive Archaeology Tours visiting both Stonehenge and Avebury throughout 2016. We believe we offer an excellent up-to-date specialist service; giving you the opportunity to learn in great detail about these amazing prehistoric sites, but also leaving you time to explore your surroundings by yourself.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Bath Guided Tour from London
Britian’s most beautiful landscapes
Tour Leaders are qualified archaeologists
Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites, at Stonehenge and Avebury.
Explore the Roman and Georgian history of Bath.
Guaranteed small groups 8 – 18 participants.
This feature-packed archaeological tour takes in the iconic stone circles of Stonehenge
and Avebury and a delightful break in the beautiful Roman city of Bath.
Leaving from London by luxury mini coach, this Stonehenge tour will explore its iconic standing stones with expert analysis by a trained archaeologist. Nearby Avebury is an even more impressive site, covering a much wider area and you will also encounter Neolithic burial tombs and the less visited ancient site of Woodhenge.
Mid-day is spent in gorgeous Bath offering history of a different era. There are colorful remnants of its glorious Roman past to see and regency mansion houses from Georgian times. The famous Roman baths are a must see.
Guided tour itinerary:
The morning starts with a visit to Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, home to the ‘Stonehenge Builder’s’ village and the most convincing evidence for human sacrifice. We then travel a short distance to Stonehenge. We enjoy a leisurely paced walk through the landscape immediately surrounding Stonehenge, visiting the Stonehenge Cursus, Bronze Age burial mounds and walk along the Stonehenge Avenue. We complete our morning at Stonehenge with a guided walk around the stone circle, our archaeologists bringing to life this enigmatic, ancient and mysterious monument.
At mid-day we arrive at the beautiful Georgian city of Bath. Here we allow our guests aprox 2 hours to enjoy the centre of this city, famous for Jane Austen, Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. We also use this opportunity for our guests to have lunch.
We conclude our visit to Bath with a coach tour of the most impressive examples of architecture Bath has to offer, visiting the Assembly Rooms, Royal Circus and Royal Crescent.
The Afternoon is spent at the Avebury World Heritage Landscape. We visit Silbury Hill, the largest man-made hill in prehistoric Europe. We enter the 5500 year old burial chamber of West Kennet Long Barrow, entering a sacred space originally reserved only for ritual specialists and the dead.
We finish by visiting the largest stone circle in Europe at Avebury, with its beautiful medieval village situated inside. As John Aubrey in the 1600’s notes [Avebury]…”does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church.”
Please also note as part of the Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour, the detailed walk around the Stonehenge Cursus, Stonehenge Avenue and Bronze Age burial mounds only runs between March to October, this is due to time restrictions in the winter months
View 2016 Tour Departures and book now
We also offer a Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury guided tour
Bringing History Alive……………..
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company
Historically a centre of the cloth industry, Salisbury – the county town of Wiltshire – is situated at the point where the Rivers Nadder and Bourne flow into the River Avon. The city is famous for its cathedral, a masterpiece of the early Gothic style that dates to 1220 when the building’s foundation stone was laid.
A checkerboard layout, with enclosed gardens between the houses, was a model for medieval town planning. On receiving market privileges from the king, a bridge was built across the Avon in 1244, thereby creating perfect conditions for Salisbury to become a major trading center.
1 Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral was built in a relatively short time – from 1220 to 1266 – in a typically English style consisting of a nave, long choir, retrochoir, main west transept and east choir transept (shielded from the choir by false arches). The interior of the cathedral, which is of bright-colored limestone and darkly gleaming Purbeck marble, displays the horizontal sequencing of the trusses, strengthened by continuous ledges. The construction of the walls is divided into three zones, with arches, a gallery-like triforium and a passageway above. A ribbed vault in four parts encloses the nave at a height of only 82 ft. The interior fittings of the cathedral, considerably altered in the 18th century, include elaborate tombstones dating back to the 13th century.
Although there are a few medieval fragments, the stained glass – primarily 19th and 20th centuries – is exquisite, particularly the Gabriel Loire window in the Lady Chapel. The Gothic cloister and the octagonal chapterhouse both date from the 14th century, the latter having a single central pillar acting as a vault support, a fine wall-frieze with pictures from the Old Testament and tracery windows divided into four sections with 19th century glass. Items stored there include one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the foundation of the British constitution, as well as other Anglo Saxon documents and the inspection report on the cathedral tower written by Sir Christopher Wren in 1668.
Address: Chapter Office, 6 The Close, Salisbury
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salisbury – TripAdvisor.com
2 Cathedral Close
Within Salisbury Cathedral Close and separated from the rest of the town by three gateways, a number of notable Elizabethan and Georgian houses have lovely green lawns and date from the 14th to 18th centuries. These were the residences of the dean, ecclesiastical officers and teachers at the cathedral school. Of special interest is Mompesson House, with its elegant interior fittings and wonderful collection of glass. Another nearby home worthy of a visit is Arundells, residence of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.
Address: The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury
The old city center includes the 15th century parish church of St Thomas of Canterbury as well as the wide market place with its 15th century market cross, the Guildhall (1788) and the 15th century Plume of Feathers Inn. Nearby is the Red Lion Hotel with its fine 1820s facade and pretty inner courtyard, and Joiner’s Hall, an attractive half-timbered building dating from the 16th century.
Through the North Gate are the meadows of the River Avon with their fine views of the cathedral. John Constable captured these on canvas in his famous painting of 1820.
Address: Pennyfarthing House, 18 Pennyfarthing St, Salisbury
Old Sarum was the precursor of present-day Salisbury, built two miles to the north of the city center on a hill, which even in prehistoric times was fortified. The Romans built the camp of Sorviodonum here, while under the Saxons a town settlement grew up on the site. William the Conqueror chose this strategically favorable spot to build a castle in 1075, and in 1220 the inhabitants of Old Sarum were moved to New Salisbury. Today, only a few remains of the castle within the inner circumference wall can be seen, and the cathedral ruins within the outer wall.
Location: Castle Rd, Salisbury
5 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum has permanent displays and special exhibitions throughout the year that highlight the art and history of England and the Salisbury area. This is one of the most fascinating areas in Britain, rich in mediaeval history and home to the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. The award-winning museum is home to the Stonehenge Gallery, Monkton Deverill Gold Torc, as well as unique costume, glass and chinaware collections.
Address: 58 The Close, Salisbury
6 Larmer Tree Gardens
The Larmer Tree Gardens, set in the ancient forest known as Cranborne Chase, were established by general Pitt Rivers in 1880 as pleasure grounds for “public enlightenment and entertainment” and were the first privately owned gardens to be opened for public enjoyment. You’ll find Indian buildings, a Roman Temple and an open-air theatre amidst acres of gardens inhabited by pheasants, peacocks and other exotic birds.
Location: Rushmore Estate Office, Tollard Royal, Salisbury
7 Salisbury Festival
Salisbury Festival takes place in spring with a different theme each year, and includes orchestral, choral and chamber concerts, recitals, film screenings and lectures. Numerous venues are used, including St Thomas Hall, the cathedral and other historical buildings.
Another important event is the Southern Cathedrals Festival, an annual festival that rotates every year between the cities of Winchester, Salisbury and Chichester. The festival takes place mid-July and includes daily concerts and a program featuring a mix of orchestral, choral and chamber concerts, recitals and fringe events. The repertoire is equally varied and includes classical and sacred music as well as newly commissioned works performed in the host city’s cathedral. Another great event, The Salisbury Arts Festival, runs for two weeks each May and features dance, music, street performances and art exhibitions.
Address: 144 East Main St, Salisbury
8 The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum
The Wardrobe is an elegant building housing The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum, an award-winning museum detailing the history of English County Regiments. The building dates to 1254 and contains exhibits on the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments.
From the gardens you can stroll down to the River Avon with its views of the Water Meadows. Another military museum to visit is the award-winning Museum of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment.
Address: 58 The Close, Salisbury
9 Cholderton Charlies Rare Breeds Farm
Cholderton Charlies Rare Breeds Farm has breeds dating back hundreds of years, reflecting an animal heritage as interesting as its buildings and monuments. In addition to the many animals is a nature trail, water gardens, a picnic area and adventure playground for children. Also popular are the many opportunities to feed piglets and other young animals.
Location: Amesbury Road, Cholderton, Salisbury
10 Malmesbury House
Malmesbury House is located on The Close near Salisbury Cathedral where many of the city’s historical attractions are found. The house has seen many faces, both architecturally and in its visitors, and was originally a canonry in the 13th century before being enlarged.
The west facade was added decades later to accommodate rooms displaying magnificent rococo plasterwork, and notable visitors included King Charles II and the composer Handel. (Although privately owned, tours are occasionally permitted.)
Location: The Close, Salisbury
Built by architect Inigo Jones in 1653 after the original Tudor home was destroyed by fire, Wilton House is a masterpiece of the Baroque style and most notable for its huge white Double Cube Room. Decorated with gold-painted flowers and garlands of fruit and rounded off with a brilliantly colorful painted ceiling, the room is also fascinating for its portraits by van Dyck, as well as portraits of Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria and their three children. Equally impressive is the Single Cube Room, its painted ceiling having scenes from Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, written in 1590 while a guest at Wilton House, as well as paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Reynolds. The landscaped park surrounding the house harbors a magnificent stock of old trees. Another unusual feature is the Palladian bridge (1737) over the River Nadder.
Be sure to visit the picturesque Village of Wilton, the old capital of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later of Wiltshire. It is famous for its carpets, plus home to antique shops and a weekly market.
Location: The Estate Office, Wiilton, Salisbury
Located 19 miles southwest of Salisbury, Shaftesbury is a picturesque little market town famous for its ruined Benedictine abbey. Only the foundation walls remain as a reminder of the abbey’s existence, while in the Shaftesbury Abbey and Garden there’s a model of the building as it once was as well as finds from the Middle Ages.
Shaftesbury is also a notable tourist destination due to the steep cobbled streets of Gold Hill, picturesquely lined on one side with tiny houses dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, while on the other side there’s a 13th century ochre-colored wall. Visitors enjoy superb views across the Blackmoor Vale to Somerset.
St Peter’s Church is the only one of the 12 medieval churches that’s been preserved, and possesses an interesting crypt and a fine doorway. Also of note, the Shaftesbury Gold Hill Museum has many exhibits detailing local history.
Location: Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
Stourhead, 26 miles west of Salisbury, is one of the finest landscaped gardens of the 18th century and unchanged since its inception. The unique design of the garden includes an artificial lake with caves, classical temples and landing stages surrounded by hills planted with trees. The park and the stately Palladian mansion were designed in 1721, with elegant period furniture provided by Chippendale, while the gallery contains paintings by Canaletto, Raphael, Nicolas Poussin and Angelika Kaufmann. King Alfred’s Tower, erected to commemorate the Saxon king, towers over the surrounding parkland and affords fine panoramic views.
Location: Mere, Wiltshire
Old Wardour Castle
Old Wardour Castle, near Tisbury, is a 14th century structure on the edge of a beautiful lake. A battle was fought here in 1643 when Parliamentarian forces besieged the castle causing extensive damage. More recently, Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves starring Kevin Costner was filmed here. The castle’s unusual hexagonal ruins are surrounded by landscaped grounds, and are a picturesque location for picnics or a relaxing day out.
Location: Tisbury, Salisbury
Situated in southern England in the county of Wiltshire the village of Avebury is close to two small streams….the Winterbourne and the Sambourne which unite to form the source of the River Kennet. After being re-inforced by a number of springs this beautiful English river rapidly gains in stature as it passes through the North Wessex Downs on its way to Reading where it eventually flows into the River Thames of which it has become the main tributary. The waters of the Kennet therefore pass through London before reaching their ultimate destination in the North Sea.
Around 4,500 years ago, when the site of England’s capital was a thinly inhabited marshland, the area around Avebury almost certainly formed the Neolithic equivalent of a city. By coincidence this waterway has become a link between the two largest cultural centres of their day to have ever existed in the British Isles. As London now contains most of England’s largest buildings Avebury is the location of the mightiest megalithic complex to have ever been constructed in Britain. This henge with its enormous ditch, bank, stones and avenues survives in a much depleted state but the nearby Silbury Hill which is the largest man-made mound in pre-industrial Europe still dominates the surrounding landscape. The two largest surviving British long barrows of West Kennet and East Kennet are also prominent a short distance away and in recent years the remains of two massive palisaded enclosures have also been found. The quote that antiquarian John Aubrey made of Avebury……”it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church” recognises the true importance of what has now been largely absorbed into the modern landscape of Wiltshire. If we could return to the time when the Romans occupied the British Isles it is a sobering thought that we would have to go back as far again to find an Avebury that was already several centuries old.
The history of the modern village is inevitably linked to the prehistoric monuments that surround it. Abandoned for several thousand years the land around the stones became occupied once more when people of the Saxon period began to settle in the area. Their arrival and subsequent development of the present village was to have a dramatic effect on the history of the stones. The relationship between the local inhabitants and the monuments has now added an unfortunate dimension to the Avebury story that helps make it one of the most fascinating historical sites to be found in the British Isles if not the world.
It remains a magical place as so many who have been there will agree. A visit to Avebury is a very personal event. It still seems to retain, somehow, the spirits of all those who laboured in its creation or whatever it was that led them to create it. If you have never been there a visit will not be an empty experience. You will come away with a head full of questions and probably a realisation that somewhere over the years modern society has lost something important.
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Mystical County, Magical Tours…..