We explored the impressive neolithic ceremonial landscapes in the North Wessex Downs recently.
Romantic Thatched Cottages
We had gone to see the ancient standing stones littered across the landscape. What we hadn’t expected was how many beautiful and romantic cottages there were.
The thatch was immaculate.
There is a timelessness about thatched roofs. Originally dwellings with thatched roofs in Britain were used to house the poorest families. Now of course, things are reversed. Roof thatching skills date back to the Bronze Age. What we had come to see was way before that though.
Ancient Burial Chambers
Built around 3700BC we explored a burial chamber called West Kennet Long Barrow. It is about a 10 minute walk up from the road (A4) and you can see it silhouetted on the skyline. Once up there, you can walk right into it.
The atmosphere is fantastic.
Apparently local legend has it that on Midsummers Day it is visited by a ghostly priest! I can well believe it. The board outside gives lots of details, but the fact I remember is that both arthritis and toothache were common medical complaints in Neolithic times!
Amazing Man Made Hill
There are some fascinating theories about Silbury Hill. But one fact is it is Europe’s largest man-made mound similar is size to a small Egyptian pyramid. Experts say it took about 18 million man hours to dump and shape thousands of tons of earth.
I can’t quite get my head around those numbers!
The theories are that it was a resting place for the warrior kind Sil. Or perhaps the pregnant belly of an earth goddess! Either way, we found it very atmospheric. The whole area really is wild, windy and beautiful.
We drove between the different areas of interest but with all day to spare you can easily walk some of the stretches. Wrap up warm though, it was cold on top of the hills and barrows.
To see lots of the different standing stones in the area, we suggest you follow the SIlbury Hill Ancient Landscape Spy Mission.
Amanda Ingham 4th July 2017