Saturday, 14 March 2015

Walking in Avebury with a Cold Wind in Our Ears!

A distant Silbury Hill, the little hill almost centre of the photo, with the sun shining on the River Kennet.

I have felt unwell since January, with the wretched virus and cough that has been doing the rounds.  I ventured out last week, not to walk, but to meet my walking group friends at the "Red Lion" in Avebury, for our weekly communal lunch.  The sun shone, but is was sooo cold, and was not easy to relax without wearing layers of clothing and a warm hat.

The River Kennet here is a winterbourne, meaning it only flows with water during the winter months.   It was good to see it so full, as because of increased water extraction, there have been times when the river bed has been dry for several months at a time.  During a recent drought, it remained dry for a couple of years, much to the consternation of the local residents, who felt that too much water was extracted for the large town of nearby Swindon.

Crocuses line each side of the track approaching the large barn and museum at Avebury.

The thatched roofed "Red Lion" at Avebury, our much loved hostlery.

The pub has recently changed hands, but is serving the same menu as the previous manager, who was an excellent "mine host."   His wife and her family owned a local farm, and when she had her baby, he left the pub for father´s duties and to help run the farm.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Out on the Ramparts of Old Sarum

All that remains of the crypt of the cathedral at Old Sarum

Old Sarum was the original site of the city of present day Salisbury.  It occupied a site of continuous settlement right back into neolithic times.  The Romans were here, there was an Anglo Saxon settlement here, and also after the Norman Conquest, a motte and bailey castle was built on the mound.  

The reasons for the town´s removal to the lower ground of the present city are many and varied, and there is much discussion as to why the town upped sticks and moved!  The cathedral was dismantled, quite a mega task for a time of horse and cart transport.  I wonder what really happened.  A better source of water from the River Avon at the new site might explain much of the inhabitants reasoning.

The information board in what was the nave of the cathedral.

I attended a very good talk last Saturday at Devizes Museum, where Alex Langlands from Winchester University talked about Old Sarum.  He has many interesting theories as to why the town moved, all of which seem plausible.  However we shall never really know the true reason.

Part of the rampart around the site, showing an original entrance.

The original site with its Norman castle is extremely well defended, with some of the deepist rampants I have ever seen.  It would have been almost impossible to an alien army to attack the castle and town and its inhabitants.