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Stonehenge given glowing review in new Guardian article

Posted on 03rd October 2017

It may be thousands of years old, but that doesn’t stop the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge being regarded as one of the UK’s finest modern visitor attractions.


This is certainly the view of the Guardian’s Gavin McOwan, who recently published an article singing the praises of this most iconic of man-made structures.

Stonehenge, which is found just a few miles from the medieval city of Salisbury and is a favourite haunt among those enjoying cottage holidays in Wiltshire, is perhaps most impressive for how much interest it arouses in visitors of all ages, and this is why it was featured in the Guardian’s ‘Take the kids to…’ column.

Commenting that “as a historic site it is an 11/10”, McOwan was keen to praise the “scale of the achievement”, adding that – despite it being a long-established attraction – it remains “impossible not to be awed by this incredible feat of engineering”.

The columnist was also pleased with the site’s informative visitor centre – a relatively new feature which opened in late 2013 – and confirmed that even his eight-year-old son conceded that the Stonehenge spectacle is “pretty cool”.


Image Credit: Inja Pavlic

‘Unheard of’ finding at Avebury Neolithic monument

Posted on 10th July 2017

A new discovery at the historic Avebury monument in Wiltshire has been hailed as ‘unheard of’ by archaeological experts.

Avebury Neolithic henge monument

Recent research by the universities of Leicester and Southampton has revealed that a formation of stones first uncovered 80 years ago by archaeologist Alexander Keiller is in fact part of a ‘stone square circle’, which is now believed to be among the earliest parts of the whole site.

Discussing the findings, Dr Mark Gillings told reporters that not in his ‘wildest dreams’ had he expected his team to make such a significant discovery, with his colleague Dr Joshua Pollard explaining that ‘square megalithic settings of this scale and complexity are unheard of’.

The archaeologists in charge of the project believe that the square may have been constructed to commemorate the ancestral home of Avebury’s first residents, and may indeed explain the purpose of the entire monument.

Officially designated as a World Heritage Site, Avebury has long fascinated historians, with amateurs and professionals alike flocking to holiday accommodation in Wiltshire to visit both this ancient monument and the iconic Stonehenge, which sits less than 20 miles away. With the confirmation of this latest discovery, interest in the area will now surely only increase.

Image Credit: Mark Kent

WW1 training tunnels found in Wiltshire

Posted on 12th May 2017

Lark Hill has long been associated with the military, who began buying up land on the Salisbury plains after the declining wool trade left the area in an economic slump. The Boer war in 1899 saw the area readied for the military camps but these were increased by the First World War.

Lark hill artillery range

As the army look to renovate areas of Lark hill to make new housing for those in service and their families, the training trenches and tunnels were rediscovered. The archaeologists who worked on the site were delighted. This is the first time anywhere in the world that archaeologists have had the chance to examine, excavate and record such an enormous expanse of First World War training ground,” said Si Cleggett, of  Wessex Archaeology.

There are dangers involved in excavating the area – over 200 grenades have been found on the site, and roughly half of these are still live meaning the archaeologists had to work with experts to unearth the secrets of the dig.

What they have learnt, however, has given personality to an essential part of British history. As the training required the troops to live in the tunnels for the winter of 1916/1917, they left behind graffiti and personal effects along with the detritus of everyday living. One of the later discoveries is that of a red MG sports car, dating from the 1930’s. It could indicate unrest in the lower ranks, as it is suspected to have been belonging to a young officer, and its overnight disappearance was part of a prank.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum is a wonderful place to learn more about the significant military history of Wiltshire and the surrounding areas while staying in a Wiltshire holiday cottage. In light of the recent discovery so close to the museum, the local and national interest has increased.

Image Credit: Andrew Haynes (Geograph)

New documents put Wiltshire’s history on the map

Posted on 14th December 2016

If you’re interested in history, you’re in luck, because for the first time ever, historical maps of Wiltshire have been made easily accessible for your perusal. Thanks for the Know Your Place West of England project, countless local locations can be explored through the online database which houses materials covering Stonehenge to Swindon, Melksham to Malmesbury, Royal Wootton Bassett to Bradford-on-Avon and much more.

Renaissance map of Wiltshire, UK

Curious minds will be fascinated to see how Wiltshire has changed over time with these documents, which comprise a mapping resource enabling users to explore their neighbourhood through old maps, archive images and linked information. Over 2171 square miles of Wiltshire is ready to be discovered on the resource, featuring some of the county’s most famous landmarks, including the stone circle at Avebury and the Great Western Railway Works in Swindon with everything in between depicted in intricate detail.

As Wiltshire Council explains, “Alongside historic maps supplied by the British Library and National Library Scotland, you can freely explore Historic Environment Record data from Wiltshire Council.” They continue:

“You will also be able to upload and share your own information about the area straight onto ‘Know Your Place helping to build a rich and diverse community map of local heritage helping build a valuable research tool for everyone; from school children to family historians, planners to enthusiasts of community heritage.”

Over the coming months, more and more maps and images will be added to the tool, with museums across the county identifying itself from their collections to appear in an upcoming exhibition set to tour STEAM in Swindon, Salisbury Cathedral and the Yelde Hall in Chippenham. Charities are hoping to donate drawings and photographs, cementing the human aspect of this mind-boggling installation.

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, told Wiltshire Council: “Know Your Place West of England will be a fantastic resource, bringing together the history of this area so people can discover the ever-changing make-up of the places where they live and work.” The aim of the project is to demonstrate the rich history of Wiltshire and allow both locals and people on Wiltshire cottage holidays to connect with the changing landscape and culture of this amazing area.

Image Credit: John Speed (Wikimedia Commons)

New discovery at Stonehenge confirms dogs always man’s best friend

Posted on 17th October 2016

Dogs are man’s best friend, so the saying goes, and a new historical discovery has now proved that this bond between human and canine may always have existed. At a site near the legendary Stonehenge, an ancient tooth has been uncovered by archaeologists, which is believed to be from a pet dog. The area, which has long been popular with visitors on holiday in Wiltshire, has become the home of yet more pioneering historical discoveries, uncovering new information for archaeologists.

 Dog and owner

The tooth was excavated at Blick Mead in Wiltshire, and is thought to hold the key to understanding the earliest journey ever made in British history. After tests were performed on the fossilised tooth, it was found that the canine owner of the tooth had travelled some 250 miles from York to reach the place where the fossil was found. As carbon dating techniques revealed, this journey was undertaken an astonishing 7,000 years ago.

According to David Jacques, an archaeologist on the project, this is a significant finding. It was not previously known that humans travelled such long distances this early in history.

Scientists say that they know the dog must have been domesticated because of the tooth’s size and shape. It would, however, have had a rather wild diet, eating animals such as salmon, trout, pike, wild pig and red deer.

As the BBC reports, David Jacques said the dog “was drinking from the area when it was young, it went on a journey of about 250 miles to the Stonehenge area with people and it ate what the people were eating on this site at Blick Mead.” He continued, “You would not get a wolf travelling 250 miles but you’re much more likely to get a dog doing that because it’s travelling with its people.”

The discoveries are particularly important because they prove that human populations were visiting Stonehenge 2,000 years before the monument was built. Jacques explains, “Discoveries like this give us a completely new understanding of the establishment of the ritual landscape and make Stonehenge even more special than we thought we knew it was.” So, not only have these findings shown us that the bond between humans and dogs has long been a huge part of our culture, but also that Stonehenge is one of the most important sites in world history.