If you want a great summary of all that Wiltshire’s ancient sites have to offer then grab a copy of Neil Oliver’s recent book “The Story of the Bristish Isles in 100 Places” in which he devotes five chapters to the incredible importance of Wiltshire’s ancient monuments, Stonehenge, Avebury, West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, all come alive in his words. The mysteries surrounding these monuments will make you want to rush out and experience them for yourself and his comparison of Silbury Hill to the Egyptian Pyramids makes me realise just what we have on our doorstep. In all the years we’ve lived here I’ve never even been up to West Kennet Long Barrow or visited the skeleton of the Amesbury Archer (“a must –see among dead men” according to Oliver) in Salisbury Museum (apparently he was born near the Alps over 4500 years ago so how did he end up being buried in a field on the Wiltshire Downs?) but I’ll be making an effort to get out more and discover just how much amazing history we are lucky enough to have so nearby.
Closer to home it’s easy to find evidence of more recent generations of people and their horses that have worked our farm land here in the Pewsey Vale over the centuries. Our holiday cottages near Marlborough, The Stables and The Hen House, (www.thestablesbreaks.com) were converted from the old stable building which housed the hard working horses that worked the land before tractors. As we continue to work the same land with our modern machinery it is easy to come across large shire size horse shoes and fragments of the clay pipes that the ploughmen smoked in our fields as they walked up and down behind these animals. It never fails to make me stop and think of all the people who have lived and worked here over the years and what their lives might have been like.
History comes in layer upon layer in an area as ancient as ours. A few years ago a friend came over to visit, all excited with his new metal detector, and spent just a couple of hours in the field by our cottages trying to get it to work. In that short t time he found a few coins and artefacts which represented many centuries of history – a roman coin, a medieval shoe buckle, a 13th century coin, a musket ball, an 1817 coin and some Victorian pennies along with a few tin cans from a recent teenage party! It is quite mind blowing to hold these small objects and peer through the centuries of history.
It doesn’t matter how long you have known or lived in Wiltshire it never ceases to amaze and if you have never been then what are you waiting for? A visit to Wiltshire won’t be disappointing!