On our way to Avebury we pass this White Horse on Cherhill Down, which as shown in a recent post could be seen in the distance from the village we were staying in. There are 7 of these horses scattered around the Wiltshire Downs. They were restored around 1780 AD but are thought to originate from around the 1100's
The history of this downland area dates back to Neolithic c.4000BC.It was a period of woodland clearance and the first farms (herds and cultivation of fields) began to replace woodland. The Neolithic Age was a time when ground or polished stone weapons and implements prevailed. Later in The Bronze Age c. 2000BC metal tools were introduced.
When the Romans arrived in AD47 the conquered landscape of the Roman period was one of scattered communities centered on hill forts and settlement enclosures farming adjacent land. The Roman military built a network of roads centered on their own bases and the London to Bath Roman road passes through here.
Silbury Hill which we see here is the largest human built mound in Europe. (There are many dotted around these Downs) In sheer volume of material this one rivals the Great Pyramids of Egypt. It is estimated that it would have taken 500 men 15 years to complete. It was begun sometime between 2500 and 2900BC.It is thought to be a burial mound, possibly a monument to some long-dead Neolithic Chieftan.
Lets continue on to Avebury which was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. It is the most impressive Neolithic landscape in the country.
We arrive at the village passing this old barn
The whole village is surrounded by these Neolithic stones at the heart of a Prehistoric landscape. Unlike Stonehenge (which is not too far away) one can walk around the whole of this stone circle which surrounds the village.
Also in the centre of the village is Avebury Manor, now owned by The National Trust but occupied and furnished by private lease holders. A much altered house of monastic origin, the present buildings date from the early 16th century with notable Queen Anne alterations and Edwardian renovation. The charming Edwardian garden was completely redesigned in the early 20th century and provided inspiration for Vita Sackville-West, a frequesnt visitor in the 1920's.