Sunday, 29 May 2011

Swallows at West Kennet

 It's catch up time on the reading and writing blogs front. As an excuse I must say I've been away for a while although that only accounts for a week. It was a very varied week, admiring the passing world and taking a mighty pile of photographs of the more interesting things that come my way. I have no intention of documenting my travels chronologically, mainly to aid variety but for a first serving I will begin at the beginning with a day in Avebury.

Avebury isn't just a jolly impressive stone circle - the entire area is full of evidence of life in ancient Britain. In the first picture is Silbury hill. At 37 metres high and, comprised of chalk and clay, it is the largest prehistoric man made mound in Europe. Carbon dating has found that it was started in 2400 BC plus or minus 50 years. Excavations of the hill from the 18th century onwards have damaged it badly and now the general public don't have access to go on it.

Burial mounds near the sanctuary. These are early bronze age - about 4000 years old. They're quite common around the area - not all have survived though, some have been excavated or ploughed into fields.

The concrete markers below don't look much but they mark the post holes of the prehistoric circle known as the Sanctuary. Dating from about 3000 BC it is thought that it would originally have been a circle of wooden posts which would have been replaced at a later date by standing stones. It is linked to the main Avebury circle by one of the avenues of ancient stones.

Silbury hill from the West Kennet Longbarrow

The longbarrow itself.

The front of the barrow is faced with several large local sarsen stones

Behind the middle stone, you find the way in.

At some point during excavations, somebody has installed a couple of skylights in the barrow so you can see perfectly well inside. It's very atmospheric and to me feels quite comfortable

As I was turning round to leave I spotted a swallow flitting in and out.

By standing in the shadows of one of the chambers I was able to watch them as they attended to the nest they had made in the opposite chamber.

It was a very pleasant day catching up with some old friends I haven't seen since last year and having a pint in the Red Lion and of course what visit to Avebury would be complete without a wander round the stones.


Shundo said...

Great job with the swallows, there. I got that close to a canyon wren the other day in Death Valley as well, which was a rare treat. Love all the old stoneworks too - thanks for all the pictures

Laoch of Chicago said...

Wow, very cool stone cave.

The Glebe Blog said...

A great reminder for me Sandy since it's forty years since I visited.
Tank training on Salisbury plains and boozing in Devizes also come to mind.A fantastic area.

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Native Americans also built burial mounds around the Midwest. Iowa has unique ones shaped like animals, called Effigy Mounds. We have no stone circles, as I am aware. Someday I will get over there to see those myself. Have you heard that Denmark is thinking of banning marmite? Could this be the start of an international feud?

Sandy's witterings said...

Shundo - this isn't my closest encounter with a swallow recently as we had one trapped in the house a few weeks ago - they look good in the sky and dotting in and out of our porch we had as kids but that close they are quite magnificent. I was tempted to go and get my camera but it was bashing it's head against the window and though it kinder just to let it out straight away.

Thanks Laoch - i don't think the Ancient Brits had cave in mind when they built it but that's what it is now.

Jim, I did notice that as you drive to Salisbury from Devizes direction you pass several tank crossing places on the plain - the red flags were out that day but no sign of a tank (a bit disappointed). Devizes is absolutely top notch for beer - mainly due to my wadsworth and his fine brewery.

Dave, interesting to hear about the native American mounds - I only know about their platforms.
The Danes haven't specifically banned marmite - they've brought in new regulations about foodstuffs with added vitamins. Marmite have failed to apply for a licence or waver or whatever in time, so they currently can't sell the stuff (the Danish marmite story as I understand it).

Poppy said...

Great reading about Silbury Hill although I didn't know the public are not allowed onto it. I have been in a long barrow many years ago at Wellow near Bath, but it didn't have the skylights!! Great that the swallows are using it to rear their babies :) Avebury is one place I would love to visit, need to put it on my to do list lol

Janie2 said...

I love reading your posts. I was curious, do you wander around alone taking photos and writing your blogs? What an interesting world you share with your bloggers, thank you.

Shundo said...

I had a close encounter with a hummingbird in similar circumstances when it got cornered in a porch. I did take a picture of it, but it didn't look very happy. And it did get away soon enough.

Sandy's witterings said...

Poppy, I'll have to keep my eyes open for Wellow if ever I'm in the Bath direction. Avebury is definately worth a visit and so many other things you could take in at the same time in Wiltshire.

I'm glad you find my wanderings interesting Janie. I do spend a bit of time not wandering too or at work (like now) - that's when I write the blogs and catch up with other peoples blogs. Sometimes my wanderings are on my own and sometimes with other people -the blogs from Chester were all done with my friend Bev and a few weeks ago I had a couple of wanders about Edinburgh with Gail. You get a different experience in company than you do on your own - both quite fine.

The hummingbird always seems so exotic to me Shundo, but I see them appearing in blogs from the States on a quite regular basis. As an Brit in America, do they seem commonplace to you or is there still some wonder in hummingbirds.

Shundo said...

I still get excited every time I see or hear one, but that's just me

Zia Wolf-Sun said...

Hello :) It's been a while since I was here too, so about time I made some effort too ;) I have plenty of excuses on hand...being evicted in a house repossession and chasing the resident rats in my new accomodation for starters! Always enjoy your blogs full of fascinating writings and great pics :)

Sandy's witterings said...

Sounds a bit rough wolfie, hope it's all going a bit smoother now.