Avebury: Mystical Stones

After sleeping in a pub carpark last night, and randomly waking in a panic at 1am thinking we were being broken into only to discover that No1 was having a bad dream and rolling around, we didn’t have much energy for the day’s adventures.

We set off back to Avebury, paid the £10 for the National Trust carpark. Technically we only paid £8.70 because it was cash only and that was all the coins we could scrounge. Who doesn’t have a credit card ticket machine these days? Anyway, cars were £7 so the machine was happy, even if we didn’t pay the full truck fare. Our conscious vaguely bothered but with no means to fix the error, having rid ourselves of every coin we could summon, we walked through the wet long grass and fog to look at some giant rocks. Perhaps it’s because we aren’t very mystical people, too much scientific training clouds that connection, but it seemed plausible to us that the stone circle wasn’t put there for worship. We thought it looked like the pillars of a wooden defensive fence, where the wood had simply rotted away, leaving a mystery for future generations to ponder. It is the distance from the large dirt defensive structure that led us to the engineering perspective (and the scientific gaze). The other possibilities we considered in our loose walk around the stones, was that they were put a chief challenge – one must put up a big rock to prove to the tribe that one is worthy of the job – or perhaps had some unknown accidental connection to agriculture. Imagine a world without science, and shifting this rock causes the ground to become more fertile, then it’s easy to imagine how the connection between a good season and the rocks happens. Of course, this theory dismisses how or why they put the first one there. But it’s all in good fun.

After the stone circle, we explored the Avebury church, a building that dates back to Saxon times. The vicar had a good historical display on the age of the church, and the different extensions by era from 1100 to 1850. The long history of churches at the centre of a community, and the funds that go along with this, results in the most interesting (although often pretentious) architecture.

A tomb inside Avebury Church

After a long walk around Avebury, church, and village, we piled back into our truck with the loose plan to drive past a few things on a map we had. We saw a white horse, not the biggest most famous one, but another one at Cherhill. Pretty cool.

Cherhill Horse

The sign mentioned an old hill fort up on the same hill. We declined the opportunity to walk the 11 minutes up the hill in the rain, and drove onwards to Devizes Lock Ladder. Except Google somehow thought it wasn’t where it was, and we ended up in a random village with skinny laneways with no locks. We decided to give up on google, looked it up on a real paper map, and discovered it was back where we had started, so we gave up and continued on towards Bath instead. Bad Google (always blame the machine when these things go wrong!) sent us through the Cotswolds on yet another tiny series of laneways in our gigantic truck. I’m sure our truck isn’t actually gigantic, but it certainly feels big when the roads get narrower and narrower.

At one point two trucks ahead of us attempted to pass, and one had to back all the way back down the road until they could pass. Thankfully that truck also allowed us past before it continued on. We finally reached the top of the hill and had a magical view over the valley of Bath. Every building in the same yellow stone with a sharper quality of light than in London or even in country Avebury, almost glinting off the stones. We followed google to yet another dead end laneway before starting it again and eventually ending up at a lovely campsite beside the Avon River. Phew.

Once parked, we had a restorative beer, camping style bangers and boiled potatoes on the truck stove. When in Bath (the hometown of Jane Austen), one must eat boiled potatoes. They are, as Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice states, an exemplary vegetable.

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