Silent Earth - Messages From Our Ancestors


Touching Stonehenge

Touching the Stones at StonehengeWill Self offered his observations here on 21 June 2014, of  the 'museumification' of Stonehenge by the current custodians / gatekeepers, arising from  the demands of modern day visitors and mammon. The charming photograph above, in the context of the history of Stonehenge was taken in recent times, and represents a Stonehenge  as much lost to us now as the Stonehenge of Neolithic times. I have been informed by the Bradbury family who have kindly allowed me to publish the photograph above , that it was captured in 1929.A work colleague recently informed me, his mother and her cousins  used to clamber freely over the stones while  accompanying her father, who worked  as a shepherd in the Stonehenge environs. As a result of this conversation, Mrs E Bradbury of Ludgershall  has graciously provided me with a brief recollection of those days, which I reproduce in her own words below :"Please find enclosed photograph of my late husbands two cousins, which both have died, taken in 1929, Joan  and Phylis Narroway, (born 1920 and 1916 respectively).I was born in 1930, but we had no camera as I was one of six girls, my father being a shepherd would take the...more

Eleanor of Provence

Eleanor of ProvenceA  biography of Queen Eleanor of Provence,  is here  together with many of her letters. She remains the only English queen without a marked grave to this day, and what is known of her relationship with Amesbury priory  I wish to explore briefly in this post.In the 1280's in her usual practical way Queen Eleanor made arrangements to take the veil at the nunnery at Amesbury priory. In May 1280, the king ordered ten oaks be delivered from Chute forest to the prioress of the  priory 'for certain works' that Queen Eleanor the kings mother is causing to be made at Amesbury, and a further 20 oaks were ordered from Clarendon. In 1281 a further fifteen Oaks from Chute and twelve from Melksham were cut down for her projects at Amesbury.She arranged for her namesake Eleanor, daughter of Beatrice of Brittany and Mary, sixth  daughter of Edward I to enter just before her .Eleanor of  Brittany in her tenth year was veiled at Amesbury on 25 March 1285 and Mary at the age of seven entered on 15 August 1285 along with thirteen other girls from aristocratic families, in a ceremony attended by the king and queen, bishops, abbots, priors...more


TaliesinContemplating the writings of  Taliesin recently a few quotes,  fragments and thoughts are gathered below, as a repository.Below is a translation of the poem The Chair of the Sovereign  from pages 292  to 294 of  John Matthews book Taliesin The last  Celtic Shaman.:Sing a brilliant songOf boundless inspiration,Concerning the man who is to come To destroy the nations.His staff and his entrenchment,And his swift devastations,And his ruling leadership,And his written numberAnd his red purple robes,And his assault against the rampart,And his appropriate seatAmid the great assembly.Has he not brought from AnwynThe horses of the pale burden-bearer,The princely old man,The cupbearing feeder,The third deeply wise one,Is the blessed Arthur.Arthur the blessedRenowned in song,In the front of the battleHe was full of activity.Who were the three chief ministers Who guarded the land?Who were the three skilful ones Who preserved the token,And came with eagernessTo receive their Lord?Great is the mystery of the circular course.Conspicuous is the gaiety of the old.Loud is the horn of the traveller.Loud the cattle towards evening.Conspicuous is truth when it appears,More so when spoken.Conspicuous when came from the cauldron,The three inspirations of Ogyrwen,I have met Mynawg wearing the collar,With a horn in my hand.He does not merit the...more

“Let me let me sleep again”

Sir Richard Colt HoareSir Richard Colt Hoare is often cited as one of the founding fathers of modern archaeological methods . With William Cunnington, in the early 19th century,  he excavated   379 barrows on Salisbury Plain as well as digging around a fallen trilithon and the slaughter stone at Stonehenge. His findings were meticulously recorded (for the time)  and published partially in the 1812 publication 'The Ancient History of Wiltshire'  which  begins and ends with the words ' we speak from facts not theories ' . On the bi centenary of  the publication of this seminal publication  Angie Wickenden wrote a celebration of it   which can be read here.As well as excavating the well known barrows at, and surrounding Stonehenge, he also dug the barrows shown on the map below at Woodyates , described by Colt Hoare as 'upon the limits of the adjoining county of Dorset.' [caption id="attachment_1376" align="aligncenter" width="479"] Plate XXX1V[/caption]Describing the Woodyates barrows, he states,; 'On quitting the lane, and entering the down, the modern road to Blandford bears away to the right, whilst the Roman road follows a direct line over the downs, and presents a very bold and perfect ridge. In the angle formed by the old...more

Storm Clouds Gathering over Salisbury Plain

ArmyManeuvers Salisbury Plain 1872Lady Antrobus of Amesbury Abbey captured the above stunning image on 12 September 1872,  which is taken from her personal scrap book . The location  is below Beacon Hill on Salisbury plain which is now Bulford camp. On first glancing at the image my initial thoughts were of the American civil war, which ended  seven years earlier on 9 May 1865. It captures the final march past and review after British Army exercises involving not less than 40 000 men  in southern Wiltshire and Dorset in the preceding days.Two armies were assembled, one at Blandford representing an invading force, and another on August 31 at Pewsey. The two sides comprised 12 cavalry regiments, 14 artillery batteries and 24 infantry battalions and the manoeuvres were scheduled to continue for nine days. In addition to training men to react to modern weaponry.The British Army was involved in a new style of military manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain imitating similar Prussian army activities.The foreground appears to be the area Lady Antrobus , her family and friends were occupying to view the occasion , and the main crowd  is gathered in the valley to view the soldiers, horses and equipment  marching  past. Due to the...more

Images from the scrap book of Lady Antrobus

Lady AntrobusThe above image created by Lady Antrobus is both ethereal and enchanting, of  sadness consoled, and a testament to her artistic talent .Lady Florence Caroline Mathilde Antrobus was interested in the 'magic of Stonehenge', Arthurian legend, Aurelius Ambrosius, Mount Ambrosius, Amesbury Abbey, Amesbury and the surrounding area. Enlightened for the times, she  advocated  'preservation not restoration' of ancient buildings including Stonehenge and St Melor parish church in Amesbury .Her mother Georgina Alicia Satoris  hailed from Stillorgan Dublin and Lady Antrobus  held our Celtic ancestors in high esteem, referring to them as 'a highly cultivated civilised race'. She also wrote 'I consider credence should be placed in the idea that a great Druidical 'Cor' (choir or sanctuary ) or college once occupied the site of the Christian Abbey', referring to Amesbury Abbey where she lived  by the 1901 census and remained until 1915 . Her scrap book reflects her journey through the latter times  of the 19th century and the 20th century effectively  a  personal 'blog'  and unique photographic record  of those times. These images represent a small cross section and remain the copyright of Mr D Cornelius Reid,  to whom I offer my heartfelt thanks for consenting to their publication.  Lady Antrobus...more

The Personal Scrap Book of Lady Florence Antrobus of Amesbury Abbey

Amesbury AbbeyLady Florence Caroline Mathilde Satoris was born on 5 February 1856 at Tusmore Oxon. Her father had been born in France and her mother was Irish by birth. She married  Sir Edmund Antrobus on Tuesday 2 March 1886  carrying a bouquet of lilies of the valley, and died on 19 February 1923 at Eastbourne Sussex. The newly married  couple initially set up home in London and by the 1901 census had moved with their young son Edmund who was born on 23 December 1886 to Amesbury Abbey, which remained their family home until 1915. During her years at the Abbey Lady Antrobus developed  an interest in its history and that of the surrounding area  including Stonehenge and Amesbury. I am studying the exquisite personal scrap book  Lady Antrobus maintained during her years at the Abbey. Reproduced below is I hope a faithful rendition of her carefully crafted words on one of of those leaves, photographed above. "Aurelianus Ambrosius the British king of the 6th century who had been identified with nation-lead ie 'the prince of the sanctuary. This sanctuary being the great monastery which was established at Amesbury, in the valley of the upper Avon in the very earliest times of Christianity....more

Vespasian’s Camp ‘Mondus Absconditus’ of Stonehenge

Vespasian's CampSince 871AD,  Amesbury estate of which Vespasian's  camp for much of that time  formed  part  has been in the possession of only six owners, including the crown for 768 years from 871AD to 1539AD.  King Alfred the Great who died on 26 October  899AD devised the lands to his son Aethelweard. It is likely that the estate belonged to the rulers of the region for millennia prior to this  and Stonehenge was masterminded, built and developed by their forebears, the lands subsequently descending with the crowns of Wessex and England. The Amesbury estate became significantly fragmented on 21 September 1915 when 6240 acres were offered for sale  by Sir Cosmo Antrobus at auction in New Street  Theatre Salisbury by lots, including the famous lot 15 Stonehenge which included  30 acres 2 rods and 3 perches of accompanying downland and sold for £6600 to Mr Cecil H.E. Chubb of Bemerton Lodge Salisbury. At that time , the net annual receipts from sightseers to Stonehenge were quantified at £360 per annum. Vespasians camp was not sold at this auction and remains to this day in the ownership of the current Lord Antrobus and under the devoted custodianship of Mr and Mrs  M Clarke....more

The White Horse of Stonehenge

White HorseThe white horse of stonehenge.The photograph above was taken at 3 10pm in the afternoon of 14 October 2011, an exceptionally hot autumn afternoon for mid October. The picture, on the face of it is  an average snapshot .Two  aspects of this image do though give it a special significance to me, namely the white horse (or pony) in the foreground and the location. At the top, towards the right hand side of the image is fargo plantation at the western end of stonehenge cursus The horses are in a small paddock to the north of the Stonehenge monument and west of the rather less iconic sewerage works.The horse in the foreground appears to be looking directly at the camera with a calm and extremely knowing look in its eye. These are the only horses I have seen in recent years close to the stonehenge monument .I was a child of the south coast with the golden sands of  Bournemouth beach and the English channel as a backdrop to my formative years. One of the earliest family holidays I recall in 1968 was visiting relatives who lived inland in the 'country' at Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire . One of ...more

The Birds of Amesbury Abbey

Amesbury AbbeyThe above photograph was captured  at approximately 7 45am on 22 May 2014 of the morning sun illuminating the Chinese summer house in the grounds of Amesbury Abbey, at the foot of Vespasians Camp. The variety and sound of bird song as I approached the river Avon at the foot of the heavily wooded and naturally pristine Vespasians Camp was stunning. The summer house sits over a meander that has been cut off from the main flow of the river Avon, the water still in morning sunlight and crystal clear above a settled  muddy riverbed. In a number of areas  bubbles of air arose  from a fresh water source below the riverbed gently feeding  fresh water into the river. In  numerous  areas where the bubbles were arising the water took on a turqoise / azure phosphorescent hue. An image is attached below of  this enchanting feature, the far side of the riverbank is the foot of vespasians camp oozing that morning a jungle of  sounds of truly wildlife. [caption id="attachment_982" align="aligncenter" width="640"] River Avon phosphorescent hue[/caption] During 1984 Mrs RL Howells made 35 visits to the Abbey grounds and recorded as she emphasised at the time 'only a small cross section of...more

5000 Year Old Lost Map of Stonehenge ?

Stonehenge lost neolithic mapCould the above chalk plaque currently on permanent display in the Stonehenge visitor centre be a 5000 year old lost map of Stonehenge and its surrounding  area?I am minded this week  that other than a number of the  actual stones at stonehenge, little of the dating of mans activities in the  area is similarly 'set in concrete' and frequently resembles more closely the shifting sands Jacquetta Hawkes alluded to with her now famous quote 'every age has the stonehenge it deserves or desires'. For example archaeological evidence indicates that the main period of construction and activity at durrington walls falls between 2600BC and 2400BC. Beneath the outer bank at durrington walls traces of an early neolithic settlement were found, including sherds of round based bowls, leaf shaped arrowheads and other flint artifacts. Excavators concluded this activity had occurred 500 years earlier than the building of the enclosure bank and is indicative that man was active in this area in 3100BC, as well as the 2600BC to 2400BC main period of activity.The avenue  is currently generally accepted as dating from 2600BC to 1700BC. It may have evolved over a long period of time from a pathway or pathways arising from our...more

Stonehenge Chalk Plaques

Stonehenge Incised Chalk Plaques These two Stonehenge chalk plaques form part of the permanent exhibition at the English Heritage visitor centre near the monument and features on their website here. I outlined the background of the discovery of these small objects in my first posting on this blog on 30 January 2014.The above image has been kindly provided by, and is © English HeritageThe plaques were buried in a pit  2km from stonehenge before the sarsen stone monument that we know today had been erected. English Heritage have dated the plaques to between 2900BC to 2580BC. In the area around  stonehenge  leading up to this time there is evidence of 5600 years of mans activity already.Mesolithic post holes in the old visitor centre car park 8500BC to 7000BC.Activities at Blick Mead and Vespasians camp on the nearby riverbank area of the  Avon 7500BC.Coneybury anomaly 3980BCto3708BCRobin Hoods Ball causewayed enclosure 3600BC to 3350BC.Winterbourne Stoke (and other) long barrows 3500BC to 3300BC.Stonehenge Cursus 3400BC to 2600BC.Stonehenge earthworks and cremations 3000BC to 2550BC.Coneybury Henge 2750BCDurrington Walls 2600BC to 2400BCStonehenge Avenue 2600BC to 1700BC Woodhenge at  2400BC falls 180 to 500 years after the plaques were deposited and for international timelines, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt were constructed...more

Coneybury Henge 2750BC…Of Eagles and Kings

conebury hengeThe previous thread here looked at stage one Stonehenge post holes dating from the early part of the third millenium BC. Ditch and bank enclosure type structures were evolving at this time from an earlier tradition of causewayed enclosures an example of which is found at Robin Hoods Ball. approximately 2.1 miles north of Stonehenge. At some time in the Neolithic period a causewayed enclosure or other structures  may have existed in the 'mondus abconditus'  of the Stonehenge landscape at Vespasians camp and here Evidence suggests that after only a short period of usage, the early Stonehenge site was possibly abandoned and deserted to the elements followed by a rapid recolonisation by scrub, bushes and rank grass, the wooden structures were left to  decay and the ditch and  bank to erode . Particularly from snail evidence and various archaeological investigations on site (first suspected by Col Hawley in 1921 ) it is now generally accepted that there was a period during the early third millennium BC when the Stonehenge site was subject to human abandonment.After the sheer human commitment and physical effort  necessary to construct phase one of Stonehenge, why was the site abandoned after a relatively short period of...more

Stonehenge Stage 1 Pit Clusters and Post Structures 3000BC-2620BC

Post structures and pit clusters Stonehenge Stage 1 3000BC-2620BCThe main elements currently attributed to stage one of the Stonehenge monument  consist of  :A circular bank and external ditch with a diameter of approximately 110 metres.Entrances into the earthwork from the North East and South.56 Aubrey holes.Stoneholes 97 and A and B assumed to be sarsens and generally now assigned to this stage . (Not now standing )A line of four postholes at intervals of 2 metres to the North East(NE) of the actual NE entrance.A mosaic of pits , postholes and stakeholes within the earthwork enclosure and the NE entrance.It is the nature of the last element above, the pits, postholes and stakeholes  I would like to briefly  consider here . An image is attached above of these mysterious postholes that pre date the sarsen circle we recognise today ,  constructed approximately 500 years later .Firstly , what has been said by others of these  clues under the earth  to human activity 5000 years ago on the site that was subsequently utilised for the iconic monument we know today:Some of the pits, postholes and stakeholes within the earthwork enclosure no doubt also belong to Stage 1 .Tentatively assigned to this stage are five groups of postholes (see next...more

Amesbury Abbey and the Lion of England

13th Century Floor Tile from Amesbury Abbey Amesbury Abbey occupies a unique position in the Stonehenge landscape. It sits on an Eastern bank of the River Avon, West of Amesbury, East of the Stonehenge monument and in the lee of Vespasians Camp. According to British History online, the recorded history of the Abbey can be traced back to 979AD, some 1035 years ago. Perhaps in exploring its past and, association with the cult of St Melor, echo's from an earlier time, and of our ancestors who built Stonehenge a little under two miles to the West may reside. Facts surrounding St Melor are of course elusive. The linked story above of St Melor including  a magical silver hand ,  a severed head that speaks and untamed bulls is typical of folk lore of Britain and its neighbouring Islands. Gwyn ap Nudd son of Nudd of the silver hand has been discussed at length here on Eternal Idol. Another example of a nuance of the silver hand story is also witnessed in the  Slavic myth of Panagia Tricherousa, and there are many othersWith a prevailing and often persistent  South Westerly wind, it seems only natural that  since mans first exposure to the often harsh climate of Salisbury plain...more

Post Holes , Sky Towers and The Avon River

Under constuction at Stonehenge visitor centre 13 March 2014Last Thursday 13 March 2014 I arose early and after battling the morning fog that enveloped Salisbury plain arrived at  the entrance to Stonehenge visitors centre after a 37 mile drive from the South coast  at 8 35am . My intention was to spend the day exploring the Stonehenge environs generally and particularly to walk the length of the Cursus and King Barrow Ridge. I was not permitted entry to the main visitor centre car park until 9am and was pleasantly surprised that the usual £5 car parking fee for those not visiting the monument itself had been waived for the day .To the East of the new visitor Centre ,  a number of neolithic buildings  are under construction , of which the above image is the best of a rather poor set of  photographs I captured on the day . This modern day interpretation of a Neolithic wooden building  is being reverse engineered as authentically as possible to the footprint of post holes  and internal  hearth positioning   of a  recent excavation approximately three miles away at Durrington Walls . The 21st century construction  platform  on a second building underway to the left of the picture does detract a...more

A Gift from a Thrush : Stonehenge Incised Chalk Plaque

chalk plaques On 21 December 2013, I first became aware of  an image of a thrush portrayed on  the above stonehenge incised chalk plaque . That moment proved to be the inspiration for this blog . This fascinating object was discovered  between  King Barrow Wood and Stonehenge Bottom in the late 1960's  by Major HM and Mrs F De M  Vatcher. It was found  along with a second slightly smaller plaque during the widening and lowering of the A303 road near Stonehenge  in the chalk of the verge on the North side of the carriageway, 211 yards West of the wood. The plaque above is approximately three inches square and seven sixteenths of an inch thick.  It was found near the base of the pit at a depth of a little under two feet from the surface. The upper part of the ditch filling was empty of finds and compacted, consisting of red-brown soil and fine chalk nodules.  An antler pick sat on top of the lower layer near a small scapula, thought to be that of a sheep. Sherds of  grooved ware and various animal bones were found throughout the lower layer. A number of small grooved chalk lumps were also...more

Touching the Stones at Stonehenge


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