Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

My friend Chris and I walked this afternoon out from Bishopstrow near Warminster onto the perimeter path that skirts Salisbury Plain. The army was much in evidence, with gunfire sounding from the firing ranges, and a gun placement clearly visible in the distance. We ignored it as best we could and focused on the views and the superb archaeology.

There are strip lynchets (ancient strip fields) all along the edge of this part of the Plain, carefully sited to catch the sun. Our route skirted two Iron Age hillforts, Battlesbury and Scratchbury, and passed several long and round barrows. When we came down off the edge of the Plain, we returned to Bishopstrow along the valley, through Norton Bavant. The views from the Plain were wonderful, and although the day was rather overcast, the sun broke through the light cloud several times. Cley Hill with its prominent round barrow dominated the middle distance.

I am not a druid who works with a Grove, or does a great amount of ritual. Walking the land is the core of my practice. You can travel by car, train or bus and cover much more ground and see more than on foot, but you can only truly know the land if you get out of the transport and walk. Even when the land feels as uneasy as Salisbury Plain, scarred by past dangers and present war games, it is still rewarding. Down in the valley where the lovely river Wylye runs through quiet villages, the land is truly gentle, friendly and welcoming.

The walk we did today comes from ‘100 walks in Wiltshire’, published by Crowood Press in 1990, although there’s a later edition around now. Look for walk 90, ‘Middle Hill’. It covers 7 miles of some of the most scenic countryside in south-west Wiltshire, and is one of my favourite walks, highly recommended.

We finished off the day by visiting a couple of churches in search of new examples of green men, which we are documenting At the Sign of the Black Cat. We found none at either Knook or Upton Scudamore. But Knook has a south door with a tympanum depicting swirling beasts intertwined; and Upton Scudamore has several crazy heads including a triple head arrangement each with manically gritted teeth. The church had been decorated for harvest festival, and someone had carefully suspended vegetables – peppers, parsnips and carrots – from the church gate’s metal arch. It was all quite crazy, very charming, and very much in the spirit of the harvest season of Alban Elfed.


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