Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Journey to Avebury

Got a new toy a while ago, an old Canon EOS 350 DSLR and thought I'd take a trip down to 'the realm of the ancestors' Avebury and environs to try it out. Also bought a cheap remote for it and have been itching to try it f or night exposures.

Not had a fully functioning DSLR before, just a 'bridge' type camera but am enjoying coming to grips with the Canon. Quite pleased with some of the results, even the slightly out of focus shots (the AF didn't work so well in low light or darkness) have a certain something, well I think so.

It's quite unsettling the amount of sarcens that resemble faces or animals. Now I know our brains are hard wired to see faces and make sense of confusing patterns, but the wear and erosion patterns of some stones is quite uncanny. I tried to re-create that 'Children Of The Stones' (available for purchase in on site 'Henge Shop') vibe for a few pic's..
I didn't have a lot of time to shoot though, as the decision to travel  to the 'downs' was a spur of the moment one, so it was late afternoon when I arrived.

It really was tourist central today, and I often had to wait patiently to try and get the shot I wanted.
There was also a large 'new age' contingent in attendance. The (slightly annoying) sound of bad drumming could be heard all over the site from a couple of 'heads' ensconced outside The Red Lion pub.
Not quite sure why there were so many Druidy' types hanging around, may have been a pagan wedding I suppose. I'm not aware of any festivals around this time of year, though I'm no pagan, so may be wrong there. I tend to steer clear of the 'gatherings' that take over the site on certain dates. I've never worked out if the 'followers' actually believe what they practice, or is it just a struggle for an identity for those who don't feel like they fit in. I'm skeptical, just as I am of psychics or astrology, It may sound harsh, but I can't understand the religious mindset. As far as I can see, there is no place for it in the 'post science' rational society we live in. It doesn't mean I don't have a spiritual side, I find a great deal of peace and solace hiking and walking in beautiful places, I just prefer not to dress as an extra from Lord Of The Rings while I'm doing it.

Having said all that, I do love the mystery of a Prehistoric site. The fact that we'll never really know what went on here, or indeed why it was built in this particular spot I find satisfying. Archaeology gives us tantalising glimpses into our unknown prehistoric past, but ultimately the 'finds' from many cultures are little more than the picking over of very old bones, or more usually, their rubbish heaps. It's nice that in this day and age there are still questions that remain unanswered (and indeed with prehistory, will probably remain so). I find it staggering that were no more than 2800 generations (14000 years ago) from those first permanent settlers that came to our small bands of hunter gatherers. 2800 generations to go from a few wandering tribes using stone and wood hand tools to space travel, the computer age and the brink of our own destruction by our own selfish needs is quite an achievement.

The fact that Avebury appears to be part of a larger and older 'ritual landscape' has always puzzled me though. Why here rather than twenty miles up the road? And why the scale of the monuments? Avebury and it's environs dwarf our most popular world heritage site Stonehenge. Plus, the man hours to create the complex of Henges, Circles ,Burial Mounds and up the road Silbury Hill is mind boggling. Of course, these were all built at differing times spanning thousands of years, but for the area to be occupied in the same 'ritual' manner for this period of time means the land must have meant something significant to it's occupants.

As far as I'm aware, development of the ritual landscape started off with Windmill Hill Causewayed Enclosure. Current thinking sees Windmill Hill as a prehistoric meeting, feasting or trading place (I'm guessing for flint or livestock) not a defensive enclosure. Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson has come up with the hypothesis that the stone used in the circle represents  'the ancestors'. Whilst other monuments built of wood (Woodhege, Durrington Walls etc..) are the realm of the living. If this is the case, then Avebury must be one of the very few places in Britain to have a continuously lived in 'limnal' landscape.

Anyhooo, I'm no expert and I'm blathering, so I'll stop. Hope you enjoy the images.

Ditch, Bank and Standing Stone

Children Of The Stones I

Petrified Bunnies Anyone?

He's Looking At You Kid!

Children Of The Stones II

Snow White's Missing Dwarf

Petrified Horse Head

Silbury Hill and a flooded Swallow-Head Spring

'Umbrells near the hill'

Some 'heads' leave an offering at West Kennet Long Barrow

River Kennet In 'Spate'

Entrance to the tomb

Swallow Head Sunset

Magic Stars turned to stone

Godzookie Is After Me

Avebury Church

Light Trails I

Light Trails II

Headlight Illumination

Light Trails III

Light Trails IV

Beeches At Night

Spooky Hikers

The Avebury Night Bus

Orion From The Circle

Camels Head below Waden HIll

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