Wiltshire is not completely new to us, like Kent was last year. It’s a bit closer to Portsmouth and as such, we’ve visited some sites and places before. However there are still plenty of places we want to explore so we’re excited to get out and about.
First on the list is Woodhenge. Not far from Stonehenge, it was once a circular structure made of wood, remnants of which have been found and preserved since. It’s Friday night after work, and we park up in a little spot which is apparently on Park4Night as an overnight stop but it seems very small to us. Walking around the site, it is interesting to be in an area so full of truly ancient history. The Woodhenge circle is now formed of cement casings, presumable to cover and preserve the wood, or perhaps simply to indicate where the wood once was. As the park up is a bit tiny, we decide to move on to the Drove to stay overnight with views of Stonehenge. A stay on the Drove has been on my list for many years and I’m over the moon that we’ve finally stayed there.
Our next visit is to Avebury, where no less than 5 neolithic sites can be found within walking distance. There is only 1 carpark and it’s National Trust (£7 for non-members to park for the day).
We start with a visit to the visitor centre and museum. We skip the house as we have Luna with us. After some coffee and cake, we start our walk around the Avebury Stones; a neolithic stone circle where you can still get up close to the rocks (unlike Stonehenge). We see some people really getting into the stones, stopping and extensively touching each one. We decide to try it to see if there is some magic we don’t know about, but we get nothing so we carry on with our walk.
As we’re here, we decide to try to find all the ancient sites in the area. Next is the West Kennett Long Barrow. This ancient burial mount, or dolmen, is open and you can walk in to see the different burial chambers. It’s similar to the Dolmen of Antequerra, but much better in my opinion.
Nearby is Silbury Hill, a man-made hill which may have been used for ceremonial purposes and the Sanctuary, near the start of the Ridgeway. The Sanctuary is a bit like Woodhenge; a circle of wooden pillars. And finally there is Windmill Hill, probably the most obscure of the 5 ancient sites. This is more of a landscape feature these days; grassy mounds in circles carved out of the landscape.
It takes quite a bit of imagination to really envisage life at these sites thousands of years ago, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The Longbarrow is not to be missed and the Avebury stones are definitely worth a visit.
Finally, we visit some more recent history in Wiltshire in Lacock. This village is one a of a few in the area that are so very well preserved through history, providing a backdrop to many a period drama and even Harry Potter! Another National Trust site, we visit Lacock Abbey which was turned into a house after the Dissolution of the monasteries in Tudor times. The village is very, very pretty and during our visit there is lots going on with Morris Dancers performing and a scare-crow trail for the children.
There is a Camping & Caravanning Club DA meet near Lacock and we decide to stay there for £10 per night. What a great way to camp. Facilities are limited to fresh water and a CDP dump but that’s fine with us. Our neighbours are some inquisitive cows on one side and other campers on the other. It’s a nice, quiet spot good for chilling out before heading back to work tomorrow.