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CHAPTER I. Origin and Progress of Idolatry ……. 1
CHAPTER II. On Barrows ……. 9
CHAPTER III. Origin and Extent of Druidism ……. 16
CHAPTER IV. Silbury Hill …….. 30
CHAPTER V. On the Serpent at Abury ……. 43
CHAPTER VI. The Temples at Abury …….. 55
CHAPTER VII. Temples at Abury continued—Grand Astronomical Diagram ……. 66
CHAPTER VIII. Temples of Mercury and Venus ……. 73
CHAPTER IX. Ancient British Trackway … 83
CHAPTER X. St. Ann’s Hill—Remarks on the Feudal System …. 91
CHAPTER XI. Temples of Mars and Jupiter ……. 102
CHAPTER XII. Stonehenge ……. 110
CHAPTER XIII. Names of Stonehenge …….. 115
CHAPTER XIV. Stonehenge continued ……. 126
CHAPTER XV. On the Fosse of Stonehenge, and the Stones located on it ……. 133
CHAPTER XVI. Stonehenge the conjoint Temple of Saturn and the Sun …….. 150
CHAPTER XVII. Temple of Saturn continued ……. 164
CHAPTER XVIII. The Platonic Cycle ……. 177
CHAPTER XIX. Summary of the foregoing Arguments, and Conclusion ……. 184

THE DRUIDICAL TEMPLES OF WILTSHIRE by the Rev. E Duke. Thanks to Chance on The Modern Antiquarian for bringing this to our attention.

Presenting the results of recent work on the archaeology and historic buildings of the North York Moors National Park. Held at Helmsley Arts Centre, YO62  5DW.
Orgnised by Graham Lee, Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer Web

© Jim Mitchell, Heritage Action

The Public Inquiry into the proposed closure of roads and byways around Stonehenge has just ended and a decision is likely by December. There were some perfectly understandable concerns expressed but John Hobson on behalf of English Heritage summed the situation up rather well: “It is accepted it will result in a loss of amenity for those who will no longer be able to ride or drive a motor vehicle on byways through the World Heritage site. However, this loss is to be balanced against the enhancement of the experience of a much greater number of people who will benefit from the removal of motorised vehicles.”

Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon objects to the proposals on the grounds they are a violation of his human rights to be able to access the area, particularly during Pagan ceremonies such as the solstices and equinox. However closing a road isn’t denying access so it seems unlikely he will succeed on that point. In his closing submission he said: “We have fought long and hard for what little rights we have in and around Stonehenge and we will not give them up lightly”. In fairness though there are many pagan groups and most of them are in favour of these closures. Also, no-one has secured “rights” in relation to Stonehenge, only some temporary “permissions”.

It seems highly likely those permissions will continue at solstices whatever the impending changes, but no-one seems to know. We’ve been asking about fences for more than a year …


and here

and here

and here

The fences – whether there will be any and where – are crucial to what happens at solstice. Does Arthur know what has been decided? Perhaps he thinks there will still be a free-for-all inside the stones. We hope there won’t. The impending changes are the time to start changing all that are they not? Keeping people off the stones is the number one priority and duty, the rest will become easier as EH revamp the site. Without the fence (for instance) a separate focus could be set up where the car park is now, not a party area, but maybe a “music & performance area”, a place where drummers and jugglers could go. Something – anything –  to drag the overall centre away from the stones. With the fence at present, people are effectively forced into crowding round – and onto the stones. No-one can seriously claim that’s a good thing or a right and in our opinion the sooner it is consigned to history the better.

Four to five thousand years ago, a wealthy teenage girl was laid to rest in a grave at what archaeologists believe is a newly found henge in Kent, England.

The discovery of the 17-year-old’s grave — along with a unique prehistoric pot inside of a ringed ditch near two other women — strengthens the idea that important death-related rituals took place at Stonehenge and many of these mysterious ancient monuments when they were first erected.

Read on…

Tomnaverie Stone Circle, Aberdeenshire by Nicki MacRae
© Nicky MacRae

Artist Nicki MacRae has just launched her 2012 Ancient Places calendar which celebrates the last 18 months of her travels visiting and painting the stone circles, standing stones and other prehistoric remains of the UK. Each calendar contains 15 glossy full colour images showing a selection of sites in Wiltshire, Argyll, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Mull and the Highlands.

Further details here

Marvellous, mysterious, mundane – how the past’s silent witnesses speak to us

Prehistory is defined as ‘before writing’. It’s before documentary sources began being created to give an arguably realistic impression of what life was like, or the significant tales (imagined and actual) were recorded and retold for posterity. The word ‘prehistoric’ may evoke impressions of dinosaurs stomping around the land, but in this specific context, it relates to people’s interaction with the landscape, and the development of tools for hunting, and changing the environment for desired living conditions.

In the endless pursuit of energy  a new form of deep drilling to release oil and gas from the subterranean depths of the earth is being used.  It looks dangerous, it’s controversial and what’s more it pollutes water and soil should the chemicals escape.  This technique has been used in the USA with very mixed reactions; that we now find companies in this country testing our land for natural gas should lead to a very deep-seated concern.  That these companies want to drill in the beautiful landscape of the Mendips should send a shudder through any soul.  Wookey Hole with its subterranean river Axe running through the caves, the reservoirs that provide water for Bristol and also the famous Bath Spa hot waters, all come under threat should there be leakage of the chemicals.
The Mendips are an  archaeological and ecological rich area, early evidence of occupation in the caves and gorges can still be found in the landscape, long barrows and Bronze Age barrows can be found dotted all over the landscape.  Fracking is controversial and there have been  worries over what is happening at the first site in England using this method of gas drilling outside Blackpool. 
It has been accused of causing earthquakes, explosions, pollution, and even making tap water flammable.  Now the controversial gas extraction process known as ‘fracking’ could be coming to the Mendip Hills.  An oil and gas exploration company says there are significant reserves of natural shale gas under the Mendips…
The process involves drilling a well then pumping in millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure. The pressure fractures underground shale deposits and opens fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. For each frack, 80-300 tonnes of chemicals may be used, critics claim.
The natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds such as toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and benzene, the latter of which is a strong carcinogen.
A guest article by David Aspinall. The views expressed are those of the author not of Heritage Action, its individual members or others outside Heritage Action, some of whom remain unconvinced of Mr Aspinall’s claims. The area in question however is poorly investigated and further study may substantiate Mr Aspinall’s findings. Text and images © David Aspinall.

The area of Britain named the North Pennines is now tranquil but has been very busy in the past. Although lead was the main product, other ores have been exploited and most of the seams are recorded. The Rev. Michael Taylor, of Penrith, came into the possession of a broken two-piece stone mould in 1883. He elaborately reconstructed it and described how the removable core, for the leaf-shaped spearhead, dated to the Late Bronze Age, was made and used. Croglin, where the mould was found, is on the western margin of the North Pennines, five miles north of Long Meg and her Sisters, and just three miles west of the Bold Venture copper mine, which is believed to have worked out in the 1920s.
The mineshaft enters a steep riverside bank beside where two brooks converge. The spoil has, presumably, just been tipped into the river, and has now mainly gone, but the remnant of a burial cist is just forty yards from the entrance. There’s no lid or cairn left but similar intact cairns and mounds have survive. The mineshaft enters a steep riverside bank beside where two brooks converge. The spoil has, presumably, just been tipped into the river, and has now mainly gone, but the remnant of a burial cist is just forty yards from the entrance. There’s no lid or cairn left but similar intact cairns and mounds have survived, in the pastures above, and these are unexplored. A short distance upstream from the mine are the foundations of a hut or shelter beside a bed of slag. The river spates have removed the lighter fractions of material from this spoil heap and there’s no identifiable crucible fragments or charcoal. An ancient track to Croglin used to bridge the river here and the nearest hamlet is called Slaggyford. Two open copper working sites nearby are also known to geologists.
Even further upstream is a large dome-shaped stone cairn. The stones are weathered and the mound is overgrown with grass and lichen. Casual examination suggests that there may have been a passage into the mound from the north east and that this has been filled with rubble and topped by several hefty boulders. At the front of the cairn are the ruined foundations of a rectangular fold, with a doorway broad enough for sheep or young cattle. The cairn commands an impressive panorama of the valley, with a distant view to the Cheviots. Behind the mound is a long tapering ‘tail’ of stone, perhaps seventy yards long. Some stone has been taken from this to build a recent sheepfold nearby and the small quarry pits show as pale areas in the grey lichen-covered stones.
The tail of the cairn is shaped like a spearhead and points upward, into the hillside. A few hundred yards behind it there’s a drystone construction built into an outcrop of free stone. A simple rectangular enclosure, about three yards by two, is butted into the hill and is fronted by a now-decrepit concave wall. There’s a flat area before it with enough space for a couple of people to sit or stand. Looking down the hill, the eye is drawn over the tail and the cairn itself to the horizon and a low round hill. This is the alignment of the southernmost moonrise and, perhaps, the shadow from the cairn in moonlight, is designed to fall over the cairn tail. Perhaps the large boulders that now top the cairn trimmed its outline for a closer fit, of the shadow to the tail. It has simply never been tested.
There are other large cairns in the area. One is a sausage-shaped mound of collected stones ninety to a hundred yards long which appears to be completely undisturbed. It has a distinctive limpet-shaped satellite cairn not far away. Another long cairn overlooked the valley and was crushed to make a moorland road a few years ago. This new road, the first of three, is about a kilometre long and was built without planning consent in a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the Area Of Natural Beauty. On the hillside below this lost monument, near a stream called the Hut Burn, are the remains of a roundhouse. The low ruined wall, with a diameter of about five yards, has some of the wall plates in place and has been protected by the incursion of bracken. The entrance doorway faces the southeast.
Almost impossibly a pair of drystone cairns, each just a couple of paces in diameter, have survived. They have a domed profile and casual excavation shows that they are seated deep into the peat. They would have been prominent from below and perhaps were intended to frame the setting sun or moon from a site that has now been lost. Sandwiched in the peat, on the southern slope of the Knar valley, is a profusion of bog oak pieces. Most are the roots and knotty parts of Scotch pine and they usually have the mark of a cutting tool at both ends. They may be scraps left over from the extraction of roundwood – a single complete piece of bog oak four foot long has been recorded and it is of interest that firewood is still sold in four foot lengths in the US.
The main South Tyne river valley held substantial monuments at several sites. Within living memory is the practise of decorating north-facing fieldwalls with an ochre wash – several examples survive – and an old railway bridge has also been decorated in just the same way. The Kirkhaugh gold ornament was excavated from a hillside cairn in 1935 and in the riverine meadow, below these cairns, are substantial heaps of jumbled stones. Some show signs of being alternately burned and chilled by water, to break them, but a large section of a double stone circle has been positively identified. The low stones that remain in the Kirkhaugh true stone circle are all prone with many partially or entirely covered by turf. Near the centre of the circle is a rectangular feature directed toward the northernmost moonrise. Three sides of the rectangle survive, perhaps twenty or thirty yards in length and four or five wide. Little stones have been set into a narrow bank, which appears to have at least one formal entrance, and there is also a hint of an external ditch. The double stone circle, with an approximate diameter of seventy to eighty yards appears to have had an entrance portal, formed by four stones. It may be only be recognised from the railway embankment.
A little stone circle was known at Featherstone, several miles to the north, and the circle, which comprised of eight low stones is shown on old large scale OS maps. This circle was uprooted in the nineteen eighties and the stones have been unceremoniously dumped beside a ditch. This destruction has continued until almost the present day. Another site, overlooked by a spectacular hill, has remnants both of what are probably stone rows and a Roman marching camp. One row can be identified, though the stones, again, are all prone. It has an elongated Z- shape and has a very eroded cup and ring stone amongst its debris. Stones lie all about this site which leads to a prominent hill the shape and size of Newbrough. The local tradition is that this big mound, named Amos Hill, is a barrow. From the footpath above it’s easy to surmise a stone facing to the round hill and it’s still possible to identify a putative southern oriented entrance. This well-placed mound has never been investigated in any way, of course.
Amos Hill long barrow
The area has many simple cupmarked stones as well as standing stones of all sizes. One standing stone, that is very eroded, has an entire face pecked out in micro-cups. It does seem that the Upper South Tyne valley was at its peak in the prehistoric era and that the Industrial Age just saw a temporary reprieve. The farmers and gamekeepers that work every day in this landscape protect it fiercely and actively discourage visitors with hostile behaviour, misleading directions and plain obfuscations. Consequently the rich history of the first metalworkers here is both undisturbed and unexplored. All of the moorland is managed with Right To Roam access and this is unlimited except for a couple of fields where there is the restriction that dogs must be kept on a lead. Farmers are very used to visitors travelling up and down the main valley, following the Pennine Way originally, and the South Tyne Trail, subsequently. It is very rare that tourists step off this beaten track but that is the only way they can find the many prehistoric monuments that remain here.


October 2011

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