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Avebury, the Cove. Image credit Chris Brooks

It’s funny how, in the face of failure, some good can be salvaged. This is how my photograph of the Avebury Cove Stones came to be.

I had decided to get out to Avebury with the camera on Saturday evening to do a little bit of experimental photography as the sun set. I had just missed the long autumn shadows of the West Kennett Avenue by minutes so I stood atop of Waden Hill hoping for nature to give me gorgeous red clouds over Silbury. Again this was not to be, so after about an hour, I walked back to the car and drove into the Village and parked up.

Pondering what to do I decided to get some long exposure shots of the stone circles and use EX580 flash to give them some texture. The intention was to put the camera on its longest delay (10 seconds on the EOS7d) then run out over to the stones and flash them one at a time as I passed them during a 30 second exposure. The results were a mixed bag and I had trouble getting even exposures on the stones as I moved further away. There were also people wandering around the stone even though it was getting quite dark (I think they were just wondering what I was up too!).

After a while I had enough and was thinking of packing away, but then noticed the glow of the moon on the eastern horizon. I had always wanted to get a picture of the moon against the stones, so having had my 10-22mm lens on the camera I swopped to the 75-300mm. I moved as far back as possible (without falling into the Henge ditch) and aligned stones 4, 5 and 6 with the waning gibbous moon on the eastern horizon.

At full zoom the moon is quite large and the stones still fairly small. Even stopped down to f22 I would need a short exposure to prevent over exposure of the moon which would mean I probably would be able to set the flash off manually. The EOS7d and the EX580 flash can talk to each other remotely and my idea of getting around the expose problem would be to use the “timer delay/running up to the stones” method but to remotely set off the flash. OK in theory but I soon found out that the remote flash was only good for about 20m from the camera which wasn’t going to be close enough to the stones. The second idea was to use the headlights of passing cars to illuminate the stones but unfortunately this also illuminated the road signs and anything else in the picture. In the end I got a few good shots after messing around with film speed settings but nothing very spectacular.

I then thought about trying to get a picture of the Cove stones so ambled on over to the northeast quadrant. It was now very dark but the outside lights of the Red Lion pub gave me a little light. I set the camera on the tripod and, forgetting what the settings were set to, took a quick shot or two. I was quite amazed really as what I think is sodium lights gave the Cove a really nice yellow glow but with an eerie red glow to the sky. This gave me a few ideas which accumulated in the picture of the Cove which was achieved using the wide angle lens set at 10mm with a 10 second delay followed by a 2.5 second exposure. After starting the count down I run out over to the cove stones and set the flash off 2-3 times during the exposure period (at the same time keeping out of shot). The rest was done by the glow of the Red Lion exterior lighting and the light pollution of Swindon (and possibly Calne). No processing has taken place and the graininess is there because I had left the ISO speed at 6400 but I think this just adds to the final result.

For the anoraks the details of the shot are as follows.

File Name The Cove 098.CR2
Camera Model Canon EOS 7D
Shooting Date/Time 28/08/2010 21:45:43
Owner’s Name Chris Brooks
Shooting Mode Manual Exposure
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 2.5s
Av( Aperture Value ) f5.0
Metering Mode Spot Metering
ISO Speed 6400
Lens EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal Length 10.0mm
Original Image Size 5184×3456
Original Image Quality RAW
AF Mode Manual focusing
Flash Model Canon EX580 MKI
Flash Setting Full Power (Manual)

Chris Brooks

Next Summer, to mark the 200th anniversary of Constable’s arrival in Salisbury, the city’s museum will stage the Constable & Salisbury Exhibition which will see a multi-million pound collection brought together from both private owners and major art museums.

Of particular significance will be the opportunity to see one of his most famous works, his depiction of Stonehenge.

Constable visited Stonehenge in 1820 where he made a sketch that was eventually worked up into this famous watercolour for his last exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1836.

It carries the caption:

“The mysterious monument… standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of the past as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period’.

Cure this problem

Avebury Avenue. Summer Solstice Eve. Sunset by Jim Mitchell

The West Kennet Avenue at Avebury. Photo by Heritage Action member Jim Mitchell, one of the winners in this year’s National Trust competition for photographs of Avebury.

As the sun, so shy, speeds on to hide behind the western hills
I stand within this
Ancient circle with its rugged stones
Pointing to the sky
Like the digits on the clock of time –
The time that has refused to move,
As if the keeper of this heather hearth has gone to bed
Remembering not to lift
The fallen weights of Time and Space.

The first verse of one of Iolo Morgannwg’s poem, some would call him a fantasist who created an idea or vision of a Celtic Druidic order in the 18th century.  

His first meeting of the bards was on Primrose Hill in London, where he had erected twelve stones called the Great Circle and a central altar stone known as the Maen Llog, this was in 1792. It is said of Iolo that he constructed an “elaborate mystical philosophy which he claimed represented a direct continuation of ancient Druidic practice.  His use of laudanum may have contributed to this fabrication, though many of his writings  fall between a small truth and a large imaginative myth that he wrote!

In 1795, a gorsedd meeting took place at the Pontypridd Rocking Stone, near Eglwysilam in Glamorgan.  This was a huge slab of natural slate stone (the Maen Chwyf), and this stone became a meeting place, though the circles were yet to be put up.

The word gorsedd, which in Welsh means throne, but is also loosely used as a coming together of bards.  Julian Cope in his book The Modern Antiquarian says of this rocking stone ‘that it stands high on the ground overlooking the confluence of the two great sacred rivers Rhodda and Taff,’ and that this gorsedd stone must have had great significance in prehistoric times. The stone is surrounded by two circles   plus an avenue but the circles are   not prehistoric, and it now sits in a pleasant landscape next to a small cottage hospital.  Photographs can be seen here on the TMA site…

Article by Moss



Stonehenge in 1877

Beware of ruins; the heart is apt to make
Monstrous assumptions on the unburied past;
Though cleverly restored, the Tudor tower
Is spurious, the facade a fake

From Beware of Ruins by A D Hope

Our free monthly wallpaper has proved very popular for almost six years and you can view the latest (and all the previous ones) via the link on the left.

We thought it was time to feature Stonehenge once again as… fingers crossed… the twenty year long nightmare of actual and potential threats may soon be over!


Worcestershire today....

…… Sumer Is Icumen In!

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu.
Sing cuccu!

Awe bleteþ after lomb,
lhouþ after calue cu,
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ.
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes þu cuccu.
ne swik þu nauer nu!

Sing cuccu nu, Sing cuccu!
Sing cuccu, Sing cuccu nu!


 Menacuddle Holy Well, Cornwall. Image credit Goffik

Silbury and the Winterbourne at Avebury. Image credit Littlestone

Avebury, south-east quadrant. Image credit and © Littlestone


April 2023

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