It’s fairly amazing that 1 Million people visit Stonehenge every year, and after
spending just an hour or two, move on to the next destination without a thought.
Just down the road is the historic market town of Amesbury, who’s pleasures go largely
undiscovered by the visitors to Stonehenge and they don’t know what they are missing.
Mayor Andy organised a history trail for the town council, business leaders, Druid,
Archaeologists, historians and artists to experience Amesbury and see first hand
how many wonderful reasons there are for people to spend a day or two exploring there.
I never expected that the day would be this good or as interesting as it turned out
to be, a flavour of which is below:
We started the day with the Ancestor, and a talk by artists Andy and Michelle about
this statues unique history, constructionand place within modern Amesbury culture.
Andy and Michelle also talked about how he is constructed
Next we visited ‘Amesbury Abbey, now a wonderful English manor house accommodating
old people, it has a very rich history that starts in the Mesolithic and extends
right through history, being visited by the Anglo Saxon King Alfred and the Witan
who held council there on how to defeat the invading Danes.
The Abbey is set in beautiful grounds beside the river Avon, and also houses a surprise.
It has a memorial inside to the servicemen from Australia and Canada who served with
us during the second world war. Local Historian Tim Tatton Brown gave a fascinating
talk on the history, before we moved on to the Abbey church, with Saxon beginnings
and the oldest clock that I have ever seen within. Not to ignore the church organ
which dates from around 1770 ! The Abbey can be visited by prior arrangement only.
Tea on the lawn, pure bliss :-)
The clock predates the idea of having a clock face (circa 1500). The frame was made
by a blacksmith. Large wooden cylinders are turned by coiled rope on which hang simple
rocks...Sarcen rocks I wonder? Anyway, once the appointed interval has passed a lever
drops into a grove and this pulls on another rope which chimes the church bell. It
is thought that Queen Eleanor is buried in the church grounds, she is an ancestor
of our current queen.
Next we visited the Antrobus Arms Hotel, where the beatles stayed whilst filming
on Salisbury plain during 1965 and we met Peter Brown, the photographer who photographed
There are dozens of photo’s in the collection showing the Beatles as never seen before.
Staying at the Antrobus you can enjoy good food, comfortable surroundings and walk
in the footsteps of the fab four...sleep in the same bed? I didn’t ask!
The landlord laid out a wonderful buffet lunch which was 1st class and to be savoured
in the garden along with the perfect sunshine of the day.
Next we moved on to the George pub, which to my amazement houses an aircraft museum.
This was my favourite photo from the collection. Go see!
Now we approach the point where the battery in my camera started to fade. So I only
have a small video of the beginning of a flint napping demonstration by Phil Harding
(time team) and Chris Allen with finds from the latest ongoing dig at Vaspasians
Camp. This dig has placed Amesbury as England's 2nd oldest settlement / encampment
dating back 7000 years!
It is thought that a community of at least 100 people made camp here at a time when
there were only 20000 in the whole UK.
I very much enjoyed my discussion with Phil after his demonstration where we compared
the Mesolithic techniques to those of other periods.
It is heartening to see a town council, businesses and even Druids working together.
Amesbury is a fantastic place to visit and we have barely scratched the surface of
what is there to discover. Please go and see for yourselves when next you visit Stonehenge.
On to ‘The forge’ where Andy gave a demonstration of the ancient art of beating copper.
Frank gives a talk about Stonehenge from the spiritual perspective of Druids
Becky Rhind-Tutt Mayoress of Amesbury
Frank, Aes Dana Grove :Amesbury and Stonehenge Druids
With special thanks to Mayor Andy Rhind-Tutt for organising this day, inviting us
all, and supplying some of the photos shown here from after my camera died. photos