Today was a day of ancient ruins and small English cottages. We trundled over the landscape, a green rolling sanctuary, to look into the past at not only historically English people, but also at some of the first human settlers of the country. We were able to look out over valleys and gaze into buildings centuries old. We saw two ancient sites and a town in which modern movies and television shows have been filmed. It was a jump from the ancients, to the modern, in an interesting trip through time.
Our tour was provided by a company named Mad Max. It was named after its founder, Madeline and her dog Max. Madeline (or Maddie) was an entrepreneurial woman who started the tour service completely on her own. She began with one bus, while doing all the booking and paperwork. Now Mad Max is a lively tour service which she still oversees. We were picked up around eight o’ clock and began our tour. Our first destination was an ancient pyramid named Silbury Hill.
Silbury Hill is a massive chalk pyramid, covered in earth. It stands about as tall the contemporary pyramids in Egypt. Upon its original inspection, nothing was found in or underneath it. The hill seemed to have served no outwardly obvious purpose. It was assumed that it was important in and of itself, but did not act as a tomb or any such similar burial site. This mysterious place also happens to be covered in earth. Interestingly enough, archaeologists and historians have no idea why this is the case. It seems as if the natives simply built the pyramid and immediately covered it up. Much like the other sites we were to see, there seemed to be some ancient idea or purpose which we are simply unable to fully grasp. Our understanding is unfortunately very limited, and will continue to be.
After some cramped roads and bumpy driving we arrived in Avebury. This town was build smack in the center of a large, ancient, stone monument. This is the largest stone circle in Europe and boasts a assortment of massive rocks, pushed up on their ends to create a looming wall of grey monoliths. Unfortunately, some of these stones were used to make walls, parts of houses, and streets in the town. Most of the houses were later purchased and broken apart to try and restore the bits of stone to their rightful place in the ancient creation. One of the most famous of these stones is the Devil’s seat. This rock has what appears to be, a small seat in it which demons were believed to sit.
After this, we stopped in the town called Lacock. It is a small village just Northeast of Bath. Nestled in the county of Wiltshire, it draws large groups of visitors due to its untouched nature. The town looks exactly as it would have in the 18th century. Because of this, it has been used in several major film productions such as Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, and, Downton Abbey. This little village relied heavily on the wool industry in the Medieval ages and suffered greatly when wool became less prominent in the economy of the time. The resulting economic downturn was a major reason that this town never progressed far after the 18th century. Lacock is a quaint place was full of thatched roofs and charming places to eat. Bursting with history and culture, Lacock was a beautiful place to visit and will remain one of my personal favorite locations from this trip.
Our final location was the legendary Stonehenge. This ancient stone structure defied the wear of time to stand proud as a testament of human ingenuity. This place is thought to have been created around 3000-2000 BCE. The immense stone rocks are thought to have been dragged on massive wooden floats for many miles in order to be placed where they stand today. What was this monument designed for? No one seems to know for sure. The current thought was that it was originally used for a graveyard, but later became something else entirely. It is theorized that it had something to do with both the summer and winter solstices as it lines up with the sun at these times. There was once again a notion of something greater here. I felt a definite lack of knowledge, as if something much more was meant for this place, lying just outside of our understanding. It was a wonderful opportunity for our group.
Getting to see ancient ruins and the town of Lacock was a great experience. It was an awesome way to end our second week in England!