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Frank's travels around Britain.

Beachy head to Stonehenge.

If the weather is lovely, do what you fancy, let your head rule any sense you have & go for it. I got in a lodge around Avebury, I had a choice of what to do. See if the weather is worse tomorrow, and then I could get some menace into the henge photographs, with darker clouds. So its the south coast run first! If you just travel, its amazing where you can end up! I headed for the coast and travelled east. Fast roads, dull frontage & I end up at Beachy Head, the first dramatic chalk cliffs along the coast. Anyone visiting Beachy Head and the Village of East Dean will notice that the lovely flint cottages have very distinctive green doors and gutters. The Green, not to be mistaken with the National Trust Green, is the Estate colour of the Gilbert Family who have owned land and lived in this area of East Sussex since 1661. The Gilbert Estate comprises lands stretching from East Dean and Beachy head to Pevensey Castle and Pevensey marshes. History shows that the Gilbert and Cavendish (Duke of Devonshire) families were the proud owners and designers of Eastbourne, a town that was referred to as being built by Gentlemen for Gentlemen.

It was in this area I saw the Long Man of Wilmington, a figure carved out of the chalk hillside.

The following is quoted from a website: The Long Man of Wilmington, mysterious guardian of the South Downs, has baffled archaeologists and historians for hundreds of years.  Until recently the earliest record of Europe’s largest representation of the human form was in a drawing made by William Burrell when he visited Wilmington Priory, nestling under the steep slopes of Windover Hill, home of the 235 feet high Wilmington Giant.  In 1993, however, a new drawing of the Long Man was discovered, made by surveyor, John Rowley, in 1710.  The new drawing has confirmed some theories and dispelled others.  It suggests that the original figure was a shadow or indentation in the grass rather than a solid line; there were facial features that are no longer visible; the staffs being held were not a rake and a scythe as once described and the head was once a distinctive helmet shape, giving credence to the idea of the figure as a helmeted war-god.  Until the 19th century the Long Man was only visible in certain light conditions and after a light fall of snow, but in 1874, it was marked out in yellow bricks.  It is claimed that during this restoration, the feet were incorrectly positioned, but, despite popular local legend, there is no evidence, historical or archaeological, to suggest that prudish Victorians robbed the Giant of his manhood! In 1925, the site of the Long Man was given to the Sussex Archaeological Trust (now the Sussex Archaeological Society) by the Duke of Devonshire.  During World War II, the figure was painted green to prevent enemy aviators using it as a landmark.  In 1969, further restoration took place and the bricks were replaced with pre-cast concrete blocks that are now regularly painted to keep the Long Man visible from many miles away.  The terracettes, horizontal ripples in the turf, change constantly as the soil is rolled downhill by weathering and animal activity.  The lack of firm historical evidence still leaves many theories abounding about his history.  Many Sussex people are convinced that he is prehistoric, other believe that he is the work of an artistic monk from the nearby Priory between the 11th and 15th centuries.  Roman coins bearing a similar figure suggest that he belonged to the 4th century AD and there may be plausible parallels with a helmeted figure found on Anglo-Saxon ornaments.  Fertility symbol? Ancient Warrior? Early 18th century folly? We may never know.  Until such time as new evidence is unearthed, we shall have to content ourselves with the words of the Rev A. A Evans who said “The Giant keeps his secret and from his hillside flings out a perpetual challenge.” 

I was now a long way from the lodge at Durrington! On the road back, I decided that, as the area had not only henge's but more white horses, I'd try to pack in one day (didn't quite make it!) Stone henge, Avebury circle and all the White horses I could muster!

With its age is from around 3100BC. Stonehenge was constructed in three phases, It has been estimated that the three phases of the construction required more than thirty million hours of labour. Speculation on the reason it was built range from human sacrifice to astronomy. The day was beautiful & it looked far to good! I really wanted the ominous feeling you get as you circle the stones. The clouds were there but the aura you sense didn't show in the lovely pictures! Christopher Chippindale's “Stonehenge Complete” gives the derivation of Stonehenge as coming from the Old English words "stān" meaning "stone", and either "hencg" meaning "hinge" (because the stone lintels hinge on the upright stones) or "hen(c)en" meaning "gallows" or "instrument of torture". Stonehenge is a "henge monument" meaning that it consists of menhirs (large rocks) in a circular formation. Medieval gallows consisted of two uprights with a lintel joining them, resembling Stonehenge's trilithons, rather than looking like the inverted L-shape more familiar today.

Only about 25 miles away is an arguably better site in the Avebury circle, where a village lives amongst another ancient stones, argued to be the most impressive of all remaining prehistoric earthworks in Europe. Its approximate age is 2400BC, about 700 years after Stonehenge. That's like us thinking of 1300. that was the time of the hundred years war & the Black death. Would people in the local have any connection with Stonehenge? Did time move so slowly, unlike today where it changes daily. It is certainly easy to trick your mind into believing that their echo's and vibrations are still there, deep in the stones.

From a website: Similar to Stonehenge and many other megalithic monuments in the British Isles, Avebury is a composite construction that was added to and altered during several periods. As the site currently exists, the great circle consists of a grass-covered, chalk-stone bank that is 1,396 feet in diameter (427 meters) and 20 feet high (6 meters) with a deep inner ditch having four entrances at the cardinal compass points. Just inside the ditch, which was clearly not used for defensive purposes, lies a grand circle of massive and irregular sarsen stones enclosing approximately 28 acres of land. This circle, originally composed of at least 98 stones but now having only 27, itself encloses two smaller stone circles. The two inner circles were probably constructed first, around 2600 BC, while the large outer ring and earthwork dates from 2500 BC. The northern circle is 320 feet in diameter and originally had twenty-seven stones of which only four remain standing today; the southern circle is 340 feet across and once contained twenty-nine stones, of which only five remain standing.

On the way home, I tried to photograph some of the White horses in the area. None were as good as the one in Wiltshire near Calne & one was truly pathetic, but as it was on a map, I hunted & found it! Don't bother! The Marlborough, or Preshute horse lies in the grounds of Marlborough College and is the smallest known horse measuring just 61ft by 47ft. The horse was cut in 1804 by a party of boys from Mr. Greasley's academy. William Canning, a student at Mr Greasley's is said to have designed the horse, although there seems to be no real motive behind the making. To find it, I was in the collage grounds around the tennis courts! The other I found was better. The Pewsey horse was designed by George Marples - an authority in hill figures, and was cut by the Pewsey Fire Brigade in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of George VI. So this is like yesterday as far as chalk horses go! The horse is one of the smallest figures measuring 66ft by 45ft and is best viewed from the Pewsey to Amesbury A345 road.

Links for information on this page:


Beachy Head


The Long Man

Wiltshire's White Horses