Wonderous day with the Marshalls…….a stroll through the village to the Museum at the Royal Crescent (where Jane Austen didn’t stay as she despised Bath, and couldn’t afford it anyway. Big letdown for Noelene). The magnificent Roman Baths were remarkable. We have seen bath complexes across the nation, but nothing approaching the wonders of this unique site. Squeezed in a very quick look at the abbey-its beautiful stained glass windows and delicately carved ceiling vaults. A couple of pints and a delicious barbecue meal with Tracey, Chris, Leila and Ruth and our Bath-ing was over.
An early start to day two in Wiltshire sees us at Stonehenge, but discovering it is so much more than the circle of monoliths that my history books showed. There are scores of circular barrows (grave sites) dotted throughout the surrounding area, a long, narrow cirsus is carved into the landscape (archaeologists have little idea of what this was used for or represented). Receiving a million visitors annually, the state if the art Visitor Centre, is an excellent introduction to the site.
As the shadows lengthened, we visited the nearby Woodhenge which was excavated in the early 1900s, to reveal the remnants of timber poles arranged in concentric ovals and included burial sites. While scientists believe it was aligned to the sun in similarity to Stonehenge, a laminated sign stapled to a post on the site, indicates it is aligned to the moon and that only the archaeologists need convincing.
Old Sarum was an elevated site used by early Iron Age people as a fort, followed by Celts, Vikings and Saxons before the Normans took control. It was the venue where the barons of Britain were required to swear their allegiance to William I. Over time it fell into disrepair and the stone was allowed to be harvested for other works. The adjacent cathedral commissioned by William I was struck by lightning soon after its completion and the damage repaired. When the fort was abandoned due to lack of water, the cathedral was relocated to Salisbury, where it claims to have the UK’s tallest spire.