Around Bath Ė Crop Circles and Extra-Fertile Sheep
Up early and off on a tour of the countryside around Bath.† First stop:
A pile of rocks in a field!
Thatís right, itís Stonehenge.† A many thousands of years old pile of rocks.† And itís in a field!† Ok, it actually was pretty neat, if only because itís so old and no one know what the hell itís there for.
A Bronze Age burial mound about 50 yards from Stonehenge.† The fields around the henge are littered with these things.† And this major road passes within about 100 yards of Stonehenge.† On a normal day traffic backs up for about 3 miles as people rubberneck on their way by.† Future plans include tunneling the road underneath the entire site.
But now we move on to an older and larger monument:
Avebury.† Itís like Stonehengeís bigger, older brother that no one talks about.† Itís a third of a mile across with a big ditch/hill around the outside, stones standing up around the outside circle, and two smaller circles inside.† Not to mention the 2 roads that intersect right in the middle of the circle and the small village built up at that intersection.
The ditch and burm around the circle.
One legend about Avebury is that it was designed to promote fertility.† Since these sheep actually live inside the circled they must be popping out baby sheep like thereís no tomorrow.† I found no evidence of this, however.
A small thatched-roof cottage in the village.† Sadly I saw little to no burnination.
The manor house in the village at Avebury, built several hundred years ago.
Silbury Hill from the window of the bus.† Another bronze age monument, thereís actually a pyramid carved out of the rock underneath the earth, but since itís chalk it would quickly erode away if not covered by dirt.
A white horse carved into the hillside.† Cut away the sod down to the chalk in the shape of a horse and there you go.† This one was first built in the 1700ís but there are several that date back a couple thousand years.
With all the old legends around here, Wiltshire County seems to be a popular place to make crop circles.† It really where the crop circle originated.† But now away from crop circles on to English countryside villages:
Lunch stop in the village of Lacock (pronounced Lay-cock).† Itís an odd village in that every building in it is owned by the National Trust, Englandís historical preservation society.† In order to live in one of the houses, you have to prove that your family once lived in the village.† Above is the George Inn, licensed to sell beer since the mid-1300ís.
Next stop: the village of Castle Coombe, once voted the most beautiful village of England.† It consists of all of 1 street.† All of the buildings are several hundred years old and the town was the set for the original Dr. Doolittle movie.
The manor house outside of Castle Coombe.† Now a luxury hotel.† A room here will run you at least $700 a night.
Back in Bath, our tour guide was kind enough to point out this castle up on the hill.† Named Sham Castle, it consists of exactly what you see there: a wall and two turrets.† Behind the wall: nothing but trees.† It was built merely as a showpiece; the British call it a Ďfolly.í† It was built only so some rich guy who had a house down in town could tell his guests to look at his castle upon the hill.† Silly rich people.
I had several hours before my train left so I caught some of cricket match.† I watched for an hour and a half and after that I still had no idea what the hell was going on.† But I have now learned how it works, and actually quite enjoy the game.† Of course, an international match can last 5 days for 7 hours a day, so some time commitment is necessary.