Last October, The Englishman and Mr. Free Market had planned a joint visit to the U.S., but only Mr. Free Market made it over The Pond. The Englishman’s excuse for not making it was that he was going to be looking in a hole in the ground. (Mr. FM’s acid comment: “Nothing wrong with looking at holes in the ground, as long as there are dead Socialists at the bottom.”)
Well, this is the hole that The Englishman was talking about:
…and he took me there earlier today, after a liquid lunch [he added unnecessarily]. Here are my pics, taken at ground level:
The trapezoidal outline is the “inner wall” that was probably the outer wall of the barrow — basically, a wooden structure covered with earth and turf, wherein, the newspaper article runs, the dead were buried.
Here are a couple pics of some of the people excavating the site:
Actually, as The Englishman pointed out to me, the “burial ground” thing could be a load of nonsense, for the simple reason that as of today, no human remains have yet been found. The structure could equally have been a communal living area or shelter — but as the digging progresses, there may well be prehistoric bodies discovered further down.
It makes sense that it’s a burial site, by the way; in Neolithic times, dwellings were generally placed closer to rivers or lakes, and this barrow is at least a quarter-mile up from the nearest stream. Also, the dirt mound which surrounded the barrow had the trench on the inside, and not the outside (which would have made it a defensive fortification around the barrow).
I have to say that generally speaking, this kind of stuff holds absolutely no interest for me whatsoever. I like history (i.e. written accounts of events and people) and not prehistory (which has no such accounts). The problem is that I love listening to experts talk about their area of expertise — it can be a glassblower, a gunmaker, a liquor distiller or someone who’s spent forty years studying Shakespeare’s sonnets — and along with The Englishman, who is very knowledgeable about all this prehistory stuff, I also met Jim Leary and Amanda Clarke (see the article) who are heading up both this dig and a nearby one (which we visited too). It’s impossible not to be excited when people like these talk about finds they’ve made which could completely change our understanding of this hitherto-unknown time.
Of course, all this was made still more enthralling for me when we passed this building on the way home — a Saxon church built around the time of Alfred The Great:
It’s long since been converted into a house, and I just hope that the owners appreciate its heritage.
And on the right is The Englishman’s Land Rover Defender (full pic below):
Of course, we’re not allowed to own such exquisite vehicles because of OSHA (no “side-protection”, or some such nanny-state bollocks), but don’t get me started on that tangent.
As with so many days I’ve spent here, it was perfect — and I’m going to do it again, somewhere else.
Oh, and of course, I’ve been remiss in not showing the place from which we started off the day’s activities, The King’s Arms in the village of All Cannings:
This is an historic site for me, because it’s where I was first introduced to Wadworth’s 6X Ale.