Wiltshire Stories and Tips

North of Salisbury

Shrewton Photo, Wiltshire, England

Perfect weather for a short car tour of the region and starting from Stapleford we headed due North to the picturesque village of Shrewton. It’s a charming place to stroll around with it plethora of beautifully thatched cottages and the gently flowing River Till. We particularly like a thatched house, near to the river, which we christened the "pudding cottage" – I can’t find out anything else about it, but like most of the old cottages in this area it has been well preserved and its idiosyncratic elements are both interesting and fun.

Just down the road is the small prison cell, known as the "Blind House" (because there are no windows) was built around 1700. Its sole function was to securely accommodate prisoners overnight as they were transported from Devizes to the county gaol in Salisbury. Needless to say the responsible constable would have stayed at the local inn and imbibed of a few bevies! It is not in the original site as it was regularly being "nudged" by juggernauts as they negotiated the narrow roads, and so in the 1980s, the whole building was dismantled and rebuilt a little further from the road.

We headed north on the B3086 towards Larkhill and the village of Durrington. Durrington did nothing much for us and other than the medieval cross in the village centre and All Saints Church (partially built of flintstone), we found nothing to make us tarry.

Finally we motored southwards to Countess turning westwards to Woodhenge. This is a fascinating site to visit, not because of the historical remains but due to the stories behind it. It is one of the first archaeological sites to have been spotted from the air and soon after its discovery in 1925, it was surmised that this was a predecessor of the mighty Stonehenge. It is believed that it was a ritual temple and like its stone equivalent it was aligned to glorify the summer solstice. Nowadays concrete pillars mark the positions of the original wooden pillars, and a solitary marker in the centre of this acre site marks the burial of a three-year-old child who seems to have been buried here following an ancient sacrifice over four thousand years ago. Views from this site have probably remained remarkably unchanged over the years, and there are some superb unobstructed views across the Wiltshire countryside.

Whilst here, it is difficult not to ponder on how this building would have looked. Was it just a maze of wooden pillars or did they support a significant roof. Was it regularly used, or perhaps it was built for a significant event, and its vast pillars would signal the site for miles around. I don’t know, but a few moments' solitude here will enable the imagination to run rampant. Perhaps you’ll even smell the wood fires and feel the excitement as bodies crush together to participate in the pagan festivities. On a sunny day, this is a great place for a picnic.

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