|ounty of Southwest England.
Wiltshire County Council - North Wiltshire District Council - Salisbury District Council
|owns and cities
||Trowbridge (administrative headquarters), Salisbury, Wilton; Devizes;
||3,255 sq. km / 1,256 sq. miles
||424,600 (1997 est)
||Wiltshire is bounded on the north by Gloucestershire, and Swindon; on the
east by West Berkshire and Hampshire; on the south by Dorset; and on the west by Somerset,
Bath and North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.
Marlborough Downs; Savernake Forest; rivers Kennet, Wylye, Avons (Salisbury and Bristol) ;
Salisbury Plain (32km / 20 miles by 25 km / 16 miles, lying at about 120 m / 394 ft above
sea-level), a military training area used since Napoleonic times.
||Industries: brewing (Devizes); carpets and clothing (Bradford-on-Avon,
Trowbridge, Wilton); computing; electronics; engineering (Chippenham); pharmaceuticals;
plastics; quarrying (Portland stone); rubber (Bradford-upon-Avon, Melksham); tobacco
Agriculture: cereals (wheat); cattle; dairy-farming (condensed milk, cheese); pig and
||Christopher Wren, William Talbot, Isaac Pitman
famed for its spectacular medieval cathedral.
Shaftesbury where the much loved 'boy on bicycle Hovis advert' racing down the cobbled
Gold Hill was filmed.
And of course, Longleat to collect your 'I've seen the Lions at Longleat' sticker for your
(Marquess of Bath); Wilton House (Earl of Pembroke); Stourhead, with 18th-century gardens;
Neolithic Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, finest example of a
long barrow in Wiltshire, dating from the 3rd millennium BC; Stonehenge, Avebury, and
associated sites are a World Heritage site; Salisbury Cathedral, which has the tallest
spire in Britain (123 m / 404 ft)
Avebury is home to one of the greatest stone circles in the British Isles. Located in the midst of a rich prehistoric landscape, close to Silbury Hill and Stonehenge, Avebury is the largest known stone ring in the world and Older than the more famous Stonehenge.
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.
Inside the ditch, lies a grand circle of massive and irregular sarsen stones enclosing approximately 28 acres of
land, partially overlapped by the village. 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.
At the centre of the northern circle stood a trio of very large stones, two of which survive, called "the Cove." At the centre of the southern circle stood a tall stone over 20 feet in length called "the obelisk." It had already fallen when William Stukeley saw, and drew it, in the 18th century, and is now gone altogether (its site, as with the other missing stones at Avebury, is now marked by a concrete pillar).
There are probably hundreds of myths and legends about Stonehenge. Various people have attributed the building of this great megalith to the Danes, Romans, Saxons, Greeks, Atlanteans, Egyptians, Phoenicians Celts, King Aurelius Ambrosious, Merlin, and even Aliens.
One of the most popular beliefs was that Stonehenge was built by the Druids. These high priests of the Celts, constructed it for sacrificial ceremonies.
Researchers have proven this age-old theory linking Stonehenge's construction to the Druids impossible. Through modern radio carbon dating techniques, scientists have discovered that its builders completed Stonehenge over a thousand years before the Celts ever inhabited this region, eliminating Druids from the possibilities. Usually Druids worshipped in marshes and forests, but it has been verified that they did use Stonehenge occasionally as a temple of worship and sacrifice when they moved into the region. Today, for fear of its desecration, Stonehenge is usually shut off to public access on midsummer's eve.
Most scientists agree on the modern theory that three tribes built Stonehenge at three separate times. In approximately
2300 B.C., it is believe the first people to work on the site were Neolithic agrarians. They were one of the first semi-nomadic hunting and gathering groups with an agricultural economy and contained a strong reverence for circles and symmetry. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, grew wheat and mined flint.
Woodhenge is a Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age monument originally made up of a series of concentric circles of wooden poles within a circular bank and ditch. It is of similar size to Stonehenge and lies between Larkhill and Amesbury, about 2km (1.2miles) north east of the stone circle.
The site was first discovered in 1925 when rings of dark spots in a crop of wheat were noticed on aerial photographs. Excavation of the site then showed that the dark spots were holes for wooden posts.
The site originally consisted of 6 rings of wooden posts radiating out from a central point. They were enclosed within an earthen bank and ditch with a north east entrance as at Stonehenge.
It has conventionally been dated to about 2300-2000BC, making it contemporary with the building of the stone circle of Stonehenge. But excavations in the 1970s using new radio carbon dating techniques suggested that it could be more recent.