Mystic Sites in Wiltshire

Wonderful Wiltshire - The County of Mystery and Ancient History

The landlocked county of Wiltshire in South West England is rather special. It has the typical idyllic green and pleasant land sprinkled with charming villages that we associate with most of England, but in Wiltshire there’s another dimension to the landscape. It’s a place of prehistoric stone circles and hidden burial chambers – where myth and history intertwine and ancient rituals rule.

Most of Wiltshire’s mystic sites are on, or around, Salisbury Plain – a sparsely populated expanse of chalk grassland (the largest of its kind in northwest Europe stretching 300 square miles). The Plain is home to more than 450 monuments, including the ritual landscapes of Avebury and Stonehenge.

Perhaps it is no co-incidence that more crop circles are spotted on the inscrutable Salisbury Plain than anywhere else in Britain, and the area is a magnet for ley-line trackers and passionate UFO hunters.

Paradoxically this sacred landscape is also largely occupied by the British Army, who started establishing garrisons there in 1897. Thousands of hectares of the Plain are used for live firing and impact areas, and you’re as likely to stumble across a shell casing there as you are a prehistoric standing stone.

Brades Acre Camping and Touring site is situated in the heart of Salisbury Plain and is the perfect place to stay while you explore the mystic sites of Wiltshire.

Exploring Megaliths and Mounds

The Enigma of Stonehenge

The chief among Wiltshire’s renowned mystic sites is Stonehenge, so – predictable as it may be – that’s where we’ll start our exploration.

It’s a safe bet that you’ve already heard about this iconic prehistoric stone circle, which is a World Heritage Site, reputedly built around 5,000 years ago in the late Neolithic period. No-one is sure what it was built for or how it was built, though theories and speculation abound and archaeological investigation keeps coming up with new hypotheses.

Was Stonehenge an astronomical observatory as many believe? Or a Druidic temple, a place to gather to honour the dead, an alien landing site – perhaps a gateway to another time or realm?

It’s the not knowing that makes Stonehenge such an enticing enigma, and there’s no denying the fact that when you stand before those megalithic stones rearing up from the flat, grassy plain you’ll feel goosebumps and a shiver down your spine.

The best time to experience the magic and mystery of Stonehenge (which is managed by English Heritage) is on two special days (or rather nights) of the year, when joyous celebrations take place to mark the Summer Solstice (20th/21st June) and the Winter Solstice (21st/22nd December) on the site.

There seems to be little doubt that the monument was built in alignment with the sun rising behind the “Heel Stone” in the north-east on the summer solstice, and the setting of the sun to the south west on the winter solstice.

If you’re a sun-worshipper, these events are not to be missed! Thousands gather to witness the awesome spectacle of the sun rising or setting, in an atmosphere redolent with spiritual peace and harmony.

There is so much to see and do, you’ll never be stuck for ideas.

Avebury – The Stone Circle Around a Haunted Village Pub

Surprisingly the prehistoric site of Avebury, which contains the largest megalithic stone circle in the world, is less well-known than Stonehenge, even though it is equally as fascinating and mysterious and – uniquely – has a relatively modern-day village running through its heart.

In fact, the picturesque thatch-roofed Red Lion pub at Avebury sits right in the middle of the rather complex ancient site, and has developed its own mysterious reputation for being one of the most haunted pubs in Britain.

The pub is not haunted by Neolithic apparitions, though – its ghosts take the form of a coach and horses clattering on the forecourt at midnight, and a bereaved 17th century woman called Florrie whose husband killed her and her lover and threw her down the well. That well, which it is said her phantom has been seen climbing in and out of, is now incorporated as a glassed-over feature table in the pub itself – an interesting place to enjoy a pint after you’ve explored the area.

Let’s return to the prehistoric site itself. Unlike Stonehenge Avebury’s stones are not arranged in a single ring, but form a series of avenues that wind through the village and surrounding countryside.

Walking amongst grassy lanes feels like stepping into a forgotten world, where nature and the spirits of the ancestors seem to intermingle. It’s little wonder that Avebury has been adopted as a sacred site by groups like Pagans, Druids, Wiccans and New Agers, who often hold rites and perform ceremonies at the site.

Avebury’s stones were placed over a long period of time, likely from around 2600 BC. Once, it is believed, there were about 600 stones, although only around 76 still survive today, some of them partially buried. You can walk around and touch the stones, and there’s no entry fee to explore the site.

The Massive Man-Made Mound of Silbury Hill

Just a stone’s throw from Avebury lies another of Wiltshire’s landmarks – this one even more of a mystery than the stone circles.

Silbury Hill is a man-made chalk flat-topped solid mound covering around 5 acres at its base, and standing 40 metres (130 ft) tall. It equates to the volume of the Egyptian Giza pyramids, and pre-dates them. Several archaeologists and antiquarians have investigated and determined it was built in stages from around 2400 BC, by those same Neolithic and Bronze Age people who built the circles.

What no-one can fathom is why on earth they went to the trouble of labouring for what has been calculated to be around 18-million man-hours to construct this solid mound with no discernible purpose.

We’ll probably never know what Silbury Hill was for, but it does make for some very interesting speculation, and if you’re on the trail of esoteric Wiltshire attractions it’s a great place to visit.

There’s another mound in the vicinity worth seeing, and this time there’s no doubt as to its purpose. The West Kennet Long Barrow served as a tomb for around 1,000 years from around 3650 BC. The ancient human remains unearthed from the barrow have been removed, so you can safely venture inside the excavated passage and burial chambers.

You’ll need to walk across the fields on a footpath to find the barrow, giving you the chance to mentally commune with those who went before millennia ago, as you approach the irregular stone entrance.

Let us take the stress out of your camping holiday.

The Mystical Tapestry of Wiltshire

Wiltshire’s mystical tapestry extends beyond the well-known landmarks we’ve mentioned. Hidden amongst the rolling hills and ancient woodlands lie lesser-known sites that offer their own unique charm and intrigue.

For example, the Long Stone, a solitary monolith rising from the Salisbury Plain, is said to hold healing powers. The Sanctuary Circle, near Avebury, is a place for modern-day spiritual seekers to gather. Or take a walk along the Wansdyke earthwork, known as the Earth Dragon’s Spine, the origins of which are shrouded in legends of giants.

Wiltshire is a place where the past is ever-present, where the whispers of ancient mysteries mingle with the scent of wild thyme and the song of skylarks. It is a land that invites exploration, not just of physical landmarks, but also of the inner landscape, of the connection between ourselves and the natural world. Whether you’re drawn by the enigma of Stonehenge, the serenity of Avebury, or the pull of the unknown that emanates from Silbury Hill, Wiltshire promises an experience that will stay with you long after you leave its mystical embrace.

So, pack your sense of adventure and a thirst for the extraordinary, and prepare to be spellbound by the magic of Wiltshire.

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