Archaeology

Stonehenge and Avebury: An Avebury landowner avows to protect the stones

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre @HeritageWSHC on Twitter 150819

A recent tweet/FB/Instagram by Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre reminded me of this article (2013 The Heritage Journal), featuring the redoubtable George Brown of Avebury. Shared here as I get stuck into thinking about research for the #RidgewayHistoryTrail.

https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/stonehenge-and-avebury-an-avebury-landowner-avows-to-protect-the-stones

I have purchased an excellent and indispensible book Walking the Ridgeway, by Steve Davison which suggests an alternative start from the centre of Avebury village; and describes the official start at Overton Hill as ‘not very inspiring’. Each to their own. I have to admit that up to a few years ago, I would have agreed; at the Sanctuary – concrete posts – what’s that all about? So disappointed visiting as a child after watching Children of the Stones and hearing about the Avenue and Sanctuary. However, I’ve been fortunate enough to find out what it is really all about, thanks in part to the helpful information boards installed at the site. As a total fan of Trowel Blazer, Maud Cunnington, I find much to inspire me there; so much, that I’m finding it difficult to move away and start the journey exploring the stretch of the Ridgeway Path as it travels away from Overton Hill. Maud will be much on my mind as we journey past Aldbourne, and towards Foxhill.

http://www.steve-davison.co.uk/ridgeway.html https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway https://www.ridgewayfriends.org.uk

Maud Cunninton Digging Women of Power. Cartoon by Gabe Moshenska
https://trowelblazers.com/maud-cunnington
See also: J. Roberts, “‘That Terrible Woman’: The Life, Work and Legacy of Maud Cunnington” Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine (2002): 46-62. and
M. Pitts 2001. Hengeworld. London: Arrow.

Marcus Rouse

During the Festival of Archaeology it was my privilege to share memories about two of our village #HumansOfArchaeology, Andrew Sewell and Howard Gibbs.  Today seems an appropriate day to recall another gentleman in the village, who many will remember, and whose inexhaustible ingenuity supported many projects:  Marcus Rouse.

In the very earliest days of the ‘Aldbourne Archive’, Marcus was kind enough to offer much advice on photographing objects.  This included our original effort for 3D photography.  The Aldbourne Carnival Crown he made, commissioned by the Cheney family, was our very first project (2005).  Marcus explained the symbols in the metalwork.  Dabchicks, The Square, Bells, and the Cross on the Green, the coloured cord around the base of the metalwork represents the sallies or bell-ropes in the Church Tower.  Hours of fun with a turntable, DIY lighting and a VERY DIY background, and a PowerPoint followed.  I can remember long chats when we bumped into each other around the village, once Marcus was inspired by a project his enthusiasm knew no bounds! Much missed.

Marcus contributed a bell wheel for the exhibition in the Memorial Hall during the 2010 Festival.  He made a wooden cut-out of a bell, to show the relative size of bell and wheel.  He also brought along a bell clapper on wheels; so that small people could safely judge the weight.  As I said, a man of great ingenuity.

One of my prized possessions is an acrylic block shaped like a barn which Marcus presented as a memento of a barn dance celebrating my 40th. The year will remain a mystery!

For the first Aldbourne Festival in 1970, Marcus created a bell foundry on the Green.  There was a photograph of this in a fundraising calendar for 2001 and the Aldbourne Heritage Centre have one of his bells, and a model foundry, on display.  I hope to find time to search through pictures in the Aldbourne Photographic Club collection at the Heritage Centre to find a photo of the man himself.  There’s also a fleeting glimpse of the foundry in the film taken by Moya Dixon during the 1970 Festival

Moya Dixon (original cinefilm 1970. With thanks to Ron Morley and Sam Hutchings for their help digitising and publishing this lovely window on Aldbourne history.
Calendar (2001). One of several created by Maureen Albright as a fundraiser for St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne
Bell founded by Marcus Rouse at Aldbourne Heritage Centre
http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk

I’m putting together a collection of Dabchicks (if anyone has a spare number 39 – April 1997) that would be fab!  Today is an appropriate day to publish these reminiscences following this article by Marcus that I discovered whilst sorting through the collection.

Marcus Rouse Dabchick Magazine October 1996

Howard Gibbs Remembered

Howard Gibbs (1928 – 2010)
‘Aldbourne Archaeologist’, Howard’s interest in the distant past was kindled when he volunteered during excavations at Littlecote in the 1970s. I had many chats with Howard about his research, and the wonderful model of the villa he created (displayed in the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes). His poems always seemed to focus of the heart of our village, and the landscape in which we live. There is also one about a frog that went ‘a-wooing’ – not sure that it should be posted on-line – bit saucy! His archive (possibly including the saucy poem) is now deposited with Aldbourne Community Heritage Group – please contact the Curator for more information)

An obituary for Howard by Bryn Walters and Grahame Soffe can be found in the Association for Roman Archaeology Newsletter (Issue 23)

75th Anniversary of the Council for British Archaeology
ArchaeologyUK #FestivalOfArchaeology #humanofarchaeology

A Boxing Day Discovery

Andrew Sewell (1921 – 2005)
Remembering a gentleman with a life-long love of archaeology, a skill for field walking and a fascination with our village history. Author of many articles and letters, including ‘Aldbourne: the Present Past.’ The highlight of his endeavours being the discovery of the Aldbourne Hoard (now displayed in the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes)

75th Anniversary of the Council for British Archaeology
ArchaeologyUK #FestivalOfArchaeology #humanofarchaeology…

Aldbourne Archive

The Aldbourne Hoard.  Discovered on Boxing Day 1980.  Presented to the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in March 1982 by Mr C E Elliott-Cohen and Mr A Sewell.  On display in the Roman Gallery at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes.

A

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Exercise: Digging Band of Brothers

Visiting Aldbourne with local experts and members of the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group in January 2019.

UPDATE June 2019 – photos from the Dig by Harvey Mills, ARPS

75 years after the 506th PIR, 101st Division, including Easy Co, dropped into Normandy, a team of military veterans, service personnel and volunteers from Operation Nightingale/Breaking Ground Heritage are examining the sites where the soldiers lived here in Wiltshire. 

This exercise is already well underway, the team having already undertaken a careful scrutiny of the Heritage Environment Register (Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) and aerial photos at the Historic England archive; plus geophysics surveys in Ramsbury and Aldbourne. 

Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist at Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and his team would like to say a special ‘thank-you’ to Aldbourne Parish Council, landowners, local experts and the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group for their great support thus far on this project.

Operation Nightingale is an initiative from the MoD to help assist the recovery of injured soldiers by getting them involved in archaeological operations.

If you would like more information about Exercise: Digging Band of Brothers, Operation Nightingale/Breaking Ground Heritage or if you have village history to share about the American presence here in WW2 we’d love to hear from you.

Jo Hutchings aldbourne.archive@thedabchick.org.uk

Hungerford Virtual Museum

Pembroke Dabchick February 2016

Dabchick: January 2016 – read more about the Pembroke and Cox families at the Hungerford Virtual Museum

An early morning visit to the excellent Hungerford Virtual Museum, to re-visit connections to Aldbourne and in particular the War Memorial Hall.

So much of interest on the site, including the history of St Lawrence Church:

In Edward VI’s time the church had three bells and a sanctus bell, and this was the situation when the tower started to collapse in 1811.

As plans were made to re-build the tower, an order for a peal of five bells was made to James Wells in the nearby village of Aldbourne. This small village produced two notable dynasties of bell-founders—the Corrs, who started in 1696, and the Wells.

They were asked to recast the four old bells into a new ring of six bells, with a tenor of 15cwt. Evidently the bell frame was not suitable for these, and required modification. The new bells were cast in 1816 and were hung in the new tower in two tiers. Mr Well’s estimate of 1812 and all fittings amounted to £251 0s 0d.

In Prehistoric Hungerford

Undy’s Farm in 1988-89 revealed what was possibly Berkshire’s only example of a Bronze Age ceremonial site. The seven metre diameter site had seven pits around a large central hearth. The pits held posts which had burned down and been replaced on several occasions. In association with this find was a probable fragment of an “Aldbourne cup”. These small vessels are normally associated with Early Bronze Age (Wessex II) inhumation burials. Its discovery here was considered “most unusual”, but confirms the area was occupied in the Bronze Age.

Links:

Hungerford Virtual Museum

Hungerford Virtual Museum on Facebook

Hungerford Historical Association