2021 – a year in pictures


Part 4 – from October to December

Welcome to the fourth and final part of Oldbury Tours’ year in photographs.

As Autumn grew into Winter people started getting back in touch more regularly about tours, a good omen hopefully for 2022.

My autumn started in much the same vein as the summer, researching new sites around the UK, particularly sites with relevance to the prehistoric story of Wiltshire. I fitted in a few tours though and had my car branded with stickers by Barefoot Signs of Devizes.

In October my wife was working in Derbyshire so I went along too with our son. While she worked we visited some sites in the Peak District where there is a wealth of prehistoric interest to almost rival Wiltshire!

So it is there that we start, at Arbor Low in the Peak District.

This stone circle was once comprised of about forty standing stones with an additional central feature. All the stones are now fallen. The massive ditch and bank that surrounds it may be a little older but the whole thing dates from the end of the British Stone Age, about 4,500 years ago.
The information panel at Arbor Low has a useful artist’s impression of the site although the timeline at the bottom is confusing
Looking across the henge entrance it is possible to make out the much earlier mound of Gib Hill in the middle distance
A couple and their dog approach the Early Neolithic burial mound known as Gib Hill Long Barrow which could be as much as a thousand years older than the henge at nearby Arbor Low
A visit to Youlgreave Church brings me to the remarkably well preserved tomb of Thomas Cockayne who died in a duel in 1488 just after the end of the Wars of the Roses
Also here is this unusual Norman font,,,,
…and a wonderful stained glass window by the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, made at the William Morris factory
On the way to our next site we surprise a small herd of very dark-backed fallow deer….
…and pass through some gorgeous woodland
There are several prehistoric sites on Stanton Moor near Birchover including this Early Bronze Age stone circle known as The Nine Ladies, who legend has it were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath…
…nearby the King stone is said to be the petrified fiddler who played the tune they were dancing to.
In the golden hour before sunset our long shadows and that of the king stone point towards the stone circle acting like a gnomon on a sundial
Back in Wiltshire I have my car branded by Barefoot Signs (Silbury Hill can be seen in the distance beyond the black-wrapped bales of hay)…
…and fit in a tour to a familiar site.
As a native of Pembrokeshire, my wife has long been keen to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a project we began in 2021
The scenery is spectacular…
…and there are plenty of sites of interest along the way including this Iron Age hillfort ahead of us on the cliff top.
Pembrokeshire is also famous as the place of origin of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’,,,
…petrographic studies have matched at least one to this outcrop of spotted dolerite known as Carn Goedog in the Preseli mountains.
The Pembrokeshire bluestones are the smaller stones at Stonehenge that form two of the inner rings. They are dwarfed by the massive sarsen stones of the outer circle.
The largest of the bluestones has an enigmatic man-made grove down one side which may well have been carved in Pembrokeshire where it could have been part of an earlier monument…
…it is now part of the innermost setting inside the horseshoe of giant sarsen trilithons whose tallest stone, no 156, looms over it. Note the tenon carved on top of stone 156…
…which was made to engage with the mortice hole in the lintel that was thrown to the ground when stone 155 collapsed
Some of the pillar-shaped bluestones of Carn Goedog look ready to be transported the 180 miles east to Stonehenge
Back to the coast path and more glorious beaches
From magnificent natural scenery to magnificent human achievements. The back row of Salisbury Cathedral’s choir stalls were the gift of Henry III, who reigned from 1216 to 1272
Another glorious day at Stonehenge in late November. As at the nine ladies of the Peak district I am sure the shadows of Stonehenge are crucial to our understanding of this extraordinary monument
I had three tours in a row around the winter solstice in late December. Avebury doesn’t present us with an obvious solar alignment but it is still holds spiritual value for a lot of people and is a fine place to gather and celebrate significant calendrical events
Stonehenge, however, very definitely does have a solar alignment and it is the setting sun in midwinter…
…that aligns the stones’ shadows with the Stonehenge Avenue, perhaps encouraging celebrants on their way to the river Avon
Pewsey Vale farmer Tim Daw aligned his modern long barrow to the rising sun of the spring and autumn equinoxes. This is the same alignment as the ancient long barrow of West Kennet.
The 22nd December began with a visit to the impossibly picturesque village of Castle Combe…
…with a lovely family from Indonesia…
…before a final 2021 visit to Stonehenge…
…and the Iron Age hillfort of Old Sarum that majestically overlooks Salisbury and its towering cathedral
A Boxing Day walk from my home in Calne with my eldest daughter brought us to the Dumb Post Inn in Bromham. This golden hour picture was taken looking south from their terrace and is probably my favourite photo of the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour.