In Dog

Desmond the Dog

Woof, woof, woof, hello everyone I’m back again with another doggy blog about the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. This time mum and Aunty Josie took me on a fabulous walk in the southern part of the Stonehenge landscape and we got to see the big old stones from far away. I got to explore the hedgerows which are bursting with wild flowers and I saw lots of buzzy bees and got covered in the most annoying little sticky green things. Mum says that’s Goosegrass or Galium aparine to give it its proper name. Guess what herbalists say it can be used to treat all sorts of ailments and it might even have been around when the people that built all the special monuments were living around 5,000 years ago. I fink it’s very, very, very annoying as it gets in my fur and me and mum have to pull everso hard to get all the little sticky bits out! 

A couple weeks ago Mum went on a World Heritage training course at Greenwich which is another one of our 31 World Heritage Sites in the UK.  She went there to learn more about what it means to be a World Heritage Site. She reckons this blog should feature attribute 4, The design of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to the skies and astronomy. That sounds super complicated but it isn’t really, it’s all about how clever the prehistoric people were in building the humungous big monuments so that they aligned to the stars and guess what? Yep, the sun! And last week it was summer solstice the longest day of the year.  

At Stonehenge when the sun comes up it shines right into the middle of the stone circle straight through the giant trilithon right above the Heel Stone, which is just outside the circle to the north-east. The stone circle also aligns with the Winter Solstice in December – mum and Aunty Josie went to that but it’s cold and dark and not suitable for doggies so she left me at home.  Some people think the Winter Solstice might actually have been the most important coz the sun sinks right into the monument and perhaps the prehistoric people thought it was being kept safe through the dark days until the return of spring.  This is one of things that makes Stonehenge so special that even with the technology they had 5,000 years ago they could make sure the monument lined up with the solstices.  Clever innit!

Because Summer Solstice is a very special day for lots of people the English Heritage team work really, really, hard to make sure people can be in and around Stonehenge to witness the sunrise and celebrate the Solstice. This year was really special as it was a lovely sunny morning and about 9,500 people could see the sun come up between the stones of the giant trilithon.  

Over in Avebury, the other half of the World Heritage Site, people also gather to celebrate the Solstice even though there is not the same special lining up of the sun with the monument it’s still a very special atmosphere at Summer Solstice.

Anyhows back to my funtastic Stonehenge landscape walk. Mum used that special Historic England map to figure out where to take me and Aunty Josie – I likes Aunty Josie she always gets my best side in the photos! We parked up at Wilsford Church and walked up the footpath opposite making sure we stayed on the public path and not the private road. 
 
We spotted Stonehenge through the trees and watched a farmer being very busy on his big blue tractor. Mum says it’s important to remember and be considerate of all the people who live and work in the World Heritage Site.   Two thirds of the WHS landscape at both Stonehenge and Avebury is owned by private landowners so it’s important to stick to the path unless it’s open access.  Mum’s map shows us where we are free to explore.  

We joined up with byway 11 at Springbottom Farm. If we had more time mum said we could have headed north here and gone up to see the Normanton Down Barrow Group from the byway. This is a really important group of Bronze Age Barrows that includes the Bush Barrow which was excavated in 1808 by William Cunnington and Sir Richard Colt-Hoare, who found multiple artefacts inside the mound including an amazing gold lozenge. You can learn loads more about prehistoric Wiltshire at Wiltshire Museum where you can actually see the gold lozenge. Mum’s been and she said it’s amazing! Instead we followed the byway south towards Lake. It was very hot now and mum made sure we stopped and we both had a big drink of water. 

The landscape here is very beautiful and peaceful. We only met one other couple the whole trip. Mum says it is fab being so peaceful and yet so close to the crowds that visit Stonehenge every day. 

Uh oh think I got that nasty tick thing walking through the long grass. Mum spotted it on my tummy when she was helping me get rid of the sticky buds later that evening. The very next day she made me go to the vets to get it taken off and buy a special tool so she can do it at home in the future. Apparently ticks are nasty parasites and it is really important that dogs and humans check themselves if they have been out n about in the summer. There’s some great advice for dog owners about ticks right here.

So that’s about it for this blog. We finished our walk by carefully walking back up the road facing the oncoming traffic as there weren’t any pavements and I was actually quite glad to see the car as I was a bit hot and tired from all the excitement!

Till next time
woof, woof, woof, woof
Desmond the Dog xx

Keep up to date with Demond's journey by following him on instagram @desmonddivadog and #desmondwhsdog

PS! Desmond says it’s very important to always check where dogs are allowed in different parts of the World Heritage Site. It varies depending on the time of year, livestock and is always at the discretion of the landowner. You can stay up to date with the National Trust managed landscape at Stonehenge here

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