Wiltshire is truly one of the most beautiful rural counties of England, boasting a singular wealth of attractions of all kinds. It also happens to be one of the oldest counties with archaeology dating back to before the Bronze Age. Wiltshire then became one of the key Saxon kingdoms and was an important route on the first British canal and railway systems. Wiltshire folk are nicknamed ‘Moonrakers’ due to the legacy of smuggling that exists hereabouts. This rich past has made for an intriguing present.
Perhaps most famous of all is Stonehenge, a stone circle that dates back around four and half thousand years. The site’s origins are shrouded in mystery but there is no denying that Stonehenge and its locality once held immense significance for the pagan religion. Along with nearby Avebury Henge, Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are many age-old places of worship such as the medieval Salisbury Cathedral, renowned for having the tallest spire of any church in the United Kingdom. It was built between 1220 and 1258 and contains four original copies of the Magna Carta – quite a sight to behold. Malmesbury Abbey is a masterpiece of Ancient Briton and medieval architecture, once regarded as a major intellectual centre of Europe. Oddly enough, the Abbey was the site of an early attempt at manned flight when a monk flew a primitive glider off the spire back in the early 11th century. The Gothic folly Fonthill Abbey is far more modern but is just as visually arresting.
Some fabulous country estates are located in Wiltshire, amongst them the Georgian-era Bowood House which is like something from a costume drama movie. Its 2000-acre gardens is gorgeous, dotted with rare trees and a maze. Corsham Court in Chippenham, Wiltshire, is another mind-blowing house with a so-called ‘Strawberry Hill’ Gothic revival frontage that really generates a high level of atmospherics.
The Iron Age is well-represented in the county by such structures as Barbury Castle, which also affords a unique panorama across the glorious Cotswold countryside. You can also find ancient flint formations around here.
© 2011 Abiyoyo SL