Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge: was built between 1886-1894 to straddle the River Thames.  Its design was revolutionary at the time, allowing pedestrians and vehicles across the river, and shipping pass through, using a Bascule (see-saw action) Bridge.  With its steam powered pump engines controlling the hydraulics, giving instant power to raise the bridge.

The bridge consists of two pillars, weighing some 70,000 tons sunk into the river bed, with which to hold the 11,000 tons of steel framework.  The bridge is clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone with a Victorian Gothic style facade to fit in with the Tower of London.

The bridge is 800 feet in length, with two towers, 213 feet high and built upon piers.  The central span measures 200 feet, split in two equal bascules, each weighing in excess of 1,000 tons, which can be raised to allow river traffic to pass.

The two side sections are of suspension bridge design, measuring 270 feet each with suspension rods.  The pedestrian walkways are 143 feet above the river, when viewed at high tide.

Stonehenge in brief

Originally constructed on the site, known to-day as Stonehenge, were a number of pits, which supported wooden totem-pole posts, erected between 8,500-7,000 BC.

Around 3,100 BC, a large Henge was constructed, comprising of a ditch, bank and fifty-six Aubrey holes (round pits cut into the chalk, with flat bottoms).  They formed a circle some 284 feet in diameter.

Excavations at the site, have discovered human bones, but opinions believe these holes were not graves, but part of a religious ceremony.  Saying that some sixty plus cremations have been discovered in the area. 

Stonehenge was abandoned for some hundred years.  Then life returned around 2,150 BC with the arrival of eighty-two bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in South Wales.  These stones once erected created an unfinished double-circled circle.  At the same time the original entrance was widened, to make way for a pair of Heel Stones, plus other stones being set up in the centre of the monument.

Around 2,000 BC Sarsen stones were brought from Marlborough Downs.  These were arranged to create an outer circle with lintels.  Inside the circle, five trilithons were placed in a horseshoe arrangement.

In 1,500 BC the bluestones were rearranged in a horseshoe and circle arrangement, consisting of some sixty stones.  An earthwork Avenue was built, which connected Stonehenge with the River Avon.

In 1800-1500 BC, some digging took place around the stones of two concentric ring pits… the reason for these pits is unknown.

With Stonehenge built, and history ever changing, groups of barrows have been located on hilltops, which are visible from Stonehenge.  Could it be a connection to Stonehenge for the dead?

Four Sarsen stones have been adorned with carvings of early historical weapons; axe-heads, daggers and axes.  Was it a status of power to those visiting Stonehenge, or a connection to the graves on the nearby hillsides?

Avebury Henge

Avebury Henge monument consists of three stone circles, located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire.  It was erected in 2,600 BC, comprising of one large outer circle, with two smaller stone circles situated inside.  Along with a large circular bank with an internal ditch measuring some 460 yards in diameter.

What is its purpose, a question that has baffled archaeologists for years, but they believe it was more than likely used for some form of rituals or ceremonies.

By the time of the Iron Age, it had been abandoned, yet human evidence existed into the time of the Roman occupation, showing that the Roman’s had used the site.

The outer stone circle of the henge, measures 1,088 feet in diameter, originally constructed with ninety-eight Sarsen stones.  With two large polished stones at the southern entrance.

The northern inner ring stone circle, measures 322 feet in diameter, with a cove of three stones in the middle, with a north-east facing entrance, but when erected probably consisted of twenty-seven stones.

The southern inner ring stone circle, measures 354 feet in diameter, with a single stone some 21 feet in height located centrally, along with an alignment of twenty-nine smaller stones.

Around the central point of the obelisk, small yet rough sarsen stones were positioned in a near rectangular format.  The obelisk stone has long since disappeared.

The Avenue:

The West Kennet Avenue of paired stones leads from the south-eastern henge entrance to Beckhampton Avenue to the western entrance.  Which linked the Avebury Henge with ceremonial sites at Beckhampton and Overton Hill.

The henge, with its imposing boundary to the circle, has no defence purpose, because the ditch and bank are located inside the larger circle.

Being a henge, one has to accept that the positioning of the stone circle are related to astronomical alignments.  The site is more than likely laid out for some form of religious function.

The Druids believe that there was an astronomical axis which connected Avebury Henge to Stonehenge, flanked by West Kennet Long Barrow on the west which symbolised the Mother Goddess and Silbury Hill the symbol of masculinity.

In the 5th century following on from the end of Roman Rule, Anglo-Saxons migrated to Southern Britain, where suggestions have been put forward that they used the site as a defensive site.

During the middle ages, many of the stones were buried or destroyed, as it was believed they had a connection to pagan and devil worshipping.

In the early part of Saxon life in Britain, around AD600, a settlement had been built at the henge; a seme-fortified settlement.

King Athelstan recorded a charter in 939 defining the boundaries of Overton, a parish which laid adjacent to Avebury.

In the 11th century Anglo-Saxon armies fought with Viking raiders at Avebury, and the pre-historic monument at Silbury Hill was fortified creating a defensive position.

In 1114 a Benedictine Priory and Church was built upon the site.

In the latter part of the 12th century, Avebury parish church was enlarged at a time of religious revival.

The Avebury stones, which stood tall for all to see along with nearby barrows were given names relating to the devil, before being toppled:  The Devil’s Chair, The Devil’s Den and The Devil’s Brandirons.

Shortly afterwards the “Black Death Plague” struck the village in 1349, reducing the village’s population, as many died.

In 1541 John Leland; Librarian and Chaplan to King Henry VIII, noted the existence of Avebury and its pre-historic monuments.  William Camden published his guide book to British Antiquities in 1586, but made no mention of Avebury, but his 1610 version made a fleeting remark to it.

John Aubrey Antiquarian rediscovered the Avbrey Henge in 1649, and recorded many drawings of the site.  In 1663, King Charles II visited Avebury Henge.

In the early part of the 18th century, William Stukeley doctor-clergyman and antiquarian studied Avebury Henge between 1719-1724.

The village was growing, and stone was much needed for the houses and the church.  He left a drawing for them to follow, how to break these large boulder stones, formerly part of Avebury Henge Pre-historic Monument.  Burn straw in a large pit to heat the stones, pour cold water on the stones, creating a weakness then split them open with a sledge hammer.

The Avebury Henge became listed as a pre-historic and sacred complex with ceremonial avenues lined with stones.  Silbury Hill the largest known man-made mound, the West Kennet Long Barrow a Neolithic burial chamber. A former stone circle Sanctuary.

Druidic rites held at Avebury are called Gorseddau, where they invoke Awen (a druidic concept of inspiration).  They recite the Druid Prayer by Morganwg and the Druid Vow.

One group of Druids (Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri) hold their rites at Avebury’s pre-historic monument.

The Library At Alexandria — allenrizzi

What is the worst disaster to befall mankind? It’s not a trick question; there have been many. My answer is the loss of the library at Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria lies at the isthmus of the Nile River as it enters the Mediterranean Sea. It was founded by Alexander the Great as one of the many […]

The Library At Alexandria — allenrizzi