Tuesday, 21 December 2010

ABC Wednesday W is for Wayland’s Smithy

The top of the long barrow
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Along the Ridgeway, not far from the Uffington White Horse, Wayland’s Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow set amongst beech trees. It was first constructed around 3700 BC  as an enclosed wooden mortuary with a stone floor. The stone barrow was built about 3400 BC.  Later it was covered by a mound of chalk, a material plentiful in the area! It measures 185 feet long and is 43 feet wide at its widest, southern end.
Entrance to the stone monument
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It was excavated in 1963 and found to contain the remains of eleven males, two females and a child, all interred during a fifteen-year period. The above photograph shows its appearance after reconstruction.

Its name stems from the belief that it was inhabited by the Saxon god of smiths and metalwork, Wayland (or Weland, Volund, Volundr). Legend claims that Wayland was a blacksmith. Any traveller along the Ridgeway whose horse had cast a shoe could leave the animal and a silver coin at the mound. When the rider returned, the animal would be freshly shod and the coin gone. 

Thanks go to the Wise Denise Nesbitt and her Willing Workers Who organise this Weekly meme. Please click here to see more Ws and perhaps join in.

17 comments:

  1. I have to admit I never heard of Wayland's Smithy before. Thanks for sharing, Learn something new every week.

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  2. This place looks so peaceful and I loved that stone monument!
    A place full of history, very interesting reading about the excavations!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Léia

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  3. Fascinating post as always, Janice! I'm always awed by such ancient history that is found in Europe/England! We're still such a young country there just isn't that kind of history! Thanks for this one! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  4. I think it's so amazing that we can still see these Neolithic remains. It gives such an immediate sense of and connection to the past.

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  5. I love British history! But never dreamed it went that far back! Fascinating post - have a wonderful Christmas. :D

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  6. Fascinating. The reconstruction gives a real feel of what it might have looked like.
    Wishing you a merry Christmas.

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  7. Such an interesting post! So much of England I have never seen.

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  8. I enjoyed this post about Wayland's Smithy, Janice! I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and hope that all your dogs and your kitty behave themselves for the holidays! :)

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  9. i always find the naming devices for UK places so fascinating.
    nice.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  10. This was so interesting and the pictures are great. I love the names too, like Uffington and Wayland.

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  11. Absolutely fascinating! I've never heard of this.

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  12. I am fascinated by these ancient parts of Briton that you tell us about, and love the story of Wayland the blacksmith.

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  13. I've never heard of this place - great description!
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

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  14. That's certainly going back a bit in time, hey? Good W post!

    [I agree with you that mirror sunglasses are off-putting. I normally won't take photos of people with any sunglasses on, but here, of course that was the very aim. He posed for me without the glasses, too, and he was a handsome fella!]

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  15. Love these stories ! Is the man with the hammer on the picture (I clicked on your link) your great, great, great, great etc grandpa ??

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  16. You always have such interesting and unusual words for each letter. I loved reading about Wayland's Smithy.

    Those large stones are so interesting.

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  17. Good heavens, I love all this paleolithic stuff that infuses England. You are so rich in the stuff of human history.

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