Author: Kit Ward

Woodhenge

Circles and enigmas

Stonehenge may be the best-known Neolithic monument in Britain but it has never stood in glorious, awe-inspiring isolation. In fact, it is situated within what archaeologists call a ritual landscape, defined by Frances Pryor as a ‘concentration of funerary and ceremonial monuments that were constructed in the Neolithic (4000- 2500 BC) and Early Bronze Age (2500-1500 BC)’.

Iver uncanny child

Iver’s uncanny children

If the newspapers are to be believed (a big ‘if’, I know), the appearance of several three-foot-high figures of children in the neighbouring villages of Iver and Iver Heath caused quite a stir a couple of years ago. ‘If I was a driver they would scare me into crashing, super creepy,’ said one resident.

Apple HQ Savile Row

Apple Corps HQ: ‘A controlled weirdness… a kind of Western communism’

After Brian Epstein’s death, the Beatles were effectively managing themselves for a time and the business that was the Beatles took off in new and sometimes strange directions. Freed from what had become Epstein’s erratic oversight, the band felt liberated to conduct business experiments, more often than not with expensive consequences (though by this time they were making so much money that the losses were manageable).

St Frideswide

Frideswide and the treacle well

The Saxon princess-abbess-saint Frideswide was not the founder of Oxford: there was certainly a settlement at the confluence of the Cherwell and the Thames well before her time. But she has a claim to be one of the founders of the idea of Oxford, the notion of the city as a nexus of learning, religion, and occasional miracles.

TE Lawrence camera Oxford

Sexing up the camera

Among the objects gathered in the collection of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford are a number of devices coated with the patina of past celebrity. You can find Elizabeth I’s astrolabe, Lewis Carroll’s photographic developing kit, and a blackboard, chalk-inscribed equations intact, used by Albert Einstein.

Stoke Mandeville old village

A neglected spot

My last post was about the effects of Victorian railway construction on a London churchyard. The present day High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project is a twenty-first century counterpart, carving a route through several hundred miles of rural England. And on this route are three burial grounds containing 30,000 graves, all of whose occupants will have to be exhumed and reburied elsewhere.