A Wiltshire Lass
I was born in the County of Wiltshire; this means I may call myself a Moonraker. The story goes that a group of smugglers were being chased by Customs men and hid their contraband of Brandy in a pond, the customs men caught up with the smugglers and when asked what they were up to they said that the Moon had fallen into the pond and they were raking it out! The customs men chortled at the country bumpkins as they rode away.
Ever since then people born in Wiltshire are known as Moonrakers.
There are many interesting places to visit in Wiltshire, the most famous being Stonehenge, which is on Salisbury Plain. When I was a child we would go for picnics to Stonehenge, this was in the days before it was fenced in, we would touch the stones, my brothers and I would climb up onto the central stones, the adults would be puzzled by our questions “Why?” and “How?”
These questions still puzzle us, I do know that in the summer the stones were warm to the touch, they seemed like big gentle giants and the atmosphere at Stonehenge is peaceful and calm.
There is a larger stone circle at Avebury which was another childhood haunt, again there are many legends as to why the stones were placed there but no-one knows for sure, the stones at Avebury always make me laugh because there are chunks missing where a long passed villager has cut a bit off to built a wall!
There is an ancient burial site called West Kennet Long Barrow, which dates back to 3500 B.C. It is thought to have been in use for a thousand years
Our local forest was Savernake Forest, which is beautiful ancient woodland. Referred to in a Saxon Charter from King Athelstan in 934AD, being called "Safernoc". The forest has been handed down a direct line for 31 generations and has never been bought or sold for a thousand years. It has links with Henry VIII and James, Earl of Cardigan who led the charge of the Light Brigade.
There are many, many legends regarding Savernake Forest, it is a known haven for Red Deer and is glorious with Bluebells in late spring. There is an Oak Tree known as the Big Bellied Oak, which is said to be a thousand years old. Legend has it that the Devil can be summoned by dancing naked around this tree.
When I still lived in Wiltshire there was a plantation on the edge of Savernake forest and we would always go to buy our Yule tree from there, it's strange how small a tree can look in a field and how big it turns out to be once it's home!