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I’m writing this sat outside under the shade of a pear tree, its 26 degrees Celsius, cloudless and the hottest day so far this year. What really makes it unusual is that it’s a Bank Holiday Monday also known as a public holiday here in the UK. Its tradition that Bank Holidays are always wet and windy. Something is very wrong!
Not so very long ago the weather was very different. Sub-zero temperatures, snow and wind! Ah, the British weather 🙂 On one morning the sky was white, the ground white and little colour. Perfect photography day! A day for black and white 🙂
Avebury stone circle is a Neolithic (stone age) bank, ditch and stone ring enclosing a further two rings. The outer ring is a little under 350m in diameter. On such a monochrome day big dark stones set against a carpet of white seemed like the perfect shoot and a nice place to spend a few hours.
It was obvious tho, that it was going to be cold, bloody cold, standing around in those conditions as we photographers do. Suitably clothed and equipped with a thermos of hot coffee I headed off. The major roads had been cleared, but the smaller ones in Wiltshire were still covered in their snowy blanket. A few cars had been brave or foolhardy enough and ventured out, but thankfully, the roads were quiet and, this time, I didn’t get myself stuck in the snow!
Avebury is managed by the National Trust and they have a little car park just beyond the outer ring. When I arrived the gate was open, I drove in and parked. The National Trust don’t usually miss an opportunity to collect visitor fees and I was mildly amused that, on this occasion, the weather had got the better of them. 🙂 From the car park its a short walk to the rings and I cut fresh tracks down the little footpath linking the car park and village centre.
Two small roads bisect the outer ring dividing it into quadrants. The South-Eastern quadrant retains some nice stones and its to there I went. I envisioned a photograph that captured the stark detailed shapes of the stones set against the white of a snowy day; something eternal as the stones have been there for thousands of years and seen many a cold, wintery day.
Its not my first visit to Avebury and knowing a location, any location, greatly helps as available time can be spent concentrating on photography rather than hunting photographs. I knew of this stone, with its glorious pock-marked surface and bands of weathered stone. It made the perfect subject and I chose to contrast its wonderful surface and bold features against the drifting, snowy background. It a stone I’ve photographed before and will probably photograph again!
Almost as famous as the stone ring is the Red Lion Public House which lies at its centre. The building was constructed around the year 1600 and thus postdates the Neolithic site by about 4500 years! First licensed in 1850, it has a lovely straw thatched roof and a 26m deep well; its definitely worth a visit 🙂 That morning it looked very olde-worldly covered with snow so I couldn’t resist a photograph.
Tucked away a little to the West of the Red Lion is the little church of Avebury. It predates the pub by several hundred years! Thought to have been constructed around the year 1000 it has seen much alteration over the subsequent centuries. However, it still retains its Anglo-Saxon nave although later altered by the Normans.
My visit to Avebury was on a Sunday and it was late-morning before I strolled into to the church grounds. The Avebury parishioners had obviously been there before me and left their mark. But I think the footprints on the path bring a reminder of life to what could be a deathly photograph of church and gravestones.
Before leaving home I decided that the objective of the day was to concentrate on shape, contrast and to convey a sense of winter, of cold or Brrr if you like. I like to think I achieved that.
Andy Gawthrope Photography is based in North Bristol, UK. Readers are reminded that the copyright to each image in this post is held by Andy Gawthrope Photography.