Monday, 7 March 2011

The Stone Ring and St James' Church, Avebury, Wiltshire & Postcard

The Avebury ring is thought to be the oldest stone ring known anywhere in the world and is even older than the better known Stonehenge, which is sited 20 miles to the south. It comprises a "henge", which is a circular bank and ditch structure, within which are various  stone circles. It is speculated that the smaller  inner circles were created first in about 2,600BC, while the larger outer circle and ditch were created later, in 2,500BC.
The circular ditch now measures about 427 metres (460 yards) in diameter and six metres high (20 feet or so) from bottom of bank to top of ditch, but it has been eroded over the millennia.  The ditch has entrances across it on the four main compass points, to allow access to the stone circles. 

The ditch would have required a large amount of effort to form, with the need to excavate about 200,000 tons of rock and earth. There are also some remnants of erosion that suggest the ditch may have at one time been filled up with water, making the stone rings appear to be sitting on an island.The stones were  erected inside the circular bank, as can be seen in the two photos above and below.
                 

These large Sarsen stones (above)  wrap around the 28 acres of land which form the site.  It is thought that the circle originally comprised about 98 stones, but all that  remain today are 27 stones, the rest  having either crumbled or been removed by the local population several hundred years ago for use in building Avebury village.
Within the circle of massive stones are two smaller stone circles. One is located in the Northern sector of the ring and four of its 27 stones are left today.  The other is in the Southern sector of the ring and has five of the original 29 stones still standing.
Each of the stones is believed to weigh upwards of 40 tons with heights that measure over twenty feet, thus implying that the local inhabitants must have collaborated in order to complete this magnificent monument.
Proof I was there!
Excavation studies have shown that there were 154 stones in total when the Avebury ring was first built, out of which 36 are still standing.
Its exact use by ancient civilizations has not yet been fully understood.
The above extracts are from avebury-stones.co.uk 
For further information and photos avebury-web  is extremely interesting.


Now I move on the the lovely old church in Avebury village - dedicated to St. James.
St James Church Avebury.
The oldest part of this building is Anglo-Saxon, built about 1000AD.  The Nave was originally without aisles and these were only added in the 12th century, but widened in the 15th century. There are still a few of the medieval tiles remaining on the floor in a couple of places.
The wooden balcony above is 15th century, and was discovered in 1812, carefully hidden, behind a plaster covering. It is suspected that it was removed and hidden early in the reign of Elizabeth I.  The tower is also 15th century and the Norman font is early 12th century.   The bells, which we heard ringing during our visit, are in regular use and were restored in 1981.  The oldest bell is the tenor which was cast in 1719.
This stunning stone gateway was just to the side of the church property.
and as curious as I may have been, I only crept through the gateway far enough to take this photo showing signs of the arrival of spring.
Sadly there was a lot of cloud around and the crocuses were keeping the petals tightly closed, waiting for the sun! 

I would like to say a big thank you to chubskulit at Spice up your Life for sending me love from West Virginia. What a lovely thought and much appreciated.  There are some great recipes on the site so go along and take a look.

91 comments:

  1. I've been to Avebury and walked along those stones, they're beautiful.

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  2. The photos of the Avebury ring and St. James' Church are just lovely! I have been to Stonehenge about 10 years ago with my husband and these pictures bring back wonderful memories on a cloudy day as today.

    Thank you for sharing them.

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  3. Jan I agree they are beautiful, but I just wish I could go back in time and see exactly how they moved them and why! Diane

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  4. Daily Grace, so pleased to have brought back good memories to you on a dreary day. Take care. Diane

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  5. What a beautiful church! And I love that there's a ring even older than Stonehenge. I always enjoy your pictures, and I'm more than a little jealous that you have signs of spring, when I had an ice storm and lost power last night!

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  6. Those Sarsen stones are humongous! I love the grand look of St. James church too. Glad you like the post card Diane. Thank you for being an avid reader to my blog. Dunno how to fixed my feedburner for my updates, it requires some technical skills and I don't have it lol. Rest assured that I post one each day..

    Hugs,

    Rose

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  7. Hi Diane, I always get excited when I see a new post is ready to view from you. I learn so much and I love the photos you take too. Really loved seeing inside the church in particular. Thank you. x

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  8. This place is so beautiful, wish i can visit one day.

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  9. That stone you're standing next to looks like a carved dog's head. You have to wonder how they moved those huge rocks and why they built the circles. Yet another beautiful church.

    Truck fixed and back on the road again.

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  10. I've never heard of Avebury ring! I always thought that Stonehenge was ground breaking historically; but really it is this gorgeous place we should have been learning about.

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  11. Jean,
    Great post. Love your history and here we are in Australia posting about the 1880s. Insignificant compared to 4000 year old rocks.
    What jewels of history.
    Leon

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  12. Lovely pics! How on earth did they move those stones? I love that old church,could do with an impressive stone entrance to our farm like that one!
    P.S An Afrikaans tv program showed a series on a town in the Charente on Sunday!

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  13. Marjie I went to Oxford yesterday (post following) and I saw my first daffodils!!! If it cheers you up any we did have a very hard frost this morning though no snow :) Diane

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  14. chubskulit thanks for the comments and I did love the PC. The problem because your posts do not pop up on the lists, I am inclined to slip up and not look, then suddenly realise that I have missed a whole lot!!! They were working fine for a couple of weeks then suddenly they have slipped back to not showing up again!!! Diane

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  15. Hi Froggy, that church was quite different, I have never seen a balcony quite like that one. Take care Diane x

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  16. Sonia maybe one day you will get to see for yourself, travel is so easy nowadays though not always very cheap! Diane

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  17. Gaelyn you are so right, it does look like a dogs head - slightly raised and howling perhaps! I had not noticed it before.

    Glad the truck is back on the road and working again. Hope the brakes are good as well. One year in S.Africa I had my brakes go at the top of a pass and I had to get down to get them fixed!!! Luckily the hand brake was fairly good but the gears did most of the work!! Diane

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  18. Diane, a superb post with beautiful photographs to bring your words to life. I want to visit....
    I notice the stones have been eroded. I wonder just how big they were when they were first placed there?

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  19. Brittany Stonehenge is so well known and there are many TV programmes about it. It seems that many people think that this is the only ring of stones. There are many stone rings around if you take a look at http://www.ancientstones.org.uk/ they are listed down the left of the page. There are of course rings in other places and several in Northern France. Diane

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  20. Leon, who is Jean? European history is quite incredible, but then you still have aborigine history which goes back a mighty long way! Diane

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  21. Liesl these stones are big but not as large as the ones at Stonehenge, moving any of them though must have been a huge problem with out the means that we have today!!
    So now you have seen the Charente programme when are you coming to visit? I am so looking forward to my return 27 March. :) Diane

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  22. GaynorB as you say they are eroded, it would be interesting to know just how large they originally were. It is sad that the circle is not complete but..... As I said earlier if only I could go back in time...... Diane

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  23. How amazing...I wonder why it doesn't have as much popularity as Stonehedge.
    And that church is indeed lovely...

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  24. Indie.Tea, I have no idea really other than Stonehenge is pretty much complete and compact. Also now sadly very commercial! I loved that church it was quite different inside to any other I have seen. Diane

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  25. Amazing stones, and I like the fact that you are actually allowed to get close to them too!!
    Lovely pics Diane xx

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  26. Fabulous Day out - looks like a very interesting place. Love the old church too. x

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  27. Roz I much preferred it to Stonehenge - no payment other than parking the car and we found a place in the village anyway so did not have to pay! One could walk all over the place and see all the stones properly. Nothing commercial or fenced. It was great. Diane

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  28. Diane we were lucky that the weather was also reasonable with the sun peering through the clouds in places!! The church was lovely and quite different to most I have seen. Diane x

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  29. The stones are interesting. It makes me wonder if Aliens of some sort put them there for some reason. I think Aliens also built the pyramids or had ways to overcome gravity and move the multi ton blocks to the proper location. .

    If you want to see what I look like and sound like you can go to my blogs as I have the interview posted on them today.

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  30. Merci Diane de m'avoir fait connaître d'autres sites due Stonehenge!
    L'église de St James est très bien photographiée et j'aime beaucoup l'idée de ce balcon en bois magnifique qui a été caché pendant des années et ainsi préservé!
    Je vois que le printemps est en route aussi en Angleterre!

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  31. I just love your blog! The pictures and information make it such a fun read!

    I am going to go and check out the blog you mentioned.

    Linda
    www.mykindofcooking.com

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  32. I love those stones... the one you are standing by reminds me of the profile of a mastiff... wonder if they were ever formed in any way. How sad they got broken up... must have been quite a site to have them all standing up... a mystical vision to be sure. Thanks for the great tour, Diane!

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  33. Those stones look absolutely stunning!

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  34. I've just added another spot to my bucket list. I love these visits you share with us. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  35. I learn so much from your posts. The Stone Ring is so cool and interesting. The church is BEAUTIFUL!

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  36. What a fascinating post! These stones are fantastic. There must be a very special energy in that place. The church is magnificent.

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  37. This is absolutely fascinating! And you write the history of each place so perfectly - I feel like I am being given a private guided tour! I just love visiting with you and through you all these magnificent places!
    (I'm going to be posting the second St. Nicholas church you told me about soon!! I'll let you know when it is. Again... many Thanks!!!)
    Blessings!
    Ann

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  38. Interesting and nice trip !!!
    Thank you !!!
    Great place and church !!!
    Greetings
    Magda

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  39. Some lovely pics again Diane, we often visit the various "stones" around here.

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  40. Abe not sure about aliens but some one, or something put those stones there. As I have mentioned previously I need to meet up with Dr Who and take a trip back in time LOL.
    I had a quick look at your blog earlier, it has been a hectic day.... I will look again later a see your interview. Diane

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  41. Lucie, Je suis toujours contente à recevoir vos commentaires en français !! Au fin du mois, je dois parler avec mes voisins français, donc cette réponse est bon entrainement !
    Il y a beaucoup d’églises en Angleterre aussi belles que celles-là en France, mais souvent pas si grandes ! Il y a aussi des cercles de pierre en France, en Bretagne je pense. Diane

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  42. Linda I am always so happy when I know my posts are of interest to others. I am looking forward though to getting back to France and seeing places there. Problem is tracking down the history is so much more difficult with my hopeless French!! Diane

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  43. lostpastremembered you are right about the mastiff head, I think just sheer coincidence, I had not even noticed until Gaelyn commented earlier.
    It is sad it is not complete it would be so interesting to see it as it was. Diane

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  44. Mary there are so many great sites to see around the UK. What I have shown you are only a very few all nearby. Take care. Diane

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  45. Pam I agree, that church is really beautiful, that balcony is incredible. Diane

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  46. Olga all of the stone rings seem to have a mystical quality and energy about them. I could spend ages just walking around. You are right that church is lovely. Diane

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  47. Ann, glad you enjoyed the 'tour'. I am pleased that you found some information about Abingdon. Look forward to seeing your post about it. Take care. Diane

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  48. Thanks Magda for your comments. I always love to hear from you. I just wish my French was as good as your English! Diane

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  49. Half Acre Farm, how about some posts about the stones in Northern France, it would be interesting to know about them as well?? Diane

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  50. Wow Dian, what interesting read of interesting places! Love the fabulous shapes of the Stone Ring. More beguiling to look at when they are not symmetrical. The balcony at St james' church is just ornately beautiful. Wonder what else they could discover next! The snowdrops and crocuses are a breath of fresh air! Spring is indeed upon us!!!

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  51. Yes you were there!! and what an amazing place - the church is so very regal and stately blending into the English countryside.
    xx
    "All Things French"

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  52. michelangelo I have to say I preferred walking around there to Stonehenge, the latter being far too commercialised!! The snowdrops are indeed a breath of fresh air but the daffodils are now starting as well :) Diane

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  53. Dianne, Yep I even have the proof LOL. The church was really quite beautiful and different inside to others I have seen. Take care. Diane

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  54. Diane,
    Down here at the bottom of comments I say sorry - I was reading all my posts and got my jeans and Dianes mixed up. but I'll blame the bottle of Pinot Noir beforehand. Leon's a real dag!!!!

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  55. Diane, "Check out Jean
    http://averygrandpressigny.blogspot.com/
    Leon

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  56. Wow. Older that Stonehenge. That's amazing. What a lovely church. European churches are so fascinating to me. I drag my husband through more of them that he would like, but at least he's a good sport (most of the time). LOL
    Sam

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  57. Leon and Sue, I know what that pino noir is capable of he he !! I do already follow Jean in fact we are hoping that we will be able to meet up at Easter in France :) Diane

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  58. Sam I just loved it at Avebury. The fact that I could walk around the rocks and not be fenced off like at Stonehenge. That church was really quite special. Diane

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  59. Diane, reading your posts is like traveling to places without having to take the journey:D

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  60. I am throughly enjoying taking these virtual trips with you Diane, I think you appreciated Avebury more than Stonehenge, not such a tourist trap!

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  61. How interesting! It's just amazing with how large the stones are and so old. The church is fantastic and the balcony is a work of art. Europe was so charming and amazing with so church bells ringing in so many towns all through the day. We never hear that here, not even on Sunday mornings like we used to many years ago.

    That's a great photo of you Diane! Where your hand is touching, it almost looks like the upper body, face and headdress of a person.

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  62. Bela reportagem...Espectacular....
    Cumprimentos

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  63. Quay Po Cooks I am glad that you enjoy the 'trips', I enjoy writing about them :) Diane

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  64. Pam it seems everyone has different ideas of that rock and each person sees something different. I am now intrigued and and am trying to see all these images.

    That balcony in the church was very special and beautiful. The bells were ringing almost the whole time we were there it was amazing. Diane

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  65. Fernando, Cumprimentos. Obrigado por seus comentários. Diane

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  66. These stones are awe-inspiring; I have never been to these parts even though I do have cousins in the north of England, but I would love to visit, old abbeys and all!

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  67. If only walls and stones could talk. They would add to current knowledge of this magnificent history.

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  68. Taste of Beirut if you ever get the chance to visit I am sure you would enjoy the historic parts of England. I was never interested in history at school but I love doing the research for my posts and I have learnt so much! Diane

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  69. Joyful you are so right, if only they could talk. I want to jump in a time machine and pop back there for a look. He he. Take care, Diane

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  70. such a beautiful landscape and details here and there! just love that old church! sbsolutely gorgeous place and wonderful visit!
    gorgeous photos!
    take care,
    Rosa

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  71. Bikim, it really is quite lovely around Avebury and yes I agree that church is very special.Diane

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  72. Those stones kept me wondering how they get there and for what purpose? Totally amazing. So are those pyramids! And all those wonders of the world. Thank you for sharing another batch of lovely pics. Hope you're having a fabulous day. Btw, anymore winning? :o)
    Blessings, Kristy

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  73. First of all, what a lovely banner you've put up... A hint at the coming spring!
    Avebury is certainly quite an extraordinary place but I can't help thinking there are too many of those huge stones erected in the world (some weighing up to 200 hundred tons!!) without some help from elsewhere!! There are talks of Sound Wave Technology to lift these incredible weights that ancient people inherited in times immemorial... Finally we know so little of our past on this planet!
    Your footage is fantastic: no need to go there, you've done quite a great job!! :))
    Beautiful village too, I've never been there but your pictures are definitely a tempting trip!
    Cheers, Diane!

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  74. what a beautiful travelogue I love it

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  75. Kristy no more winning :(( Never mind I did very well in a short space of time.
    Those stones are so interesting and there is so much we don't know. Take care Diane

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  76. Noushka thank you for your kind comments. As you say there is so much we do not know about in history. Did you ever see Zimbabwe ruins? They still do not know how the buildings got there or who built them. They are fascinating to walk around.
    Those daffodils and crocus, Anne and I saw in Oxford on Monday :) Diane

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  77. Thanks Deepa, glad you enjoyed the trip. Diane

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  78. What a great blog..so interesting..Just to stand on the ground and think of who was before you and wonder what the stones were used for..I am sure some type of religion/service..To think, no one really knows..Very interesting.
    Churches are always a beautiful site. I never tire visiting them..
    Thanks for the wonderful trip..have a great rest of the week..Have been slow visiting, but I will always return..xoxoRosebud/Carolyn

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  79. I enjoyed visiting Avebury with you Diane. The last time I was there, I was so happy to see the stones in the distance as we approached because that "little" walk had originated in Goring-on-Thames!

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  80. Carolyn glad that you enjoyed this post. You are right churches are almost always interesting places, particularly the very old ones. Diane

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  81. Thanks chubskulit you have a good weekend also. Hope you all feel better. Diane

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  82. Dolly good to have you back. I would have been happy doing that trip on my bicycle but certainly not on two feet! You amaze me the distances that have walked around the UK. Take care Diane

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  83. Wow you made beautiful shots!

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  84. Disser2 Thanks for your visit and for your comment. Great to 'meet' you. Diane

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  85. Really nice to see these pictures again!!
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Ann

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  86. Thanks Ann you have a good weekend also, not forgetting Edward :)Diane

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  87. The stones are fantastic, what a place, Diane!

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  88. JM I was sorry that our time there was limited, I could have spent ages wandering around. Diane

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