I haven’t really explored Oxfordshire much over the years, but I need to. There is so much to discover, like Wayland’s Smithy Long Barrow, which is this week’s Foto Friday.
“Nice photo, but what the hell is it?”, you’re thinking, aren’t you? Well, that’s exactly what I wondered when I first saw it. The weather was great that day, and it was the end of summer, so the leaves on the trees were still green. There were families and groups of friends picnicking and chilling out on this stone structure, whatever it was. That didn’t seem so bad until I realised it was a neolithic tomb – a communal one. Yep, dead people were buried there. OK, so it was a long time ago, but they were chilling out where the remains of dead people were found. That was enough for me. There was no way I could relax and eat my lunch on it. Obviously, we are all different, and that kind of thing doesn’t have the same effect on everyone.
This long barrow was built over 5,500 years ago. It’s a bit of a grim tale because excavations discovered a mishmash of bones of up to 14 individuals. They weren’t buried there from the start. Why were the bones moved? I have no idea.
The name Wayland’s Smithy came much later. It’s from Germanic and Norse mythology. Wayland the Smith was a legendary master blacksmith. Apparently, this name was given to the site by the Saxons who settled in the area about 4000 years after the long barrow was built. What it was called before then is anyone’s guess.
Wayland’s Smithy is in Oxfordshire. You can see where it is in relation to Oxford and London. It is managed by English Heritage, and it’s free to enter.
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