Exploring ancient Exmoor – and a chance to WIN a copy of Dave Hamilton’s Wild Ruins B.C.
PUBLISHED: 11:26 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:02 08 March 2019
A new book by a Somerset author takes readers on a journey into Britain’s prehistoric past, including the ancient sites of Exmoor
Dave Hamilton can recall his first encounter with the standing stones of Avebury and the effect it had on him.
“In my very early twenties I had a big hitchhiking adventure for about six weeks and I ended up in Wiltshire at the Avebury sites and just realised how old they were and how amazing they are.”
He remembers first seeing places like Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, which was made by hand – a thought that left him “gobsmacked”. “It’s always stayed with me,” he says.
In his new book, Wild Ruins B.C, the Frome-based writer relives those experiences.
The book, from Wild Things Publishing of Bath, is a testament to his love of these sites and is the culmination of three years’ work, much of it spent traversing the length and breadth of the country seeking out the remains of our ancient ancestors.
“I write books that pull me along, that I can get completely submerged in,” he says.
It’s a description that is true, literally, when it comes to the Exmoor section of the book. He recounts his visit to Chapman Longstone near Challacombe.
“It is absolutely in the middle of nowhere. I went to it on my own and it’s about a mile or two from the roadway. I was walking along when I put my foot in a muddy puddle and got submerged up to my thigh. I was trapped - I was stuck and panicking.”
He managed to extricate himself, “but I didn’t see a single soul until I got back to the road”.
“I thought that Exmoor was pretty tame and then something like this happens,” he reflects.
Exmoor’s ruins, he says, “may not be as spectacular and they are smaller in general but it’s the landscape that makes it interesting”.
Take Withypool stone circle, for example. “They are just small rocks on the ground, but you can see how they sit in the landscape and your mind starts to wonder about what they were used for…
Was it a place to trade? There’s a river nearby, so were bodies taken along the river and given their last rites at the circle?
“You can make up your own theories and because the landscape is so desolate you can get an idea of what it would have looked like.”
Wild Ruins B.C. came off the back of an earlier book by Dave. Wild Ruins featured structures and relics from more modern times, but going further back in history has led to a “more mysterious and more personal” book, he says.
“Modern history is obsessed with dates and names but in ancient history there are vague dates and no names, so you think about it more from an anthropological point of view - and that takes away a lot of snobbery.”
Is it that the lack of knowledge or certainty about these sites makes them more approachable?
“People I met at theses sites were from every walk of life – and you don’t get that with stately homes.”
The book covers ancient sites the length of Britain, from a chambered cairn on Sanday in Orkney to the Merry Maidens standing stones near Land’s End. It includes instructions on how to visit each site, and tips on places to eat and there’s a helpful history timeline.
One moment Dave will always remember from his Exmoor explorations occurred when he visited Dunkery Beacon.
“There were hoards of people, but I went to some Bronze Age cists not far away, and as soon as I got there hardly anyone was around. Then I saw a small herd of deer looking at me before bounding off into the bracken.”
Wild Ruins B.C. is published by Wild Things Publishing and priced £16.99.
WIN a copy!
We have three copes of Wild Ruins B.C. to give away.
For a chance to win one of them simply answer the question and fill out the entry form below:
Terms & Conditions: This competition is running from the March 8, 2019 to the April, 12 2019 at 23:45. Full Archant terms and conditions can be found here.