Today the group went to a few locations that you would probably be able to identity by simply looking at it; whether you know the sight or you’ve seen the place in a movie, many Americans would be able to recognize such places. These destinations included Stonehenge, Lacock Abbey, and Castle Combe.
Stonehenge probably does not need a lot of explanation since basically everyone has at least heard of it. A “henge” is considered a circular formation of something, so that is why the famous spot received its name; because the builders placed the stones in a circle, almost creating a type of temple. Many legends or tales mention that Druids used the place as a sacrificial location and for that purpose alone. Yet archaeologists actually have found out that the place was first a burial ground and possibly more of a place of general worship.
The Druids were a religious group of people who basically practiced a pagan-branch religion. However, we are not completely sure what the significance of Stonehenge held for them. There are still practicing Druids today, but they focus more on special Irish/Celtic holidays and the summer solstice. This reminds people not only of the blend in religion with history from 1000 BC to AD 2015, but also the continuing diversity and traditions throughout a millennium!
After gazing upon the amazing circle of Neolithic stones, and spending MANY pounds at the gift shop, we ventured over to Lacock Abbey where the first two Harry Potter films were shot for certain scenes. Numerous places such as the cloister, warming room, and many others, were used for the setting of classrooms, professors’ offices, the hallways, and courtyards where students would rest and talk. Once I entered the hallway next to the cloister, I immediately thought of Harry Potter; I was quite happy when I saw a poster talking about the Harry Potter references at the abbey. They even had a cauldron in one of the rooms they used for the films. So to Harry Potter fans: I would recommend Lacock Abbey!
Once we finished looking around the Abbey and the cool Manor House (which Molly will talk about), we toured a bit around the nice small village! The beautiful scenery and architecture of every building was incredible! Our lovely guide for the day, Richard, showed us different homes that were also used in the Half Blood Prince film as well! Part from the house that was Harry’s parents’ home when he was a baby, Richard also showed us the road center where Harry and Dumbledore disapparate from the train station. After the scene, they simply walk down the street we walked today, to a beautiful big home where they find Prof. Slughorne to ask him to return to Hogwarts School. It was amazing to see some of the buildings used in Harry Potter films, as well as a couple blocks used in the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice!
After walking in the footsteps of Daniel Radcliffe and Colin Firth, we were lucky to be led by another great guide, Chris, who showed us the city of Castle Combe which is another lovely small village. He showed us homes used in Dr. Dooliddle (from the 1960/70s) as well as where the brothers who created the “blanket” lived! Also, Steven Spielberg filmed “War Horse” in the village, and hired many locals as extras!
Exploring small villages or sites and experiencing how strong the cultural ties connect with history over time is amazing! It is a by hard to believe that a house in a small historic village was used in a modern film that gained millions to billions of fans! I believe this is a bit odd but also amazing. I find it odd because as a historian, I see things more of maintaining them in a good physical state and not causing any more damage. So people walking on certain sites or filming on them are a bit odd, but it’s amazing how directors like Spielberg mixed the current locals with filming a movie on their historic landmarks. That really creates a positive cultural influence in the area that I find quite refreshing!