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Britannia's Magical History Tour
Stop 1:  Marlborough, Wiltshire
Quadrangle of Marlborough College
At the intersection of the A346 and the A4 lies the town of Marlborough, the gateway to the Avebury Region and beyond. It is an interesting market town with one of the widest High Streets in the country. It is the home of Marlborough College (see photo above), an attractive campus with several unusual features. The first is a white horse, carved by students into a nearby hill. White horses are common in the county of Wiltshire and are produced by cutting about a foot down into the earth to expose the chalk layer beneath the surface. The second is a feature called Merlin's Mound, a tiered, man-made mound, roughly 75 feet in height and several hundred feet in diameter. Local legend claims that Merlin, King Arthur's personal magician and advisor, is buried underneath.

To learn more about the legend, we talked to two local workmen who were repairing an 18th century shrine, built entirely of sea shells, at the base of the mound. They were employees of the Marlborough College maintenance department and were familiar with the mound. According to the more loquacious of the two, a Liverpudlian whose name we didn't catch, the mound had been there before local history had been recorded (in his parlance, it had been there for "donkey's years"). As far as he knew, that was just after the time of the Romans, and it was his personal belief that Merlin was, indeed, buried thereunder. And that settles that.

As long as we're on the subject of Merlin, if you're hungry while in Marlborough, stop by the Merlin Hotel, on the High Street. There is a pleasant open-air courtyard at the back of the restaurant and they serve an excellent fish and chips. If you're tall, though, WATCH IT! The building is eighteenth century, has very low doorways and heads can get cracked here. If you're into loud music, visit The Lamb, a noisy pub just off the High Street. After the music finishes at 11 p.m., it's a great place to spend the night and the "Proper English Breakfast" in the morning is wonderful!

Next stop: The Avebury Region, Wiltshire

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