Wednesday, February 15, 2012


When we visited Stonehenge a couple of years ago our guide Steve mentioned a town that Wikipedia describes as:
Imber is an uninhabited village in part of the British Army's training grounds on the Salisbury PlainWiltshire, England. It is situated in an isolated area of the Plain, about 2.5 miles (4 km) west of the A360 road between Tilshead and West Lavington. The entire civilian population was evacuated in 1943 to provide an exercise area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe during the Second World War. After the war villagers were not allowed to return to their homes. The village, which is still classed as an urban entity, remains under the control of the Ministry of Defence despite several attempts by former residents to return. Non-military access is limited to several open days a year.

On 1 November 1943, with preparations for the Allied invasion of mainland Europe underway, the people of Imber were called to a meeting in the village schoolroom and given 47 days' notice to leave their homes. Imber was to be used by US forces to practise street fighting. Richard Madigan's evidence to the Defence Lands Committee (DLC) stated that street fighting practice never took place and that his, and others', duties were to keep the village in good repair for the villagers' eventual return. The reason for evacuation was the village's proximity to shell impact areas. Although upset about being forced to leave, most villagers put up no resistance, even leaving canned provisions in their kitchens and taking the view that it was their duty to contribute to the war effort in this way — making sacrifices on the Home Front for the greater good. Compensation for the move was limited, and the occupants of one farm had to be forcibly evacuated by the Army. Albert Nash, who had been the village's blacksmith for over forty years, is said to have been found sobbing over his anvil and later became the first resident to die and be brought back to Imber for burial.
After the war the village was used extensively for training, particularly preparing soldiers for their duties in the urban environments of Northern Ireland. Several empty house-like buildings were constructed during the 1970s to aid training, and it is these, along with the church and Imber Court, that are Imber's most striking buildings today. Although training continues at Imber, a purpose-built urban warfare complex for close quarters battle at Copehill Down (approx 3 miles SE) has recently been the focus of this type of training, as that site is easier to adapt to reflect the areas in which troops are likely to be deployed.

When we got home this town intrigued me but I couldn't remember its name to read further about it.

Then this week I started reading a book called The Stonehenge Legacy which takes place around the area.

The Stonehenge Legacy

The town of Imber is featured in this book. I have to say I did not like this book when I first started it as I thought it was set in medieval times, not a period I really enjoy reading. However as I read further and realized it was set in today's times I got really interested in the story. Also since I had visited the area I could picture the majesty of Stonehenge and understand the draw it has for many people.
This is the author's first book and he has certainly done his research and captivated me with the history.

From the book jacket:
Eight days before the summer solstice, a man is butchered in a blood-freezing sacrifice on the ancient site of Stonehenge before a congregation of robed worshippers. Within hours, one of the world's foremost treasure hunters has shot himself in his country mansion. And to his estranged son, young archaeologist Gideon Chase, he leaves a cryptic letter. Teaming up with an intrepid policewoman, Gideon soon exposes a secret society-an ancient international legion devoted for thousands of years to Stonehenge.With a charismatic and ruthless new leader at the helm, the cult is now performing ritual human sacrifices in a terrifying bid to unlock the secret of the stones. Packed with codes, symbology, relentless suspense, and fascinating detail about the history of one of the world's most mysterious places, The Stonehenge Legacy is a blockbuster to rival the very best of Dan Brown. 

 Warminster is also mentioned in this book.

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