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(āmz`bərē), town, Wiltshire, S central England. Located on Salisbury plain, the town is among the oldest continuously settled locations in Great Britain. In 980 the widow of King Edgar founded Amesbury Abbey, where Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend is said to have died. StonehengeStonehenge
, group of standing stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, S England. Preeminent among megalithic monuments in the British Isles, it is similar to an older and larger monument at Avebury, some 20 mi (30 km) away.
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, the best-known megalithic monument in Britain, Durrington Walls, and many other Neolithic remains are nearby.


(āmz`bĕr'ē, –bərē), town (1990 pop. 14,997), Essex co., NE Mass., on the Merrimack River; inc. 1668. The town's economy relies on light manufacturing. John Greenleaf WhittierWhittier, John Greenleaf
, 1807–92, American Quaker poet and reformer, b. near Haverhill, Mass. Whittier was a pioneer in regional literature as well as a crusader for many humanitarian causes. Early Life

Whittier received a scanty education but read widely.
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 lived there most of his life, and his house is preserved. Josiah BartlettBartlett, Josiah,
1729–95, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Amesbury, Mass. He practiced medicine in Kingston, N.H.
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 was born in Amesbury.
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Amesbury, an important site of Arthurian legends, is near the pre-Christian site of Stonehenge. Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The town of Amesbury, located about eighty miles west of London, England, lies in an area of ancient and continued holiness. Nearby, on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, is Stonehenge, one of the most ancient megalithic structures. A little to the north is the Avebury stone circle, scene of a religious tradition going back some four thousand years.

Welsh historians believe that during the Middle Ages, a monastery was located in Amesbury, but a consensus seems to have developed that in the time of Ambrosias Aurelianus, uncle to the fabled King Arthur, it was a garrison for troops, and the place was named Ambrosiani after Ambrosias.

In the Arthurian legends, it was in Amesbury that Guinevere, after her affair with Lancelot and banishment following Arthur's death, became a nun and lived out her days. Although modern writers more than earlier scribes seem to emphasize the importance of Amesbury in the Arthurian legends, John Masefield, in his poem, "Gwenivere Tells," has Guinevere remembering:

Anon I made profession, and took vows As nun encloistered: I became Christ's spouse, At Amesbury, as Abbess to the house. I changed my ermines for a goathair stole, I broke my beauty there, with dule and dole, But love remained a flame within my soul.

Thus at Amesbury we find a curious but fairly common occurrence. One religious tradition, in this case the stone-building culture of prehistorical Stonehenge, is superseded by a completely different religious tradition. In this case, it is the legend of King Arthur's court and the search for the grail from Christ's last supper—the legend marking the transition from paganism to Christianity.

References in periodicals archive ?
Wiltshire council seeks to appoint a contractor for the works associated with the design & build of the proposed kings gate primary school in amesbury, wiltshire.
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Hama (UK) Ltd's modern Distribution Centre is located in Amesbury, Wiltshire, with Sales, Administration and Service Centre is located at the head office in Basingstoke.
Working at Vespasian's Camp in Amesbury, Wiltshire, less than a mile from the megalithic stones, a team led by archaeologist David Jacques of the Open University unearthed material which contradicted the general belief that no people settled there until as late as 2,500 BC.
A load of old rocks standing in the middle of a field off the A344 in Amesbury, Wiltshire.