|notes from the stones, 4 April 02:
Rarely referred to, yet obviously once an integral part of the Avebury complex of monuments, Little Avebury stone circle stood on Cow Down at the base of Furze Hill, at the point of two beautiful narrow sheltered valleys.
What a confounding and enigmatic monument in such a beautiful setting. Heading from the Sanctuary through East Kennett we took the Ridgeway south. The views back to the imposing East Kennett long barrow and Silbury gave a whole new spin on my understanding of the layout of the Avebury landscape.
After a mile or so we arrived at Cow Down (no cows, but plenty of sheep). The Modern Antiquarian marks this as the site of a stone circle 'destroyed'. Having visited the 'destroyed' Falkner's Circle earlier today and found the site clearly marked and a stone still standing, and having previously been to several 'destroyed' stone circles in Aberdeenshire that are still readily identifiable, I had no idea what to expect of Little Avebury.
The OS map did a great job of pinpointing Falkner's Circle for us, but it marks nothing here.
There's a rough circle of about 8 recumbent and broken stones - with three more heading out in a line to the south - on the valley floor at 118654, between the Ridgeway and Furze Hill.
At the end of Furze Hill there's a *really* weird thing - a modern 12 foot tall pillar of rough white marble with a horse's head carved in the top. About 30 metres north of that is a bit of rough ground, littered with large sarsen boulders, some fifteen of which are in a neat north-south line. If I didn't know better I'd say it was a ruined barrow, but the lack of any MA reference and the valley-floor siting means it can't be.
Ten metres west is another small rough circle of small recumbent sarsens.
What confuses me is none of these three sites make sense as field clearance stones. A farmer would move stone to the edge of tillable land; the side of a field or the start of a steep slope. I can see no reason why any of these stones would have been cleared to their present positions, yet none of this is an obvious circle.
Does anyone know when it was destroyed? Or of any other clues to the exact siting? Can Stukeley perhaps help us out on this one?
Still, for all this confusion I'm calmed by this hazy heat and the beautiful steep green curved valleys here.Stones or no, this place has a rich magical air.
Posted by Merrick
12th April 2002ce
Edited 27th December 2002ce