The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Avebury

Stone Circle

Fieldnotes

After a while the urge to stroll round the complex became very strong, so I set off in a clockwise direction, beginning at the lattice work of gnarled beech roots crowning the eastern dip in the henge. It was then the sheer magnitude of the Avebury complex hit me again, somehow through older, wiser eyes. The size of the embankment and ditch struck home, and I recalled telling one of our neighbourhood children that it had been dug out using antler picks and shovels, the spoil carried away in baskets. Standing still, I looked at the chalk beneath my feet. It was densely packed, hard and dusty. Friends have deer antlers hanging by their back door; they're not especially large, and I tried to imagine what it would feel like to begin scrabbling at the chalk face with a similarly shaped smooth-handled bone pick. Can't imagine it would have made much impact. What a feat of engineering Avebury is – henges built 5,000 years ago, yet still supporting the footfall of millions of visitors a year.

Gazing across the rooftops of houses within the circle, and watching people playing with a frisbee in the north-eastern quarter, they appeared diminutive, tiny against the vast circle and sky. What would it have been like to stand on the henge when there was no village, when presumably it was built for the populace to bear witness to whatever form of rite and ceremony, under open skies and the theatre of the circle? How could you see what was taking place? Was the henge a form of seating, or was it to provide a barrier to arcane and esoteric practices? Could you lie on it in comfort to star-gaze all night?

Strolling round the henge and through the stones, memories of previous visits filled my mind, individual stones calling up reminders of who did this, how this happened, where particular photos were taken, what conversations took place. I smiled inside, at a tapestry of life, friends, lovers, experiences and growth woven over the years amidst the stones – stones that never change, yet can change your life in subtle degrees from the moment you enter their world.
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
10th August 2006ce
Edited 13th August 2006ce

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