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Alexander Keiller's Avebury
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About a year ago I bought an A4 sized booklet written by Caroline Munro (1986) who was a former curator of the Alexander Keiller Museum. It describes the excavation and restoration of the 'Neolithic Henge Monument of Avebury' by Keiller 50 years earlier and was written in the form of a catalogue to advertise an exhibition specially mounted for the World Archaelogical Congress in 1986. The exhibition took place in Southampton in God's Tower House, Town Key.

A very interesting read culminating in discussion and I thought her final words quite close to my heart:-

'Today (1986) it is unthinkable that prehistoric sites of world importance can be purchased and excavated by an individual. However, there is a lesson for modern archaeologists from Keiller's work at Avebury. For the purists of prehistory, excavation is often viewed as a necessary evil, to be conducted when sites are threatened, or when the urge of curiosity becomes too strong. Restoration and reconstruction are often viewed as even greater evils. But how many of those purists have gone to Avebury and innocently imagined that they were viewing the last remaining features of the monument? Avebury is the magical and overwhelming site that it is, because it is, in part, restored. Without the re-erected stones, without the plinths marking the missing stones, without the cleaning and landscaping of the whole monument, there would be little to interest the specialist or layman. Keiller was not inhibited by the modern conciousness of today, where the maxim offered by the archaeological establishment is "leave as found", and there is a strong incentive not to dabble in possibly correct or incorrect reconstructions. Keiller returned to the historical sources, and to the prehistoric structures, to reveal Avebury in its entirety. Inspired by Stukeley's record of the monuments, he had no inhibitions about whether or not to restore'.

That would be me and if left to me those rediscovered stones in the Great Circle and Beckhampton Avenue we know of today would be re-erected tomorrow!

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Posted by Sanctuary
20th January 2013ce

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