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

Avebury & the Marlborough Downs



Two widely spaced letters about the threats to the stones:
To the editor of The Times.

Sir, -- [..] you will perhaps agree with me in the regret, amounting to horror, which I have just felt in observing, as I passed the "Gray Wethers" on Marlborough-downs, that the utilitarian work of destruction is actually breaking up these ancient stone, whether for repairing the roads or extending the herbage I know not.

Surely no modern barbarian, whether he be a commissioner of the turnpikes or a wealthy agriculturist, has any better right to deprive his country of these fine Druidic relics of the earliest age than he has to blow up Stonehenge and then to chip it into fragments; or to level the stupendous barrow of Silbury-hill in order to bring a few more acres into cultivation.

What are the county members, or the county magistrates, about, to suffer this work of spoilation to proceed! Are there no newspapers in Wiltshire! [..] Antiquarius.

The Times, Wednesday, Aug 12, 1840; pg. 3

[..] In consequence of a recent change of ownership.. there is every probability that the work of breaking up the Sarsens will be undertaken on a greatly extended scale.. the Grey Wethers in Pickle Dean and Lockeridge Dean would be the first to go, owing to their situation adjacent to high roads – while for the same reason their disappearance would be a greater loss to the public than the disappearance of those in more remote parts of the Downs.

[..] it was felt that steps ought to be taken to secure the preservation of some characteristic examples of the stones in their natural condition, and representations were made to the owner by the National Trust and the Wiltshire Archaeological Society. Mr. Alec Taylor, the present owner, met the representatives of the two societies in a friendly spirit; he stated at once that he intended to preserve.. the Devil's Den, and, after some further negotiations, he has given the National Trust an option to purchase about 11 acres in Pickle Dean and about 9 acres in Lockeridge Dean for £500 [..]

The Times, Friday, Jul 05, 1907; pg. 4
The stones were bought by the National Trust in 1907.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th May 2007ce
Edited 9th August 2013ce

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