I’ve been wandering in the past again, looking at a marvelous site on Avebury. It contains comprehensive information about the amazing Neolithic standing stones in southern England, including plans, maps, panoramic views, history and links to explore further.

Whereas Stonehenge has long been one of Britain’s most famous pre-historic sites, Avebury has been relatively unknown until recent times [because] much of the monument we see today had disappeared until Alexander Keiller resurrected it from the obscurity into which time and human behaviour had driven it. Stonehenge has stood upon Salisbury Plain always obvious to the eye and defiant of the weather but Avebury’s magnificence lay hidden, vandalised and ignored.” Now it is “one of the most important ancient sites in the British Isles. I’m amazed to learn that It is estimated that the henge and avenues originally contained in excess of 600 stones. So many have been destroyed that only 76 of them are now visible. Excavations and surveys in recent years have revealed that at least 20 others remain buried.

Besides the excellent research information, I enjoyed the personal notes by the author (name unknown), such as the story of his first encounter with the stones and his comments on the theories about Avebury. He writes that Avebury

in common with all of the many megaliths of the neolithic period, is something that lies outside of our experience, its purpose still demanding an explanation by our modern, scientific minds. These days my personal attitude towards it is merely one of delight that it exists. I’m certain that the people who built it had a perception of life and sensitivity to nature that is now quite alien to us. I like to imagine that they were also very altruistic, a trait that the love of money has largely eradicated from our modern world. Considering these points I now accept that the 4,500 years of history since has probably rendered us incapable of finding a path that would lead us to the correct explanation of Avebury’s many enigmas.

There are even “wallpapers” to download, one of which I chose to put above as a small illustration. (Thanks to plep for the link.)

You may find it interesting to compare Avebury’s standing stones to the ones in Sweden.

Addendum Dec.3.2005: I forgot to point out the page called plain stones where the author compares Avebury to other neolithic sites that have petroglyphs (carvings) and pictographs (paintings). Why were Avebury and Stonehenge left unadorned?

November 30, 2005 in Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena