Monday, June 23, 2008


Flicking idly through my photos I came across this one of West Kennet longbarrow, and was suddenly struck by the uneven line of the ridge of the barrow highlighted by the darkness of the ridge against the sky. There is the old track that was driven across, goodness knows when, it now stands higher than the surrounding field, showing how ploughing reduces the land surface. The rest of the hollows would presumably be because of quarrying of stone I suppose.
What does stand out however is the dramatic placing of the longbarrow on the brow of the hill, facing the Ridgeway, and of course facing the somewhat later? Sanctuary, another circle of stones, preceded by timber circles.

West Kennet Longbarrow from the Sanctuary

The great stones of West Kennet would have come into view to those travelling along the Ridgeway. Bare feet tramping along the chalky track, animals perhaps being herded along, WKLB is almost an engineered feat of dramatic surprise.
And again we have only to turn round from the stance of the person taking the photograph to see Silbury Hill, another engineered feat of dramatic surprise. There is a spatial awareness carried out in the landscape, the focussing of the key elements on the bare downs, East Kennet longbarrow seems to give the same message, as it overlooks the river Kennet at the bottom of the valley.
Waden Hill is of course the place to understand this overlooking both Silbury Hill and WKLB, what we see are 'statements of strong visuality', we may term it territorial but it is also visionary, though these two monuments are separated in time in their construction they both express an underlying creativity.

Silbury from Waden Hill

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