Saturday, December 13, 2008

Circling Stones

......."hath fallen a sacrifice to the wretched ignorance and avarice of a little village unluckily plac'd within it." Stukeley

I have to quote Stukeley as I begin this rambling blog, because what the following photos show is the tragedy of not being able to see the Avebury circles in their full, albeit reduced state, because of the houses and buildings that sit within. What would we have seen if having come down the West Kennet Avenue through the great entrance stones, you would have been confronted by the inner south circle and the great obelisk, and what to my mind is the worst offence, you can't see The Cove, though one's mind will tell you that it is placed to the right of The Red Lion.
Such things cannot be undone, the village resides in the circle and the tourist perambulate its great bank, the majesty of this great ritual complex has been lost to later history. So we are left with tantalising glimpses as to what it might have been and how it was used.
There has been a discussion on The Modern Antiquarian about alignments both within the circle and down the West Kennet Avenue. Reading John North on the subject, and he provides an impressive though complicated alignment charts, focussing both on the sun and the moon, though here the argument against him could be put that by providing so many lines you can prove almost anything.
One of the tentative theories he puts forward for the West Kennet Avenue having a moon alignment is that the male and female symbolism of the alternating stones on the Avenue points to a fertility cult, the moon having the same monthly cyclical as the female.
But what of my photos, the early morning ones were taken when I was staying there, and would walk the dog down the Avenue in the bright cold air, musing on those that had gone before. Coming back you cross the little lane with the latched gates and enter the south circle's quarter, here if you stand on the bank you can look down on the two great entrance stones and watch the shadows slowly creep down the stones, the sun is behind you.
Your mind says no this is not the way I should be entering this circle, I would be processing from the Avenue between the two great stones and would be faced with the great obelisk and the intervening stones. I would see the beautiful Cove stones in the distance and my senses would be overawed by the majesty of these gigantic stones.
It is impossible to restore this first impression that these bronze age people saw, the Avebury Circles are probably the final culmination of a great stone building era, nothing like it was to happen again, the skills became lost.
And because I do ramble, would not the Great Circle have melded with the landscape if the bank and ditch had not been built, there is something unsatisfactory and untidy about this addition, yes it says hey look what we are capable of, but by being there, imposing a moatlike appearance the serenity of the circle is somewhat diminished. Power is already asserting itself and the symmetry of peace is being lost.

The Obelisk

Morning Shadows

South Circle at Avebury

Morning shadows cast by the bank on entrance stones

Looking Towards the far end

One of the 'kinks' In West Kennet Avenue

West Kennet Avenue seen from the Ridgeway

1 comment:

  1. There is something about Avebury which is utterly magical. How I should love to wander round it in the dawn light in summer. I would love to understand it better, get inside the minds of those who built it thus . . .