Friday, July 23, 2021

23rd July 2021

Sliding through the blogs this morning, I saw the Neolithic West Kennett Long Barrow featured alongside Herzog and I wondered what he would have made of  this enormous monument to prehistory.  It doesn't get on to the seven great wonders of the world,  But it stands alone high on the downs of Wiltshire looking down on that other great monument Silbury Hill. 



Prehistoric landscapes are strangely preserved because of the enormous weight of the stones moved by prehistoric man, an extraordinary feat of strength and togetherness.  A geological wonder, as those who have argued that the source of the bluestones  in Wales ending up in  the ring of stones at Stonehenge will testify.

The 'closed' fa├žade, like a redundant temple it faces the sun.





The long length of it, cut by a farmer's need to get to his fields and of course archaeological excavations.

It snakes down a slight hill like a dragon, actually it faces towards The Sanctuary stone circle and The Ridgeway path.  The Sanctuary stone circle has long since disappeared and the stones replaced by concrete markers.  But of course, there is the stone Avenue, paired females and males either side? which starts the opposite side, but a landscape wherein paths are created to take you from one place to another, a pilgrimage.



The Avenue leads to the Avebury stone circles, a monument that holds the first inklings of a great open-air cathedral building to a long gone belief system.  The massive stones of Avebury have an artistic merit of great size and beauty, a labour of love enshrined in the great ditch that surround them.

Avebury Stone Circle

The beginnings of 'being civilised' creating a society, beliefs, farming the land but they still had time to create and they took the sarsen stone in the surrounding country and probably formed the circle from the sun's shape above.  I remember one cold January at midnight, when Paul and I stood by the Cove stones at Avebury and looked up at the moon with its craters and crevices etched on its surface, it is at these moments you can almost be with these early people in their wonderment at the black space of the universe around them.  Trying so hard to make sense of it all, copying in stone what they saw.

Swallowhead Spring

I had wandered many times by the Swallowhead spring with its old willow tree draping its branches into the water and wondered about the people who come to decorate it with their pieces of tat.  Are these modern creatures trying to create the same moment or are they seeking their own belief and redemption.

I put it down to nature worship in a fraught world, humans must always turn to something outside themselves for reassurance.

The Cove Stones, there were three at one time, massive giants.


10 comments:

  1. I had to go and look up Herzog as I'd never heard of him (Tam has).

    I so enjoyed the Avebury photos. They brought back happy memories. A bit too far for a day out for us these days, so I shall rely on those memories.

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    1. It has become one of those 'tourists' type place, everyone ends up at the stones but the wider landscape is still relatively untouched. Seem to be very retrospective at the moment;)

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  2. All very beautiful and such food for thouht in these troubled timed.

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    1. The Wiltshire chalk downs are very different from the Yorkshire Dales Pat but were 'occupied' by prehistoric people with ambitions and talent.

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  3. I have said this before - you make me want to visit that area and walk among those stones and those lumps and bumps in the landscape. So very tantalising.

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    1. I looked up the place you walked to the other day, and I see from The Megalithic Portal, that not only does it have a stone circle but several cairns as well.

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  4. I love these places. Any excuse to remember them is good for me. I think I mentioned that I have Aubrey's complete surveys of them in drawings. Lovely.

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  5. Aubrey and Stukeley were the great men who took notice of these stones, there is a story milling around in my mind about the Doctor who took the bones of the A/S men, buried after a battle, placed in a circle round the Sanctuary stone circle. He ground the bones into dust and sold it for a medicinal remedy.

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    1. Was it the same barber-surgeon who was killed by a toppling stone at Avebury when he tried to uproot it as an offence against Christianity?

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    2. No a different guy, he was rather unfortunate that one in the hole ;)

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