England: West Kennet Long Barrow, Avebury
We drove out to Avebury from Bath, along a route that promised to be rural but was now heavily trafficked. Here we found another astonishing sight that I’d never heard of, the West Kennet Long Barrow. Presumed to have been constructed around 3000 BC, its age and times are so distant as to be unfathomable. The barrow was old when the Giza pyramids were built.
And so we drifted into pre-history on a sunny afternoon, but nothing about the place seemed primitive. It seemed every stone was laid with a precision that left very little to chance.
Today the only way to approach the barrow is on foot, via a path that leads through agricultural land. Thje way isn’t really marked but we couldn’t miss the other seekers who had gathered there.
Clearly people gravitate to the top of the barrow, where they can rest and admire the scope of Avebury’s sacred geography.
The entrance is not quite hidden but you have to scramble around the menhirs to find it.
The barrow was used as a tomb; several dozen skeletions were discovered here in the 19th century. What rituals may have attended these burials are beyond comprehension. The stones do not speak to us except to express the will of their creators.
After exploring the interior we made our way to the summit of the barrow. Near the entrance a ring of sarsens completes the setting.
And more stonework casts shadows on the barrow’s opening.
Back inside, I was pleased to find a star. I suppose that visitors still try to follow the old ways, albeit through their modern senses.
And finally I understood the call of the barrow roof; what better place could one find to appreciate Avebury’s sublime beauty. The view of Silbury Hill was perfect, and beyond it we could imagine processions in the twilight under the great Stone Circle, but a mile beyond the pyramid.