England: The Great Stone Circle, Avebury
We drove from Bath to Avebury, threading our way through more roundabouts and traffic than I’d expected. There’s a lot more cars in England these days than there were during my last visit in 1980.
The great stone circle is another one of those places that had greatly attracted me over the years and of course I ‘d seen countless pictures, watched many documentaries, and even studied the history of the place in school.
The big circle is vast, far too extensive to photograph. In fact the biggest of the three circles measures some 1200 teet in diameter, the largest such monument in Europe. In the Middle Ages a village went up in the middle of the site, which must have provided no end of spooky experiences for the local children. During the seventeenth century religious fervor resulted in an attempt by villagers to destroy the stones – probably in conjunction with some practical quarrying. Luckily they weren’t very successful.
Today a road bisects the site, another sacrifice for progress.
So what went on at Avebury during its heyday? As is typical, no one really knows. There still exist extensive earthworks that border the site, too, which must have been of some significance to the builders for them to have extended the effort required to build these ramparts.
Some of the menhirs are truly colossal. Similar to those at Stonehenge in size, we can only guess as to how they were moved.
We noted two stones called “The Cove.” The literature suggests that the alignment of the stones may had related to ceremonies performed here; or perhaps to astronomical events.
Anyhow the sheep find it easy to make themselves at home and get out of the sun. The stones prove themselves useful still.
Both the village and the circle possess a certain quiet charm that even the tourists – ourselves included – are unable to spoil.
And we can still dance at Avebury because I would guess that the ancient ones who raised the stones did the same.