If you are not familiar with the stone circles in Avebury Wiltshire they really are a beautiful, mysterious structure. Some theorise that they were aligned with the stars and people believe that they sync up with theoretical ley lines!
Well, new research has added to their mystique by giving us a unique insight into their origins.
It would seem that perhaps they didn’t start life as a stone circle at all but they might well have begun as a square! It comes on the back of researchers finding a large collection of giant stones in the middle of the henge.
It had been thought that these structures were always built to be round. After all, that’s the case with Stonehenge and it certainly appeared to be the case here too. If accurate it is the first square structure of its type ever discovered. In fact, they think that it may have contained a rectangular wooden house sometime before the circle was built.
The current theory is that the small house that was at the centre of the circle may have been built by the first settlers in the area. As such it became a really important symbol for the birth of the community. That’s possibly why it was developed into a monument to celebrate its importance.
Included in that monument was a huge square constructed from huge 20ft obelisks. I think even Obelix would have struggled to carry one of them! (Any article where you can reference the Asterix comics has to be good!)
Going through changes
Over the next few centuries, it would appear that the squares were dismantled and the stones were rearranged into the magnificent circles that we see today.
The team performing the study also discovered that at one point the stones would have cut across the inner circle in lines a bit like spokes on a wheel. Cool eh?
The newly constructed map of the area was created by combining the results of the current survey with an excavation survey that was created back in 1939. This gave them a great impression of how the site evolved over time.
The 1939 excavation was performed by Marmalade magnate Alexander Keiller and during the process, they discovered something quite anomalous a line of stones standing next to an obelisk which had fallen over. Keiller theorised that what he had discovered were the remains of something akin to a cart shed. Unfortunately, his research was cut short by the outbreak of the second world war.
Whilst Keiller’s dig was kyboshed it didn’t stop his efforts being continued in the modern day. In particular, this has been led by researchers at Leicester and the University of Southampton. What they have discovered is the majority of Keiller’s finds were domestic in nature rather than ritualistic as you might expect. There were lots of things like pottery shards which suggest that the site was, in fact, a settlement.
The modern investigations have largely focused on the area covered by Keiller and have used modern technology such as ground penetrating radar in order to further its effort.
The Avebury circles are a world heritage site which gives you an idea of their monumental importance (excuse the pun) They are currently maintained by the National Trust.
It’s believed the site was built circa 3500 bc. It contains 3 stone circles, one of which is the largest in Europe measuring an impressive 1000 foot across and originally consisting of more than 100 large stones.
Of course, this is just one of the many wonders held by the quaint county of Wiltshire. Amongst its many treasures are Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and of course Stonehenge. Interestingly it’s also got a reputation of being a bit of a UFO hot spot! In addition to this, there is supposed to be a great deal of mystical energy that converges in the area…If you believe in such things!