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One of the largest prehistoric henges in Britain, construction began on the
Avebury complex in approximately 2600 B.C. The complex in Wiltshire, England
consists of the Avebury stone circle, monuments at Windmill Hill and the
Sanctuary, West Kennett Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Avenue.
Covering 28 acres, the Avebury Circle is surrounded by a bank and
ditch which is
approximately 30 feet in depth. During the medieval period misled Christians
undertook the destruction of the site by burying and burning the great sarsen
stones. Later inhabitants of the growing village within the circle tore down
and broke more stones for use as building materials. Restoration on the site
began in the 1930's and the monuments of the Avebury complex are now designated
a World Heritage site.
An Avebury sarsen.
Thought possibly to align on the moon's most northerly rising point, these two
stones of the ruined Northern Inner Circle of the Avebury Circle represent the
two prominent shapes found among the Avebury stones. The massive
triangular-like shaped stones are believed by some to represent the feminine,
while the columnar, phallic shaped stones possibly represent masculine energies.
The largest man-made mound in Europe lies in Wilshire, England
near the Avebury stone circle. Dating from 2660 B.C. Silbury Hill is an
unusually stable chalk/earth construction approximately 130 feet in height.
Excavation has proven the hill is not funerary in nature, and supportable
theory suggests the hill and surrounding plain are an earthen representation of
the Great Goddess.
View of the Sanctuary in the Avebury complex. The
markers represent timber post holes and an outer stone ring.
Looking across Marlborough Down from the Sanctuary at Avebury.
West Kennett Barrow, part of the Avebury complex, is one of the best preserved
burial chambers in Britain. The Barrow is composed of stone, sarsen stones,
chalk and earth. There are two ditches running parallel to the mound which
although once 12 feet in depth, are now silted up. The Barrow has yielded
remains of approximately 45 individuals from several stone chambers and is
thought to have been in use from 3700 B.C. to approximately the late Neolithic
around 2000 B.C. Originally the sarsen stones seen here at the entrance would
have been part of a forecourt to the tomb, but once the tomb was full, the
sarsen stones were moved to block the entrance to the structure. The Barrow is
contemporary with Silbury Hill and the rest of the Avebury complex.
An interior view of West Kennett Long Barrow.
The Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England rises 520 feet about sea level and is
topped with the ruins of a church to St. Michael. As with many hills, and
lakes, the Tor has been associated with the Otherworld since the Neolithic
era. A spiral maze on the Tor was created in approximately 2500 B.C. Lore
informs us that Glastonbury is the location of the Isle of Avalon, the fabled
realm of the Goddess and the Tor itself an entrance to the Celtic underworld.
The Tor was in fact an island, surrounded by vast swamp and lake lands which
have since been drained to make way for human habitation. The area is a
favorite for lovers of Arthurian legend.
The Chalice Well Garden in Glastonbury is as rich in folk tradition as it is in beauty. The
garden is an ancient sanctuary which protects the Chalice Well. The iron laden
waters of the Well, fed by a spring which flows from further up Chalice Hill,
have been long thought to have miraculous healing powers. The entwined circles
of the fountain, though a recent addition, mimic the design on the lid which
covers the Well head. Designed in the early 1900's the lid depicts two
overlapping circles pierced by the "Bleeding Lance" which irrevocably binds the
two worlds of myth and mortality together.
The Chalice Well is named for the famous incident in which Joseph of Arimathea
came to Glastonbury and hid the Chalice of the Last Supper inside the Well,
which stained the water forever - causing it to colour red the rocks over which
it passes. Long before this story came to be, the area of Glastonbury and
Chalice Hill was a site of Neolithic occupation and later the Garden is thought
to have been a Druidic sanctuary, the remains of a colonnade of Yew trees still
to be seen.
Called the "holiest ground in England" the area of the Glastonbury Abbey has
been infused with spirituality since prehistory. Very likely a centre of
Goddess worship in the Neolithic era, a Druidic college is believed to have
been founded later on these surrounds. Eventually the Christian community
built an abbey on the site and over time the Abbey again became a pilgrimage
site. The ruins of the Abbey house the supposed one-time resting place of the
legendary King Arthur and Queen Guinevere and the grassy area of the now
disappeared Christian high altar is thought to be in the approximate area as
the earlier Druidic altar.
Located in Cornwall, England, Boscawen-Un has
nineteen regularly-spaced stones granite stones in an oval-shaped ring
surrounded by a dense turf bank that is smothered in gorse and
bracken. One of its western stones is thought to provide a sightline
to the Beltaine sunrise.
This leaning 8-foot pillar stone stands at the centre
of the Boscawen-Un ring. Excavation has proven that the stone was
carefully erected to insure that the stone leans to a height of about
6-feet above the ground.
Like the other Lands End circles, Boscawen-Un was
probably constructed in the late Neolithic period, approximately 2700
BC. Clearly an important site, Boscawen-Un is said to have been a
Druid temple and also one of three great meeting places in prehistoric
Britain. Cloaked in scrub, brush and mystery, Boscawen-Un, meaning
"house of the elder tree," is still a popular site. Many
visitors leave flowers or tokens at the base of the leaning pillar
stone before making their way out of the circle.
Restored in the 1860's the Merry Maiden's stone circle in Land's End, Cornwall,
England emanates a curiously peaceful and cheery atmosphere. Upon visiting one
cannot help but feel there is something to the story that the four foot
stones were once jolly girls who dared to dance on the Sabbath and were turned
to stone. The ring is also known as the Dawn's Men which came from "Dans Maen"
or the "stone dance" as the stones do truly appear to be dancing. A second
ring, paired with the Merry Maiden's, was destroyed in the 19th century.
With nineteen stones spaced at 12 feet apart, the Merry
Maidens is similar to its neighboring Land's End stone circle,
Boscawen-Un, only 2.25 miles to the southwest. Like Boscawen-Un, the
Merry Maidens also has a noticeable widening between two stones that
may have served as the entrance. The entrance to the Merry Maidens is
situated due east, while the entrance to Boscawen-Un is due west.
Others have written of the strangely peaceful feeling of the circle. Such
feelings have sometimes been attributed to suggestions that the 19 granite
blocks have accumulated "bio-electricity" from the Neolithic era in which they
were built which is still accessible to those visiting the stones today.
This holed stone is just across the road from the Merry Maiden stone circle and
was undoubtedly pilfered from the site for its use as a gatepost. Holed stones
are known throughout Celtic mythology as "cursing" stones and "sighting"
stones. Holed stones are thought to possess particular "energy" and it is by
and through holed stones that trial marriages of a year and a day were often
On Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, England stands the Hurlers, a
series of three large stone rings. Composed of shaped granite stones,
the northern and central ring each retain about sixteen or seventeen
stones of their original twenty-eight and the southern circle has only
nine stones remaining of its original twenty-eight stones. The
cart-track that destroyed the southern circle enjoys considerable
popularity among the local populace. Legend has it, as with so many
other stone rings, that the stones in these rings were once just lads
out for a day of hurling, unfortunately, on the Lord's Day. These
two particular stones are known as the "Pipers," unfortunate
musicians who shared the same fate as their friends for playing on the
Only a mile or so from the Culloden battlefield in
Inverness-shire, Scotland, lies a site known as the Clava cairns.
Dating from approximately 3000 BC, this delightful area lies in
pleasant surrounds bordering the River Nairn. The site consists of two
passage-tombs, a ring cairn and a stone circle.
A Clava passage-tomb bordered by standing stones.
The stones of Clava, whether they are prominent as
this one here, or off in the woods all have exceptional personality.
A profusely cupmarked kerbstone at the Clava cairns site.
With the central area blacked by charcoal, this Clava
ring-cairn was also found to contain a small quantity of cremated
It is a unique experience to be able to sit quietly
within the womb-like presence of a passage-tomb. This Clava
passage-tomb held the cremated bone and spirit of those long since
Leaving the maternal arms of the tomb, one journeys
down the birth passage to the waiting outside world. Both of the
entrances to the Clava passage-tombs are aligned on the winter
Midmar Church, Aberdeenshire, Scotland was built in 1797 on the much
older stone circle site existing there of standing and recumbent
stones. The graveyard to the church was added amid the stones in
Two pillar stones of approximately eight feet flank
a fourteen-foot, twenty-ton recumbent stone. The construction method
and chockstones used to keep the recumbent stone almost precisely
horizontal show the great effort utilized when constructing stone
circles. The recumbent stone is thought to mark the southern
Possibly an outlier, or the lone remnant of
another stone circle, the Balblair stone is just 100 yards north of
the Midmar Kirk stone circle. When empty, the Midmar Kirk has a
certain enchanting atmosphere. The commingling of Neolithic beliefs
and Christian architecture do not create the clash that one might
expect -- rather, a pleasant humming of timelessness that is not
The Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire, England, stand in
a perfect 104 diameter circle aside a prehistoric trackway. The pair
of entrance stones to the circle form a sightline to the moonrise at
The Rollright stone circle is constructed of local
oolitic limestone. The name of the site derives from
"Hrolla-landright" -- "the land of the Hrolla."
Long the subject of mystery, the Rollright Stones were
raised in the late Neolithic era and for millennia have been
associated with legends of "witches" from nearby Long Compton
vanquishing traitorous Knights and treacherous Kings.
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