Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Avebury Stone Circle

One of our many guidebooks includes the tantalizing quote that Avebury "does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a cathedral doeth a parish church." So said John Aubrey, 17th century antiquarian. When a trip took us nearby, we couldn't resist a detour to Avebury. After perusing How to Read Prehistoric Monuments we felt ready to absorb the awesome spectacle.

Avebury is similar to Stonehenge in that it contains huge rocks arranged in specific patterns. They are both classified as "henges" because they are neolithic earth works with ditches and banks. The big stones are just gravy. What makes Avebury a cathedral of megalithic sites is that it contains multiple huge stone circles, ditches, lanes of stones, etc. It is so big that words and photos don't really do it justice.

Just a small slice of one of the stone circles

We took in some views of the circles and touched a few rocks on our way to the visitor's center.

This one looks like it came from Easter Island
Lucy was too tired to turn around

Lucy got her energy back!

Avebury was built around 5000 years ago during the stone age. It was built using only stone tools, rope, and deer antler "shovels". And lots and lots of human sweat. It must have taken thousands upon thousands of hours of labor, at a time when England was probably very lightly populated.

Not much progress from pre-historic to post-modern man

The visitor center was not fancy, but Jacob and Lucy were highly entertained by it. One display described the animals that lived in the area 5000 years ago and had little cubby holes to put your hand into. Assuming it had some sort of "feel this thing and guess what it is" purpose, I put my hand in. A wolf howled immediately and I jumped back. My hand was okay. I showed it to Jacob, who also jumped. But he loved it. Jacob decided to listen to 20 howls and put his hand in repeatedly while counting out loud. Other nervous patrons decided that they were done with the visitor center and ducked outside. This gave us plenty of time to play with all the exhibits, including the neolithic tool set.