Chapter 6 – Avebury

Book Extract……………………………..

The Northern Station Stone of Stonehenge is in direct alignment between the centre of the Circle and Avebury.

Avebury lies in an area of chalkland in the Upper Kennet Valley, at the Western end of the Berkshire Downs, which forms the catchment for the River Kennet and supports local springs and seasonal watercourses. The monument stands slightly above the local landscape, sitting on a low chalk ridge 160 m (520 ft) above sea level; to the East are the Marlborough Downs, an area of lowland hills. Archaeologists freely admit that the history of Avebury before the construction of the henge is uncertain because little datable evidence has emerged from modern excavations. But stray finds of flints at Avebury, dated between 7000 and 4000 BC, indicate that the site was visited in the late Mesolithic period.

Figure 68– Long Barrows around Avebury used as beacons for direction hence orientation

If we now apply the same groundwater table adjustments demonstrated in our hypothesis, we are left with a landscape rendered unrecognisable by groundwater, as the Avebury Circle becomes an island.  The most remarkable thing is that Avebury now looks like a sister site to Old Sarum: both are perfectly round islands surrounded by groundwater; both have two inner circles and are aligned to Stonehenge via its moated Station Stones.

The next item of interest is the orientation of the long barrows. If you look at a map of Avebury (Fig. 63), you can see that the barrows are not all oriented in the same direction. Archaeologists would have you believe that these monuments were only made for the dead but, if that was the case, why don’t they point to a particular direction, such as the sunrise or sunset, or something equally symbolic?  From our Mesolithic groundwater map, we can show that East Kennet Long Barrow was the first hill marker you would see if approaching Avebury from the Eastern inlet. Although West Kennet Long Barrow is seen side-on, it would still be visible as a smaller marker, as it had large white stones added to its Eastern entrance to give it greater visibility.

When the groundwater started to recede, as we saw at Old Sarum, our ancestors tried to keep their monument an island by adding ditches. These ditches would have been shallow at first, becoming deeper over the centuries until they were finally abandoned, leaving what we see today.

This gradual process explains more clearly how and why such a task was undertaken, as the logistical requirements of building the Avebury ditches ‘in one go’ would have been beyond a prehistoric civilisation whose only tools were antler picks and stone axes.  Current estimates suggest that it took 1.5 million working-hours to build the Avebury monument. In simple terms, that’s 200 people working full-time for 3 to 4 years. This is clearly not plausible. As you will be able to imagine if you have ever visited the site or you understand the requirements of manual labour, it would take a lot more to construct such a large area with such basic tools.   The nearby human-made Silbury Hill contains 248,000 cubic metres of chalk and would have taken 18 million working-hours to complete (Atkinson 1974:128).  That’s equivalent to 500 people working full-time for 15 years. Yet we are expected to believe that Avebury’s 125,000 cubic metres of chalk took just 1.5 million working hours to move.

It’s more likely that these monuments grew over centuries, slowly but surely, the ditches starting at just two metres (like Stonehenge) getting deeper over hundreds of years as the moat was regularly cleaned out until they reached the final dimensions of 11 metres deep and 22 metres wide. 

Figure 69– British Geological Society Map of Avebury showing ‘Superficial Deposits’ left by the remains of the Kennet in the Mesolithic Period

Now everyone knows that Stonehenge, Avebury and Old Sarum were cut out of the hard chalk with antler picks – or do we?  For if the archaeologists are right, the entire site must be littered with the broken remains of these objects – but there not! Half of Stonehenge has been fully excavated and found just 82 pieces probably from about 50 full antlers. 

At Avebury even less have been found – either antlers are the most formidable natural tools in the world or what we see are the remnants of tools used after the construction for alterations or to clean out (not cut) the ditches. Mike Parker-Pearson found strange cut marks in the bottom of a ditch at Durrington in 2008.  These cut marks were so thin that they could only be made by a metal blade, like a bronze or copper axe. The only problem is that according to traditional archaeology – Bronze technology is not available during this period history – unless, of course, the accepted Victorian dating periods are fundamentally wrong, and metals were used long ago.

More recent discoveries now indicate that the peoples of Europe had Bronze as early as 4600 BCE in Bulgaria found in a Gold and Bronze grave – so there is no good reason to believe that the builders of Stonehenge did not have Bronze or copper axes to cut the chalk, towards the end of the Mesolithic period as they would be trading with these places in Europe using their boats.

Moreover, the cross-section drawing of Avebury drawn in 1914 by St George Grey shows that our ancestors took great care to make sure the bottom was flat – the question is why?

If it’s a ceremonial ditch (as some archaeologists suggest) why flat and so deep, indeed would not  a small easy to cut v- ditch would suffice and be less time-consuming?

Figure 70– Harold St. George Grey, with his sketch of the excavation showing the large flat bottom and his evidence on the bank that it was built in stages

Moreover, the excavation serves us with the ‘smoking gun’ of evidence we have been seeking. Because as St. George Grey’s men dug, following the ancient ditches cut deep in the soil they had to stop working, as the workman had hit the water table level and the ditch started to flood.

Figure 71– The ‘Smoking gun’ water found at the bottom of the ditch – even today

Now, this is in Summer 1914, and they have reached the water table level.  We know in winter the water table would be higher and more importantly, we have shown in previous chapters that the water tables were higher in the past than today. This proves that when this ditch was originally dug, it filled with water turning it into a moat.

Furthermore, the question that needs to be answered is ‘why a flat bottom moat’ as you are not going to see it when it is full of water. The simple answer is the same reason that we today dredge rivers and boat canals – to remove the silting.

Natural silting over time will create a round bottom to the moat. If you make the bottom flat, it will take longer to silt up than if it was round, prolonging its use or for the need to remove the silt.  Is this what we are finding in the ‘fill’ of these ditches, and the tools used to keep the moat clean and free from weeds, would be the Antler picks and cow shoulder blades found in excavations in small quantities.

Eventually, when Avebury lost all of its groundwater, our ancestors built Silbury Hill as the new landing site to the complex. Silbury Hill is the largest human-made island in Europe and was set at the end of the Neolithic waterway.  Composed mainly of chalk and clay excavated from the surrounding area, the mound stands 40 metres (130 ft) high and covers about 5 acres. As we have already seen, it would have taken 18 million-man hours to deposit and shape this vast pile of chalk and earth on top of the natural hill that forms Silbury’s foundation. The base of the hill is circular, 167 metres (548 ft) in diameter. The summit is most importantly, flat-topped and 30m (98ft) in diameter.

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