Appendix 1: The monuments


The ditches and banks of Avebury henge have yielded radiocarbon dates around 2900-2600 cal BC (Pitts and Whittle 1992), 3040-2780 cal BC (Cleal 2001, 63) and 2840-2460 cal BC (Pollard and Cleal 2004, 121), suggesting that the banks and ditches that can be seen today were built by the middle of the third millennium BC. The area overlies several earlier depositional pits (Smith 1965, 224) and thus may have its origins as a site of importance in the Early Neolithic. Radiocarbon dates for the stone settings at Avebury suggest a date of 2870-2200 BC (Cleal 2001, 63). This wide range could be reduced a little by assuming that the stones did not appear until the earthworks were completed, giving an earliest date closer to 2600 BC. Based upon the evidence of stone settings and the few remaining standing stones, Keiller surmised that there were around 98 stones in the outer circle and two inner circles of 27 and 29 stones (Smith 1965, 196-201). There are also two further features within the inner circles: the Cove in the northern circle (Smith 1965, 201) and the Obelisk group in the southern (Smith 1965, 198). A timber circle is suggested in the north-east quadrant of Avebury (Pollard and Reynolds 2002, 88); however, this is not included in the GIS model because of lack of dating evidence. As they are not visible from the outside, the ditches have not been included in the model either.

The Beckhampton Avenue and Cove

The Beckhampton Avenue is a little more problematic than the West Kennet one as fewer stone positions are known. The known positions, at the Avebury west entrance (Smith 1965, 195) and of several stones in the Longstones Field (Gillings et al. 2008, 75-83), are used to project an arc of linking stones based upon Stukeley's diagrams, which Gillings et al. (2000) accept as probably accurate. A stone spacing similar to that of the West Kennet Avenue was used. The avenue stones overrun the Beckhampton enclosure (Gillings et al. 2000), suggesting that it is out of use but still respected. At this point a structure was placed to terminate the avenue; although Stukeley shows it continuing, no evidence has yet been produced to support this. In its final form this terminal is thought to be similar to the Avebury Cove, a rectilinear arrangement of quite large sarsens (Gillings et al. 2008, 85-89; Pollard and Reynolds 2002, 104; Stukeley 1724), and it is in this form that it is included in the model.

Falkner's Circle

Falkner's Circle lies to the east of the lithic scatter on the West Kennet Avenue. It appears to have consisted of a rough circle of ten to twelve standing stones with a diameter of around 40m and with an associated lithic scatter consistent with late Neolithic styles (Gillings et al. 2008, 151).

The long barrows

Of the 38 possible long barrows considered by Barker (1985), 24 were thought reliable enough to include in the GIS models. The study area is striking as it contains both megalithic chambered tombs and earthen long barrows. Long barrows began to appear from early in the fourth millennium BC (Darvill 2004, 81). The West Kennet long barrow probably only saw a primary use phase of around one lifetime (Whittle et al. 2007, 67) and was filled with coarse chalk rubble, organic material and deposits of material culture, and sealed with large sarsen stones by the period being examined in this article (Piggott 1962, 26). This type of activity is mirrored in several other barrows in the central area (Pollard and Reynolds 2002, 77) and is thought to represent a move away from ceremony relating directly to the dead and to a more centralised ceremony that could accommodate larger numbers of people (Thomas 1999, 207).

The palisade enclosures

These enclosures were built in the flat lower area between West Kennet long barrow, Overton Hill and Waden Hill. The erection consisted of two major enclosures of oak posts up to around 5m high (Whittle 1997, 154) with smaller enclosures within and several outer radial alignments, the longest of which had a further enclosure at its far end (radial structure 4); it is not clear whether the two main enclosures stood at the same time. Six radiocarbon dates are available for the West Kennet palisade enclosures giving a range of 2860-1890 BC (Cleal 2001, 63). Despite this large range, it is probable that the enclosures stood for only a limited time, perhaps little more than 100 years, as no maintenance work is apparent and the oak posts may have been deliberately burnt before they could rot (Whittle 1997, 156-7). Whittle (1997, 164) suggests that the enclosures may have been linked with the building of Silbury Hill and so they are included in the models. Both main enclosures are included in their entirety although it should be noted that sections of the walls to the north-east of the Kennet are projections rather than absolutes.

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary consists of a number of concentric post and stone circles. The three outer post and stone rings are included in the models. There is debate as to whether the Sanctuary is a multi-phase monument, with stones gradually replacing posts. It was found that the inner rings could not be seen from any distance in the VR model so they were excluded. Pitts (2000) suggests that the Sanctuary was a series of independent post or stone circles rather than a roofed building and it is modelled thus. Pitts also suggests that the monument was in a state of constant flux rather than having defined phases.

Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill is a large chalk mound and is the largest man-made structure from Neolithic Europe. It appears that building started around 2400 BC and that it was either finished shortly after this time and saw on-going modification into the early Bronze Age, or that it did not reach its full height until around 2000 BC (Bayliss et al. 2007, 42). Bayliss et al. (2007, 43) prefer the former option and thus Silbury Hill is at full height in the model. The visibility of the tip of the monument from the Obelisk at Avebury suggests that Silbury Hill had reached its full height by the time the stones were raised.

The West Kennet Avenue and the lithic scatter

The West Kennet Avenue runs for around 2.4km, linking the Sanctuary with Avebury henge. It is made up of pairs of stones placed around 10m apart. It is assumed that the avenues were not constructed until the stones within Avebury were erected, thus it would be fair to date the avenues to the second half of the third millennium BC. Much of the course of the West Kennet Avenue is known from the stone socket evidence (Smith 1965). In the GIS model, known stone positions from Keiller's work are used and projections are then generated to link them. The lithic and ceramic scatter around stones 27 to 32 is also included in the GIS model. Radiocarbon dates for charcoal associated with this scatter dated it to 3030-2700 cal BC (Cleal 2001, 63) but from the style of the material found it can be assumed that usage continued for some time after this (Smith 1965, 212).

Windmill Hill

Causewayed enclosures appeared shortly after long barrow construction began. Three are known in the study area: the triple-ringed Windmill Hill to the north and Ryebury and Knap Hill on the ridge to the south. Radiocarbon dates for the primary fills in the Windmill Hill ditches give a construction date of 3650-3350 cal BC (Whittle et al. 1999, 119). There is considerable evidence of pre-construction activity at Windmill Hill, including depository pits, a nearby rectilinear feature (possibly containing a wooden structure) and possible deturfing for agriculture (Smith 1965, 22-33). It also seems that there was prolonged interest in the site into the third millennium BC (Pollard and Reynolds 2002, 77).


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