Friday, 5 November 2010

Avebury and West Kennet Avenue

It is still Sunday 26 May 1998, though by now it is working it's way towards the end of the day and the sun has finally come out! So it's back to my favourite place, Avebury.

Driving through the village, I stop the car alongside two parallel rows of standing stones, the Avenue that stretched towards Stonehenge. Unfortunately the sun was on the wrong side for me to photograph the car next to the Avenue, which I would have liked to have done as I have a photo of a previous car parked in that same spot.

We drove back towards Avebury in a reflective mood and parked in the public car park. With some effort we ignored the ice cream van that we had already visited that morning and walked into the village passing the playing fields to our right.

We saw that most English of scenes - the village cricket match, the sound of the leather-coated ball upon the willow of the bat. The old joke goes: "I miss the sound of leather upon willow... but Willow has promised to write..." A smattering of applause as someone is bowled out and the gentle, almost lazy voices of cricketers and spectators enjoying themselves; "Well done, Brian, well done..."

The village itself tends to be overshadowed in the minds of visitors by the ancient monument. It's a shame, because the village is extremely pretty with thatched cottages and plenty to see. Avebury church stands, as do many of England's old churches, directly on a ley line that runs through the village.

The church lychgate.

The Henge Shop is a focal point for souvenir hunters and sells a large range of books about Wiltshire monumental sites, the prehistory of the area, and such topics as crop circle and other phenomena. You can hear many languages being spoken as you pass through the shop! Despite the late hour (and the pub being so full there was no chance of getting a meal) we decided to walk a circuit of the embankment outside the huge ditch.

So here are the spectacular photos from the day... With the sun low in the sky, the earthworks show their contours and their vast size in this photograph.

The stones are so massive that you wonder, as you do at Stonehenge, how the engineers of 3000 years ago managed to move and set them up to stand so firmly that they would last so long. Such is the atmosphere that even the sheep behind me are forming themselves into rings!

And I'll finish with one of my favourite photographs of all time. If the stones make you wonder how they did it, then look for the figures walking along the top of the embankment and wonder again at the sheer size of the earthworks that make up the henge at Avebury. How many hours would it take to dig that out with an ox's shoulder blade as a spade?

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