Henge monuments, distributed throughout Britain (although mainly lying on the western side of the country) were first built around 3,000 BC. They comprise a circular bank with a ditch on the inside making them useless for defence and, as such, it is inferred that they must have been established for religious purposes. In most cases the bank and ditch would have been no more than a few feet in height. With Stonehenge the work of the humble earthworm, over time, has reduced this feature to being now almost indiscernible.
Not so with Avebury, where it is still very prominent. The ditch alone originally extended to a depth of around 10 metres (33 feet) whilst the bank rose to a height of about 6 metres (20 feet). Whilst statistics can be boring Aubrey Burl in his book Prehistoric Avebury has estimated that the ninety thousand cubic metres of chalk removed from the ditch, which is over a kilometre in length, had about the same cubic content as the seven pyramids erected by the Vth dynasty Egyptian pharaohs between 2560 and 2420 BC; a time comparable to the building of the Avebury monument. It has been calculated that the bank and ditch alone at Avebury would have taken 250 people over twenty years to complete. This would have been an enormous undertaking for the small community that was thought to have lived in the area at the time. At its completion it was the premier megalithic site in Britain and still remains so today.
I have on many occasions throughout the ensuing years and at different seasons stood within the precincts of this mysterious place, my body tingling with the "atmosphere" that I have sensed there. Often I have leant against one of the giant Sarsen stones, wondering at the people who built this edifice. What was its purpose? Why spend so much time and effort unless there was a powerful reason? What further secrets had this place still to reveal?
If the construction of the bank and ditch was a mammoth task the erection of the Sarsen stones was an equally monumental undertaking. Although a relatively local and extremely hard rock, these giant blocks would have had to have been dragged several miles before being erected in their pre-determined positions. In 1934 an experienced foreman and twelve inexperienced workman took five days to re-erect a relatively small eight ton stone in the nearby Avenue.
The western edge of the circumference of the Eastern great circle of the Marlborough Downs passes through the Avebury henge.
Extract from The Keys to the Temple
The Hidden Geometry of the Avebury Henge
As can be seen the henge is not an exact circle with only the south-eastern part conforming to the circumference of a circle which also touches the stone circle in the south-west and the north. That nearly a quadrant (G) conforms to the circle shows that the Neolithic builders were quite capable of creating true circles when they wanted which is also demonstrated by the two inner circles (northern and southern). That larger parts of this monument were not circular must therefore have been deliberate with some greater plan in mind.
About ten stones in the southern-western segment form an alignment to point B which is set just outside of the southern entrance. Point A is represented by a stone in the north-eastern corner and point C sits in the middle of the western entrance of the henge.
In the primary triangle ABC line AB is on a true north/south axis.
Both triangles ADC and BDC are right angular (90 degrees). Therefore alignment DC is due east/west.
Point E is the placement of a huge stone called the Obelisk which has sadly now disappeared. This stone estimated to be over twenty feet tall would have cast a shadow on the sunrise of the equinoxes towards the western entrance of the henge. This is one way in which the henge also represented an astronomical calculator. Further solsticial alignments can be seen with the obelisk in that the setting sun of mid-winter would have cast a shadow towards the eastern entrance of the henge (see fig. 2). Additional seasonal alignments can be found between point C (western entrance) and point T (eastern entrance) which picks up the May day sunrise. This give further evidence that the Celtic calendar had its origins in the Neolithic period or, at least, a similar calendar was used then.
The internal angles of triangle ADC are 40-50-90 which means that the ratio of side AD:DC = 5:6
BDC is a 3:4:5 Pythagorean triangle. We can therefore state that the ratio of AB:DC = 19:12. These numbers have significance in calendrical assessments. 19, for example being the number of years in the lunar metatonic cycle.
The size of the two inner circles are determined by the line AQ which passes through the centre (O) of the large circle. AQ and AB are tangents to the southern inner circle and line CD passes through it's centre. The northern circle is of similar size to the southern. Few stones now remain in this circle.
The Southern Inner Circle
follow on articles giving more details of other landscape
David has been working as a healer, therapist and researcher for more than 40 years. He is the author of six books including The Healer Within and Working With Earth Energies
The definitive book on Working
With Earth Energies.
The book The Keys To The Temple from which the article is taken. Click the image for further details.
Avebury from the air. One of the key points on the Eastern Circle.
Part of the Avebury Henge
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