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SACRED and  Ancient Celtic  SITES


AVEBURY, Wiltshire

West Kennet

Long Chambered Barrow

Wiltshire

This impressive Neolithic tomb, situated on a prominent ridge of chalk near Silbury Hill and not far from Avebury, is one the largest chambered long barrows in Britain. 148 out of 260 of Britain's long barrows are to be found in the county of Wiltshire alone. In many parts of Europe this type of tombs have been given giants' names, as a reminder of their size and presence. But one of their puzzling aspects is that they are very long, for no apparent reason.


West Kennet is more than 100m (320ft) long and 2.4m (8ft) high and at the left end is a row of large, upright sarsen stones which were repositioned in 1956. Behind these is the passage-grave which occupies only 1/8 of the barrow's length and runs back into the mound about 10m (33ft). Entering the tomb beyond the forecourt there are two burial chambers either side and a larger polygonal one, 2.3m (7.5ft) high, at the end of the passage.
The construction of West Kennet commenced about 3600 BC, which is some 400 years before the first stage of Stonehenge. In the past the mound has been damaged by indiscrimlinate digging, but scientific excavations in 1859 and 1955-56 found a total of 46 burials, ranging from babies to old people. The latest excavations also revealed that the side chambers occur inside an exact isosceles triangle, whose height is twice the length of its base. It is thought that this tomb was in use for as long as 1,000 years and at the end of this period the passage and chamber were filled up to the roof by the Beaker people with earth and stones, among which were found pieces of pottery, bone tools and beads.
There is a local legend that tells how this tomb is visited on Midsummer Day by a ghostly priest and a large white hound.

East Kennet , Long Barrow Wiltshire

This interesting barrow is about 105m (348ft) long and 6m (19ft) high. Covered with trees, it is still unexcavated, but there are traces of sarsen stones at the SE end. This probably indicates a burial chamber. Darker crop growth in the surrounding fields could indicate side ditches. Unfortunately, this site has no right of way to it.


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WOODHENGE, Wiltshire


Woodhenge is so-called because it was originally a wooden structure of a type similar to Stonehenge. It was probably set up during the Bronze Age c.2000BC for ceremonial use. The concrete posts mark the positions of the original timbers, evidence for which was obtained by evacuation. The rings are oval, with the long axis aligned on the midsummer sunrise. A bank with a ditch on the inner side surrounded the monument, which was entered by a causeway to the north-east.

Oddly enough, this is a little visited site, 'just round the corner' from Stonehenge. It's not as spectacular as Stonehenge, but has a lot of feeling. Sitting quietly in the centre, I found it very easy to pick up evidence of people from the past moving around in sandalled feet. The stones marking the position of the long gone wooden posts lend themselves to experimental rambles in different patterns!! Woodhenge is in Wiltshire.


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