To say the Avebury stone ring is impressive is an understatement.
The Avebury site is the largest stone ring in the world. Constructed about 4,600 years ago it actually begins with stone corridors approaching the site from the north, south, east and west. The site itself starts with a 20 foot high circular chalk wall about a mile long and 1,300 feet in diameter. Within the wall is a ditch. Within the ditch is the first stone ring. Within that stone ring are two smaller stone rings. http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/stones/avebury.shtml
The stone was quarried from Marlborough Downs about two miles away. The stones were transported to their locations and set in the ground (not very deep) and wedged into place.
Humbled is what I feel when I try to understand Avebury.
As I walked around the ring it felt as though I was participating in an act which began as a mystical requirement. Over 4,600 years ago, the people who lived in this area were dedicated and incentivized enough to expend all the effort needed to quarry these stones and transport them about 2 miles.
The expenditure today with modern equipment would overwhelming.
What did this effort cost these people 4,600 years ago? The methods used to build the earthworks would include antlers for picks, stone tools for shovels and transporting the chalk in baskets to build the walls. This would be time which could have been used productively tending crops, or hunting, or making clothing or tools. For a community to expend this kind of energy, it must have been truly important.
To say that there was a spiritual significance to the stone rings is an understatement. With their basic existence a daily struggle to spend time on the circle would have to be very significant and important. To organize and accomplish the effort would require the cooperation of not just of the local inhabitants but would also have to include the inhabitants from the outlying areas. It would require the belief in a common cause and a benefit which would encompass everybody involved. The benefit would need to extend past the present and into the future.
These builders were people who worried about the future and were planning and working hard toward a higher purpose than daily existence.
It was drizzling rain as I walked around the perimeter. The horizon was not hidden in a misty haze (which would have been a nice touch) but the sky was overcast and the air was quiet with a sense of tranquility and peace.
Walking and sliding down the steep chalk bank into the stone circle I felt anticipation. Approaching one of the inner circles, it was easy to believe how the builders could imagine something unique and special was going to happen.
We have no idea what really transpired among the stones of Stonehenge or Avebury (all of the stone circles were built about the same time). We know nothing of the builders or basis of their beliefs, rituals or spiritual attitudes.
What I do know from standing amidst the stones and viewing their outlines from the top of the walls, is that the builders were adamant believers and were willing to put their efforts and treasure into practicing their beliefs.
Blog Picture Captions: Walking along the top of the chalk ridge surrounding the stone circles. The stone circles are off to our right. Below the circling wall was a trench, which might have been filled with water during ceremonies. Attendees would see the wall of white chalk standing 20 feet tall. Then a moat of water. Then the outer stone ring. And within the outer ring the two inner rings. Impressive even for us to imagine today.
The entire community of Avebury sits within the stone circles complete with sheep fields. Many of the stones are gone today. It is a mixture of vandalism, as stones were torn down for religious reasons (doing away with the pagan sites) or recycling as the stones were taken away for building materials in other structures.
Thank you for reading the blog. Please leave a comment or send me a note. Thanks. Rob