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Fascinating. Eerie. Magnificent. Whatever words you choose to describe the architectural landscape of Avebury (in England not far from Stonehenge), you will stand amazed. Avebury is more than just a stone circle: it is a complex of standing stones, burial grounds, ditches, and a mysterious giant hill whose meaning has never been determined.
Using this book as our guide, let's walk the history of these megaliths and surrounding structures. "Built to house the bones of important people" (2), the West Kennet Long Barrow was the first structure. Other barrows dot the countryside. Several ditches and banks appear here and there. At one time a wooden fortress and a small village were enclosed atop the banks.
The most puzzling structure is Silbury Hill. Made "entirely of tightly rammed chalk," Silbury Hill is the tallest structure in prehistoric Europe. Yet, its purpose remains "one of the great unsolved mysteries of prehistory" (14). On the other hand, historic peoples had their use for it. Romans used some of its chalk to build roads, the Saxons built a fort on top, and locals used it as a site for partying. During the Victorian period locals used many of the megaliths as building stone for their houses and shops to the sickening dismay of later historians.
The rest of Avebury consists of stone circles, avenues of megaliths leading to specific stones, deep ditches now two-thirds filled with silt, with houses, shops, and a church now occupying much of Avebury.
This little book is a guide filled with photographs, both historical and current, maps, charts, illustrations, sketches, and other pertinent kinds of information necessary for a real excursion through history. As you walk the book, you will have a keen sense of what man is willing to do to leave his mark on the world.