I can’t describe Avebury megalithic landscape without sounding like a lame sap. So before I take issue with the patently bizarre statement on the National Trust website (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ main/w-vh/w-visits /w-findaplace/w-avebury/) I will have to admit to being a complete Avebury devotee. Avebury is a collection of megalithic sites covering a few square miles in Wiltshire. The outer Avebury stone circle itself is the biggest in the world or one of the biggest in Europe according to which site you consult, with a diameter of 427 metres. That’s 1,017 feet for Americans and people who prefer to think in old money. I can’t picture either, to be honest.
There are ditches around the circles that cover a much bigger area and an incomplete “avenue” of huge stones leading to Silbury Hill ( a miraculous thing in itself) and West Kennet Long Barrow. One amazing thing about Avebury is that there is a village with lots of thatched cottages and wierd Victorian buildings and shops and working farms in the middle of it. The complex is about twenty miles from Stonehenge and Woodhenge and Durrington Walls – which are only the most obvious named prehistoric sites – because you can barely put foot in a field for about many miles around without seeing an embarrassment of tumuli, log barrows, round barrows and iron age hillforts. Avebury is a World Heritage site and actually deserves the ranking. Bits of it are about to undergo the dreaded restoration (but that’s probably just my pessimism about archaeologists and restoration and history cash cows See earlier over-long rant on TV archaeology and the heritage industry) Go there if you possibly can.
The National Trust web page on Avebury says that it was “Voted the country’s third most spiritual place.” Voted for by whom? Which place won anyway? What does spiritual mean?
I find it silly that there should be a “most spiritual sites in the country” competition and incomprehensible that the National Trust would regard a vote like that as a good advertising point. It’s gooey New Agey stuff – like advertising conditioner as having some exotic “natural” ‘erbal ingredient. It gives the impression that Avebury is so uninteresting that visitors have to be enticed by a phoney vote. Are there really people who go to places and rank them for “spirituality”?Â In these sort of contexts, the word seems synonymous with “gullibility”. You may indeed feel moved by Avebury for any number of reasons but its ranking inÂ a spiritual league table is probably not one of them.
(Etrusia’s own advertising. See the second page of the Megalithic sites article http://www.etrusia.co.uk/megal_2.php. This introduces a handful of the pre-historic sites in Wiltshire) send an email postcard photo of it from http://medieval.etrusia.co.uk/postcard.php.)