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Avebury: Standing Stones & Barrows

Travelling back from Bath to London, we decided to stop at Avebury after having it recommended to us. This place is really cool as it has a ring of standing stones surrounding the village – the road cuts straight through the middle of the stones. IIRC, this is also the set up in the excellent 3.0 adventure path module, The Standing Stone by John Rateliff which we played as part of the Freeport Campaign.  It was freezing cold but I'm very glad we went.


I'd forgotten but then remembered this was also the setting for the climactic sanity-shattering scenes of Eyes for the Blind, the Trail of Cthulhu by Gaslight scenario ulthar01 has been running for us. The final scenes took place on top of Silbury Hill, the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe. It's pretty big – those are black sheep (I think) in the picture – and ominous-looking. I can see now why the gypsy cultists of Nystor Ferencz chose this as the site to summon the Dulcarnon!

Just down the road from Silbury Hill is West Kennet Long Barrow. This involved a 1/2 mile walk from the car up a hill in the freezing wind, but was worth it. The entrance to the long barrow looked exactly like something from Skyrim, and it's not hard to imagine barrow wights emerging from the dark tomb at night.


Inside the long barrow


Oh, and just before we reached Avebury, we passed this cool white horse on carved into the hillside. I've seen one of these in Kent before, but this one was very close up.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
Though the white horse is an ancient symbol still used as the emblem of Kent, the only such hill carving which is convincingly dated to antiquity is the Uffington horse in Oxfordshire. Wiltshire has a lot of them, but even the oldest (at Westbury) can't be reliably placed before 1742 though it may have been carved over an earlier figure. The one you've photographed is Cherhill, which is from 1780 - others are even more recent. However much I'd like to claim otherwise, the one at Folkestone that you may have seen is less than a decade old - it actually wasn't there while I lived in the town :)

I find Avebury much preferable to Stonehenge. Being a much more extensive site it is more able to absorb the number of visitors, and Stonehenge is so iconic that it can seem a little underwhelming "in the flesh", not to mention the major road nearby which rather undermines any spirituality the site might or might not possess. Avebury Ring also has a pub inside it, which Stonehenge assuredly does not.

I have to admit I've never been to West Kennet. Silbury Hill is fascinating - for a start, no-one really knows what it was for - but rather impassive.

Edited at 2012-02-08 09:17 pm (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I thought I saw one in Kent or Sussex when I was a kid - maybe near the Long Man of Wilmington? Any ideas?

Really liked Avebury and Stonehenge. The latter was impressive but it did seem a bit smaller than I thought it would be ;)
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
Checking out the list of hill figures on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_carving), there seems to be a horse of some kind at New Litlington, which is indeed close to Wilmington, so that's probably it. There are chalk figures in Kent older than the Folkestone horse but they're of other things.
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
New Litlington sounds familiar - thanks!
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, and that last one of West Kennett - is that a prehistoric goatse I see?

(NB - if you don't know what I'm talking about DON'T GOOGLE IT unless you want to spend the next week scrubbing out your mind with wire wool.)
Feb. 9th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
Only in your mind... And no, I didn't know what you were talking about it but was able to abort my Google search before it went too far!
Feb. 9th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Avebury *rocks!*

I first read about it in Beyond the Supernatural 1st ED in middle school. When my SCA group planned a trip to England a few years ago, I agitated for a visit to Avebury. It was everything we hoped for. It's really a fascinating site.
Feb. 9th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
It was excellent - can't believe it's taken us so long to get round to visiting. Will try and go there in the Summer next time ;)
Feb. 9th, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
Three years of planning that trip. Worth every second.
Feb. 9th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
Great stuff! Where else did you go on that trip?
Feb. 10th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
The 13 of us stayed all over England and Scotland, mosting in Nat'l. Trust properties:
one convent in York, (with a really friendly pub across the street),
Wortham Manor, down near Cornwall (my favorite),
Georgian House, Hampton Court Palace, (my wife's favorite),
Gargunnock House, outside Stirling, (Scotland, WEE!)
and a night in a youth hostel in Edinborough, (it seemed like a good idea...)

We rented two 6 person diesel buses and drove ourselves everywhere.

It was a good trip.
Feb. 10th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a fab trip! I really need to see more of my own country (and Scotland, Ireland etc)...
Feb. 10th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
We had fun.

I will say, Gargunnock was shocked and amazed that we'd made the drive from London to Stirling in one day. We didn't have the heart to tell them we'd done a bunch of touristing along the way.

Then we made the run from Gargunnock to Oban and back in one day. Supposedly, that's a 3 day trip. Instant local notoriety. I expect we were that month's entertainment for town.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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