Avebury’s other Avenue: A New Panel for Beckhampton

on Tuesday, 09 September 2014. Posted in Archaeology

You may have seen the dig underway beside the West Kennet Avenue if you visited the Avebury half of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site this summer. The excavation was part of the on-going Between the Monuments project led by Southampton and Leicester Universities in partnership with the National Trust.  For the second year running archaeologists returned to look for clues about how people might have been using the landscape in this area before the monument with its impressive pairs of standing stones was constructed.

Over a decade ago some of these same archaeologists were excavating in Avebury in search of the route of the less well-known Beckhampton Avenue. Today, the only upstanding evidence of this Avenue is the two cove stones known locally as Adam and Eve in Longstones Field. With Stukeley’s eighteenth century sketches of the Avenue as a guide, the Longstones Project sought to identify its route through extensive geophysics and carefully targeted excavation. Although important discoveries of sarsens and stone holes were made in some areas the exact route of the Avenue remains to be discovered. 

In July this year the World Heritage Site Coordination Unit put up a panel at the entrance to the Longstones Field with information for visitors on the buried Beckhampton Avenue.  It shows the most likely route of the Avenue and how it relates to the other major monuments in the landscape. We’d like to thank the archaeologists and other partner organisations who offered funding and advice on the contents of the panel and the landowner, Robin Butler,  who protects the sensitive archaeology in the  area by not ploughing the Longstones Field and allowing open access for visitors to visit the monument.  Why not come and explore beyond Avebury Henge and discover the hidden monuments within the World Heritage Site landscape. 

Sarah Simmonds
World Heritage Officer
Based at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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