53. Some seem puzzled as to why three rows of stones should enter the Sanctuary when the West Kennet Avenue, to which the Sanctuary was connected, has only two, as seen above.
Perhaps the above photograph, taken in line with the Sanctuary's third row of stones, provides the answer. It's as if Avebury folk were trying to square the circle and showed respect to Avebury's roots by aiming the third row to point back at Windmill Hill seen on the horizon.
Taken on the 21st of December 2018, on the day of the winter solstice, this picture looks back at what remains of the West Kennet Avenue of stones as they make their way to Avebury beyond the rise and out of sight.
The van on the left of the picture blocked the road to revellers' vehicles who wished to enjoy the solstice and prevented them from driving to Avebury.
I recall the time I tried parking at the rough and ready layby not far from the van. I was followed all the way down the lane by a police car that drew alongside and aimed a powerful light in my face to make me move on.
There have been many similar occasions when a sour taste has been left in my mouth.
54. The West Kennet long barrow is aligned east-west with the equinox.
You could say that it's three hundred feet of wasted chalk, considering the burial chamber only occupies a short length at the front of it. But the purpose of this barrow was to catch the rising sun, moon and stars. PS. Look up John North's "Neolithic Man and the Cosmos" to learn the name of this critical group of stars!
This barrow was decommissioned around 2,500 BC when Stonehenge lost its appeal A shot-dead beaker person with an arrow in his back was the last to be interred inside this barrow. His skeleton was complete, unlike the other poor so-and-so's, whose torsos were dismembered so their skulls and mandibles could be distributed to other sites. The portal was then blocked with massive sarsens, which remain in position today.
There are books that will tell you everything you need to know about the West Kennet long barrow, so I could leave you having an enjoyable read while I go off and make a nice cup of tea. For example, Aubrey Burl authored a book, “Prehistoric Avebury”, that tells of disorderly skeletal remains scattered about the chambers of this barrow, with skulls either never placed in the tomb or carried off to some other monument.
But if we want to understand what the monuments were all about, we must find ways they tried to bring the sun, the moon, and the stars together in one place. Furthermore, It is fruitless to research one monument in glorious isolation because it will prove nothing.
55. The West Kennet long barrow is blocked by what looks like a family of three stones. There’s a bulbous female, a male with an angled top, and a small stone to represent their child.
Without these three stones, the portal takes the shape of a satellite dish for sending and receiving signals, and every one of these stones has its best face pointing outwards for some similar purpose.
Massive sarsens formed the chamber walls, but the builders couldn’t help but notice several gaps between them that needed filling. This was achieved with some very tidy brickwork.
This brickwork is so good that the occasional visitor can be forgiven for thinking it the work of archaeologists. But it’s not. The limestone for this brickwork was collected at least 25 miles away at Frome near Bath.
Now, it just so happens that a very instructive long barrow lies between Bath and Frome at Wellow. And that’s where we’re off to find out what these long barrows were about and what people hoped to achieve.
56. The Stoney Littleton Long Barrow sits on a limestone ridge just short of a mile to the south of the village of Wellow. By pointing almost three degrees into the sky - and with the distant horizon of four degrees - this barrow receives winter solstice sunlight of greater intensity than it would on the flat. Moreover, the ridge it is built on falls away on its western side. This drop divides the horizon into two halves, producing one for the sun and another for the moon.
Once again, we refer to online Bing Maps to provide satellite photographs that help prove this barrow to point about 136.5 degrees from the north. We also use Ordinance Survey maps to calculate altitudes and horizon distances concerning the southernmost rising positions of the sun and moon.
57. The portal of the Stony Littleton long barrow 3,500 BC.
This barrow is believed to be aligned on the winter solstice because rays from the rising sun enter its portal and light up its passage and chambers for several days in late December. But this seems to be an oversimplification of the facts.
So, more work is required here. We need archaeologists to bring their LASER equipment and use it to prove the azimuth of Stoney Littleton's passageway.
My best guess (Not guess, Judgement, as my woodwork teacher used to say) is 136.5, which means that the southernmost sun surpasses the passage, or corridor, by around one and a half degrees, like Stonehenge. This also makes me wonder. Is this long barrow as old as the suggested 3,500 BC?
58. A view out of the portal. We cannot claim this barrow to be perfectly aligned on the winter solstice because the sun, as at Stonehenge, is likely to surpass its axis by one or two degrees. This would, of course, be deliberate!
59. A tale of two horizons. There is no doubt that the Stoney Littleton long barrow effectively pushes the sun and moon further apart, as the above diagram shows.
60. This is what it looks like in practice. Do you see how the land falls away on the right?
This picture shows how the barrow has been positioned to split the horizon into two parts to push the moon further away.
Furthermore, Sirius, the brightest star, followed the sun's path between 3480 and 3,350 BC. Professor John North "Stonehenge: Neolithic Man and the Cosmos 1996".
So, as well as sunlight and moonlight, Sirius also entered the tomb.
And let us not forget that Sirius entered Gussage St Michael III at the same time as the sun—a long barrow set inside the six-mile-long Dorset Cursus.
The Stoney Littleton long barrow brought the Sun, the moon, and Sirius together in a place where it was hoped that people buried there would hand over their lives or spirits for some greater purpose.
61. Further reading. Regarding alignments on the sun and moon at Stoney Littleton, Terence Meaden has them covered in his book "Stonehenge: The Secret of the Solstice".
Let's return to Avebury to consider the long barrows of East and West Kennet, which, at 330-foot long each, are the longest in Wiltshire and were meant to work as a pair.
First, the East Kennet long barrow, which has never been excavated. Today, it’s covered from end to end in trees, making it almost impossible to work out its exact azimuth.
62. The East Kennet long barrow alignments. Estimated Azimuth 142 degrees: 38 degrees east of south.
The first thing to notice about this barrow is that unlike Stoney Littleton, whose axis appears to give preference to the sun, the axis of the East Kennet long barrow is nearer the moon.
Furthermore, the builders were aware that the southernmost setting moon appears to roll down Milk Hill every 18.61 years and positioned the barrow in an ideal place to capture it. The winter solstice sets alongside Tan Hill every December.
All this makes me think that there must have been a large standing stone in front of the portal of this barrow (if it has a portal) for reflecting this sun and moonlight into its chambers. Alternatively, it might be fitted with side chambers with a chamber at its rear end.
Minor Standstills shown in the above diagram can be ignored.
63. THE ROLLRIGHT COMPLEX FROM THE SOUTH.
Few see this view of the Rollright Circle and Whispering Knights. The circle, known as the King's men, can be seen on the extreme left. The Whispering Knights are on the extreme right.
The purpose of this picture is to show that the Whispering Knights, unlike the circle, are positioned a little below the horizon. The purpose of which will be explained later.