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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Negotiating Avebury project - Dormant - Dormant

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The prehistoric monument of Avebury needs little introduction. An enormous bank and ditch enclose a 400 metre diameter circle of some 100 standing stones. Within this circle are other megalithic settings, smaller circles and the remains of enormous stone settings.

Reaching out from Avebury like tendrils were sinuous avenues of paired standing stones that spread out into a landscape remarkable for the dynamism, scale and density of monumental construction. In the immediate landscape surrounding Avebury is an unparalleled range of prehistoric monuments including the enormous mound of Silbury Hill, the timber and stone circles of the Sanctuary and palisade enclosures at West Kennet, not to mention the Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure and numerous long mounds, monuments that were already ancient when the Avebury stone circles were being erected. It is perhaps no surprise that the spectacular scale and density of Neolithic monuments in the Avebury landscape has attracted the interest of antiquarians and archaeologists alike, the site occupying a central role in the shaping of accounts of the British Neolithic.

However, despite the quality of its surviving remains (and over 300 years of often heated debate, research and speculation) far more questions about the site remain unanswered than answered. For example we still lack a satisfactory understanding of the chronology and precise order in which the various components were constructed. The same is true of the surrounding landscape. As a result, the apparent familiarity of the Neolithic of Avebury and its surrounding landscape is largely illusory. Rather than a landscape that is understood, it is a landscape that requires investigation, interpretation and understanding. The Negotiating Avebury project is one of many exciting archaeological investigations centred upon Avebury that seeks to do precisely this.

Related research groups

Archaeological Computing
Centre for Applied Archaeological Analyses
Social prehistory
Investigating the unanswered questions that surround these remarkable monuments
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