Night Photography by David Baldwin



Avebury Project -What Have I Discovered

My motivation in starting this Avebury project was artistic, not archaeological.    However, Avebury hasn't been photographed much at night, and it seems to me that night lights can reveal details in the stones which are much harder to see in the daytime.  Imagine my surprise then when I began to notice previously undiscovered features in my night photographs, particularly in relation to the faces in the stones.

In claiming discoveries I need to be careful.   Let me start by saying what details I haven't discovered for myself in this photo project:

1.   The commonly and easily recognised faces in the stones, for example the "shark" face on West Kennet Stone 35a, or the same Avenue's Stone 37b which is a horse.   Everyone can see those and many others like them!

2.   The many more subtle faces discovered by Professor Meaden (set out in his astonishing book on the Avebury stones, and on his web page) and by Dr Prendergast in her "Minerva" article.  If I photograph any details that I am aware were specifically discovered by either of these authorities I will expressly acknowledge this.

What have I discovered then in my photographs on this website?

a.   A beautiful long lost portrait of a bull carved into Stone 50 of the henge's north-east quadrant.  I have been careful to check that this exciting carving was previously unknown.  Like much of the art at Avebury, this likeness was delightfully hidden in plain view:

b.   That in the henge's north-east quadrant the famous Cove Stone II and Stone 201 in fact represent the same Neolithic character:

c.   How the sculptor of the north-east face of West Kennet Avenue's Stone 35a achieved his wonderful results:

d.    That many of the sculptures distinctively show only half a character's face, leaving the missing portion rough and enigmatic.   This is not an omission on the artists' part but a style, showing animated life in the process of emerging from the primordial background of the stones:


e.    That the Star-gazer style of carving at Avebury derives from an original at West Kennet Long Barrow:


f.    I suggest that Stone 102 incorporates images of regeneration (a hare) and death (a horse) in one symbolic union.   This means that Stone 102 reflects in one place the primary spiritual concerns of Avebury:


g.   While I am sure I am not the first person to see the face on Stone 5, I am the first person to point out its significance.   Some archaeologists deny that the Avebury stones were sculpted at all, Stone 5 is therefore particularly important as it is without any doubt whatsoever a carving, clearly artificial.   Although it is a crude carving by Avebury standards, it does show how the ancestors set up raw sarsen stones, and then edited them to show characters. 

Furthermore not only does Stone 5 have a clearly tooled eye and nose, in all likelyhood it used to have a mouth as well, a mouth that has been crudely erased leaving an ugly scar on the sarsen:

h.   I have discovered the existence of two zenith-gazing faces atop the southern face of Stone 1 of the south east quadrant.   I suggest that one face represents death in the form of a skull, and the other represents a living face.   This echoes symbolism others have found in carvings at West Kennet Long Barrow, symbols of the life/death cycle overseen by the Great Goddess: