Equus (Stone 37b, West Kennet Avenue, December 2016)      

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Stone 37b West Kennet Avenue

1.   Interpreting this statue as that of a horse

It seems to me that this is one of the very clearest examples of sculpture at Avebury.  

Walking around an apparently shapeless chunk of rock you are suddenly confronted by this very clear and powerful image of a horse's head. The strength of the work is truly impressive, particularly compared to the relative subtlety of many Avebury carvings.   As well as this horse being beautiful, I personally find it troubling.   Its eyes are not in proportion to the rest of the head, in fact they appear to be sockets so the overall effect is that of a skull.   Does this horse therefore represent a ghost or even death itself?

According to Mann (Avebury Cosmos, p145) "Shamanic lore repeatedly says the shaman 'becomes the horse;' this animal was often seen as the ideal vehicle for passage between the worlds ....The Celts also saw the horse as a vehicle for passage between the worlds; for them it often carried the soul into the beyond."

Might we project this idea of soul carrier backwards to the earlier Neolithic time to explain something about our horse sculpture in the Avenue?

The Stone 37b horse is not the only equine sculpture at Avebury.

2.   Interpreting this statue as a zenith-gazing face

The upper region of Stone 37b can be interpreted as being a human face looking up to the zenith (click here to see others). Here is a comparison image I made showing the 37b face together with a similar one atop Cove Stone II:

 

Image copyright David Baldwin Night Photography