Cove Stone I, North-east Quadrant - (August 2017)   

Explanatory Materials Appear Below This Image - Please Scroll Down To View


The Horned Face - see also this confirmatory image here


Figure 1



Figure 1 above shows how Cove Stone I discretely displays an eerie, right profiled angular face with definite eye and horns. This carving reminds me strongly of the left profile horned face carved onto Stone 10 (click here to see a side by side comparison of these artworks, displaying an enhanced version of the Cove face).

Below in figure 2 I show a heavily enhanced crop from another exposure I made in the same sequence as the one at the top of this page, but for clarity without the arty flare from the moon:

Figure 2

In fact this face may be the best and clearest example of an entire group of Avebury carvings, click here for details

Figure 3 below shows the horned face in the context of the entire remaining cove complex (larger copies available here). I advise that if you want to confirm my discovery of this fine horned head you will probably need highly directional light from the right, the illumination needs to graze the surface of the rock, almost tangentially.

Figure 3


A couple of wild speculations

Although to our eyes this apparently "demonic" carving appears quite shocking, that should not distract us from appreciating the extremely high quality of its execution. This quality suggests to me that the work can be perhaps be interpreted with greater precision that is usually the case with the Avebury carvings -the specificness and resolution of its construction might allow us to assume that its appearance was fully intended. Therefore when I look at this face it strikes me that:

(i) The carving, taken as a whole, can be seen as a crescent shape - does it therefore represent a moon deity? It is worth pointing out that Stone 36A in the West Kennet Avenue appears to represent a "man in the crescent moon" (click here to view this stone), so sacred lunar faces might have been well known features at Avebury.

(ii) I have read that the antiquarian Stukeley apparently wrote that "vulgar people" called the Cove stones the "devil's brand-irons". Whilst I am usually contemptuous of linking the devil to neolithic monuments in this case the "vulgar" might have had a point. Perhaps they had seen our crescent faced, horned Cove Stone 1 carving? Clearly, the local people of Avebury would probably have spent more time around and actually observing the monoliths than Stukeley did. I do not think for a minute that this artwork is satanic, but such an interpretation among farmers and shepherds of the past might be understandable. Perhaps there were other such artworks among the Avebury monoliths, the sarsens hosting clearer "satanic" faces might have been proritised for destruction in medieval times?


Image copyright David Baldwin Night Photography