Night Photography by David Baldwin



The Avebury Skulls




Avebury expressed a religious belief in a sacred cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.   It should be no surprise then to appreciated that Avebury was constructed with many direct references to death. Avebury symbolises death by displaying skull carvings/statues, these are intended to counterbalance the various stone vulvas around the site, vulvas which of course are hopeful symbols of life and rebirth.   Some skulls were carved in laborious detail (eg Skull A above), more commonly others are suggested by the prominent display of pairs of eyes on the stones.   Some of these paired eye sockets are clearly simulacra formed out of the action of water on mud and roots in primordial times, other pairs are equally clearly pounded into the sarsens by people (for example the pair of sunrise seeking eyeholes created at the top of West Kennet Barrow's massive facade Stone 45). Still other depictions of skulls are suggested by the mauling out of larger eye sockets in the monoliths, sockets that macabrely fill with shadow only at certain times of day, or presumably when deliberately illuminated by fires set at night (eg Skull B above).

Skull D is unusual, not only is the face turned directly towards us, but also because the skull still retains a fleshy nose - the left eye and mouth having already been grotesquely ripped away.   I suggest this face is that of a cadaver in the course of being excarnated by birds or small animals, it is believed that the creators of Avebury practised sky-burial.