Night Photography by David Baldwin



Avebury's Many Upward Looking Statues - "Zenith-Seekers"

Those who deny the existence of artistic carvings at Avebury would say that any lithic features resembling human or animal faces were mere accidents of nature, meaningless noise in the stones, mistakenly assembled into Rorschach shapes due to the human brain's inherent need to impose patterns on whatever it sees.

Of course, if this were to be correct we would expect to "see" random faces, with no consistency of appearance as accident is very unlikely to replicate similar designs again and again. Furthermore the appearance of faces at different scales would tend to suggest these were not the result of natural crystaline effects inherent in sarsen. Below is a gallery of such faces, from the 5600 year old example at West Kennet Long Barrow, to the impressive example at the very centre of the main henge atop Cove Stone II.    For convenience, I have decided to call this class of statues zenith-seekers.   Click on the thumbnails below for larger versions:

Type 1: Flat Faced Zenith-Seeker     Type 2: Rounded Face Zenith-Seeker



Type 3: Animal Zenith-Seekers

Type 4: Zenith-Seeker With Convex Eyes



Such a widesread presence of zenith-seekers at Avebury strongly suggests that the sky religion practised here was not just concerned with movements of the sun or moon because these objects never reach the zenith here. These carvings show that there was additionally a profound interest in objects visible in the sky directly above the worshippers' heads, and as the particurlarly ancient zenith-seeking statue at the Long Barrow attests, this interest can be traced to the very foundation of Avebury, back in time to 5600 BC, and possibly earlier*.  
Whether the prehistoric people were obsessed with shapes in the clouds overhead in the daytime, or with the zenithal stars at night, is of course unknown.

*I say possibly earlier because the West Kennet Barrow's zenith-seeker looks unusally weathered to my eye, and so may have been significantly older that the other, sharper exterior carvings here.   Perhaps the seeker was taken in 5600 BC from an earlier holy site?

See also Di Pattison's "Avebury's Stones" CD p 32.2.html