Neolithic Monuments

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Over the years, as humans we have constantly built monuments and structures with different purposes. I am going to concentrate on why monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury may have been built, and how they may have been used in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, when these monuments were often built in clusters of similar topographic location (Richards 1996, 190). I am going to explore the possibilities of their social, religious and scientific purpose. To do this, I will analyse a variety of Neolithic monuments, including the Avebury Henge, its avenues, West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and Stonehenge.

Avebury, located in Wiltshire, is one of the largest Neolithic sites in the UK. Like many monuments located in Britain and Ireland
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Despite its name, it is not a true henge, as its ditch runs outside its bank; within it, there is a circle of upright stones, some with other stones placed across them to form what looks like a doorway. The earliest date associated with Stonehenge is 4050 BC, when the site was a burial ground (Burl 2007: 86); however archaeological evidence shows that the site was often modified and reworked, and that sarsen stones and bluestones brought from Wales (Childe 1955: 283) are thought to have first been erected in 2900-2550 BC (Burl 2007: 133), and two entrances created. The bluestones could have been in place as a stone circle in Wales, and then brought to the Stonehenge site at a later date (Richards 1991: 57). This may have been due to a desire to bring the significance of the Wales site to Stonehenge, perhaps as a ceremony to blend two cultures. Today, many theories surround the monument. The long barrows surrounding the monument could be seen to imply that it was used for some kind of burial ceremony. It has also been suggested that it have been built as a marker of the midsummer solstice for a yearly ritual: the first stage of the avenue and the re-alignment of the enclosure entrance align with the sunrise on the day of this event (Richards 1991: 128). During a survey carried out by G. S. Hawkins, ten alignments for the sun and fourteen for the moon were found by putting the positions of a number of the stones into a computer (Fernie 1990: 104). This has led many to believe that Stonehenge was built with astronomical purpose, as an observatory. Furthermore Hoyle, a British astronomer, came up with a theory where the Aubrey holes surrounding the stone circle can be used to predict eclipses (Fernie 1990: 105). Similarly to Avebury, the site of Stonehenge seems to have had strong religious connotations for the people of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. It went

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