Another old Avebury excavation

Passmore 1922.jpg

The wonderful HEIR Project in Oxford has prompted me to follow up my previous post about Avebury. I showed two images there, said to be dated 1895 (a photo) and November 15–18, 1895 (a painting). HEIR helpfully pointed out in a tweet that Underhill dated the painting August 23 1895, which makes more sense than November, and suggests he may have made it on site rather than from his photo (notwithstanding his stylised flowers, which he seems to have rather liked in his paintings). The ADAS images are in fact from their archive, where there are more old Avebury shots.

Among them are these two above, taken by AD Passmore in 1922 on the course of the West Kennet Avenue, looking west just south of the A4 (over the hedge on the right), west of the turning south to East Kennet and not far from the Sanctuary.

On the left you can see Passmore’s attempt to show four fallen, mostly buried megaliths. You can also see the closest in the shot on the right, near the fence top right. In the foreground is a completely buried sarsen he’d found by probing with a steel  bar. He described this in the Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine in 1926 (it was 10ft 7in long), illustrating his dig with this drawing below – the photos add quite a bit! Isobel Smith called this stone 83b. It should still be there, under the ground. As far as I know, that’s it for any excavation that’s occurred in that area.

Passmore 1926.jpg


5 thoughts on “Another old Avebury excavation

    1. We did know about this one, though I’d never seen what it looks like before. But yes, there are undoubtedly more under the ground

  1. Going through the Oxford Unirversity picture archive I noticed that five aerial pictures of Silbury Hill (Passmorebx2im017/018/021/022/035) all show a shallow depression on the top with a possible fence surrounding it. Wondered if this was a dig undertaken at the time or an early indication of the hole that collapsed in 2000.

  2. That was indeed an indication of the fact that the shaft dug down into Silbury in 1776 had not been properly backfilled. The problem was worsened by the BBC tunnel dug beneath in 1969, which was barely filled at all. It’s all well described in the English Heritage monograph, Silbury Hill: The Largest Prehistoric Mound in Europe, ed Jim Leary, David Field & Gill Campbell (2013).

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