79. Durrington Walls, the mother of Stonehenge, seen with the geometric moon-egg, Woodhenge.
Before English Heritage got round to placing its vastly over-exaggerated and false information boards alongside Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, visitors to the more obvious Woodhenge site, would often ask, “Where is the massive henge known as Durrington Walls?” Well, both monuments are pictured above. With concrete posts representing what were once massive tree trunks several feet tall, Woodhenge is seen entering the picture from the right. The snow-covered horizon marks Durrington Walls’s far bank. Durrington Walls's north-western bank, which Beaker Folk built in 2,650 BC -- Oh yes they did! -- can be seen on the left, but it’s not snow-covered.
Durrington Walls's considerable downhill slope is obvious. People were attracted to this valley, or combe, by the elevated north-western bank, which even today, delays the summer solstice sunset and gives a totally different azimuth to that on the flat -- see photo later.
The snow was left behind by the ‘Beast-from-the-East’ - a cold snap that came across from Siberia in 2018.
Durrington Walls’s near bank, or what is left of it, thanks to many years of ploughing it flat, is just beyond the line of parked cars. This too is marked with snow.
Beyond the trees to the right of the picture can be seen another section of Durrington Walls's bank. This too is highlighted with snow. Cutting through those trees is the Countess Road, built in 1965. This new highway is elevated several feet above the pan-shaped valley, which early folk had cordoned off to build Britain’s largest henge.
Note the blue farm vehicle parked beneath the embankment of the new road, because that vehicle very nearly marks the centre of the timber egg known as the “Southern Circle.”
Professor Wainwright uncovered the Southern Circle in 1966/67 when conducting excavations in advance of the Countess road which replaced the old road, due to several accidents.
Unfortunately, Wainwright's excavation of the Southern Circle only exposed two-thirds of it, and even that is lost to us beneath the embankment of the new road.
Note the red vehicle on the extreme right of the above picture, because the next photo was taken from alongside it.
80. The old road, little more than a track, can been seen to pass over Durrington Walls's denuded bank, before taking a dip through the centre of the henge.
Much of Durrington Walls has been completely flattened due to many years under the plough. This was fortunate in some ways because loosened chalk and hill-wash colluvium has covered the monuments lower down and protected them - especially so the Southern Circle of timber. Prehistoric remains at the top of the combe which lost much of this protective cover, were not so lucky.
Imagine for a moment what the above landscape would have looked like when Durrington Walls was new. A ten-feet-high bank, made of gleaming white chalk, taken from an 18-foot-deep internal ditch, blanked out most of the sky in the above picture.
Now note the footpath in the right foreground, because a little further along it is where the next photograph was taken from.
81. The henge and the Southern Circle of timber was connected to the river Avon via an avenue of hard-packed chalk and flints. The river can be seen behind the van and through the trees that grow on its banks. My impression of the Avenue is superimposed on top of the photograph and should give you the idea that something was meant to exit the henge by sliding down and into the river.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project, started in 2003, found five houses alongside this avenue, and all of them were found buried beneath Durrington Walls's bank. These houses were small affairs measuring approximately 6 by 6 megalithic yards. Their positions are marked in the above picture with small splodges of snow, which can be seen behind the row of trees.
Hoping to solve the age-old mystery of when folk had gathered to celebrate at Durrington Walls - i.e., was it summertime or winter - Britain’s top archaeoastronomer, Professor Clive Ruggles of Leicester University, was invited to take sightings to find out exactly what the Avenue points at. Clive proved the Avenue's axis to aim at where the sun sets in June beneath Durrington’s north-western bank. This also agrees with that found by the astronomer, Professor John North, sometime previous to 1996.
About 50% of the pigs found at Durrington Walls arrived as carcasses of meat intended for feasting and celebrations and were destined to be slaughtered as the sun set beneath Durrington Walls' western bank at the close of summer solstice day. These pigs were sacrificed to the sun and moon because their age was equivalent to the human female gestation period of nine months.
If you want a job doing right, do it yourself. So, on solstice day 21st of June 2018, you might have seen me standing close to the blue tractor which very nearly marks the position of the Southern Circle. Actually, its position is marked by a drain which goes under the Countess road and prevents the valley from flooding. That is where I waited for the summer sun to set.
It came as a bit of a shock to find that the sunset can no longer be seen from the position of the drain because of bushes allowed to grow alongside the old road. So, a hurried leaping of a few fences was made to get into a better position.
I did manage to get a beautifully clear picture of the sun going down beneath the north-western bank, but this alone was not enough to help determine the azimuth of the Avenue. The final determination was achieved by superimposing the sun's position onto both Professor Wainwright's original plans and satellite images from on-line Bing.
Watching the sun go down from inside the Durrington Walls henge is an experience not to be missed. Especially so for the feeling you get when climbing out of the henge to find it is still daytime!
82. My photograph of the setting summer solstice sun seen from inside the Durrington Walls Henge. 21 June 2018.
A beaker burial, dated to 2,650BC was found to the left of the sun seen here.
In true archaeological anti-beaker-person bias, (because they might have come from Germany), Professor Stuart Piggott put the hex on this early date.
Beaker people had no interest in making history or impressing us modern folk with what they were up to, and that is why most don't enter the records until late on. The beaker man, identified by his rounded skull (brachiocephalic), discovered buried in the long barrow of Belas Knap was perhaps one of the very first to arrive in say, 3,300 BC. He was found, guardian-like, protecting several children of increasing ages, which in one book I have described as like 'Ovaltine's. This is interesting, because the cremated bones recovered from Stonehenge's Aubrey holes also expressed a wish for something to grow, and in a similar way. These were as follows... a foetus, an infant, a young child, an old child, a teenager and, 21 adults.
Permit me to tell you what I think happened to the Stonehenge dead. Apart, that is, from an inhumation placed on Stonehenge’s secondary axis. The Stonehenge elite were cremated inside the Durrington Walls Henge on funeral pyres placed alongside the timber egg known as the Southern Circle. When cool, the bones were separated from the ashes and taken the 1.8-miles to Stonehenge, whilst the ashes and beaker sherds were placed inside a so-called ‘Midden’ attached to the northeast side of the outer egg - the shell.
Professor Wainwright believed the Midden to be ceremonial. He also stated it as too large (6.7 by 12metres) to have been roofed. Especially since it lacked a central post to support one. So it was not a house. The midden was full of black ash a third of a metre thick and held almost 50% of the total beaker pottery sherds found on the site. The people who built the midden clearly felt that it held the spirits of the dead. The ash was carbon dated but the late date is here dismissed on grounds that archaeologists proved corrupt around the time or slightly before Durrington was excavated.
Having placed the spirit-rich ashes of the dead in the midden, it was hoped those spirits would fertilise the timber egg before traveling to Stonehenge to join their bodily remains and invest Stonehenge with life. After fertilising the timber egg, those spirits left the Durrington Walls Henge via the avenue that leads down to the River Avon, first passing over a Sex-Pit containing a female pelvis of natural flint, several pairs of balls and erect penis of flint like the type found at Stonehenge. Then, guided along by the Avon, those spirits picked up the start of the Stonehenge Avenue by locating Bluestonehenge. Then, following the Stonehenge Avenue, which, by its very shape, is proven to represent growth - those spirits finally arrived at Stonehenge B – the monument that causes all the arguments!
Meanwhile, intense high-altitude-rays of the setting summer solstice sun fertilised the eggs of the Southern Circle, by slicing right through them, then continued on down the avenue, crossing over the Sex Pit and turning the river red. Meanwhile, the Midden’s spiritual contents were poured through a break in the shell of the egg. All at the same time as people were chomping on nine -month-old piglets brought in from all over the country!
Like Avebury’s West Kennet Avenue of stone, the River Avon, to prehistoric folk, was an umbilical cord. Is this just supposition? I don’t think so!
One final thought: On the problem of broken pottery. Imagine smashing a beaker pot and placing one sherd in the midden and transporting a matching sherd to Stonehenge. Neolithic folk are famous for shifting stuff around.
83. Durrington Walls' Southern Circle was a collection of timber eggs. The whole point was for the solstice to cut right through the eggs and fertilise them. The so-called ‘Sex-Pit’ found in the middle of the Avenue, held a female pelvis of natural flint together with a male phalli and a pair of flint balls. As far as I am aware, an in-situ picture showing these male and female artefacts together has never been published. And for obvious reasons!
It could be argued by many, me included, that the avenue leading to the river has long been expected to exist. Professor John North for another, when in 1996 he wrote - ‘The distance between the centre of the Southern Circle and the river is 200 megalithic yards.’
84. This is a view looking down on Durrington Walls from the river Avon. We have already mentioned that the sun rose approximately 48.5-degrees clockwise and set 48.5-degrees anticlockwise from north at Stonehenge, and that's because Stonehenge overlooks a relatively level horizon. (Altitude less than half a degree.) However, the summer sun sets much earlier when viewed from the Southern Circle at Durrington Walls for having to look uphill at it by some 4-degrees. Seen from the 'Avenue,' the sun, obeying the 10-degree rule, sets 60-Degrees anticlockwise from north, and the moon sets at 50. It's almost as if the sun and moon have swopped places.
85. The mandate was for the posts of the Southern Circle to be set up in families of three, unfortunately at the expense of distorting the shape of its eggs. And that is what makes it so difficult to determine the geometry of the eggs that the Southern Circle was based upon. A vital discovery is the finding of a clear break in the outer circuit to the north-east. That break is at the very point where a midden, replete with beaker and other pottery sherds, plus numerous animal bones, axes and flints, were found together in a mass of burnt ashes and charcoal a third of a metre thick. This midden, packed with Stone Age ingredients appears like an eye dropper that patiently waits to dispense its fertile contents into the circle at the time of the setting summer sun. Archaeologists accept that the Southern Circle is connected to Stonehenge -- first by the avenue that links it to the Avon, then along the river until it once met with a circle of stones, long gone, on its north bank, near to the town of Amesbury. This circle is known as the 'West Amesbury Henge or Bluestonehenge' and was the original Stonehenge. Stonehenge MK1, or Stonehenge A.
86. This ground-plan-view of Durrington Walls' Southern Circle of timber, produced in CAD, is as good as I can make it. Note how the solstice axis, being central to the Avenue and exit posts, causes it to slice through the axes of all three eggs. Note also that it is the pointed end of an egg that shows the way! These eggs point towards the setting summer solstice, even though one very famous professor, who knows darn well that he is lying, continues to bang the winter solstice drum. Posthole 139 was cut into when the massive exit post next to it was erected. Post 139 was therefore the older of the two. A beaker sherd was found buried in the posthole of139. Once again we are reminded of archaeological resistance to the very idea that beaker folk might have designed Stonehenge, when Wainwright suggested that this sherd probably fell into 139's hole when the post had rotted away.
87. Durrington Walls, Southern Circle of Timber, Outer Ring A. We can be certain of the Southern Circle's Ring A geometry, because it's design is so similar to its neighbour, Woodhenge. Here we see 46 MY circles, which are equivalent to the diameter of Avebury's Sanctuary. Also, the 35.9875 blend radius, thought by its builders to be an exact 36 Megalithic Yards, foretells the size of Stonehenge.
88. Durrington Walls' Southern Circle consists of at least three eggs, all pointing northwest, but in slightly different directions, The setting summer solstice sun, far more powerful for its altitude of 4-degrees above Durrington Walls' western bank, and in-line with the Avenue, cuts right through these eggs. Let's return to Stonehenge. Please press the Continued Button.