September 2011 AVAS meeting – West Kennet Long Barrow

At the September meeting of AVAS, Peter Knight kindly stepped in at the last moment to give a fascinating talk on West Kennet long barrow.  Peter demonstrated his clear passion for the monument, and mentioned he has actually moved house to be close to the monument – that is dedication!

The structure of the talk followed Peter’s recent book on West Kennet, which he stressed is the first accessible book to focus solely on the monument.  As Peter was the first to admit, his views and theories on the monument do not conform to those of traditional archaeologists.  Despite this, the gathered audience was clearly fascinated by his talk, which included the acoustic qualities of the chambers, the lighting of the chambers by important sunrise and sunset events, and alignments with other monuments and with stellar events.

While it is unlikely that mainstream archaeologists will ever embrace some of the theories discussed, such as long distance alignments with other sites, Peter did point out that archaeologists are starting to discuss more openly certain subjects, such as acoustic characteristics and shamen beliefs.  Indeed, Ann Woodward in her well respected book ‘British Barrows’ (2002) has a whole chapter entitled ‘Barrows and exotic substances’, which has sections on ‘Peculiar substances’ and ‘Shamanic cults’.

After the lecture, the Chairman (Mark) announced that he is hoping to arrange some more geophysics work on his farm, having identified some circular features from the many thousands of photos taken from his model aeroplane.  He also wants to arrange some fieldwalking on a couple of fields that he is about to plough.  Anyone who is interested should contact him or use the ‘Contact us’ menu item above.

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