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5.0 out of 5 stars An enigma..., 1 Aug. 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: English Heritage Book of Avebury (Paperback)
Avebury is the largest Neolithic stone circle in the world. It is located in England, due west of London, and due north of its much more famous counterpart, Stonehenge. Carole Malone, who was once the curator at the museum at Avebury has produced an excellent guide to this monument. The true strength of this book is the numerous maps, tables, drawings, and historical pictures which illustrate the work which was done to restore this monument to its original condition.

Malone couples the visuals with a thorough, scholarly account of this pre-historical monument covering what is known of the Neolithic people who constructed them, over the period of a couple millennium. There are the also the "barrows," which are essentially the repositories for the dead, and once numbered in the thousands throughout Britain, a few hundred of which are identified in the vicinity of Avebury. There are major chapters on the construction of Windmill and Silbury Hills. Both required the orchestrated use of a tremendous amount of labor, particularly the later, with pictures showing the construction resembling the Tower of Babel.

At the end of the guide is a suggested tour of the area, along with an extensive bibliography. Unlike Stonehenge, which has been proven to have astronomical purposes (no doubt, accompanied by religious ones, which include the present era as the Druids have recently been official recognized in England as a religion) in Avebury the purpose behind the henge, and associated monuments, remains a mystery. Much to Malone's credit, she does not have a "pet theory;" she briefly covers the main speculations as to its purpose, but they remain just that: best guesses. Due to the lack of a written record, it will probably always remain such.

There are a couple of other books on Avebury; my copy dates from 1989, but when you are covering the Neolithic period, it is hard to say a book is "dated" unless truly new discoveries have been made, which they haven't. I purchased my copy from the museum there in 1991. As with so many other guidebooks, it is best to purchase them BEFORE you go. The visit will be that much more rewarding. 5-stars.
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English Heritage Book of Avebury
English Heritage Book of Avebury by Caroline Malone (Paperback - 5 May 1989)
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