The Sanctuary, Avebury – Digital Model.

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Text from the Wiltshire SMR.

You can also download the model of the Sanctuary and play about with it in Sketchup/Google Earth.

Two concentric circles of stones & 4 circles of postholes with a common centre, excavated in 1930 by Maud Cunnington. Although these features are no longer visible in their original form, their locations are marked by concrete blocks. Beaker & Peterborough Ware sherds, flint petit tranchet derivatives and lava. The outer stone circle had a diameter of 40m and originally included 42 sarsen stones. The inner stone circle was 15m across and contained 15 or 16 stones. The four timber circles varied in size from between 5m and 21m across and contained between seven and thirty-three posts.

Excavation demonstrated that construction of the site was in four phases:

Phase 1– a 5m diameter circle with seven posts forming a circle around a central post;

Phase 2 – a 6m diameter circle of eight post surrounded by a second circle of 11m in diameter, consisting of 12 posts;

Phase 3 – an additional circle of 21m in diameter consisting of 33 posts. It was during this third phase that the smaller stone circle was constructed and an entrance to the structure was built on the south-eastern side of the monument;

Phase 4 – the outer stone circle and the Avenue from Avebury were built, replacing the timber structures.

This and the fact that the entrance to the Avenue was to the north west, indicate that the Sanctuary was an important monument before Avebury was built and that it continued to play an import role even after the henge’s completion. Excavation by Mike Pitts in 1999 indicates the structure did not have a heavy roof as the last post was left to rot and the pits were dug and refilled in rapid succession. Nine arrowheads, and a further 68 retouched pieces of worked flint, 1058 pieces of identifiable worked flint, and 60 pieces of burnt flint, 14 sherds and an awl were recovered in 1999.

World Heritage Site = Yes
Sources; Victoria County History 1 1 32 1957 Grinsell, L.V.
Ordnance Survey 6in Map 1961 Ordnance Survey
Stonehenge & Avebury 1971 50-1
D/SU1167 English Heritage
Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 63 19
Dept of the Environmente Arch Exc 1976 17
Devizes Museum 488
Devizes Museum Cat3 81-3 1934 Cunnington, M E; Goddard, E H
Devizes Museum Cat4 No 99 1964 Annable, F K; Simpson, D D A
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 58 213-226h.Usx3qWNQ.dpuf

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