Great mysteries of the past can now be revealled (Britain’s First Road)
As the waters began to recede, the architects of Stonehenge found themselves confronted with a formidable engineering challenge: how to contend with the diminishing groundwater table while ensuring the Stonehenge moat remained adequately filled. In the preceding discussion, we established the application of a clay waterproofing layer to transform the Stonehenge moat into a reservoir akin to a dew pond. In this chapter, I delve into the intricacies of their solution—a newly constructed earthwork known as ‘The Avenue,’ complete with its own moat designed to bring the waters closer to the monumental bathing moat.
The conception of The Avenue transpired subsequent to the initial moated henge, coinciding with the gradual descent of the original Mesolithic groundwater and shoreline to the lower Neolithic groundwater level. The diminishing water levels posed a dual challenge for the builders. Firstly, the original mooring was rendered inadequate for receiving boats or cargo, necessitating the creation of a new entrance. Secondly, the moat would no longer experience the Mesolithic-era inundation, given the 10-meter drop in the water table.
Examinations conducted by Hawley in the 1920s revealed that the builders implemented a liner, akin to those observed in contemporaneous Mesolithic structures like ‘dew ponds’ in the vicinity. The purpose of this liner was to retain water accumulated through natural rainfall and seasonal high tides, replenishing the moat. It is plausible that irregular water levels were common during the late Mesolithic, compelling the builders to devise an alternative means of maintaining the moat’s water levels for the continuation of bluestone treatments.
The Avenue, with its peculiar attributes, unfolds a narrative of ongoing development discernible through the alignment of post holes along its entire stretch. This adaptive evolution over an extensive period aligns with the shifting Neolithic shoreline, spanning over two and a half millennia. The physical construction of The Avenue underscores its incorporation of water features. The Southern ditch, in proximity to the water source, maintains a shallower depth, ensuring even filling, while the Northern ditch, situated at a distance and on a gradient, necessitates a 10% greater depth for uniform water levels. This asymmetry in ditch depths echoes in the main ditch of Stonehenge, where the ditch corresponding to the northern avenue ditch is also 10% deeper.
In deciphering the enigmatic engineering of The Avenue, we unravel not only the ingenuity of the Neolithic builders but also their astute adaptation to changing environmental conditions. The ongoing narrative of this earthwork serves as a testament to the resilience and foresight of our ancient predecessors as they navigated the complex challenges posed by a transforming landscape. (Britain’s First Road – Stonehenge Avenue)
Figure 31– North and South Avenue Ditch comparison
The wooden poles interspersed within the Avenue may initially appear random and impractical, but a closer examination reveals a pattern. These poles align in pairs approximately every ten meters along the Avenue, indicating a phased construction. This pattern is a consequence of periodic replacement as the shoreline retreated, with the initial set positioned near the renowned North-Eastern entrance by the Heel Stone and extending to the final evidence at the ‘elbow’ towards the end.
Contrary to prevailing theories suggesting the Avenue as a processional walkway leading to the River Avon, a meticulous study unveils an illogical and indirect course. The current configuration reflects its association with the River Avon after the original Avenue, culminating at Stonehenge Bottom, fell into disuse. This anomaly in its route has led archaeologists to posit it as a ‘ceremonial’ pathway, ignoring the practical considerations. The confusion is compounded by later generations constructing barrows mimicking their ancestors’ structures, adding a layer of complexity to the timeline.
The Avenue’s attempt to maintain a connection with the original Stonehenge builders is evident in its meandering path. Initially moving northeast for about 500 meters, it then abruptly shifts east for another 1,000 meters before turning south, resembling a stretched lowercase ‘n.’ Archaeologists propose a ‘natural route,’ intentionally passing burial mounds to the east. However, our hypothesis provides a comprehensive answer. The Avenue was constructed to meet the new Neolithic shoreline, serving as an entrance for boats, cargo, and stones.
Carbon dating supports our claim, establishing that the Avenue originated in the Neolithic era, predating the Iron Age burial mounds. Archaeologists acknowledge that the Avenue was built in sections, with the initial segment up to the ‘elbow’ erected during ‘Period II.’ This period witnessed various modifications, including altering the original enclosure, constructing the first stage of the Avenue, erecting the Station Stones, resetting entrance stones, and dismantling the double bluestone circle.
Our alternative perspective aligns seamlessly with this evidence. The Avenue, built in phases, was a response to the evolving shoreline during the Neolithic period. It served as an entrance for boats and materials, reshaping the dynamics of Stonehenge. Additional support comes from post holes in the Avenue, which, when understood as mooring posts for different construction phases and water levels, further substantiates our hypothesis. A survey conducted in the late 1980s identified post holes configured as moorings, paired at a 45-degree angle to the Avenue, corresponding to predicted shorelines across distinct periods.(Britain’s First Road – Stonehenge Avenue)
|Figure 32– The Avenue showing its termination and the wooden post holes and man-made mounds that were used to unload ships and boats
Recent investigations have brought to light intriguing features along the Avenue, notably distinctive man-made mounds known as Newall’s Mount, named after their discoverer. Another unnamed mound, sharing characteristics and post hole alignment, is evident on contour maps of the Avenue, signifying their use as raised platforms for unloading boats. The practical utility of these mounds is underscored by their inability to serve any other purpose. Similar platforms are identified in the nearby Avebury site, such as Silbury Avenue leading to ‘Waden Mount,’ a mooring platform discovered by photographer Pete Glastonbury in 2004.
Furthermore, the extension beyond the ‘elbow’ in the Avenue can be dated by the absence of elaborate moats on either side of the processional walkway. This section traverses hillocks that cannot retain water, rendering moats impractical and unnecessary. This pragmatic approach suggests that our ancestors incorporated features like ditches for utilitarian purposes, challenging prevailing views that ascribe religious or aesthetic motives to such constructions.
This juncture in Stonehenge’s construction marks a transformative shift. It appears to have transitioned from a lunar-focused monument with roles in healing and excarnation to a shrine celebrating life and the sunrise. This shift aligns with developments in the Bronze Age, subsequently yielding control to new civilizations, including Druids and Iron Age tribal cultures.
The Avenue II
Phase II of Stonehenge reveals notable changes in the development of the Avenue, reflecting an effort to sustain the ceremonial connection between Stonehenge and the river system. The initial step involved backfilling the ditch in the North-East sector of the site. This secondary filling, as noted by Hawley and Atkinson, displayed characteristics inconsistent with natural processes. The backfill reached a depth of 1 meter, revealing pottery and bluestone fragments, unequivocally indicating its precedence over the arrival of bluestones.
The Avenue’s inception likely served a dual purpose. It functioned as a new processional mooring pathway for the deceased and played a role in maintaining groundwater levels. The latter became imperative as the moat experienced a diminished flow due to lower river levels.
|Figure 33– The Avenue terminating at Stonehenge bottom showing the ditches on each side
As outlined in the archaeological segment of our hypothesis, Hawley’s discovery of a liner in the moat suggests a later addition to the structure. Initially, when the moat was constructed, there was no need for a liner, given the sufficiently high groundwater tables that naturally filled the moat either daily or periodically. However, as the tidal groundwater ceased to reach the pit’s base, a liner became essential to maintain an adequate water depth in the moat. Periodic topping up of the pits would be necessary using groundwater from the retreating rivers around Stonehenge, precipitation like dew ponds, manual transference, or a combination of these methods.
The Avenue, designed as a processional causeway, featured a deep trench on both sides, exceeding 1 meter in depth at certain points. The presence of this trench suggests a purpose beyond the ceremonial, indicating either practical or symbolic significance. While there is no direct evidence of a connection between the ditch and the existing moat, it becomes unnecessary, considering the porous nature of chalk that enables water flow over short distances.
More information on Stonehenge Avenue can be found on our documentary video: https://youtu.be/-Ds1HYB15w8
For information about British Prehistory, visit www.prehistoric-britain.co.uk for the most extensive archaeology blogs and investigations collection, including modern LiDAR reports. This site also includes extracts and articles from the Robert John Langdon Trilogy about Britain in the Prehistoric period, including titles such as The Stonehenge Enigma, Dawn of the Lost Civilisation and the ultimate proof of Post Glacial Flooding and the landscape we see today.
Robert John Langdon has also created a YouTube web channel with over 100 investigations and video documentaries to support his classic trilogy (Prehistoric Britain). He has also released a collection of strange coincidences that he calls ‘13 Things that Don’t Make Sense in History’ and his recent discovery of a lost Stone Avenue at Avebury in Wiltshire called ‘Silbury Avenue – the Lost Stone Avenue’.
Langdon has also produced a series of ‘shorts’, which are extracts from his main body of books:
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- 1003037 – Ditch 530yds (484m) SW of Stitchcombe Farm
- 1003254 – Linear earthwork NW of Sidbury camp
- 1003726 – Earthwork 360yds (328m) NW of Warren Copse
- 1003769 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 560yds (510m) in Pennsylvania Wood, Ufton Park
- 1003784 – Wansdyke: section 610yds (560m) NW of Wernham Farm to 250yds (230m) SW of New Buildings
- 1003804 – Dray’s Ditches See also LUTON 1
- 1004534 – Dray’s Ditches See also BEDFORDSHIRE 1
- 1004719 – Wansdyke: section from S of Furze Hill to Marlborough-Pewsey road
- 1004736 – Section of the Wansdyke
- 1005373 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 300yds (275m) in Church Plantation
- 1005374 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 880yds (795m) in Old Warren
- 1005375 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 470yds (430m) in Little Heath
- 1005376 – Grim’s Bank: Section extending SW 900yds (825m) from New Plantation, Ufton Park, to a point 250yds (230m) SE of Rectory
- 1005377 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 420yds (400m) in Old Park and Raven Hill, Ufton Park
- 1005386 – Wansdyke (now Bedwyn Dyke), section 530yds (490m) on W side of Old Dyke Lane
- 1005389 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 240yds (220m) E of Padworth Gully
- 1006958 – Boundary ditch E of Near Down
- 1006977 – Ditch on Boydon Hole Farm
- 1006981 – Grim’s Ditch: section 1 mile long E from Southfield Shaw to Streatley parish boundary
- 1006982 – Grim’s Ditch: two sections in Portobello Wood, Holies Shaw and High Holies Wood Gap
- 1007136 – Bishop’s Dyke (Cumbria)
- 1007525 – Three (Cross) Dykes on Middle Hill – Kidland Forest Northumberland
- 1008274 – Cross dyke, 200m south east of Hosedon Linn
- 1008275 – Cross Dyke South East of Uplaw Knowe
- 1010988 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum from A6071 to The Cottage in the case of the Wall, and to the road to Oldwall, for the Vallum, in wall miles 57, 58 and 59
- 1010990 – The Vallum between the road to Laversdale at Oldwall and Baron’s Dike in wall miles 59 and 60
- 1010992 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum between the field boundary west of Carvoran Roman fort and the west side of the B6318 road in wall mile 46
- 1011396 – Cross dyke, South of Campville
- 1014695 – Hadrian’s Wall Vallum between Mill Beck and the field boundary east of Kirkandrews Farm in wall mile 69
- 1014708 – section of the north Oxfordshire Grim’s Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate
- 1016860 – Scot’s Dike
- 1017288 – Wansdyke and associated monuments from east of The Firs to the eastern side of Tan Hill
- 1017736 – Cross Dyke and two building foundations at Copper Snout
- 1020643 – North east of Buttington Farm
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