Avebury (England), c. 2500 BC


British megalithic culture is mostly familiar to us through Stonehenge, but the complex at Avebury is much older, larger and more complex. One of its main features is Silbury Hill, which occupies the center of this painting. An entirely man made mound, surrounded by a ditch, in flood it assumes the form of a pregnant woman. Here the mother is shown both giving birth and with her newborn child, in whose eye the moon is reflected near her breast. Just to the left of her breast is the spring which is the source of the Kennet River, and is thought by some to be an integral part of the sacred landscape, being the birth source of the life-giving water/milk.  In the upper left corner is a view of Silbury Hill in its landscape next to the stone lined avenue leading to the stone circles of Avebury. Opposite the Avebury circles, in the upper right corner, are the West Kennet Long Barrow above The Sanctuary, a wooden post circle which also formed part of the complex. The bottom of the painting includes two further views of the West Kennet Long Barrow, long ritually used for burials. The upper one of these is based on a diagram of the stones forming the burial chamber within the barrow, which also takes a human (female?) form, into which we can see the dead entering. Below that, across the bottom of the picture is another view of the barrow, showing the small area taken by the burial chamber on the right end. In front of the burial chamber is a skeleton ox. The blocking stones in front of the burial chamber have been taken by some to represent a sacrificial ox, seen in the same form in other megalithic structures. Corn dollies, ritual female figures recognizing the harvest and the female as a food source, hang from the tree in the center front. Sheaves of newly harvested grain stand at the lower left.

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