a scale model of Atlantis?
Few have looked
at Avebury and Stonehenge, pondering whether they might be part
of a larger complex. But when that question is asked, an altogether
different one bubbles to the surface: could this complex also
be linked with Plato’s fabled lost civilisation of Atlantis?
any doubt, Stonehenge is the most famous megalithic monument of
Great-Britain; perhaps even of Europe, if not the entire world.
Almost one million people visit the site annually, half of them
coming from outside of Britain. But Stonehenge is not the only
megalithic complex in this area. Thirty minutes by car, directly
north of Stonehenge, are two massive stone circles, in Avebury.
In fact an entire village is built inside the enormous henge that
surrounds these two circles. Unlike Stonehenge, where the visitor
is kept far away from the monument, in Avebury, one can experience
the stones up close and personal and the impression Avebury leaves
is far superior then anything a tourist to Stonehenge can experience.
That is one of the reasons why since the 1980s the number of visitors
to Avebury has continued to rise.
Stonehenge and Avebury are accepted as being part of a larger
whole. For example, the henge of Avebury is part of landscape
that incorporates West Kenneth Long Barrow, as well as an Avenue
– two long lines of standing stones – that connects
Avebury to The Sanctuary, next to the River Avon. Finally, Silbury
Hill, Europe’s tallest man-made mound, is also part of Avebury’s
The intricate interplay between Avebury and Silbury Hill has been
explored by Paul Devereux, who used his eyes to map this “dream
landscape” – a natural landscape where human hands
had carefully – often subtly – enhanced or created
certain features, making it into the sacred precinct that it is
known to have been.
Stonehenge too is part of a larger whole, though it is today far
less impressive and visible to the eye than it is at Avebury.
There is the nearby cursus, another Avenue, this time connecting
the complex to the River Avon, and a large numbers of barrows,
such as the New King Barrows and Winterbourne Stoke Barrows.
The big question, however, which few if any have dared to pose,
is whether these two complexes might be part of an even larger
whole, which would hence incorporate both Avebury and Stonehenge.
of a common denominator between the two sites came when English
Heritage had to undertake a one million pound conservation project
to save Silbury Hill from collapse – the result of unintelligent
excavations in previous times. During this work, archaeologists
discovered that the Neolithic builders had introduced hundreds
of sarsen stones into the hill, which they believe were considered
sacred by humans of the period. The interesting fact is that sarsen
stones were also incorporated into Stonehenge, actually brought
down from the Marlborough Downs – near Avebury.
For further reference, let us also note that archaeologist Jim
Leary noted that the discovery of sarsen stones inside the final
phase of the monument had been a surprise. Leary argued that Silbury,
and monuments such as Stonehenge and the stones at Avebury, had
been built in response to a period of great change in Britain,
which at the time was being influenced by an influx of European
Meanwhile, near Stonehenge, evidence was uncovered of a Neolithic
village – the largest ever found in Britain – inside
Durrington Walls henge. The houses were radiocarbon dated to ca.
2550 BC, the period Stonehenge was built. The dating was one of
the reasons that made archaeologists conclude that the people
who lived in the Durrington Walls houses were responsible for
the construction of Stonehenge.
Little known is that Durrington Walls is the world’s largest
known henge. It is some 500 metres across and encloses a series
of concentric rings of huge timber posts. Doesn’t it sound
quite familiar to a modern description of Avebury?
the Avebury and Stonehenge complex is therefore larger than the
individual circles themselves. But the question being asked is
whether they could be part of a complex that encompasses both
The Belgian historian Marcel Mestdagh believed that one vital
aspect of the Stonehenge-Avebury complex had been overlooked:
a perfectly curved road that connected the two sites. A quick
glance on a map will indeed reveal that the monuments are connected
by sections of the A360 and A361 roads. It is furthermore clear
that east of Stonehenge, this curved road continues (under the
designation of the A303), beginning to form the outline of an
oval. The map also shows that we have almost half of an oval,
made up of various roads, from Avebury curving southwards towards
Stonehenge, then eastwards, right to the outskirts of Andover.
Mestdagh next drew a completed oval on the map. The sites located
on this oval were Devizes, Potterne, West Lavington, Tilshead,
Shrewton, Rollestone, Amesbury, Thruxton, Weyhill, Vernham, Axford
and Beckhampton, and, of course, Stonehenge and Avebury. He then
made some preliminary observations.
Firstly, it was somewhat bizarre that two megalithic sites were
connected by a curved road, which upon later realisation, were
part of a half-oval of roads. The important question was whether
these roads were built on top of an older construction, e.g. a
raised surface, like a giant “henge”, such as around
Avebury or Durrington Wall, which would later make them suited
for road construction.
Secondly, when the oval was completed, Avebury and Stonehenge
weren’t just anywhere on this circle; one could form a perfect
triangle – each side measuring 27.5 km long – with
the point where the longest axis of the oval cut the oval itself.
This site was the tiny village of Little Down (Rockmoor Down),
where three counties (Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire) all
met. Coincidence, or evidence of the prior presence of something
– just like with the road connecting Stonehenge and Avebury?
Thirdly, more detailed analysis of this oval revealed that two-thirds
of this oval was still intact, and existed in the form of roads.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, when Mestdagh measured
the oval, he came to the surprisingly realisation that its dimensions
seemed to be in correspondence with the dimensions that Plato
had given about a civilisation that he had described as Atlantis.
As a historian, Mestdagh wrote that from now on, he would have
to embrace notions, which most of his colleagues had treated as
being nothing more than flights of Plato’s fantasy.
main axis of the oval (running from Little Down to a location
between Potterne and West Lavington) is 35.5 kilometres long.
As the kilometre is a relatively modern invention, Mestdagh wondered
which ancient measuring system might have been used by those who
constructed the oval. Of course, he also realised that to create
such a large, perfect, oval, the civilisation that built them,
were quite advanced – but that in itself was already in
evidence in Avebury and especially Stonehenge, which was known
to have been built with complex astronomical alignments in place.
Mestdagh next realised that 35.5 kilometres equalled 200 stadia.
As this was a very round number, he felt the stadia was the likeliest
measuring system for this oval. A measurement, however, that reminded
him of the dimensions Plato had given to Atlantis.
In his “Timaeus”, Plato gave detailed descriptions
of Atlantis. A correct reading of these, specifically the plain
of Atlantis, reveals that whatever Plato was intending, the dimensions
of this plain were an elongated square, each side measuring 3000
stadia (533 km). Mestdagh realised that this elongated square
inscribed an oval, with axes of 475 and 591 kilometres long.
In the final analysis, it was therefore clear that both Atlantis
and the “Wiltshire Oval” were… ovals, and that
both Atlantis’ dimensions and the Wiltshire Oval translated
into round measurements in stadia. Coincidence, or evidence that
there was a connection between this oval and the lost civilisation
Wiltshire Oval has created an oval-shaped space; has it, like
a Avebury, delineated a sacred territory? Perhaps – or at
least the likeliest explanation. What is known, is that Durrington
Walls is inside this… wall? Though this makes the area inside
the oval once potentially the largest Neolithic settlement in
Britain, today, the area is best described as rural, with some
sections completely left to agriculture. Of course, the greatest
revolution of the Neolithic was agriculture – which allowed
our ancestors to settle, which soon resulted in villages and towns,
and the start of an economy, which had a surplus workforce, which
across the world would soon be used to construct the likes of
the pyramids… and the stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.
It appears that the people that lived here, principally lived
inside the Wiltshire Oval and constructed Stonehenge and Avebury
on key locations of the ditch that likely surrounding their territory.
The oval, in shape, is of course close to the egg, which comes
with a rich symbolism. The egg in Christianity is mainly linked
with Easter, and is – unsurprisingly – seen as the
symbol of birth, as well as… death and resurrection; the
start of a new cycle. Noting that both Stonehenge and Avebury
are believed to be connected with ancestor worship, their incorporation
into an oval-design would make perfect mythological sense.
would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a few, unfinished
lines in one author’s treatise of a lost civilisation. Nor
do we know all that much about Stonehenge and Avebury. But what
we do know, is that both monuments seemed to have been sites of
burial and ancestor worship. We know that they were located in
a very prosperous “hub” of Neolithic Britain –
a true civilisation, even though many historians still refuse
to label it the “megalithic civilisation”. Dare we
to suggest that when the plans for this new centre were drawn,
that – somehow – its designers had access to the same
information Plato consulted, and that they built “the Wiltshire
Oval” based on Atlantis? Most archaeologist adhere to isolationist
stances, but it is a fact – as Leary highlighted above –
that Stonehenge and Avebury were built at a time when Britain
was influenced by European cultures. Could these cultures have
introduced the concept of a lost civilisation, which the budding
Wiltshire economy then incorporated in its building plans?
south of Durrington Walls is Woodhenge. Also situated just inside
the Oval structure, Woodhenge has six concentric rings of postholes,
encircled by a single ditch and finally an outer bank, around
85 metres wide. There is a central burial, of a child, which most
archaeologists accept was likely a dedicatory sacrifice.
Though known as a “wood henge”, it is now known that
there were several standing stones on the site, arranged in the
formation of a cove. Furthermore, the depth of some of the potholes
descended to two metres, which suggests that the post themselves
might have been as high as 7.5 metres above the ground. Each post
would thus have weighed up to five tons – underlining that
even though the structure was “only” made from wood,
its construction was no less impressive than nearby Stonehenge.
Both Woodhenge and Stonehenge have entrances oriented towards
midsummer sunrise and both have similar diameters. Furthermore,
another timber circle, on the same scale as Woodhenge, was discovered
in 1966 within Durrington Walls.
However, one observation – unsurprisingly – has escaped
most: Plato describes Atlantis’ capital as a series of concentric
circles. Can it truly be a mere coincidence that Woodhenge is
a series of concentric circles, located inside a large Oval, which
shares dimensional characteristics with Atlantis? Note that no-one
is suggesting Woodhenge was Atlantis’ capital – merely
that the designers of the various structures in, on and near the
Wiltshire Oval had access to the same knowledge and traditions
Plato found in Egypt and worked inside his “Timaeus”.
the answer to all these questions is “yes”, then it
is clear that not only the likelihood of Atlantis as a real civilisation
has increased its odds, but also that we need to completely re-evaluate
the megalithic monuments dotted around the Wiltshire countryside.
It is but a thirty minute drive to connect Stonehenge with Avebury,
but it’s a large step for archaeology.