Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet

West Kennet, Wiltshire is in Wiltshire.

Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet, Falkner's Circle [Map]

Falkner's Circle [Map] is a 37m diameter Stone Circle of twelve stones, of which only one 1.3m high stone remains, in the Prehistoric Avebury Landscape around 470m south of the Avebury Henge South Entrance [Map] adjacent to the West Kennet Avenue.

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1857 V4 Pages 307-363. 1840. In the dip of the hill between the Kennet avenue anda slight oblong earthwork on the slope of Hakpen Hill,1 a solitary stone is standing. Mr. Falkner of Devizes, has fayored me with the following account of his observations in connection with it. "The stone which you saw in a field on the left, when you went along the avenue towards Kennet, was seen by me in 1840. I went to it, and found it was one of a circle [Falkner's Circle [Map]] that had existed at some former period. There were two other stones lying on the ground, and nine hollow places, from which stones had been removed, making twelve altogether. I made a note of it at the time, and the person with whom I was riding observed it also. The circle was then in a meadow, which was broken up a few years afterwards, and two of the stones removed. The circle was 2824 yards from the nearest part of the avenue. I could not have been mistaken as to the fact of a circle being there, and considered the discovery of sufficient importance to write to the Rev. E. Duke on the subject, who was not aware of what I told him, nor could he explain the matter at all,—only suggesting that the stones might have been set round a large tumulus,—but the ground was quite flat within the circle, which was about 120 feet in diameter."

Note 1. I use the words "Hakpen Hill" because this hill is so designated in the plan, but the Hakpen Hill, properly so called, does not extend so far to the south, or beyond the road leading from Abury to Rockley. See Ordnance Map.

Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet, Falkner's Circle Long Barrow [Map]

Falkner's Circle Long Barrow is also in Avebury Long Barrows North.

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1924 V42 Pages 49-51. New Long Barrow at Avebury [Map] (Barrow 21, Goddard). Quoted as a round barrow by Smith, is close to the remains of a stone circle and is — a distinct long barrow with the broadest and highest end to the S.S.W.: on each side are very broad but shallow hollows which, together with the mound, have been nearly obliterated by the plough. It now measures 150 feet by 60 feet. The circle above mentioned, which I propose to call Falkner's circle [Map], in honour of its discoverer, has only one stone now remaining. This must have been on the west side, as it agrees with Falkner's measurements from the Kennett Avenue.

Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet, Overton Hill [Map]

Avebury by William Stukeley. Table XXIX. Top: A Group of Barrows on the side of the valley above Beckampton [Map]. Bottom: A Group of Barrows upon Overton hill [Map].

Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet Enclosures [Map]

West Kennet Enclosures is also in Avebury Late Neolithic Early Bronze Age.

West Kennet Enclosures [Map]. Historic England 1015157

The monument, which falls into three separate areas, includes the recorded extent of two Late Neolithic palisaded enclosures, a linear radial ditch and a small, circular, double-ditched enclosure, all situated in the Kennet Valley at West Kennett Farm. The north east enclosure lies within 150m of the West Kennett Avenue which leads from the Avebury henge to the henge known as 'the Sanctuary [Map]', 750m to the east. Although no longer visible at ground level, the monument is known from aerial photographs, part excavations and geophysical survey to survive buried below the modern ground level. Of the two palisaded enclosures, the larger is to the north east, and the smaller to the south west. The north east enclosure (known as enclosure 1) has a pair of concentric ditches which are cut by the present line of the River Kennet, believed to have been much smaller in the Neolithic period than it appears today. The outer ditch varies in width from 1.5m to 1.7m and where excavated was up to 3m deep. Its inner edge was near vertical, while its outer edge was more gently sloped. This would probably have helped in the insertion of the 30cm-40cm diameter wooden posts which were set up in sockets 0.5m lower than the base of the ditch. These were close-set with around five posts for every 3m of ditch. Excavation shows that these posts were held in place by sarsen boulders and packed chalk which was back filled into the ditch soon after it was opened. The inner ditch was of similar construction and measured up to 1.9m wide and 2.7m deep. Pottery from this ditch was of the decorated 'grooved ware' type. Between the ditches, limited excavations revealed a 0.10cm-0.15m thick layer of packed chalk forming a surface at least 10m across. This surface contained a variety of animal bone and antler, which was particularly concentrated in an area 1m by 3m across, as well as sherds of 'grooved ware' pottery. The area enclosed by these ditches is believed to be roughly circular, measuring approximately 275m in diameter. However, the northern half of this monument is not fully recorded and its north west quadrant cannot be accurately plotted at present. Enclosure 2, situated 10m to the south east of enclosure 1 and entirely south of the present line of the River Kennet, is roughly oval and is aligned WNW-ESE, with a long axis of approximately 350m and 208m across. It has a single ditch which measures from 1.4m to 3m wide and, where excavated, up to 2.6m deep. The posts in this ditch were larger, measuring from 0.5m to 0.8m in diameter. Internally, aerial photographs show a series of ditches and other features including a number of concentric circular features up to 50m in diameter. These are particularly concentrated at the eastern end of the enclosure, close to enclosure 1. Running south east from the south east side of enclosure 2 is a linear ditch about 0.9m wide and 1m deep. This contained posts similar to those in the curved ditches around the enclosures and can be traced for 80m south east on aerial photographs. There is then a gap before the ditch continues for about a further 80m up to a double-ditched concentric enclosure with an outer diameter of approximately 48m. These ditches contain a series of closely spaced posts up to 0.5m in diameter and cut into the natural chalk up to 1m deep. The centre of the enclosure appears, from the evidence of geophysical survey, to contain a concentration of material or a pit. The enclosure is similar in size to the Sanctuary. Excluded from the scheduling are all above ground buildings including the Grade II Listed barns, post and wire boundary fences, road and track surfaces, below ground services and their trenches, although the ground beneath all these features is included in the scheduling.

Around 2300BC. The West Kennet Enclosures [Map] were first noticed as crop marks on aerial photographs by J.K.St.Joseph in the 1950s. In 1987 Alasdair Whittle of Cardiff University began a 5 year period of investigations. They comprise two large areas of enclosed by timber palisading. One was circular with an inner row of palisading, the other formed a C. The major dimension of each enclosure was about 275 metres and 340 metres respectively. The River Kennet flows through the middle of the double-ringed component.

Europe, British Isles, South-West England, Wiltshire, West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]

West Kennet Long Barrow is also in Avebury Long Barrows North.

West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]. Photo from

West Kennet Long Barrow [Map] is a Severn Cotswolds Tomb type tomb, probably constructed in the 3700s BC. Human bones of men, women and children were placed in the chambers between 3670 and 3635 BC. The site appears to be subsequently re-used between 3620 and 3240 BC. In the late Neolithic it was blocked up with the addition of large sarsen boulders. It is 100m in length, 20m wide, constructed from earth with ditches on both sides, oriented east-west. At the east end are multiple chambers formed off a passage that extends 12m into the barrow. The ceiling is between 1.7 and 2.2m high - sufficient to allow an adult to stand upright.

Finds included Grooved Ware, Beaker Ware, Ebbsfleet Ware, Mortlake Ware and Fengate Ware coming from more than two hundred and fifty vessels.

Avebury by William Stukeley. 1723. But even this is much exceeded in south long barrow [West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]], near Silbury-hill [Map], south of it, and upon the bank of the Kennet. It stands east and west, pointing to the dragon's head on Overton-hill. A very operose congeries of huge stones upon the east end, and upon part of its back or ridge; piled one upon another, with no little labour: doubtless in order to form a sufficient chamber, for the remains of the person there buried; not easily to be disturbed. The whole tumulus is an excessively large mound of earth 180 cubits long, ridged up like a house. And we must needs conclude, the people that made these durable mausolea, had a very strong hope of the resurrection of their bodies, as well as souls who thus provided against their being disturbed.

Upon the heath south of Silbury-hill [Map], was a very large oblong work, like a long barrow, made only of stones pitched in the ground, no tumulus. Mr. Smith beforementioned told me, his cousin took the stones away (then) 14 years ago, to make mere stones withal. I take it to have been an archdruid's, tho' humble, yet magnificent; being 350 feet or 200 cubits long.

Diary of a Dean by Merewether. 04 Aug 1849. Saturday, the 4th of August, was in the morning chiefly devoted to Silbury [Map]; and it was arranged that I should be left in charge, as the examination of the centre was every hour becoming more and more critical and interesting. After due consultation respecting Silbury, our steps were directed to a singularly interesting object, described as an Archdruid's barrow [West Kennet long barrow [Map]], lying three quarters of a mile south-east of Silbury Hill [Map]. This appellation I suppose has been adopted from Stukeley; it ranges about east and west, and is at least 150 ft. long, higher and broader at the east end, where it is 30 ft., than at the west. It had evidently been cut through on the ridge in several places, but not improbably, in most instances, merely for agricultural purposes. At the east end were lying, in a dislodged condition, at least 30 sarsen stones, in which might clearly be traced the chamber formed by the side uprights and large transom stones, and the similar but lower and smaller passage leading to it; and below, round the base of the east end, wre to be seen the portion of the circle or semicircle of stones bounding it. There are two other barrows of this kind in the neighbourhood, which I may mention in this place; the one [East Kennet Long Barrow [Map]] about three-quarters of a mile south-east of that just described, which is of much the same character as to shape and dimensions, but differs in construction. I was induced to visit this in consequence of having been informed by the occupier of the surrounding land, that he had caused a hole to be dug at the east end for the purpose of obtaining flints; but that he soon found that it was made up of round and generally flat sarsen stones, which came tumbling so about the men that they gave up the work. It has unfortunately been planted over, as have many of the larger barrows on Hacpen Hill; I think in bad taste. The other is situated on Alton Down [Adam's Grave [Map]?], south of Wansdyke: all these range in the same bearing, south-east by north-west. It is 130 ft. long by 30 high. This is still covered with turf, and has been opened about half-way along the ridge, but not effectually. It is remarkable for having, about half-way down the slope of the east end, a sarsen stone; another at the base in the centre. On the south side, in the trench formed by raising the mound, is a very curious earthwork, in form an oval, with a mound about 2 ft. high round it, and a sarsen stone in the centre; the whole about 40 feet long by 15 broad. In advance of the barrow eastward, and at its very base, is another earthwork, of similar height as to its mound, in a line at right angles with the central line, about 30 ft. long, with a return of 10 ft. on either side. These two curious objects I visited at so late a period of my Wiltshire sojourn, that I could not indulge in the gratification of examining them. It is a satisfaction to mention these three, in the hope that it may lead to the disclosure of their interesting contents at some future day.

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1857 V4 Pages 307-363. Barrows, Etc., In The Neighbourhood Of Abury

In perfect keeping with the genius loci [kind of place], are the numerous barrows which crown the hills and stud the plains which surround the village of Abury. On the Windmill, Overton, and Hakpen Hills, are several of various dimensions and elegant form. On the elevated ground between the Kennet Avenue and Silbury Hill, which in Stukeley's book is called Weedon Hill and Windmill Boll, were others, but the plough and cultivation have obliterated these, as well as many other interesting antiquities which were in existence at the time he wrote. Of several long barrows which he described, the most remarkable at the present time is that on the brow of the hill south of Silbury [West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]]. It is about 300 feet long and 35 feet wide, and is called the Long Barrow. At the east end are about 40 large sarsens (one of them is 11 feet long and 6 wide, another is 9 feet long, 7 broad, and 2 thick) lying confusedly one over the other. They doubtless originally formed achamber. A farmer cut a waggon drive through this barrow, some time ago, much to the annoyance of his landlord.1

Note 1. This barrow deserves a careful and thorough examination, and when the Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History Society hold their meeting at Marlborough, they would do well to turn their attention to it, and apply for permission to open it. Aubrey gives rude sketches of this and the Mill barrow.

Archaeologia Volume 38 1883 Section XXVII. On The Examination Of A Chambered Long Barrow At West Kennet [Map], Wiltshire. By John Thurnam (age 49). Read 15th March, 1860.

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1866 V10 Pages 130-135. Examination of a Chambered Long Barrow [West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]], at West Kennet, Wiltshire. By John Thurnam (age 55).

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1913 V38 Pages 379-414. Avebury. 22. West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]. Length according to Hoare 344ft., to Thurnam 335ft.; E. and W. Chambered. This barrow was partially opened by Thurnam in 1859. He found one large chamber formed of six upright sarsen stones, covered by three other large sarsens; it measured 8ft. by 9ft., and 8ft. in clear height; the spaces between the large stones were filled in by a dry walling of stones of a calcareous grit, the nearest quarries of which would be about seven miles away near Calne. A similarly constructed gallery about 15ft. in length, led from the chamber to the eastern edge of the mound. Among the rubble with which the chamber was filled were the remains of six skeletons, which seem to have been in a sitting or crouching position; two of the skulls had been cleft before burial, probably before death. Bones of various animals, numerous flakes and worked flints, including one piece ground, several large mullers of flint and sarsen, part of a bone pin, and a hand-made bead of Kimmeridge shale were found. There was also a considerable quantity of pottery all in fragments, "in three of the four angles of the chamber there was a pile of such evidently deposited in a fragmentary state, there being scarcely more than two or three portions of the same vessel." This pottery consists of fragments of "drinking cup" type, and of other vessels of distinctive decoration, possibly round-bottomed, and having a hollow moulding beneath the rim.1

Thurnam thought the chamber had been previously disturbed, possibly during the Roman period. The barrow seems to have had originally a containing wall built of upright sarsens with the spaces between filled in with dry walling of oolitic stones. (For a similar walling see "Adam's Grave [Map]," under Alton Priors.) As to its present condition the chamber and gallery appear to be in a complete state of ruin, the stones lying about promiscuously. For the rest, to quote Thurnam, "Tenants in the present century (the 19th) have stripped it of its verdant turf2, cut a waggon-road through its centre, and dug for flints and chalk rubble in its sides, by which its form and proportions have been much injured." O.M. 28 S W.; A. W. II. 96; Arch. xxxviii. 403; xlii. 203, 211; Cr. Brit. Pl. 50; W.A.M. x. 130; Smith p. 154, XI. G. vi. b.; Devizes Museum Cat. 11. 23.

Note 1. See "The Development of Neolithic Pottery," by Mr. R. A. Smith, Arch. LXII. 340.

Note 2. The result of this is the rank growth of weeds and grass that now cover the mound.

1937. Doris Emerson Chapman (age 34). “West Kennet Long Barrow [Map]. Age 35. Height 5.7.”