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Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

© Andrew Smith, from

Fyfield Down, © Andrew Smith, from

Dear Friends of Stonehenge and Avebury WHS,

Despite their similarities, the two parts of the World Heritage Site are in many ways poles apart – to the casual visitor, at least.   The differences in visiting each of the major henges at Avebury and Stonehenge are often commented on; the road-trip, the visitor facilities, the topography, the archaeology itself.   Living here in Wiltshire, I like to think about it differently.   One thing, more than anything else, unites the parts of the WHS for me.

I don’t mean the long history of archaeological research in the area; or the fact that – to use the terms of the UNESCO inscription – “The World Heritage Site provides an outstanding illustration of the evolution of monument construction…over more than 2000 years, from the early Neolithic to the Bronze Age.”

The much-reduced spread of Wiltshire’s sarsen stone is my “glue”.   Sarsens used in archaeological monuments, sarsens scattered over the landscape, sarsens in the walls and houses.   Sarsens thread their way through the World Heritage Site, in time and in place.   No matter how many, or how few, were once recumbent on the chalk, sarsens have been encountered and used by people for thousands of years; and still are, as gravestones, building material and street furniture for example.

Known for their tough hardness, sarsens have a temporal and spatial durability across the World Heritage Site and beyond.   They help me to think about the wider environment, and serve to keep me mindful of the contexts in which we should place archaeological monuments.   Not divorced from one another by outlines drawn on maps, but features in a landscape to be explored.

Yours, Katy Whitaker


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.


June 2013

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