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The Cove in 1723 by William Stukeley

A video interpretation showing some of the changes that The Cove, at Avebury, has undergone since first being illustrated by William Stukeley in the 18th century. The video includes two 18th century illustrations of The Cove by Stukeley, three early 20th century photographs, as well as several recent photographs. The video is set to a soundtrack of Bach’s Goldberg Variations played by the pianist Murray Perahia, and includes a poem inspired by the much loved, and sadly missed, contributor to The Modern Antiquarian, Treaclechops.
The Cove today. Image credit Littlestone
There’s a silence here
a silence that lifts and suppresses
all at once

Lures life into a comfort
then leaves it limp
like a frozen drop of transience
on a quiet winter branch
that might

or might not
spring back to life again

The Sanctuary in 1723 by William Stukeley
The Sanctuary at Avebury was destroyed by a local farmer at the beginning of the 18th century. Fortunately we have this engraving, by William Stukeley, from 1723 showing what it was like before the stones were carted away. Access to the Sanctuary is still allowed and the view portrayed above, by Stukeley, remains little changed. The missing or destroyed stones, that once formed the Sanctuary, are now indicated by concrete markers.
To quote Stukeley, who witnessed the destruction of the Avebury stone circle at around the same time, “…this stupendous fabric, which for some thousands of years, had brav’d the continual assaults of weather, and by the nature of it, when left to itself, like the pyramids of Egypt, would have lasted as long as the globe, hath fallen a sacrifice to the wretched ignorance and avarice of a little village unluckily plac’d within it.”

Stonehenge Restored, by Charles Philip Kains-Jackson, circa 1880

We thought this article, adapted from Solving Stonehenge  by Anthony Johnson, published by Thames & Hudson, 2008 ISBN 978-0-500-05155-9 was well worth highlighting.

It is refreshing to be reminded, at a time when theories about the monument seem to outnumber its stones that the main knowledge we have comes from a careful examination of its actual construction and that there is not a single ‘modern’ theory that is not at least 100 years-old!

Newgrange by Oscar Montelious (1843-1921)


See also

Silbury, the Winterbourne (middle distance) the Swallowhead Spring (extreme left) at which point both the stream and spring merge to become the source of the River Kennet (foreground). From William Stukeley’s  “Abury – A Temple of the British Druids”  published in 1743.
See also here
Period Images (paintings, prints, photographs and sketches) can not only be attractive in their own right but often show how a site looked in years gone by. The hand-coloured engraving below is the first in a series of period images the Journal will feature. If you have a period image which you would like to see published on The Heritage Journal please send it to our editorial team at Heritage Action.
Trevethy Stone by Charles Knight: circa 1845


September 2021

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