Events at Avebury. December 2009 - February 2010

Circles in Time: Photo competition to mark the turning of the year at Avebury.
Anti-lovers walk: 14 February, 10.30am – 12.30pm.
Discover the Avebury Landscape: 18 February, 10.30am – 1pm.

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Diamonds are forever (hopefully)

"A coach penetrating deep into the sacred heart of the Avebury complex, never right!" Image credit Arcturus

The Diamond Stone (or Swindon Stone) in the corner of the north-west sector of the Avebury Henge is thought to be one of the few stones in the Avebury complex that has never fallen or been moved. In other words this massive megalith, which is some four metres high, three metres wide and over a metre thick (and estimated to weigh nearly fifty tons!) has stood in its present position since it was first erected there some four thousand years ago.

The Diamond Stone (fourth stone at top closest to road) as recorded by William Stukeley in his 1724 Groundplot of Avebury (see below)

But for how much longer will this 'diamond' from our megalithic past remain unmoved, let alone undamaged? The Diamond Stone sits perilously close to the Swindon-bound A4361 that runs through Avebury, indeed one corner of the stone hangs over the fence between the grass verge and the road itself and is subject to constant (and during the morning and evening rush hours heavy) vibration from passing traffic. It is astonishing that the local authorities have only recently introduce a 30 mile an hour speed limit through Avebury but is this enough to reduce vibration to the stone let alone minimize damage to it should it be hit by a passing car, bus or heavy goods vehicle?

The Diamond Stone at the edge of the Swindon-bound A4361. Image credit Moss

Surely the answer is to narrow the road at this point (increasing the grass verge nearest the megalith) and install road signs with alternating priority arrows. This would have the effect of distancing the stone from the road, reducing vibration to it by limiting the speed of traffic passing by, and would also have the added benefit of making the road safer for people crossing between the north-west and north-east sectors of the Henge. This is not rocket science; road signs with red and black arrows indicating priority are found all over the country so why not here? With a little imaginative planning two simple electronic road signs could be installed and programmed to change their priority with the flow of traffic during the morning and evening rush hours.

There has been an appalling amount of destruction of, and damage to, the Avebury megaliths over recent centuries, and the Diamond Stone is sadly yet another tragedy waiting to happen there - let's act now to protect this monument from our ancient past from similar damage before it is too late!

Obituaries. Professor Humphrey Kay

Professor Humphrey Kay (1923-2009) has died aged 86. Professor Humphrey Kay was an inspirational pioneer in the treatment of leukaemia and responsible for transforming the way doctors dealt with the disease.

"On retirement from the medical world he effectively began a second career – as a naturalist – inspired by his childhood love of wildlife and the environment. It wasn't long before he made a name for himself in this field too.

"His colleagues recall that, even though he came to it late, Kay was a born naturalist with an enthusiastic, inquiring mind and a keen eye. He became an active member of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and was elected to its council in 1983.

"One of the trust's most valuable fund-raising activities arose from his simple but original idea of a sponsored walk from Avebury to Stonehenge each May Day holiday. He would also take groups of Marlborough College boys on excursions into nearby Savernake Forest, organising moth trapping surveys at night."

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