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Melksham & District Historical Association

A fascinating talk on the West Kennett Long Barrow (WKLB) was given by Peter Knight at our February meeting. 

Peter is a sacred sights guide, speaker, dowser and author.

The WKLB is the finest megalithic tomb in England and Wales. The tombs are more than a burial site – they are the site of Neolithic clans. Uk long barrows date mostlybetween 3650-3000 BC. The WKLB is classified as chambered and one of the Seven Cotswold tombs. It is on a ridge but surrounded by hills eg Silbury Hill and Windmill Hill. It is 100m in length and was excavated by William Stukeley in 1723-4.

The East Kennett Long Barrow has never been excavated because of tree growth and badger setts. Silbury Hill is termed a Pyramid – the largest prehistoric structure in Europe. John Thurman, a doctor in an asylum in Marlborough excavated in 1859 and removed skeletons. Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson excavated in 1955-6. They found four unopened chambers. Some skulls were missing from skeletons but these have been found in a different location eg Windmill Hill. Clan members were segregated in death into four groups:- young, elderly, male and mixed adults. All artefacts found on excavation are in Devizes museum.

In the WKLB there are six faces in stone all facing left and another stone called the Skull Stone because of its formation. Some stones are shaped to amplify sound. The WKLB is in private and English Heritage ownership and is managed on their behalf by the National Trust and is always open.

Peter empasised the need for future use and care of the monument. For example not to leave “ritual litter” ie night lights. These burn and damage the stones. The only thing to leave behind is love.

Philip Moore.