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Happy 90th Anniversary

The game is afoot! Today is the 90th anniversary of the very start of Keiller’s first campaign of sustained fieldwork at Avebury.

Alexander Keiller’s ‘Excavation Diary’, 1934, page 65. Accession number 78510467.

On Sunday the 8th of April 1934 the initial trenches were surveyed on the line of the West Kennet Avenue. Keiller’s own excavation diary records this in a rather matter of fact fashion:

‘11.15am staff also WY, PW and FC to site. Elephants [small tents] and Mammoth [large tent] erected. Gear unpacked.

Afternoon. Cutting Ci, Cutting Cii, Cutting Ciii, Cutting Civ, Cutting Cv, Cutting Cvi, Cutting Cvii, Cutting Cviii, Cutting Cix inclusive plotted by theodolite according to new “Central Line Method”.

Evening. Above plotting completed. 

Sunshine: clear: warm till evening: then chilly.’

In his own diary entry for Sunday the 8th of April WEVY (William Young) is a little more eloquent:

‘Spent the greater part of the day, (until dark!) in Mr Peak Garlands field, helping Mr Keiller and his staff who were engaged in plotting out the cuttings in preparation for the commencement of the forthcoming excavations tomorrow morning. The spot where Mr Keiller has selected to begin is at the S.E. end of the existing double row of stones, (seven on the left and four on the right of the avenue as one looks towards Kennett) situated along the foot of Weedon Hill, or Windmill Boll. It is Mr Keiller’s intention to search eventually for the stone holes of those missing from the right hand row, as well, and he has plotted out a skeleton plan to include the existing stones, beginning with cutting 1 at end S.E. end, which incidentally marks the boundary of the field. Each cutting will be 100 ft in length and 80 ft in width across the avenue, (i.e. extending 40 ft on either side of the avenue axis), and will follow, naturally, in direct succession.’

WEVY then marks in his diary ‘The Kennet Avenue Excavations’ in large handwriting on Monday 9th April… so this Avebury anniversary might properly be celebrated on both days.

Today is a fitting day then for introducing a new phase to Avebury’s history: read more about our commissioned artists, Gayle Chong Kwan and Kialy Tihngang.

By Mark

Principle Investigator (PI) of the Avebury Papers project. Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at University of Bristol.

Mark’s research interests concentrate upon the productive spaces that emerge through the integrated study of landscape, archaeological theory and digital archaeology.

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