THE BECKHAMPTON COVE, AVEBURY - an archaeoacoustics experiment


The first physical model of the Beckhampton Cove, used on 12/7/09, used 8ft x 4ft sheets of chipboard; each was approximately half the width it should have been. Yet the groundplan and dimensions were laid out as accurately as possible, indicating that the geometry does indeed produce an interesting acoustical effect. Computer modelling has already produced useful results, again working from simplified stone shapes. If the project is to progress though, more accurate stone dimensions should be used - particularly if a full-sized model can eventually be built in concrete.

The most up-to-date published work on the BH Cove is Landscape of the Megaliths: excavation and fieldwork on the Avebury monuments, 1997-2003, by Gillings, M., Pollard, J., Wheatley, D. & Peterson, R. 2008.Oxford: Oxbow Books. The plan (left) is taken from that book.

The one remaining Cove stone 'Adam' is set today as a slightly tilted rectangle, but this was not its original shape - it should be set as a diamond, or lozenge. The stone fell in 1911 and was re-erected, with great difficulty, the following year but slipped into its present position whilst being bedded in concrete.

William Stukeley personally witnessed the destruction of Avebury in the 1720s and his on-the-spot sketches are generally regarded as being accurate - particularly with respect to the shape of the stones. Stukeley's 1724 drawing of the Cove indicates that the E & W stones (Adam & its opposite) were both lozenges and that the N & S stones were roughly rectangular.

Dr. Joshua Pollard of the University of Bristol Archaeology Dept. (P.C. 2009) adds:
'In terms of dimensions and size of the stones, the morphology of the stone-holes suggest that the megalith opposite Adam (L16) was of similar dimensions and also set on end to form a diamond-shaped setting. (Note that Adam, L14, slumped forward when re-erected in 1912, so the Colt Hoare print gives a better indication of its original form.) The northern and southern stones were likely of similar dimensions (c.3.5 x 4m), but probably set on edge rather than end, and so giving a square profile above ground. Likely above ground size c.3.0-3.5m.'



Left: Colt Hoare's 1821 depiction of the Longstones - Adam (left) and Eve (right) showing the original shape of Adam.








Below: William Stukeley's 1724 drawing of the Cove before its destruction.









Text Copyright Steve Marshall, 2009. All rights reserved.

Contact Email: mail (at) bilocation (dot) co (dot) uk

Photographs & text Copyright Steve Marshall 2009. All rights reserved.