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In November 1997 English Heritage announced the discovery of a vast prehistoric temple in Somerset. The extraordinary wooden rings at Stanton Drew are the most recent and biggest of a series of remarkable discoveries that have transformed the way archaeologists think of the great monuments in the region, including Avebury and Stonehenge; one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments, top tourist site and top location for summer solstice celebrations. The results of these discoveries have not been published outside academic journals and no one has considered the wider implications of these finds. Here Mike Pitts, who has worked as an archaeologist at Avebury, and has access to the unpublished English Heritage files, asks what sort of people designed and built these extraordinary neolithic structures - the biggest in Britain until the arrival of medieval cathedrals. Using computer reconstructions he shows what they looked like and asks what they are for. This is the story of the discovery of a lost civilisation that spanned five centuries, a civilisation that now lies mostly beneath the fields of Southern England.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 134.62 x 193.04 x 30.48mm | 272.15g
  • Cornerstone
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised ed.
  • 8pp b&w illustrations, maps, plans
  • 0099278758
  • 9780099278757
  • 792,928

Flap copy

By the author of the highly acclaimed "Fairweather Eden, and Joint winner of the British Archaeology Press Award. As famous as it is mysterious, Stonehenge lies at the heart of a lost civilization that spanned five centuries, a civilization that now lies mostly beneath the fields of southern England. At nearby Avebury is one of the most extraordinary ancient religious landscapes, and the recently discovered wooden rings at Stanton Drew in Somerset are the biggest of a series of remarkable discoveries that have transformed the way archaeologists think of the great monuments in the region. For the first time in over forty years, an archaeologist presents the story from the inside. Starting at the excavation that followed the collapse of a Stonehenge megalith on the last night of the 19th century, and ending with a dramatic discovery in Avebury at the close of the 20th, "Hengeworld explains how recent archaeological discoveries have revolutionized the way we think about these great stone circles and the people who built them. Finally, Pitts shows a pattern emerging from the archaeology of these sites which explains the relationship between them, and he reconstructs the ceremony that would have symbolized this.show more

About Michael W. Pitts

Mike Pitts, the only living archaeologist to have directed excavations at both Stonehenge and Avebury, studied at the Institue of Archaeology (University College London) before moving to Wiltshire for a stint as Curator of the Alexander Keiller Museum. He has written extensively for academic journals, as well as for radio, newspapers and popular magazines and his first book Fairweather Eden was published in 1997 to critical acclaim.show more

Review quote

"Generations have tried to understand the meaning of this amazing monument... yet till now no one has bene able to say with any confidence what it was for... an up-to-date, eye-opening book on our greatest prehistoric monument" Daily Mail "Reads like a whodunnit" Manchester Evening News "Mike Pitts is that rare thing, an archaeologist who not only makes the news...but who can also write it. This book is a gem - witty, charming, urbane, informative" Simon Denison, British Archaeologyshow more

Review Text

Recent discoveries at Stonehenge, Avebury and Stanton Drew have helped archaeologists learn more about what life was like in this country at the time of Christ, and there's some remarkable information here. The collapse of a megalith at Stonehenge on the last night of the 19th century produced astonishing new evidence about the ancient site. And right at the end of the 20th century, an equally dramatic discovery at nearby Avebury shed even more light into the dimmest recesses of history. With these findings and others, especially at Stanton Drew in Somerset, archaeologist Mike Pitts has revealed a previously missed pattern of links between Britain's ancient circles and the mysterious people who created them. This book won the British Archaeology Press Award not only for its revelations but also for the lucid way in which Pitts explains them. This is history as it should be told - with enthusiasm and details that are easy to follow. Like all archaeologists, Pitts is as much a detective as a historian. His findings show that not all our Neolithic ancestors were woad-wearing savages. Indeed, some of them possessed astronomical and building skills that would test even the best of today's scientists and engineers. Particular about the type of materials to be used for their structures, they were prepared to trek hundreds of miles for precisely the right stuff. The wherefores are clear enough, the whys are not so certain. Pitts believes that ancestor worship played a great part in Neolithic thinking but it is unclear why stone of a certain type was necessary for that purpose. This is a good, enlightening read that avoids dumbing down but provides plenty of talking points for the amateur as well as the expert. (Kirkus UK)show more