John Aubrey & Stone Circles
Britain's First Archaeologist, From Avebury to Stonehenge
- Aubrey Burl
15th October 2010
The career of eminent archaeologist John Aubrey and his revolutionary work on stone circles. John Aubrey is best known for his gossipy Brief Lives, but Aubrey Burl, the world expert on stone circles, argues he should be equally celebrated for his discovery of the age and wonders of prehistory, Britain's stone circles. In 1649, out hunting he chanced upon the wonders of Avebury. They fascinated him. The stones were clearly some form of temple, and as they were found in places where neither Roman, Saxon nor Dane had been they must have been erected before them when the only priesthood were the Druids. Aubrey was the first to have that heretical insight. Over the years John Aubrey compiled the first, objective compilation of pre-Roman monuments in Britain from the Merry Maidens in Cornwall to the moon aligned recumbent circles of Northern Scotland. Between lay famous rings like the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire and Long Meg and her Daughters in the Lake District. For years her was 'never off horseback', searching. His scribbled notes formed the foundation of stone circle studies.