Archive for June, 2010

Man!

June 16, 2010

In Avebury, 5,000 years ago, somebody built a mini-Stonehenge: a circle of 98 large stones, encircled by a ditch.

It’s some ditch: 30 feet deep, and so large in diameter you could fit an entire village inside it (which is exactly what they did in the 15th century.) It took 72 million man hours to dig, which sounds like an exaggeration until you consider that this was before the Iron Age and the Bronze Age. This was the Use Whatever’s Lying Around Age, and so they dug the ditch with antlers.

Curiously, they didn’t move the dirt inside the circle, as a sensible Medieval moat-builder would have; they piled the dirt outside. This means the ditch was useless for keeping out invaders; any attacker would’ve been standing 20 feet above people in the circle – perfect spear-hurling position.

No, the whole thing must’ve been intended to keep out something non-human. An evil force or a powerful spirit.*

Maybe the spirit controlled the sun. Or the harvest. Or Mammoth Tusk Death Rays. All we can say for sure is, that spirit existed. It was real. After all, no one spends 72 million man hours trying to ward off a hunch.

* Apparently the spirit’s power can still be felt. We passed a solemn procession of people doing a ceremony to save honey bees, which involved laying flowers on the ground among the stones and chanting “Beee love, be-ee-ee love.”

The bee people wore the kind of clothes you see at a Renaissance Faire – doublets and corsets – which makes total historical sense until you think about it for half a second.