The West Kennet long barrow is a
Neolithic tomb (its initial construction commencing approximately 3600 BC, 400
years prior to the first stage of the building of Stonehenge)
situated on a prominent chalk ridge (as all local barrows are) near Silbury
Hill and very near the small village of Avebury. West Kennetis one of the largest long barrows in Britain.
In Britainthere are 260 long barrows of which 148 are in Wiltshire.
Although this barrow is very long, the burials within were
placed inside the chambers located at the front of the barrow. The passage and
chambers only takes up one eighth of the length of the barrow (the actual
length of the whole barrow is 100m (320 ft long). It is thought that the long
barrow was used over a period of 1,000 years and at the end of it's use, the
passage and chamber was filled with chalk rubble and stones by the local
inhabitants (known as the 'Beaker people').
As you stand at the front of the long barrow, you face a row
of large, upright sarsen stones. If you go around these and through a small
gap, entrance is gained to the chambered tomb. Once inside you will see a small
forecourt which have two burial chambers either side (four) and at the end is a
much larger polygonal chamber (the King's chamber). These chambers contained
the remains of a minimum of 46 people of all different ages and of both sexes.
With these burials were beads, pottery shards, flint implements and other
SUMMARY OF FINDS
Dr Toope of Marlboroughfound human bones within the barrow in 1685 and in his own words "...and
stored myself with many bushels, of which I made a noble medicine that relieved
many of my distressed neighbours."
John Thurnham excavated 4 and a half metres of the West
burial chamber. He was confined to a small area because the landowner refused
permission for any stones to be moved.He discovered flint and pottery sherds, the skull of one infant and 5
adult burials. The burials were:-
* Teenage adult male in South East corner, buried in a
crouched or sitting position.
* 50 year old male in centre with skull fractures which
possibly occurred prior to burial.
* 30-35 year old male in South West corner, lower jaw
separated from skull.
* 30-35 year old male in North Westcorner, lower jaw separated from skull (flintscraper nearby).
* One arm, lower jaw and a few other bones of a middle ages
Thurnham also found Neolithic Peterborough ware and Beaker
pottery, a stone bead and a bone pin.
Piggot and Atkinson implemented a large-scale excavation in
1955. They discovered the other 4 chambers which had been undisturbed since the
final sealing of the barrow. They discovered a disorderly assembly of bones in
all 4 chambers with additional cremated remains in the northwest corner of
North East chamber. There were the remains of at least 40 people of both sexes
and all ages. Fewer skulls than bodies were discovered.
SOUTH EAST CHAMBER
1 adult male and 1 adult female lying together was
discovered with a sherd of a Windmill Hill bowl between them. The top of the
bowl's rim was decorated with 'pseudo-cord' impressions. Also in this chamber
were many infant bones including a foetus of 5 - 6 months. Also interred were
needles, bone pins and scoops.
SOUTH WEST CHAMBER
Evidence of the sharpening of stone axe blades was discovered
as there were polish marks on the north wall. In this chamber were the burials
of 9 adults which included a youth, a child and two infants. Animal bones were
also found including a dog, ox, sheep, goat, polecat and a jackdaw.
NORTH WEST CHAMBER
In this chamber was a mass of disarticulated bones. However,
there was 1 adult male who was in an articulated state. Also in this chamber
was a 'Bell Beaker' pot which featured incised geometric diamond patterns and
came from the 'secondary fill' above the burials. The 'secondary fill' was a
deliberate act which sealed the chambers.
NORTH EAST CHAMBER
An elderly man was placed in this chamber upon his left side
on stone slabs which was partially above an older burial (showing how the long
barrow was used - over 1,000 years). This chamber also contained brownish/black
Windmill Hill pottery shards, a flint leaf arrowhead and many flint edges,
scrapers, and pierced shells.
Outside the eastern most stone of the chamber entrance, 6
Roman coins were discovered.
This beautiful long barrow is a gift from our ancestors and
we are so lucky to have free access to it. On the paranormal front, local
legend tells that this tomb is visited every Midsummer day by a ghostly priest,
accompanied by a large, white hound.
When my children were young I took some GCSE's, one of which
was archaeology. It was the most interesting course I have ever taken. After
studying about the West Kennet long barrow, finding it
fascinating and paying homage to the ancestors throughout the years, I was
extremely excited at the prospect of taking the Twilight Shadows Paranormal
team to this magnificent Neolithic long barrow.
On the 21st April
2007, the Twilight Shadows Paranormal team conducted an
investigation at the West Kennet long barrow, near
Avebury in Wiltshire.
We arrived at West Kennet on a
relatively chilly night. However, once inside the chambered tomb we were all
warm and comfortable.
We explored the chambers respectfully, taking care not to
touch any of the offerings left there by people.
Unfortunately, in various places someone had written on the
walls in chalk. At least it was only chalk but it does not seem fitting to
write inside this beautiful long barrow.
We soon discovered that we were not alone. Loretta was by
herself in the South East chamber and heard movement. It was a swallow trying
to sleep on a ledge inside the chamber. He was not unduly worried about us but
he did give Loretta a bit of a fright initially.
Loretta and I went into the South West chamber and we immediately
felt uncomfortable (we have felt uncomfortable on previous visits in this
chamber). We both felt tingly, Loretta felt light-headed and very aware of her
torso, I developed a severe headache (which immediately disappeared when
leaving that chamber) and slightly nauseous. We asked Vikki and Charlotte to
join us and they also felt tingly and uncomfortable. We decided to leave this
chamber and we all felt a lot better.
James, Matt and Loretta went outside to explore the area and
the rest of us sat inside the 'King's Chamber' to have a chat about how we all
felt etc. We all felt warm, protected and safe.
We decided to conduct a séance. We sat quietly and wondered
if the ancestors would understand us and our modern language. As we did not
know their language, we thought we would try to communicate and see what
We sat quietly and started to 'call out.' James, Matt and
Loretta rejoined us so we were all together. For a long while, nothing happened.
After a while, Vikki and I heard the voice of a female which sounded as if it
came from the forecourt just inside the chambered tomb. Neither of us could
identify what she said.
Loretta, Vikki and I also heard footsteps which sounded as
if they came from behind us. This was strange as we had our backs to the wall
but the acoustics of the tomb are such that you have a 'surround sound' effect.
We sat for a while and I asked if the spirits could knock or
tap on the wall. Two definite and purposeful knocks were immediately heard by
us all. The sound originated behind myself and Loretta. Although the request to
repeat the knocks were made, no more knocks occurred.
We all noticed that the atmosphere had changed and Vikki
said that she was getting cold. Charlottefelt the presence of spirit in the tomb with us and started to tingle and I
felt an icy draught up my back even though I had many layers of clothes on.
Vikki informed us that the temperature was dropping rapidly as she was using an
infra-red thermometer. The air felt charged.
We decided to just sit quietly. The female voice was heard
again (by more of us this time) and then again approximately ten minutes later.
After this nothing else happened. We stayed for a while chatting and we all
decided that whatever had joined us had now left.
We decided to leave and began our journey over the field
towards our car. As we passed a large tree (where people hang their wishes),
Loretta and I thought that we felt the presence of a male standing by the tree.
We all enjoyed our visit to West Kennetand we are looking forward to viewing the video footage to see there are any
additional paranormal phenomena.
Written by: Maria Williams
An Electronic Voice Phenomena we captured on a Dictaphone
within the Long Barrow chambers, which we believe to say "The Light Bringer".
In Paganism 'The Light Bringer' relates to Venus - the morning star. This is
obviously not the voice of one of the ancients as they did not speak the same
language as us.