Sam Jacob’s inspiration: Avebury stone circle

Avebury K020796_Credit English Heritage

Wiltshire’s other mysterious Neolithic circle is architecture in its purest form and would give Mies a run for his money, says the FAT co-founder

Avebury stone circle and village, Marlborough, Wiltshire | 2850 – 2200 BC

I have a kink for Neolithic circles. They often organise my holiday plans, frequently testing my daughter’s patience. Places like Orkney’s Skara Brae, an amazing group of 4,000-year-old homes that feel like their occupants have just walked out of the door. Or Callanesh on the Isle of Harris that feels like the end of the world. Or Stanton Drew in Somerset, perfect site for a romantic mini break.

But instead I’ve picked Avebury. It’s Europe’s largest stone circle. Or rather three concentric stone circles, surrounded by a ridge with an avenue of stones marching off connecting the site to the complex Neolithic network that includes Silbury Hill, the Sanctuary and West Kennet Long Barrow.

Symbolic and abstract, the stones have an incredible physical presence. It’s magical. But it’s not the neo-spirituality that gets me, nor the history. It’s the specific feeling of space. The stones create a kind of interior within the landscape while also connecting you to the far distance. Avebury works just as Vincent Scully used to describe Greek temples – as structures that negotiate the space between ground, sky and horizon.

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