Students from the MA in Art History and Visual Culture, MA in Visual Arts Management and Curating, and undergraduate programmes in Communications and Psychology, were lead on a trip to the World Heritage Site of prehistoric Avebury in Wiltshire, by Dr Robert Wallis, on Fri 17 April. The group first visited the atmospheric site of Fyfield where glacial boulders were quarried in the Neolithic for use in monument building.
Crossing the ridgeway, the oldest trackway in Europe, the group examined the so-called ‘Sanctuary’ where the dead may have been excarnated, and then walked up part of the West Kennet Avenue which once connected the Sanctuary and Avebury henge. The megalithic avenue guided the group into the henge itself which contains three stone circles and other complex megalithic settings such as the Obelisk and Cove.
The group then travelled back towards the ridgeway, passing the largest human-made mound in Europe, Silbury Hill, and walking to West Kennet Long Barrow, a funerary monument.
Wallis encouraged the students to consider each of the monuments as part of a wider landscape which may have been considered animate and sacred over thousands of years, with changes in funerary practice from communal burials at West Kennet in the Early Neolithic to the individual burials in Bronze Age round barrows.
Dr Wallis trained in archaeology at the University of Southampton. He is Professor of Visual Culture, Associate Dean of MA programmes and convenor of the MA in Art History and Visual Culture at Richmond.