A TWO-man Avebury stone circle research team say the site should capitalise on a World Heritage boost.
The Which? Travel magazine hailed Avebury as the second greatest World Heritage site, behind only the ancient Mexican city of Monte Alban and ahead of attractions including the Great Pyramid and the Taj Mahal.
This was music to the ears of author Eric M Crook and artist Maurice Giraffe from Swindon, who have spent decades investigating not just Avebury but other ancient sites such as Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.
Mr Crook, 88, is the author of a study called Wiltshire: A Journey-man’s Tale. Many of the book’s illustrations are the work of Mr Giraffe, 55, who combines artistic and technical drawing skills to plot the relative positions of stones.
Mr Crook said of the Which? Travel accolade: “It’s fantastic for this to happen, and we would hope that maybe somebody has taken notice of our comments over the years about this place being so important.”
Mr Giraffe added: “I too am very, very pleased that Avebury has been nominated within the top 10.
“At the same time, what draws the attention is that seven of the 10 are building complexes. There is only one stone circle.
“Avebury should now improve its facilities for visitors. Shelters from the rain would be useful, and so would pathways for wheeled access around the stones. We’d like to see uplighters installed so the stones can be seen better at night.”
The two also suggest night time tours and regular grass cutting, as well as restricting access by grazing sheep.
The researchers believe the archaeological establishment has missed clues about ceremonial and navigational uses for such prehistoric places.
They say their research indicates that the surviving Avebury stones were once part of a vast amphitheatre featuring many thousands of carved human and animal faces, and these faces would have appeared to come to life in flickering firelight.
The researchers say remnants of these carvings can still be seen in fragments hacked from the stones down the years, whether for recycling or because the early Christian church objected to the old religions.
Mr Crook said: “Many churches were built with the old stones, and also other properties across Wilt-shire.”
Wiltshire: A Journeyman’s Tale costs £9.99 and can be ordered from Amazon and book shops.