THE life of a self-taught historian and author whose research spanned millennia will be celebrated at his funeral next week.

Royal British Legion standard bearers will be at Kingsdown Crematorium on Thursday, May 23 to attend the coffin of Eric Crook, who died of pneumonia earlier this month. He was 88.

Mr Crook, who lived in Penhill, was a Second World War veteran, builder, carpenter and lifelong student of ancient civilisations.

In 2008, he published a book called Wiltshire, A Journeyman’s Tale, detailing his thoughts on the true nature on sites such as Avebury, Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.

He believed the hill was the resting place of a neolithic princess, that Stonehenge was a navigational aid and that the Avebury stones once formed a huge amphitheatre of carved human and animal faces.

Mr Crook’s younger son Julian said: “A good way of describing my father is that he was not only an innovator of ideas but also a strong visionary. He was both a wise and a quiet man.

“He was never loud but the important thing is that he made sure his words were heard.”

Eric was born in Reading on March 13, 1925, and was one of six children. His father was a head gardener who had served in the First World War, and during the conflict his mother had helped to repair British aircraft.

Early in the Second World War Eric helped to build Spitfire engines, and went on to join the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

In civilian life he was a successful builder, retiring at 65.

He married Beryl, a nurse, at Wandsworth Registry Office, having met her on a blind date, and the couple were together for 54 years until her death in 2004.

His fascination with ancient sites began after he and Beryl moved to Swindon and began regular visits to Stonehenge.

The couple had four children, Graham, Julian, Rian and Mandy, of whom Graham and Julian survive.

Julian, an artist and engineer, is better known by the pseudonym Maurice Giraffe. He collaborated with his father by producing technical drawings and other images.

Mr Crook’s funeral service will start at 10am and all friends are welcome. Family flowers only are requested, although donations may be made to Help For Heroes via Co-operative Funeralcare in Cricklade Road. Telephone 01793 534759.