Another road crossing and I'm heading for the Longstones Cove. My previous December visit found them in a glittering frost-scape, now they sit in yellow summer flowers under an ominous sky (it's getting closer). I don't go up to the stones, which are fenced off and I'm not sure how welcome visitors are, so instead I head off to Longstones long barrow. This is a huge mound, the trees that used to crown it now gone. Another impressive (round) barrow is visible at nearby Penning Barn, but today is about the stones and I can't get particularly excited about either of these barrows. Back to Adam and Eve via the muddy byway that heads up Windmill Hill and back into Avebury, pausing to note the intriguing sarsen wall around the front garden of Swan Cottage. I wonder where those stones came from, eh?
Hoorah! after driving past on many occasions, I actually got to have a proper visit at last. Easy to access (first left after the A4361/A361/A4 roundabout) and you can park very close to the stones. There is a wire fence to climb through but it is easy and 30 seconds later you are at the stones. Although they look big from a distance, they are HUGE when you get up close - much bigger than I expected. Definitely one to visit.
I just thought I'd add, in relation to the posts below, that having visited the Cove in May 2009, there is now no wire or fence, and the field has open access from Nash Road. The area around the stones is uncultivated, and the large dog that loiters nearby is very friendly!
Access visible from the road and on reasonably even flat ground. Very short walk. May be in crop at some times.
Monday 15 September 2003
To find the stones follow Julian's instructions in the big papery TMA. If you don't have the book and are not too ashamed, Kammer has reproduced the directions here.
When we visited there were 2 active excavation pits. But by the time we arrived the excavations had finished for the day and there were just a few people stood around chatting and a very 'professional-looking' (for want of better words) dowser...well, dowsing...!
The excavations and the resulting piles of rubble gave the place a bit of a bizarre feel, making it feel almost like we were in the middle of a quarry rather than a very well cultivated field!
But, oh what stones these are!!
This was another site I had been looking forward to visiting for some time, ever since I discovered that it wasn't the same 'Cove' as I'd visited at Avebury itself 8 or more years before. (Yes, I'd got the wrong end of the stick at some point!!! Just call me ThickyMoth.) I wasn't disappointed!!!
With the sun getting pretty low, the light on the heavily textured and pitted stones (especially the larger, squarer 'Adam') was stunning and beautiful. And it's just so easy to imagine the Beckhampton Avenue stretching off back towards Avebury. If only we didn't have to imagine....
Surprised to see only a few entries to the old cove here. My first visit here in 99 was magical. As we approached the stones a December storm was brewing-the sky a boiling of black whilst the sun shone apon the stoney pair making them shine white against the apocalyptic backdrop. It looked very dramatic and made the stones seem even more lonely and special- glad to still be there and undaunted by the attention their avebury cousins get. I stayed until the rain really hammered( A double memory for me too as this was when my old para boots finally expired) The many miles took their toll- At Longstone Cove I lost my sole (sorry,sorry...)
Visited 29th December 2002: We cleverly ignored the directions to the site in the Modern Antiquarian, and for a short while I thought we wouldn't be able to get anywhere near the stones. Then I remembered the book, and it turned out to be easy.
There were winter crops in the field surrounding the stones, and there's no public footpath, so we couldn't get very close. I'm dying to take a better look, so we'll be back in 2003 for another try.
Mr. H. St. George Gray writes: "On Saturday morning, December 2, the southern of the two large stones at Beckhampton, in the parish of Avebury, North Wilts, fell without giving any warning. Had there been any indication of the likelihood of a fall, the owner of the arable field in which these large sarsens are situated (Mr. George Brown) would have had the stone propped. Within living memory it has always leaned to the south, whereas the stone standing some twenty-five paces to the north-east leans in a northerly direction. The fallen stone is rather the larger of the two. In its prostrate position it measures 18 feet 4 inches in length, its maximum width being nearly 16 feet; approximate thickness, 4 feet 7 inches. Its depth below the surface fo the field was found to be only 2 feet 6 inches; any sockethole there may be cut into the solid chalk must therefore be very shallow. Several small blocks of stones have been revealed by the fall of the monolith.
[...] On the Ordnance sheet the stones at Beckhampton are called 'Long Stones.' They are also known as the 'Longstone Cove,' and the'Devil's Quoits.' Aubrey spoke of three upright stones, but only two remained in Stukeley's time. [...]"
('A' SU 08896930; 'B' SU 08926933) Long Stones (NR). (1) The Beckhampton Long Stones, two standing stones, also known as "Longstone Cove","Adam and Eve", and the "Devil's Coits". In Aubrey's time there were three stones and Stukeley, who records the breaking up of the third stone, considered that they once formed "a cave or cell" on the northern side of the Beckhampton Avenue (see SU 06 NE 62), the smaller extant stone
(B) being part of the Avenue. (2) The larger stone, that at the SW (A) fell in 1911 and during its re-erection in the following year by B H and M E Cunnington a crouched skeleton with Bi beaker was discovered at its foot. Skeleton and beaker are now in Devizes Museum. (3)
The two sarsens remain standing in ploughland. The largest stone at SU 08896930 is 3.3m by 1.3m at base with a height of about 3.8m; the smaller 30.0m to the NE, is 2.2m by 2.3m at base and up to 3.5m high. Published 1:2500 survey correct; symbols redepicted. (4) See Avebury (SU 16 NW 22) and Beckhampton Avenue (SU 06 NE 62) for relevant bibliography, including discussions on the lack of evidence for the latter's existence. Ucko et al (5) report on geophysical survey within the area around the longstones, and raise the possibility that they may represent the remains of a distinct monument themselves, separate from Avebury. Burl (6), reviewing Ucko et al, appears to accept the suggestions of Stukeley and Twining that there was a "genuine Beckhampton Avenue" which included the Longstones in its course. (5-6)
'Adam' fell on December 2nd, 1911. "The Wiltshire Archaeological Society decided to re-erect the stone, with the object of averting from it, as far as may be, a fate similar to that which befell the third member of the group*, on the principle that a stone standing is more likely to be respected than one fallen."
Mr. and Mrs. B. H. Cunnington with their two labourers found various sarsen packing stones in the hole, with a herringbone-patterned beaker and the remains of a skeleton close by.
108. The Discovery of a Skeleton and "Drinking Cup" at Avebury
M. E. Cunnington
Man > Vol. 12 (1912), pp. 200-203
This page shows Stukeley's imagined reconstruction of the cove on the Beckhampton avenue. He believed 'Adam' was the remaining stone of the cove - in his day there was another stone nearby that was fallen, and he knew a third was 'already defroyed by Richd. Fowler'.
Eve is not part of the cove, but a remaining stone of the avenue.