DURRINGTON Walls is one of the largest of all henge monuments. In diameter it is over 1,300 feet, being thus slightly lar ger than Avebury which is about
1,200 ft. In comparison with these Stonehenge is puny, for its outer bank is only 320 ft. in diameter. It is true that as far as quality is concerned, Avebury, with its great stone circles, and even more so, Stonehenge, with its settings of imported and shaped stones, are far greater monuments. But for sheer size Durrington Walls has pride of place.
Aerial view of the excavation. The excavated post-holes can be seen in the centre. Beyond them, left, is the mound from which the cover photo was taken; beyond that the smaller henge.
It is situated some two miles north of Stonehenge and faint traces of its ploughed out ditch have long been recognised. Just outside it, some 300 feet to the south is Woodhenge, and, thus, Durrington is right in the middle of the henge-building country. It is on gently undulating ground and the main road from Amesbury to Devizes at present runs through the middle of it, running downhill from one side, turning a nasty corner in the middle, and rising up the other side. When it was decided to straighten the road to remove the dangerous bend, it was clear that a major archaeological excavation must take place along the line of the proposed new road. This took place in 1966-7 under the direction of Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. It was an immense operation, with some 150 people, six J.C.B.'s, 12 dumper trucks, and three bulldozers in action. It produced almost a hundredweight of late Neolithic and Beaker pottery, 450 antler picks, two smaller henges within the great henge, and a complex sequence of no less than four successive periods.