Often overlooked by visitors to the neighbouring monuments of the Avebury Stone Circle and Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow ( SU 105677) possesses an atmosphere at total odds to the lush and vibrant countryside amongst which it stands. A definite aura of death resides amongst this, the largest of Britain's Neolithic Long Barrows and this rather chilling vibe has both attracted and been intensified by practitioners of the ocult using the tomb for their ceremonies and spellcraft.
Evidence of Ritual Magick Practised at West Kennet Long Barrow
Whilst many of today's less liberal visitors to the site have complained about the tomb being used for these varying magical rites, it should be remembered that such occult ceremonies have taken place here for countless thousands of years, and may have even been the reason for the creation of the monument in the first instance. The local Beaker tribes (c. 2800 – 1900 B.C.) especially, found some kind of powerful, supernatural force emanating from this tomb and, even when the site had ceased to be used for ceremonial burials, used the barrow as the focus for their religious practices and rites. Evidence of this change in use of this tomb were unearthed from the site during its major 1859 and 1955/6 excavations.
Forty six disarticulated skeletons, in total, were discovered during these archaeological studies - many of them missing their skulls and thigh bones. Whilst it is on record that a certain local 17th Century doctor excavated numerous bones from the monument for several of his medicinal cures, it is believed the bulk of the missing bones were removed for religious and other ceremonial rites and magical practices from a far earlier date. Studies have also revealed that prior to being interred within the West Kennet Long Barrow, the bodies interred here would have been left outside the tomb to decompose. Only when the bones had been cleaned of all flesh and blood would they have been disassembled and carefully laid to rest within the barrow.
Interestingly, these burial chambers occupy only one eighth of West Kennet Long Barrow's full length. Whilst the burying of important members of the local community was a crucial aspect of the building of this monument (interrment occurred here for at least 1000 years after its original construction in c.3600 B.C.), little is known about the purpose of the other seven eighths of the construction.
Of the 260 Ancient Long Barrows Present in Britain, a Remarkeable
148 of them are Found in this County (Wiltshire)
West Kennet Long Barrow can be found at the brow of a short and interesting walk from Silbury Hill (Warning: The car park, alongside the A4 road which divides the two ancient monuments, is notorious as being one of the most thieved from in Britain). The route to the tomb takes in some beautiful meadowland and is best appreciated during Spring/ early Summer for its varied wild flowers and birdlife. A curious large tree, decorated with lots of bows and other ephemera tied to its twigs and branches, lines the path and and is an early sign of the magical power this area is believed to possess. This is a Dressed Pagan Tree, with each item tied to it being a request for hopes, desires and requests to be fulfilled.
Nearing the summit of the hill, several impressive Sarsen boulders, protuding from a mound of earth some one hundred metres long by two and a half metres high, announce the presence of the West Kennet Long Barrow.
Whilst the monument, whose design has officially been classed as belonging to those group of monuments known as 'Severn-Cotswold' tombs, is an interesting site as a whole, it is the eastern burial chambers which provide the main focus of attention from visitors. This ten metre long by two metere high tomb is freely open to the public and the experience of stepping within its gloomy, claustrophich depths really is like crossing into another realm entirely. Thanks to some glass bricks added to the roof of the main chamber, there is jut enough light within the tomb to explore its deeper recesses although winter visitors to the site would be advised to bring a torch along with them. On such gloomy visits, when visitors might very well find themselves alone within the dark, damp grave, with occult diagrams scrawled on the ancient Sarsen boulder walls, and the heady scent of incense still dizzying the senses from the previous night's occult ceremony, it would be difficult for even the most unimaginative visitor not to sense just a little of the supernatural power said to hold sway over the location.
For a monument charged with so much occult significance, it is odd to find that there no legends and only one ghost story attached to West Kennet Long Barrow (that of a priest and a white-haired/red-eared hound who are supposed to enter the tomb at each Midsummer's sunrise but are never seen to leave attached to leave).
The long barrow came under the protection of the Ancient Monuments Act in 1882.