Test Pitting in the Avebury Landscape

Last week, the Living with Monuments team started test pitting* in Avebury, in fields to the north west and the south west of Avebury Henge, in order to gather information about what the landscape might have looked like in the past and how it has been transformed over the millennia.


Archaeologists from the National Trust and the University of Leicester test pitting in the shadow of Silbury Hill ©Mike Robinson

Before the work began, it was assumed that the test pits would essentially show the same thing; however, what they showed instead was how diverse and different the landscape was in the past.


Archaeologist, Mike, from the University of Southampton recording one of the southern test pits ©Mike Robinson 

Previous understanding of past landscapes in Avebury was based upon John Evans’ work in the 1980s, which has been taken as the general model for the area, but we are now realising that it’s much more complex and localised.


Archaeologists at work with buzzards flying above and the smell of oilseed rape drifting over the field. ©Mike Robinson

Many samples have been taken and several specialists visited the site over the days we were digging. It’s very much a work in progress, but at the moment it is showing huge potential and provides an opportunity to rethink some of the ideas we have had about the area.



The teams from the Universities of Southampton and Leicester. ©Mike Robinson

Thanks to the archaeologists, specialists and farmers whose support makes this work possible, and to Mike Robinson for the wonderful photographs. Watch this space for more posts coming soon from Avebury.


*test pits are small trenches – here we had 2m x 1m test pits

This entry was posted in Archaeology, Avebury, Dig, Living with Monuments on by .

About brionystorm

Briony Clifton is the National Trust Archaeology Assistant for the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS. She studied at the University of Southampton with a dissertation which focused on the reconstruction and use of the houses discovered by Stonehenge Riverside Project team at Durrington Walls. She has worked on the Between the Monuments project with Southampton and Leicester Universities.

3 thoughts on “Test Pitting in the Avebury Landscape

  1. Pingback: Test Pitting in the Avebury Landscape | Wiltshire Local History Forum

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