A guest feature by Littlestone.
 
 
A coach penetrating deep into the sacred heart of the Avebury complex, never right!
Caption and image © Arcturus
 
The Diamond Stone (or Swindon Stone) in the corner of the north-west sector of the Avebury Henge is thought to be one of the few stones in the Avebury complex that has never fallen or been moved. In other words this massive megalith, which is some four metres high, three metres wide and over a metre thick (and estimated to weigh nearly fifty tons!) has stood in its present position since it was first erected there some four thousand years ago.
 
 
The Diamond Stone (fourth stone at top closest to road) as recorded by William Stukeley in his 1724 Groundplot of Avebury
 
But for how much longer will this ‘diamond’ from our megalithic past remain unmoved, let alone undamaged? The Diamond Stone sits perilously close to the Swindon-bound A4361 that runs through Avebury, indeed one corner of the stone hangs over the fence between the grass verge and the road itself and is subject to constant (and during the morning and evening rush hours) heavy vibration from passing traffic. It is astonishing that the local authorities have only recently introduce a 30 mile an hour speed limit through Avebury, but is this enough to reduce vibration to the stone let alone minimize damage to it should it be hit by a passing car, bus or heavy goods vehicle?
 
 
The Diamond Stone today, poised at the edge of the Swindon-bound A4361
Image credit Moss
 
Surely the answer is to narrow the road at this point (increasing the grass verge nearest the megalith) and install road signs with alternating priority arrows. This would have the effect of distancing the stone from the road, reducing vibration to it by limiting the speed of traffic passing by, and would also have the added benefit of making the road safer for people crossing between the north-west and north-east sectors of the Henge. This is not rocket science; road signs with red and black arrows indicating priority are found all over the country so why not here? With a little imaginative planning two simple electronic road signs could be installed and programmed to change their priority with the flow of traffic during the morning and evening rush hours.
 
There has been an appalling amount of destruction of, and damage to, the Avebury megaliths over recent centuries, and the Diamond Stone is sadly yet another tragedy waiting to happen there. “Two open community meetings will be held in Avebury’s Social Centre at 10.30am on 23rd February and at 5.30pm on 7th March to discuss [new traffic plans for the area], and further amendments will follow as a result of these meetings.” Let’s act now to protect the Diamond Stone from potential damage before it is too late!
 
Information on the Avebury World Heritage Site Transport Strategy can be found here.