Aubrey Burl

Harry Aubrey Woodruff Burl HonFSA Scot (24 September 1926 – 8 April 2020) was a British archaeologist best known for his studies into megalithic monuments and the nature of prehistoric rituals associated with them. Before retirement he was Principal Lecturer in Archaeology, Hull College, East Riding of Yorkshire. Burl received a volume edited in his honour. He was called by ''The New York Times'', "the leading authority on British stone circles".

Burl's work, while considering the astronomical roles of many megalithic monuments, was cautious of embracing the more tenuous claims of archaeoastronomy. In ''Prehistoric Avebury'' Burl proposed that Circles and Henge monuments, far from being astronomical observatories for a class of "astronomer priests" were more likely used for ritualistic practices, connected with death and fertility rites, and ancestor worship, similar to practices observed in other agricultural cultures (in particular the rituals of Native North American Tribes such as the Algonquin and the Pawnee). Rituals would have been performed at key times of the year, such as the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, to ensure a successful harvest from the land.

His approach led him to question what he saw as the over-romanticised view that Stonehenge was built from bluestones hauled by hand from the Preseli Hills in south west Wales to Salisbury Plain. In his view, the stones had been left close to the site by earlier glaciers and then exploited by the monument's builders Others have argued that the bluestones have been traced to only the Preseli Hills through their chemical signature and that they could not have come from elsewhere. Additionally, it has been claimed that there was no known glacier with a course linking the hills with Salisbury Plain or a glacier from anywhere that reached far enough south. On the other hand, research by earth scientists shows that glacier ice reached the Scilly Isles on at least one occasion, and that ice which passed through Pembrokeshire did cross the coasts of Somerset and Devon.

Burl died in April 2020 at the age of 93. Provided by Wikipedia
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Prehistoric ritual and religion : essays in honour of Aubrey Burl /

: xiii, 242 pages : illustration ; 26 cm. : 0750915986

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