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The majority of these were dug by military forces during their stay in the area, however the panda just appeared overnight and was said to represent the Union for Conservation of Nature and Wildlife and the initials UNCW appear below the figure although it is now believed to have been constructed by students from Bangor University Wales whose symbol is a panda. The Rest of England Wiltshire isn`t the only place to exhibit chalk figures.
In all there are seventeen chalk horses, and many other giants crosses and figures. In total there are nearly fifty figures including the horses and regimental badges of Wiltshire, although there are only two chalk figures in Scotland. The term used for cutting the chalk horses is leucippotomy and the term for that of the giant figures is gigantotomy.
Of the giants only two of these survive, the Cerne giant and the Long Man of Wilmington. Originally there were others at Oxford, Cambridge, and two on Plymouth Hoe. It is one of the Plymouth men that is the earliest documented figure with reports dating from around 1486. It is not just men and horses there are several giant beasts as well, The Mormond Stag, the Whipsnade Lion as well as the Bulford Kiwi mentioned above.
Within the Henge is the outer stone circle, originally numbering 100 stones but now only 27. Inside this are two smaller circles of which little remains. The southern circle has 5 stones standing out of an original 29. At the centre of this circle once stood a 21 foot high menhir called the Obelisk surrounded by a peculiar arrangement of stones, some of which have survived. Perhaps reflecting ancient rituals, people used to dance around a maypole at the centre of the southern circle well into the 19th Century.
Very little remains of the northern circle. Only 2 of the original 27 stones are still standing. At the centre is THE COVE, facing NE, which was once a three-sided ritual focal point. Two enormous stones about 15 feet high and 8 feet wide stand awaiting the replacement of the third which lies still buried a few yards to the east.
The Cove The various parts of the site are unlikely to have been constructed at the same time although all were finished by 2400 BC. It would appear that the inner circles were the original structures here being erected around 2700 BC. The henge and outer circle would then have been built to enclose the area followed by the avenues to connect two other important sites to the main temple. Most of the damage to the site has been done within the last 500 years. The church attempted to purge the area of pagan beliefs by persuading locals to pull down the 'devil's work' and bury the stones.
This practice came to an abrupt halt when one of the stones toppled over killing a barber surgeon. His skeleton was discovered under one of the stones on the southern side of the main circle when stones were being reerected earlier this century. The worst destruction came during the 18th century when a local farmer took to toppling and breaking up the stones to use for building material for the village of Avebury and local farm buildings.
Stones from the Circle were buried during the Middle Ages, perhaps in recognition of their connexion with pre-Christian religion. The ditch and bank, known from the 13th century as Wallditch, were used as a common pound in the 16th century and were still common in part in 1754
William Stukeley made several visits to Avebury between 1719 and 1724 and published his findings and theories in Abury, a Temple of the British Druids in 1746.