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Objects found with the 'Barber Surgeon' skeleton, Avebury Henge

Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Chippenham , United Kingdom

One of the most enduring puzzles of the Avebury part of the World Heritage Site is that of why, around 700 years ago, many of the standing stones were buried so completely that in most cases their existence was entirely concealed. During excavations in the 1930s the skeleton of a man was found alongside one of the buried stones within the henge. With him were a pair of scissors, a pointed instrument of iron and three silver coins. A buckle with these objects may have belonged to a pouch or belt. The coins suggest that the man died probably no earlier than the 1320s. But there are three aspects of this find which remain stubbornly enigmatic: who was the man; how did he come to be in the stone burial pit and was he alive or dead when he went in; and why, at a time when true scissors were very rare, did a pair come to be lost in an obscure Wiltshire village? Alexander Keiller, who excavated the find, felt that the objects pointed to the man being either a ‘barber surgeon’ or a tailor, the former being the title which has stuck. Whether any of the answers are ever discovered or not this find is a reminder that it’s not only the prehistoric past of the World Heritage Site which offers many tantalising avenues for enquiry. Caption: Rosamund Cleal (National Trust)

Details

  • Title: Objects found with the 'Barber Surgeon' skeleton, Avebury Henge
  • Location: Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury
  • Rights: Alexander Keiller Museum

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