Dawkins, Sir William Boyd
About this image
Arbor Low dates to the Neolithic / Early Bronze Age period, and the surrounding landscape is littered with barrows from the Late Bronze Age, constructed around a thousand years after the henge was completed. One of these barrows was incorporated into the henge bank, and the largest barrow known as Gib Hill, is only a short walk away towards the South. The site was excavated from 1901 - 1902 when a human burial was discovered close to the stones that are thought to form a cove, but there were no other major discoveries. There were earlier excavations at the site; in 1845 Thomas Bateman excavated the tumulus attached to the bank, and three years later he led an excavation at Gib Hill. (information from www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk) Often called the 'Stonehenge of the North', this stone circle and henge, built around 3000 BC, is probably the most famous ancient site in the North Midlands. The views from the circle are dramatic as it is located 1230 feet above sea level. The word Arbor is an ancient word meaning central axis or central support, though others suggest the name 'Arbor Low' is thought to be a corruption of the old english eordburgh-hlaw meaning 'the earthwork mound'. The henge, consisting of a 7ft high bank with a 6ft deep ditch cut into a sloping hilltop with 2 entrances at the NW and SE, provides a tight enclosure for the stone circle. Whether it was built before or after the circle is unclear but the ease in which they combine makes the idea that they are contemporary a realistic proposition. Around 50 recumbent limestones lie inside the henge forming the circle at the centre of which is an arrangement of similar stones. It is not known whether the stones were ever standing, although the central ones probably were, forming a cove-type structure similar to that at Avebury. The photographer was Sir William Boyd Dawkins( 1837-1929), English geologist and archaeologist. He was a member (1861-69) of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, curator (1870-90) of the Manchester Museum, and professor of geology (from 1872) at Owens College (now Victoria Univ.), Manchester. Noted for his research on fossil mammals and on the antiquity of man, he wrote Cave Hunting (1874) and Early Man in Britain (1880) and was co-author of The British Pleistocene Mammalia (6 vol., 1866-1912). In 1919 he was knighted.