Thursday 8 November 2012

Avebury Stone Circle: 'an uncanny landscape'

I'm currently enjoying the BFI box set of BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas. Mostly adaptations of classic M.R. James stories, they provide perfect fireside viewing on a winter's night. However, the 1977 offering, Stigma, has a different tone to most of the other instalments in the series.The booklet that accompanies the box set includes an essay by Helen Wheatley that places Stigma in a contemporary 'British folk horror' oeuvre:"As the British film historian Peter Hutchings has noted in his analysis of uncanny landscapes in British film and television, there was a cycle of television dramas around the 1970's, including The Owl Service (Granada, 1969), The Stone Tapes (BBC2, 1972), Children of the Stones (HTV, 1977) and Quatermass (Thames, 1979), which featured megaliths at their centre and which 'represent ancient landscapes where humans are compelled the repeat actions from a distant history, either real or mythological, in a manner that effaces not just human agency but also modernity itself as a social force'." The setting for both Stigma and Children of the Stones is Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire and the surrounding landscape, liberally peppered with Neolithic monuments including the enigmatic Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow. An 'uncanny landscape' is an apt description for this area and its easy to see why it was chosen as the location for these tales of the supernatural. So, if you haven't seen these programmes, fascinating snapshots of a particular landscape, time and genre, take a look at the YouTube video and still below.Stigma:

The Children of the Stones:


Select bibliography

Barron, R.S., 1976 The Geology of Wiltshire: a field guide, St Albans: Moonraker Press

Bord, Janet and Colin, 1974 Mysterious Britain, St Albans: Paladin

Cope, Julian, 1998 The Modern Antiquarian London: Thorsons

Cunliffe, Barry, 1993 A Regional History of England: Wessex to A.D. 1000 London: Longman

Darvill, Timothy, Stamper, Paul and Timby, Jane, 2002 England: An archaeological guide Oxford: Oxford University Press

Fowler, Peter and Blackwell, Ian, 2000 An English Countryside Explored: the land of Lettice Sweetapple Stroud: Tempus 

Hippisley Cox, R, 1973 The Green Roads of England London: Garnstone Press

Hutchings, Peter, 2004 'Uncanny Landscapes in British Film and Television' in Visual Culture in Britain, 5:2, Winter 2004, pp27-40

Rainbird, Paul (Ed.), 2008 Monuments in the Landscape Stroud: Tempus

Wheatley, Helen, 2012 'Stigma' in Ghost Stories: Classic adaptations from the BBC, BFI box set booklet   


  1. Beyond the Henge - new book on Avebury landscape

  2. Seems lots of people are musing on Children of the Stones at the moment:

  3. Thanks for the bedtime story. Those '70's dungarees and cars really brought back my childhood.

    1. No problem Bella, glad you enjoyed a return to those blue remembered flared dungarees of your childhood.

  4. This is my first time i visit here and I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially it's discussion, thank you.
    Green Roads


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