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Harry Aubrey Woodruff Burl (born September 24, 1926)[1] is a British archaeologist most well known for his studies into megalithic monuments and the nature of prehistoric rituals associated with them. Prior to retirement he was Principal Lecturer in Archaeology, Hull College, East Riding of Yorkshire.

His most widely held academic works are The Stone Circles of the British Isles and Prehistoric Avebury , each of which is held in over 1300 libraries worldwide.[2] He has received a volume edited in his honour. [3]He has been called by The New York Times, "the leading authority on British stone circles " [4]

Burl's work, while considering the astronomical roles of many megalithic monuments, is cautious of embracing the more tenuous claims of archaeoastronomy.[5] In 'Prehistoric Avebury' Burl proposes 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 agriculutral cultures (in particular the rituals of Native North American Tribes such as the Aloquins and the Pawnee). Rituals would have been performed at key times of the year, such as the Spring and Summer Equinox, to ensure a successful harvest from the land.

His approach led him to question what he sees 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. Rather, the stones were left close to the site by earlier glaciers and then exploited by the monument's builders [6] Others have argued that the bluestones have been traced to only the Preselli Hills through their chemical signature and that they could not have come from elsewhere. Additionally, it was 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, recent research by earth scientists shows that glacier ice reached the Scilly Isles on at least one occasion and that ice which crossed Pembrokeshire did cross the coasts of Somerset and Devon. [7]



Major Archeological books

  • Burl, Aubrey. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. ISBN 978030001972.[8]
  • Burl, Aubrey. Prehistoric Avebury. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. ISBN 9780300023688.[9]
  • Burl, Aubrey, and Edward Piper. Rings of Stone: The Prehistoric Stone Circles of Britain and Ireland. New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1980, ISBN 9780899190006.[10]
  • Burl, Aubrey. The Stonehenge People / Aubrey Burl. London: J.M. Dent, 1987, ISBN 9780460044851.[11]
  • Burl, Aubrey. From Carnac to Callanish: The Prehistoric Stone Rows and Avenues of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, ISBN 9780300055757.[12]
  • Burl, Aubrey. Great Stone Circles: Fables, Fictions, Facts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999, ISBN 9780300076899.
  • Burl, Aubrey. The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000, ISBN 9780300083477.[13]
  • Burl, Aubrey. A Brief History of Stonehenge. London: Robinson, 2007. ISBN 9781845295912

Other books

  • Burl, Aubrey. Danse Macabre: Franc̦ois Villon, Poetry, & Murder in Medieval France. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Pub, 2000.
  • Burl, Aubrey. God's Heretics: The Albigensian Crusade. Stroud: Sutton, 2002. ISBN 9780750925723
    • Translated into Polish as Burl, Aubrey, and Dorota Strukowska. Heretycy: krucjata przeciw Albigensom. Wrocław: Wydawn. Dolnośląskie, 2003. ISBN 9788373840751
  • Burl, Aubrey, and Humphrey Clucas. Catullus: A Poet in the Rome of Julius Caesar. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004
  • Burl, Aubrey, and Aubrey Burl. Black Barty: Bartholomew Roberts and His Pirate Crew 1718-1723. Stroud: Sutton, 2006
  • Burl, Aubrey. Courts of Love, Castles of Hate: Troubadours and Trobairitz in Southern France 1071-1321. Stroud: Sutton, 2008. ISBN 9780750945363


  1. ^ "(Harry) Aubrey (Woodruff) Burl". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale, 2005. Retrieved on November 25, 2009.
  2. ^ Works by or about Aubrey Burl in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  3. ^ Alex M. Gibson, and D. D. A. Simpson. Prehistoric Ritual and Religion: Essays in Honour of Aubrey Burl. Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton, 1998. ISBN 9780750915984
  4. ^ "MagicStones: Prehistoric Avebury" by Paul Johnspon The New York Times Book Review, Page BR3, October 21, 1979 link
  5. ^ Burl, Aubrey. Great Stone Circles: Fables, Fictions, Facts
  6. ^ Burl, Aubrey. The Stone Circles of the British Isles.
  7. ^ Burl, Aubrey. 2001. "Stonehenge: how did the stones get there? - Aubrey Burl Explains How the Myth of the Stones Transported from South Wales to Salisbury Plain Arose, and Why It Is Wrong". History Today. 51: 19.
  8. ^ Review by Gerald S. Hawkins (1977), The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 36 (3): 206–207, doi:10.2307/989076. Review by Sharon Gibbs (1979), Isis 70: 461, doi:10.1086/352310.
  9. ^ Review by R.J.C. Atkinson (1979), Nature 282: 175–176, doi:10.1038/282175a0. Review by Sarunas Milisauskas (1980), American Anthropologist 82 (4): 882–883, doi:10.1525/aa.1980.82.4.02a00340. Review by Rory Fonseca (1981), The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 40 (4): 326–327, doi:10.2307/989650. Review by Elsebet Sander-Jørgensen Rowlett (1980), Technology and Culture 21 (4) 644–646, doi:10.2307/3104091.
  10. ^ Review by R.J.C. Atkinson (1980), Nature 284: 700.
  11. ^ Review by Andrew Fleming (1991), American Journal of Archaeology 95 (3): 543–544, doi:10.2307/505497. Review by A. Whittle (1988), Journal for the History of Astronomy. Supplement: Archaeoastronomy 12: S85. Review by R. Castleden (1987), Nature 329: 773.
  12. ^ Review by Graham Ritchie (1994), Nature 367: 329, doi:10.1038/367329a0.
  13. ^ Review by Michael Hoskin (2001), Journal of History of Astronomy, Archaeoastronomy Supplement 32: S89.

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