When Alexander Keiller was carrying out his excavations in the 1930s under one stone (no.9 in the south-west quadrant of the henge) was found the skeleton of a man. He is believed to have been an itinerant barber-surgeon or tailor who had suffered various injuries when the stone had fallen and trapped him, though a recent re-appraisal of the evidence seems to indicate that the unfortunate man may have already been dead before being placed in the hole that was dug for the stone. Whatever the truth this sad incident has allowed archaeologists to date a period when stone-burial was taking place, for with the skeleton they found the remains of a leather purse containing a pair of scissors, a probe and some coins. The scissors are believed to be among the earliest examples to have ever been found and the coins were a French sterling and two early 14th.Century pennies belonging to the reign of Edward 1 or 11 depending on sources.

Without doubt history will always refer to this unfortunate individual as a barber-surgeon although more recently it has been considered a possibility that he was a shepherd who carried scissors and a lance for attending to sheep maladies

It is now possible to add a short postscript to this account........
The skeleton of the poor man was taken to London where it was believed to have been bombed to oblivion during the war-time blitz. However in 1998 it was found to have survived when it was located in the Natural History Museum. In a sense, therefore, another part of Avebury's rich history lives on.

In the fourteenth century and probably earlier many stones are now known to have been buried by local inhabitants presumably as a result of attempts to de-paganise the site. Whatever the reason it was to prove unfortunate for one particular individual who appears to have perished under one of the stones as it was being felled into a pit.

Search Query

The above illustrations are from Keiller's "Windmill Hill & Avebury"
Though it attributes the coins to Edward 1  Burl's book dates them to 1320-5 which places them in the reign of Edward 11