Landscape, Shamans and the Cosmos...
The Story of West Kennet Long Barrow


International speaker, dowser, and sacred sites guide Peter Knight, from Calne, Wiltshire, has just published the most in depth guide to Britain?s finest Neolithic long barrow. West Kennet long barrow (WKLB) is an ancient place of great healing and earth energies situated on a ridge just south of Avebury, and is one of the most frequented of Wiltshire’s ancient monuments. It is the best preserved of all long barrows, comprising hundreds of tons of chalk and earth in a 100m long mound, plus five atmospheric chambers, which are guarded by large sarsen stones. The whole monument was designed to impress!

In his book, West Kennet Long Barrow: Landscape, Shamans and the Cosmos, Peter presents evidence that the users of West Kennet Long Barrow (WKLB) had a profound knowledge of astronomy, sacred geometry, earth energies, as well as acoustics and sacred sound. They had a shamanic-based cosmology, a belief system whereby the departed ancestors survived physical death, and could in fact be contacted. WKLB was never just a tomb, it was also a clan icon, a symbol of tribal permanence; WKLB was the centre of the community, just as a village church is today.

Peter describes the excavations of 1859 and 1955-6. Finds were surprising in that, after the original burials around 3,600 BC, the chambers and passage were gradually filled to the roof with ritual objects and human bones over many centuries. Burials were piled up or lined up against the back walls, implying that the remaining space was for the living, not the dead – the shamans were going into the dark recesses of WKLB to commune with their ancestors.

Peter found that WKLB is intricately placed in the sacred landscape, with alignments to other sacred sites, such as Silbury Hill, the Sanctuary, and Windmill Hill. He found that it is not ON the landscape, but rather is HELD WITHIN IT. He walked the landscape, marvelling how precisely it had been placed in relation to other sites and the landscape features. Some alignments were often astronomical, such as the midwinter sunrise over East Kennet, the lunar standstill over barrows on Overton Hill, and Sirius rising out of East Kennet long barrow. As it sets, Orion appeared to go into the mound and chambers when viewed from the east; were Neolithic shamans following the Hunter into the Underworld for trance journeying and spirit flight? Our Neolithic ancestors were as connected to the heavens as they were the land. The Shamanic Experience Walking into the dark passage is a liminal experience – we walk from the light into the dark, from the known into the unknown. This has always been the case. Inside WKLB the shamans would sit, drum and meditate to contact the ancestors. Peter found some acoustic ‘hot spots’ inside the chambers where the sounds of the drum or human voice noticeably change in tone and volume. Participants of Peter’s drumming/meditation evenings have noted how they can get ‘heady’ and even giddy at times as the energy builds up and standing waves are formed; for WKLB as always been about interaction and participation. In the flickering lights the large stones themselves reveal faces, the eyes of which flicker in and out of the shadows – all part of the experience. Perhaps the stones themselves were seen to be imbued with spirits.

Earth Energies

Peter also describes more unusual phenomena seen at WKLB, such as Orbs (balls of light) and strange light moving through the chambers. There is no doubting that WKLB is situated on a powerful place on the sacred landscape. The currents of the famous St Michael Line passes through its chambers, and dowsers have found tight spirals in each of the chambers, some coinciding with either acoustic hot spots or elsewhere psychics had envisioned strange phenomena; the barrow is a place of great power even today – the energies will not be denied.

The Future and 2012

One section in his book deals with the uses of WKLB today, and how we must strike a balance between preserving the archaeology and allowing people in for ritual purposes. He is fed up with clearing so-called ‘ritual litter’ from inside the chambers, and scrapping wax of the stones. It is ironic that people who come to honour the ancestors and the Earth are the people who do the most damage! He lists a Code of Practice of how people can use the site without damaging it, so that this prehistoric wonder can stay open. Peter regularly hold drumming events there, and yet at the end of the evening no one would even know anyone had even been there. Peter concludes that, ‘The ancestors need our love – not our litter!’ Peter believes that as 2012 approaches we need to once again connect with sacred sites, to help heal them and ourselves, individually and as a species. Sacred sites such as West Kennet are ‘open for business’, for healing and personal transformation. The Earth Mother awaits the connection – she is listening. Are we willing to talk to her once more?

West Kennet Long Barrow: Landscape, Shamans and the Landscape. £12.99. 233pp, and well illustrated.
Published in Calne by Stone Seeker Publishing. For more details of Peter's tours and talks based on the book, and signed copies, contact him on 01249 823287, or visit his website:

Author’s Biography

Peter Knight is the author of 7 books about sacred sites, dowsing and sacred landscapes, and is an international speaker, dowser, shamanic facilitator, and sacred sites guide. His books delve into the hidden aspects of sites, as he tries to unravel their meanings in a 'holistic' approach. He also advocates how sacred sites can be accessed today to procur earth healing and personal transformation.