Standing stones at Avebury, Wiltshire
Part of the Neolithic monument at Avebury, Wiltshire © Historic England DP058054
Part of the Neolithic monument at Avebury, Wiltshire © Historic England DP058054

Avebury Reburial Request - Results of Consultation

After consideration of evidence and extensive consultation, English Heritage (now Historic England) has decided that the prehistoric human remains in the Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury, should be kept in the museum for the benefit of public access and understanding.


These Neolithic human remains were excavated in the Avebury area by Alexander Keiller between 1929 and 1935. In 2006, Paul Davies of the Council of British Druid Orders requested their reburial. English Heritage (now Historic England) and the National Trust followed the recently-published Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) process in considering this request, and went out to public consultation in 2009 on a draft report which set out the evidence and different options.

Final Report Published

English Heritage and the National Trust have now published a report on the results of this consultation, and a second report on the results of a public opinion survey. Our summary report concludes that the request should be refused for four main reasons:

  • the benefit to future understanding likely to result from not reburying the remains far outweighs the harm likely to result from not reburying them
  • it does not meet the criteria set out by the DCMS for considering such requests;
  • not reburying the remains is the more reversible option
  • the public generally support the retention of prehistoric human remains in museums, and their inclusion in museum displays to increase understanding

David Thackray
Head of Archaeology, National Trust  

Sebastian Payne
Chief Scientist, English Heritage (now Historic England)

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