Avebury - neolithic henge
"it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church" Antiquarian John Aubrey
The south west corner of England is crowded with prehistoric monuments. Built so far back in time that their use is left to educated guessing and the people who made them are mysterious shadows in our landscape. They left us standing stones, henges, chalk horses and mysterious mounds.
My personal favourite is Avebury, a small village in Wiltshire; it's circled by standing stones. Not as tall as the stones of Stonehenge, 17 miles to the south, but spread over a greater area of land. It has a special atmosphere. The stones are beautiful and have the ability to make your imagination wander. And, unlike Stonehenge you aren't held at bay by a rope and can wander among the stones and touch them.
The stones are a variety of shapes and sizes. They change texture and colour according to the light.
The stones are thought to be around 5,000 years old. The large outer circle is around 400 metres in diameter. Part of the construction of the henge includes large ditches or dykes. Archaeologists tell us that these ditches were made by the excavation of tons of earth with only the use of deer antlers!
There is an outer ring of stones and two smaller inner rings of standing stones. Plus a stone avenue. Some of the stones are estimated to weigh around a hundred tons. Relatively little archaeology has been carried out at the site so it will no doubt produce more fascinating conundrums in the future.
During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries some of the stones were buried or destroyed because the Church was suspicious of their connections with pagan rituals. Today many of the fallen stones have been re-erected. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. We owe the site’s preservation to Alexander Keillor a millionaire with a passion for archaeology. The museum here, sited in a 17th century barn, is named after him.
Avebury is supposed to stand on a ley line ( a line of some form of earth energy) on my last visit I saw a man dowsing and the rods repeatedly turned at the same spot he was traversing.
There’s one village pub the Red Lion – which has an acceptable array of pub food and it also does bed and breakfast.
Near to Avebury are other monuments within an easy drive - there's Stonehenge, Silbury Hill (a man made hill the height of Nelson's Column but with no known purpose), white horses carved into chalk hillsides (this is called leucippotomy), you may even be lucky enough to be near a new crop circle as many of that phonomena occur in this area,
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