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Avebury Stone Circle in England

Updated on November 17, 2012

Avebury, in the English county of Wiltshire, is home to a large henge and several stone circles surrounding the village. It is one of the finest and largest Neolithic monuments in Europe, about 5,000 years old. Avebury is located about 24 miles north of the famous Stonehenge.

The work on the Avebury henge started over 5,000 years ago when the people of the area began digging a ditch. Their motives are unclear to this day. What is known is that with the tools available and life-span of the people, it would have taken an estimated 35 generations of people to complete what they accomplished. It is estimated the first stones were placed here 4,685 years ago. The stones were brought in from Fyfield Downs, located approximately two miles away.

Most of what you see today are the dykes, that consist of a massive ditch and external bank henge. The not-so-perfect circle is about 460 yards in diameter. Stonehenge and Flagstones in Dorset County are only a quarter of the size of Avebury. There were originally 98 stones in Avebury with many of them being broken up or removed from the early 14thcentury. Initially, it was to make room for agriculture, although the Christian Church wanted to remove any association with pagan rituals. Only 27 stones of the outer circle have survived. Many of them were re-erected by archaeologist, Alexander Keiller in the 1930s.

Recently, in the spring of 2003, while archaeologists were trying to straighten some of the stones, one was found to be buried at least 7 feet below the surface. It was estimated to weigh over 100 tons, making it one of the largest ever found in the UK. Later that year, a geophysics survey of the area by the National Trust, revealed at least 15 of the megaliths lying buried.

Avebury is seen as a spiritual center by many who profess beliefs such as Paganism, Wicca, and Druidry. Some even regard it more highly than the famous Stonehenge.

Avebury was one of the many places I fell in love with when I visited England in 2006. These are photos from that trip.

Copyright(C) KCC Big Country  This is my favorite photo of Avebury Stone Circle-Taken in 2006
Copyright(C) KCC Big Country This is my favorite photo of Avebury Stone Circle-Taken in 2006

Notable Features at Avebury

  • Silbury Hill is Europe's largest prehistoric man-made earth mound and we've yet to determine its function. This mound is 128 feet tall.
  • Windmill Hill was a gathering place of neolithic traders and early farmers.
  • West Kennet Long Barrow is the longest barrow in England at 351 feet and stands on a hill above the River Kennet. It was created about 5,700 years ago and was used as a ritual burial place for many centuries before being closed and sealed by huge stones.
  • The Swindon Stone is a massive stone and one of the few that still stands in its original upright position in spite of it weighing 60 tons.
  • The Barber's Stonehas an interesting story to tell. In the early 14th century, a local vicar (priest) organized a group of locals to topple the stones and push them into holes that were dug. Alexander Keiller, an archaeologist, discovered in the 1930s that this stone had the skeleton of man beneath it. Evidence suggests that the man was crushed while digging a hole that the stone was to be placed into. His pockets contained scissors and a lancet suggesting he was a traveling barber-surgeon.
  • The Alexander Keiller Museum was founded in 1938 and houses many of his finds from this area.
  • Crop Circles are found regularly in this area. Some theorize that the reasons these ancient peoples chose this site are the same reasons the crop circles appear here. Who knows what that is?
  • St. James Church was built just outside the henge and dates from Saxon times. (see my photo below)
  • Tree Roots on the Hengeis a gnarly bit of exposed roots of a tree that is reputed to have inspired JR Tokein to write "Lord of the Rings".
  • The Red Lion Pub is reported to be one of England's most haunted pubs and has been featured on "Most Haunted". (see my photo below).

Copyright(C) KCC Big Country  This is in the heart of Avebury-Taken in 2006
Copyright(C) KCC Big Country This is in the heart of Avebury-Taken in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country-Avebury Stones taken in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country-Avebury Stones taken in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country-This is my daughter at Avebury in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country-This is my daughter at Avebury in 2006
Copyright(C) KCC Big Country--St. James Church in Avebury taken from the walkway to the Stone Circle in 2006
Copyright(C) KCC Big Country--St. James Church in Avebury taken from the walkway to the Stone Circle in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country--The Red Lion Pub in Avebury taken in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country--The Red Lion Pub in Avebury taken in 2006
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country 2006-Avebury Stone Circle
Copyright(C)KCC Big Country 2006-Avebury Stone Circle

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    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Awww...Thank you MarketBOB! Welcome to HubPages! Do I have a style? lol I loooooove stone circles! I have a Castlerigg hub I hope you found too. Thanks so much for stopping by and I'm glad it sparked some memories for you!

    • MarketBOB profile image

      Craig Forgrave 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Hi, Having just joined Hubs, I'm learning from others and I really like your style of writing, the visual support you provide and the layout of your hubs. Having been to stone circles myself (too many for my wife's liking), your article sparked memories of my National Trust pass and the list of sites I visited one summer years ago. thanks!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you Philipo, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 

      9 years ago from Nigeria

      Wao. This is interesting and beautiful pictures. I enjoyed it. Thanks.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      How cool, Jenna! Glad I could take you back there. I wish now I had gone inside the Red Lion Pub. We did so much in the week that I was there, but I have so much I wish we had done as well. Guess I'll have to save it for the next trip. I have lots of other UK hubs and will soon be publishing one on Castlerigg. :)

    • JennaJackson profile image

      JennaJackson 

      9 years ago

      Absolutely marvelous! I spent 8 years in UK. In fact, the first pint I ever enjoyed was in The Red Lion Pub. Thanks for this hub... and bringing back some wonderful memories.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you so much Maggs! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm working on a Castlerigg Stone Circle hub as well.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 

      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Another excellent hub and a very enjoyable read with great photos

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Awww thank you, rsmallory! I'm really glad you're enjoying them. I have others I'm working on that you may like as well. I look forward to reading your hub on the mayan temple!

    • rsmallory profile image

      Rebecca Sue Mallory 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      KCC-you continue to impress me. Another great history hub with awesome photos. I would love to visit here. You have inspired me to write a hub about an interesting place I visited in Progresso with a mayan temple. Thanks for taking me to Avebury!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Hmmm...good question Tesa. Stonehenge was overrun with tourists both times I was there. It seemed so cold and commercial. It wasn't a place I wanted to stay at. Avebury and Castlerigg had far fewer people there and I found both places to be extremely comfortable and inviting. If you scroll back up to the bottom photo, those tiny white specks are sheep. The sheep roamed freely with the visitors. It made for a nice setting. Other than that, I didn't get any special vibes from the stones or anything. Just a sense of well-being overall.

    • Tesa Adams profile image

      Tesa Adams 

      9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Great article! Could you "feel" anything when you were near the stones in Avebury? I've hard that some have felt something when they have visited the stones in both Avebury and Stonehenge. Thank you for sharing your photos also.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks Barry & John! I'm glad you enjoyed them. We had a wonderful time there and even I'm "homesick". :)

    • John Chancellor profile image

      John Chancellor 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      Those are really great photos ... and very interesting history to go with them. Sounds like you have a very interesting time exploring the English countryside.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      9 years ago from Queensland Australia

      good story, great images, makes me homesick !

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks SEM Pro...I can't imagine 5 generations of dedication to a project, much less 35. It's amazing, isn't it?

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      WOW - thank you so much KCC! Beautiful hub and the pieces of the puzzle fall into place rapidly. Just found a video the other day expounding on the science of the 7 chakras of the world :) Perhaps the people way back when more easily felt the energy and attempted to protect it? 35 generations to build - amazing when we measure the length of our attention spans these days lol

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for stopping by Euro-pen and Ethel! I fell in love with stone circles while in England. It's not that the stones are so mesmerazingly beautiful, it's just the idea of how old they are and how heavy they are. I have been to Stonehenge twice, Avebury and Castlrigg each once.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Not visited any of these :)

    • euro-pen profile image

      euro-pen 

      9 years ago from Europe

      Awesome photos. I have read the novel by Bernard Cornwell about Stonehenge. Those stony features are really an amazing and interesting heritage from the (very) ancient times.

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