Avebury Stone Circle in England
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.
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).
Great Resources about Avebury
- 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...
- Stones of England - Avebury Stone Circles and Earthworks
- AVEBURY a present from the past
Avebury and its pre-historic past - a detailed description of the neolithic monuments and their colourful history.
- Stone Circle of Avebury, England
- Avebury, England - Avebury Henge and Avebury Stone Circle