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Avebury - neolithic henge

Updated on June 2, 2013

"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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    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks for dropping by Zod.

    • profile image

      Zod 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting, like the article.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      No problem Michael....check out the link folks - the film looks fascinating, comprehensive and there's some beautiful shots of some of the thousand odd standing stones scattered around England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

    • profile image

      Michael Bott 

      8 years ago

      Very nice article.

      Don't know if you've come across this before but you may enjoy my documentary DVD 'Standing with Stones'. 100 megalithic sites from Cornwall to the Scottish Isles in a 2 hour film. http://www.standingwithstones.com/Landing.html

      Hope you don't mind me posting a link to my own stuff, but it is relevant to this - indeed Avebury features strongly in the film.

      All the best.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Nicks - appreciate your comment.

      Tall Tales thanks for comments - yes it's a beautiful place.

    • profile image

      Tall Tales 

      8 years ago

      Great hub hotspur, looks like a beautiful place:)

    • profile image

      Nicks 

      8 years ago

      Great to see an articulate, well written Hub in elegant English - something of a rarity! Wiltshire is certainly a beautiful county and quintessentially English (for anyone abroad) with a delightful natural, light coloured stone from which many houses are built. Well worth moving to - or visiting!

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thank-you for the comment James.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Very interesting. I did not know about Avebury. I appreciate the education. Welcome to HubPages.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks BookFlame appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      BookFlame 

      8 years ago

      This is fascinating. I love all things English, even the primitive Britons. Great article.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Sounds like a plan - I'm sure there'd be lots to inspire. Thanks for the comments. Hope you get the chance to visit one day.

    • robertsloan2 profile image

      robertsloan2 

      8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thank you for profiling Avebury. It sounds like if I ever get to visit the UK, that'd be the place to stay to explore ancient monuments. I'd love to do plein air painting there and that Red Lion Inn sounds like a cool place to stay to do it.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Yes get back there Christene! thanks for comment.

      Nikki Dee - hot summer....1976??? But weren't they all hot back then? Thanks for the lovely reminisce...

      Shazwellyn...no problem..thanks

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks my friend... it is great to link to link. I will add you to mine x

    • profile image

      Nikki Dee 

      8 years ago

      What's so fascinating about Avebury is that part of the village (and the pub) are actually inside the circle - that's how big the circle is. I spent a summer waitressing at the pub - still remember learning how to make Irish coffee! - it was the very hot summer, 1975, I think.... my family used to live in Calne, down the road.

    • Christene profile image

      Christene 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I was there 10 years ago. Time to go again I think. :)

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Add it on - only a half hour drive away form Stonehenge. Thanks very much for your comments -hope you get the chance to visit one day.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Fascinating, I've always wanted to visit Stonehenge, but now it sounds like I need to add Avebury to my list of travels as well. Great pictures and good details; thanks for sharing your insight.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks ripplemaker, happy new year may all your wishes come true!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Very interesting. :) Congrats to your hubnuggets nomination. Get into the Hubnugget fever and vote and promote. To check the latest happenings, please visit this link: http://hubpages.com/hub/Lets-Make-a-HubNugget

      Have a wonderful new year!

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Mel22, yes there are a fair few others and lots of single standing stones. You can find henges in other parts of Europe too, there are some fantastic standing stones in Brittany, North West France.

    • mel22 profile image

      mel22 

      8 years ago from ,

      Thanks for the info, i never realized there were so many other places like this, than Stonehenge !

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Tammy, hope you get a chance to visit one day.

      Hey Goldenpath (to where!?) thanks for the comments. Get on a plane and come.

      Shazwellyn, will engineer the link and share that love..!]

      Miss Belgravia, get those tickets booked already!

      jayjay40 - didn't know about the spooks in the boozer! Obviously too drunk to be atuned!?

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      avebury's brilliant because you can walk among the stones and the pub on the green is SO haunted,you get goose bumps when you go in there. I learned things I didn't know about Avebury from your hub. well done

    • Miss Belgravia profile image

      Kathleen 

      8 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Another item for my to-do list when I get back to London. Good luck on your HubNuggets nomination!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      There is a direct line on the ley lines from where I live in Glastonbury to Avebury. You might want to link my hub on Glastonbury - share the love! Have a happy hippy day! x

    • goldenpath profile image

      goldenpath 

      8 years ago from Shenandoah, Iowa, USA

      I have always been fascinated with the stone relics of your country though I've never been to England. Perhaps someday. Thanks for the insight into the mystery.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      I really want to visit that area someday and I will. Thank you for putting a personal account on the area in your hub especially your own photos. Great Hub and congratulations on the Hubnugget Wannabe nomination.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Cheers amillar;I'm a sad Time Team geek...think it's the countryside in summertime..

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 

      8 years ago from Scotland, UK

      I like it hotspur. Tony Robinson will appear from behind one of these stones at any moment. Nice pics too.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Micky Dee maybe one day you can cycle around them!

      Thanks Vampgyr, hope you do get to visit one day, I'm sure you'd appreciate their magic.

    • VAMPGYRL420 profile image

      Windy Grace Mason 

      8 years ago from The Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, U.S.A.

      One day I must visit!!! Thanks for the informative hub, hotspur. There is much beauty in your world...You should write more!!! :)

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Very nice. I have perused some books and videos of these phenomena. I wish I had some rocks. Thank you.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Hey KCC Big Country have linked you too. Now things on your doorstep....have been to Cumbria on holiday many times but have never visited Castlerigg!! I'll put it on my to do list. Thanks for reading.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      I have a hub on Avebury too. I'm going to put a link to yours in mine. You're welcome to do the same. I love Avebury, but Castlerigg is my favorite. (I have a hub on it as well).

    • profile image

      cheap uggs 

      8 years ago

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hiya, yeah love it. I haven't been there for years since I was a small child, and I only live in Bucks. pathetic is'nt it? Every year I say I will come down there, and I don't. I love all the old stones like stonehenge etc. I can't remember where the men-a-tol is, cornwall I think, but evidently, if you circle it seven times and duck through it, you end up in fairy land! How cool would that be? cheers Nell

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Yes the little one's mine - there was a smaller one running about that day too. Yes, Wiltshire is definitely worth a visit...lots of very very old stuff. I think some standing stones in Devon and Cornwall (Sout West England), Wales and Scotland have markings and designs on them; although as far as I know Stonehenge and Avebury don't. I watched a programme recently about Stonehenge that described this area as some huge monumental processional religious landscape divided into area for the living and dead. Fascinating.

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 

      8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      hotspur...Is that delightful young lady one of yours..?

      Interesting Hub about an area of England I must visit...Been to London and north but never to the south...I study petroglyphs that I find here in northern Arizona...I find ancient drawings and carvings fascinating....Thank you for this quick tour of a most remarkable landscape...Larry

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