Close to Marlborough in Wiltshire, Avebury is a gateway to all things Neolithic
Stonehenge gets talked about a lot, but Avebury is an even more magical space located within the vicinity. And, unlike Stonehenge, you’re able to walk right up to the ancient stones of Avebury and touch them.
Work began on Avebury around 2600 BCE and was built with one giant henge, a ditch and a bank. It’s unknown as to what the ditch was for, but it’s been suggested that rather than keep people out, it may have been meant to actually keep people in. The area was then in continual use for a thousand years or possibly longer and there are many theories as to what the henges of Avebury were originally designed for, but most are in agreement that some sort of rituals were conjured up here.
While there is one very large stone circle surrounding the town, there are two smaller stone circles contained inside which you can see better from aerial shots.
A long path of standing stones, known as The Avenue or West Kennet Avenue, connects the stone circle of Avebury with a place known as The Sanctuary. It’s a nice idea to park along the stretch of road known as West Kennet and walk along the meadowy path along The Avenue until you eventually reach the road crossing to the bank just above Avebury’s ditch. The Avenue may have once had 100 pairs of stones lining it, but many are now gone as they were used by the town’s early founders for building purposes as they probably didn’t understand the significance of this ancient site.
Silbury Hill, measuring at 121 feet, is a chalk mound which is also the largest hill made by anyone in Europe and is also located in Avebury and very much adds to the town’s mystery and charm.
West Kennet Long Barrow is close to Silbury Hill and is a burial chamber. It was built 400 years before Stonehenge’s construction and is an amazing piece of history. This spot can be easy to miss if you’re not looking, so keep an eye out for it as you can park your car alongside the road and go for a little walk to reach it. It’s well worth the visit.
Avebury is a haven for archaeologists, Pagans and tourists in general. It is a quiet little town that many have taken such a fancy to that they’ve actually up and moved there. The musician Julian Cope, who now calls Avebury home, has written an extensive book on the subject of stone circles and standing stones entitlde The Modern Antiquarian and he has also written a documentary about it where you can learn more about Avebury. It is now available to watch on YouTube and it too is called The Modern Antiquarian and is well worth a watch for anybody who wishes to learn more about this brilliant site.