Avebury Standing Stones, Wiltshire, England

Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire, England, UK

Avebury Standing Stones and village, Wiltshire.

The Avebury Stones are, unlike Stonehenge, free to enter, uncrowded and a delight to wander around, especially after a pint, a glass of wine or a light lunch at the thatched Red Lion pub on the right, which is the only drinking establishment inside a ring of neolithic stones in the world!

What are the Avebury stones?

Dating from 4, 800 years ago, the Avebury stones are a Neolithic henge monument set in three circles, forming the largest stone circles in Europe and possibly in the world. There is a 400m diameter earth ring and deep ditch, originally encompassing 600 huge stones in three circles and two avenues. Many missing stones were retrieved and re-erected by Alexander Keiller in the 20’s and 30’s, while others were replaced by markers.

Begun by a Neolithic farming community Avebury was probably completed by the Beaker Folk, so called because they left drinking beakers in the graves of their dead.

An aerial photo of Avebury village and standing stones, Wiltshire, England

An aerial photo of Avebury village, courtesy of English Heritage.

There is a 400m diameter ditch around the stones with a walking trail beside much of it. The Red Lion is – as you can see – the perfect place for a preview snack and a drink, a stroll among the stones, another drink, a stagger, a stone-cold grope (yes, you can touch these stones), and so on. And no, we have no connection to the pub but its location and ambience are outstanding.

A close view of part of the Avebury stone ring, Wiltshire, England

A fine view of part of the Avebury stone ring by Jim Champion.

Stone 46, aka Diamond Stone, in the Avebury circle, Wlitshire, England

Stone 46, aka Diamond Stone, in the Avebury circle. Photo by Jim Champion.

Avebury World Heritage Site is 24 miles (40kms) north of Stonehenge.

Avebury is part of grand grouping of Neolithic sites in Wiltshire, along with West Kennet Avenue (two lengthy parallel lines of stones), The Sanctuary, West Kennet Long Barrow, Windmill Hill and mysterious Silbury Hill. These sites form a sacred complex for a still unknown purpose. See Wiltshire Ancient Sites Map.

Getting There

Car
Avebury is 7 miles west of Marlborough. Look for the car park south of Avebury off A4361.

Bus
Buses to Avebury run from Swindon, Devizes, Marlborough and Salisbury.

Train
Pewsey is 10 miles away, Swindon 11 miles.

Bicycle
A network of cycle routes serve Avebury from towns in the area so put your bike on a train to Swindon, Chippenham or Trowbridge and cycle from there. Cycling is not recommended on the fast and busy A4, A361 and A4361 roads.
There are three long cycle routes: Ridgeway (at 87 miles long this is also a serious hiking route! ), 403 and 45. Check these routes on Sustrans National Cycle Network

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. Photo by Immanuel Giel.

Silbury Hill

Near Avebury is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe, a 40 metre high hill built 4, 500 years ago, with a base diameter of 160 metres. It is estimated that moving the half million tons of chalk to construct the hill took 4 million man hours over 50 years. Silbury Hill was probably a sacred mound dedicated to Mother Earth.

Climbing the mound is not permitted but photos are naturally fine, tho’ the mound is neither particularly photogenic nor interesting to the common man.

West Kennet Long Barrow entry, Wiltshire, England

West Kennet Long Barrow entry, Wiltshire. Photo by Troxx.

West Kennet Long Barrow

Adjacent to Silbury Hill is West Kennet Long Barrow, a restored early Neolithic mound with five chambers leading off a central gallery.

Carbon dated from about 3700 BC, the chambers and roof are built from huge Sarsen stones. Recently high quality carved megaliths have been found, one shaped like a human head in profile, one like a skull and another like a sheep’s head.

It is thought that the barrow is another tribute to the Earth Mother since the entrance stone has an apparent 2 metre vulva carved on it and the interior is womb-like, yet when in use in the lambing season the sun would penetrate throughout the barrow, touching first the skull, then a real child’s skull and finally the profiled human head.

Entry is free and reached from the main road (A4) by walking up a short track.

Buses to Avebury run from Swindon, Devizes, Marlborough and Salisbury.

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