Avebury

Avebury Stone Circle

The Avebury Stone Circle, the West Kennet Long Barrow, The West Kennet Avenue and Silbury Hill are part of the “Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites” UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed towards the end of the Neolithic, probably around 2500 BCE,  Avebury Hence has a diameter of about 430m. The banks of the henge’s earthwork are still up to 5 meters high in places, originally they would have been nearly 7 meters tall and between 20-30 meters thick. Within them an internal flat bottomed ditch, that would once have been up to 9 metres deep and over 20 metres wide, was cut into the underlying chalk and an estimated 200000 tons of chalk rubble hauled up to construct the bank with the central area of the henge accessible by four entrance causeways over the ditch.

Just inside the henge you can find the Outer Stone Circle, which, originally, was made up of 100 sarsen stones, ranging in height from 3-6 meters and weighing up to 20 tons. Unfortunately, many of these stones were pulled down in the 14th century and others were broken up in the early 18th century and used in the construction of Avebury village.  Today, only about 30 of the massive sarsen stones remain, the missing stones being marked by concrete blocks. Inside the Outer Stone Circle, two more stone circles can be found which are generally referred to as the North and South Circles. The South Circle originally was made up of 29 stones of which only 5 remain, while only 4 remain of the of the North Circle.

Avebury Stone Circle with Pub.
Avebury by Night

West Kennet Long Barrow

The West Kennet Long Barrow is one of the largest, most impressive and most accessible Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain. Built in around 3650 BC, it was used for a short time as a burial chamber. The barrow was probably constructed in two different phases, as there is a noticeable bulge halfway along the longitudinal axis accompanied by a subtle change in direction. Some cremations and the partial remains of at least forty-six individuals – both male and female and of all ages – have been found inside, together with grave goods including pottery, beads and stone implements such as a dagger, dated to between 3000 and 2600 BC. The tomb was closed sometime around 2000 BC and the main passage filled with earth, stones, rubble and debris. The forecourt was then blocked with sarsen boulders and a false entrance of twin sarsen uprights constructed. Finally, three massive sarsen blocking-stones were erected across the front (eastern end) of the tomb. The tomb is around 100m long but chambers within it only stretch 13 metres from the entrance with the remainder of the tomb being made of solid chalk. 

Entrance to the Long Barrow is free and it can easily be reached from the A4 via  a short walk.

Silbury Hill

The largest artificial mound in Europe, mysterious Silbury Hill compares in height and volume to the roughly contemporary Egyptian pyramids. Consisting mainly of chalk and clay, Silbury Hill has a diameter of 167 meters and is about 40m high. The hill was constructed in several stages between between 2400–2300 BC and displays immense technical skill and prolonged control over labour and resources. Archaeologists calculate that it took 18 million man-hours, equivalent to 500 men working for 15 years to deposit and shape 248,000 cubic metres of earth and fill.

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