Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

Probably, Avebury Stone Circle is as well known as Stonehenge, both being among Britain's most important prehistoric sites. Dating from around 2500BC, Avebury Stone Circle covers some 28 acres, and comprises three main features: the perimeter ditch and bank; the outer circle of stones; and two small, inner stone circles.

A circular ditch and bank approximately a quarter of a mile (0.4km) in diameter, encompass the site, the ditch still very visible even though it is now only one-third of its original depth of 30ft (10m). Running around the inner perimeter of the ditch and bank, is a circular group of Sarsen stones - similar to those seen at Stonehenge - the western half of the ring surviving to a greater degree than the eastern half.

Contained within the outer ring were two smaller stone circles, one each to the North and South of the site, which are now separated by the modern village High Street. The southern ring has survived to a greater degree than its northern counterpart, and once contained a large standing stone named the 'Obelisk' which has, sadly, been destroyed. A concrete marker is the only reminder of its original position. There also appears to have been a rectangular arrangement of stones, six of which still survive.

The northern inner circle has largely been destroyed, with the exception of two large stones - originally part of a group of three in a cove-shaped arrangement - known as the 'cove'. Unfortunately much damage was caused to the circles during the 18th century when local people were clearing the land to improve their farming, but many of the missing stones have been identified from drawings. These drawings, made by William Stukeley, were the result of several surveys he undertook at Avebury Stone Circle, and his findings were published in 1743.

Today, Avebury Stone Circle has four entrances but possibly had only two - one North and one South - before the modern roads cut through the site. From the main entry points, ran two great avenues flanked on either side by a row of smaller stones. West Kennet Avenue on the southern side still exists for a short distance, but Beckhampton Avenue to the north, is all but lost.

West Kennet Long Barrow
Also in the area...
Early AgesWest Kennet Long Barrow
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