The Henge and Stone Circle
The main circle which contained 98 stones covered an area of 28 ½ acres and is nearly one mile in circumference.
It consists of an outer bank, formed from the quarry of an inner ditch, which is interrupted by four causewayed entrances close to the cardinal points of the compass through which the present road and village high street now run.
Within the main circle are two smaller circles together containing 83 stones.
Many have now disappeared.
Destruction of stones and their reutilisation was common in Medieval and Victorian times.
During the medieval period the church became concerned at the influence these ‘pagan’ monuments had on their congregations who were encouraged to destroy them.
In Victorian times many stones were broken up and used to build a village much of which was within the henge bank.
In 1925 Alexander Keiller, a wealthy gentleman with a passion for archaeology, purchased the village and set about identifying and restoring the original monuments. This entailed the destruction of much of the Victorian village whose residents were rehoused.
What we see today at Avebury is the result of Keiller’s work – unfinished as it was interrupted at the onset of hostilities of W.W.II.
The remaining monuments :-
• Silbury Hill – the largest man made mound in ancient Europe.
• West Kennet Long Barrow – the largest and most sophisticated stone chambered tomb in England and Wales.
• The Sanctuary – a circular construction similar to Woodhenge in the Stonehenge landscape. It is connected to the main henge by a stone lined avenue but its purpose remains a mystery.
These can be visited by car or, if you have the time, a walk throughout the entire landscape is a wonderful experience.
A guided tour around the stone circle where you will be introduced to the facts, myths and legends and the story relating to the reclamation of the site will take about one hour
A full day walk covers 7 miles and takes in all the important monuments but a limited shorter walk to Silbury Hill including the main henge can be accomplished in half a day.