Here’s how to see the best of Avebury Henge  April 11th, 2019

 

Image by jonjsweet on Instagram

 

Avebury Henge in England is one of the most incredible prehistoric remains in the UK. While you might be tempted to draw comparisons to Stonehenge, we encourage you to clear your mind and appreciate the real purpose of the structure and the numerous attractions within the site.

 

Contrary to popular belief, a henge is not an assortment of stones but rather, a human-made ditch enclosed by a bank. The ditch inside is made up of a flat stretch of land. Originally thought to be a defensive structure, researchers soon realised that a bank with a yawning ditch placed inside did nothing in the way of security. Scientists now guesstimate the flat region was a sacred location, once used for rituals and sacrifice. The henge contains fascinating remains including:

 

•    A large section of the ancient village of Avebury

•    An enormous stone circle with a diameter of 460 feet, making it the largest stone circle in Europe.

•    A pair of smaller stone circles, each an estimated 100 feet in width.  Sadly, several such relics were knocked down and concealed by villagers in the Middle Ages. The destruction was probably carried out on the orders of the local parish priest who wanted to cleanse the area of its pagan beginnings.

•    A strange, square-shaped stone known as The Obelisk.

•    A mystifying box-shaped enclosure of massive stones. It is the first discovery of a square monument at henge monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury.

 

The archaeologist who saved Avebury

 

Alexander Keiller. Image on Wikimedia Commons

 

Alexander Keiller was an archaeologist and a groundbreaking aerial photographer who purchased the 950-acre plot in the 1930s. At the time, the locals continued to raze the structures and use the stones as construction materials.   Keiller unearthed many buried stones and when achievable, erected them in the original positions.  In 1938, he founded a museum to showcase his unique finds and went on to renovate the 16th century Avebury Manor. The site was handed on to the National Trust in 1943 for a sum of £12,000. Following his death, his fourth wife bestowed his museum and archaeological discoveries to the Trust.

 

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Don’t miss these sites!

 

Get up front!

Here’s an opportunity you don’t get at Stonehenge- the freedom to get right up to the stone structures! Unlike Stonehenge which is cordoned off, visitors at Avebury are free to explore the many beautiful attractions on site.  Friendly experts lead stone circle tours extending from five minutes to an hour.

 

Tour the Alexander Keiller Museum

Keiller’s museum is great for both kids and adults. The Stables Gallery exhibits fascinating excavations from the site including some of Europe’s oldest pottery, tools made from red deer antler tools utilised in the construction of Avebury Henge, flint tools dating back 4,000 years, and 5,500-year-old domestic animal skeletons.

 

Avebury Manor and Garden

The manor served as Keiller’s residence while conducting excavations. The historic house rests right outside the gates of Avebury Henge and dates back to the 16th century. The rooms inside are furnished to represent the five eras it served as a home – the Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, and 20th century. Unlike other historical house, visitors are welcome to touch, sit and lie on the furniture to better get a feel of the home and its history.

 

What’s happening?

If you’re not sure, head over to the National Trust hub at Avebury, get guidance to on-site attractions or make use of the restrooms, shops or cafes.

 

Image by charles_seller_photography on Instagram

 

How to visit the World Heritage Site of Avebury

 

Location: The site rests six miles west of the town of Marlborough in Wiltshire, SN8 1RF.Parking available in the Old Farmyard and proximity to the stones.

 

Time: Avebury Henge is open from throughout the day but timings may dependent on the seasons.

 

Costs: While admittance to the outdoor structures and stone circles is free of charge, The Alexander Keiller Museum and tickets to Avebury Manor and Garden come individually priced.

 

 

 

 

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