Location: Wiltshire  Map

Info: Green St

Tel. 01672 539250

Open: daily

Constructed: 2600 BC



Alexander Keiller Museum

Off High St.

Tel. 01672 538015

Open: daily

Closed: 24- 26 Dec



Avebury Layout Map


The Henge was created around 2600 to about 2500 BC. erected. It is one of the great Neolithic henges, along with Marden, Durrington Walls and Mount Pleasant (Dorchester), and may be associated with the Grooved Ware.

From the 14th century the destruction of the monument began on the instructions of the Christian church. Many stones were then buried. According to a village legend, during such a "stone burial" a bather was killed by a falling stone and buried under it. In 1938 a skeleton was indeed discovered by archaeologist Alexander Keiller, along with coins, a graver and a pair of very well-preserved scissors that were a rarity at the time. Based on the minting of the coins, the year of his death could be narrowed down to 1320 at the earliest. The stone is also called "Barber Stone" today and is a flat, narrow stone. However, a re-examination of the skeleton in 1999 showed that it had no injuries to confirm that the man had indeed been crushed by the 13-ton stone. It is therefore assumed that the man had already died and was buried under the stone by the villagers along with his belongings for reasons that are not yet known.

In order to gain space for agriculture, more stones were removed in the 17th and 18th centuries and used, for example, to build houses. In order to destroy the very hard stones, they were heated with fire and then doused with cold water. Along the cracks caused by thermal stresses, the stones could be split and dismantled with tools.

The scholar John Aubrey in 1648 identified the soil features and the large stones in the landscape and in the village as a prehistoric stone circle, which he attributed to Druids who lived about 2000 years after the stone circles were built. The scholar William Stukeley referred to the stone circle from 1720 as the sanctuary of the British Druids ( Temple of British Druids ).



Excavations were carried out by Alexander Keiller in the 1920s. In 1930 numerous stones were re-erected by the National Trust.



The geometry of the Avebury stone circle is far more advanced than that of the other stone circles in Britain.

Of the original 154 megaliths (stones), 36 are still preserved today. Together with the stone avenues, the complex consisted of about 600 megaliths. The locations of the destroyed stones of the stone circles are marked with concrete pillars. The destroyed avenues were only partially restored.

Outer Great Stone Circle (c.2500 BC)
Circumference approx. 1200 m
diameter 427 m
Originally 98 stones were set up on a 6 m high mound of earth, 27 of which have been preserved. The stones were 2.1 m to 5.5 m high and weighed up to 40 tons.
They are anchored 15 to 60 cm deep in the ground. The largest stone ("obelisk") was 5.5 m high and was overthrown and destroyed in the 18th century.

Inner Small North Circle (c.2600 BC)
approx. 98 m in diameter
four of the original 27 stones have been preserved.

Inner Small South Circle (c.2600 BC)
approx. 104 m in diameter
five of the original 29 stones have been preserved.


Information for visitors

The entire area is freely accessible. Also worth seeing are the Alexander Keiller Museum in the historic barn and the medieval village church, which also houses the tourist information. If you follow the narrow street along Steinallee in a southerly direction, you will reach a larger country road after a short drive. From there, turning right, West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and Swallowhead Springs, the source of the Kennet, can be visited.



Theories about Avebury

One of the aspects discussed concerns the conformation of the place: tall and slender, or low and wide. This leads to numerous theories relating to the importance of gender in Neolithic Britain with tall stones considered 'male' and low stones 'female'. The stones have not been worked in any way and may have been chosen due to their shape. Many people have identified what they believe are artificial grooves in the rock, some more convincing than others.

The human bones found by Gray suggest some funerary use. Ancient worship, even on a large scale, may have been one of the causes for the construction of the site, together with male-female role rituals.

The surrounding area, although it seems to enclose the whole complex, has no defensive purposes, given that the moat is inside. Being a stone circle, astronomical alignment is a common theory to explain the placement of stones. Some minor theories refer to aliens, ley lines, crop circles and the lost wisdom of the ancients.

Perhaps the strangest theory is the one proposed by Ralph Ellis who suggests that Avebury looks like a diagram of the Earth moving through space, complete with 23 degrees of axial tilt.

As with Stonehenge, the lack of modern excavations and reliable scientific dating makes it extremely difficult to study.


The Avebury Triangle

Much of the small village of Avebury is enclosed within the monument. two local roads intersect within the site, and tourists can walk on the earthworks.

The two stone avenues (Kennet Avenue and Beckhampton Avenue) which meet at Avebury form the two sides of a triangle designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which includes The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill, Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow .


The alternative Avebury

Avebury is seen as a spiritual center by many people who profess paganism, wicca, druidism and Etenism, and for some it is even more important than Stonehenge. Pagan festivals attract tourists, and the summer solstice especially sees crowds of worshipers of all denominations.

As with Stonehenge, however, access is limited. Whilst Avebury circles are open to all, access is controlled through the car park lock. Avebury has grown in importance in recent years, and tourist accessibility is still under study by the Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights project.

The National Trust, which protects the site (owned by English Heritage), also dialogues with the pagan community, who use the site as a religious temple or as a place of worship. This dialogue takes place through a forum. The project provides guides to tourists who help communication between the pagans who frequent the place and the tourists.


Avebury in the Media

The area was used to film Children of the Stones (1976), a British children's television drama.
Derek Jarman's silent short A Journey to Avebury (1971) is set among the stones.
The stones were also featured in a key moment in the 1998 comedy Still Crazy, starring Billy Connolly, Stephen Rea, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall and Bill Nighy. The film also shows a scene inside the Red Lion of Avebury.
It was shown on the 2005 TV show Seven Natural Wonders. In a scene from the short film Lucifer Rising (1972) by Kenneth Anger there is a short fixed shot between the stones of Avebury.
Catherine Fisher's 2005 novel Darkhenge is set in and around Avebury.
The village of Avebury is also mentioned, a few times, in the show The Lost World where one of the protagonists tells of having lived there as a child and she remembers playing between the monoliths and the fairy circles.
In Werner Herzog's documentary Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin), Avebury is visited by the director.