Avebury Ring in Wiltshire, an ancient stone circle

henge ancient avebury circle Wiltshire

The Avebury Ring is one of the greatest stone circles in Britain. The whole of the surrounding area is full of pre-historic monuments - Stonehenge, the Ridgeway, the Long Barrows at West Kennet, Eat Kennet and Beckhampton, as well as Silbury Hill and The Sanctuary

John Aubrey is credited with first ascribing, in 1648,  the standing stones at Avebury, to being a Druid temple. In the 18th century William Stukeley saw that the stones are being destroyed as farmers attempted to clear the land for agriculture. Stukeley published a book on Avebury and its origins in 1743. Many of the stones were re-erected in the 1930's by Alexander Keiller - whose other claim to fame was marmalade

What is the Avebury Ring?

Thought to date from around 2500 BC, it is a large earthwork bank and ditch surrounding a circle of standing stones.

The bank is around 450 yards in diameter, and its ditch was originally 30 feet deep

The standing stones comprise an outer circle and two inner circles, known as the northern and southern circles. These inner circles are believed to have been built first, with the outer circle and the surrounding earthworks being added around a century later.

The outer circle has four "gates" at roughly north, south, east and west. From two of  these gates ran two great avenues. Only the West Kennett Avenue from the southern gate survives, and a small section of it has been reconstructed with a border of standing stones to show what it looked like. Originally this avenue led to the Sanctuary on Overton Hill.

The other long avenue has not survived, but it to the area of Beckhampton Long Barrow

The Avebury Circle appears to have been actively used for 700 years - an incredibly long period in human terms

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