Stone Circle

Stone Circle


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Stone circles and henges c.3500-1000 BC history map

Explore Britain's Neolithic stone circles and henges with this history map from The Map Archive.

Stone circles and henges first appeared on the British Isles c.3500BCE, during the Neolithic period. Over 900 still exist today.

Henges (oval shaped, banked ditches) enclosed ritual structures, such as stone circles or villages, seen in excavations of the henge at Durrington Walls near Salisbury.

The largest Neolithic structure in Britain is Marden Henge, close to Stonehenge. Discovered in 2015, its ramparts enclosed 15 hectares and excavations show what it was used as a gathering for feasts. It lacks the stone circles of other Neolithic sites, such as Stonehenge, Averbury, Beaghmore and Bre na Boinne (near Newtown) and archaeologists believe its standing stones may have been removed to farm the land.

Britain's stone circles

Stone circles differ, with recumbent stone circles specific to Ireland and Scotland, and characterised by a circle of standing stones that is constructed on a recumbent stone laid on its side.

Concentric stone circles, typically found in England and Scotland, comprise two circles of standing stones arranged in a circular or oval configuration. Outlying stones, avenues and mounds may also form part of the site architecture and burials are found at concentric circle sites, indicating they played a part in funerary rituals.

It is believed that stone circles were used for religious ceremonies, with entrances constructed to face sunrise and sunset or aligned with the sun during the winter or summer solstices.

Map and text provided courtesy of The Map Archive. Explore a large range of history maps in their map archive and take out a subscription for free access to the archive with unlimited downloads.


East Aquhorthies Stone Circle

Erected about 4,000 years ago, this is one of the finest recumbent stone circles in existence. Stone circles are common across Britain, but recumbent stone circles are only found in north-east Scotland, where there are about 100.

The characteristic feature of these stone circles is a large stone laid recumbent – on its side – flanked by two upright stones, usually on the south or south-west arc of the circle. The tallest stones of the circle are usually on the same arc , with the others graded in height .

We don’t know why these stone circles were erected. They may have been ritual sites related to the disposal of the dead through cremation. The erection of the stone circles could have brought the site’s ritual use to an end.

Alternatively , the south-west alignment of the stones may have helped prehistoric farming communities to follow the changing seasons. The flanking stones would have framed the rising and setting moon at midsummer.

At East Aquhorthies , the re are 11 upright stones, all of pinkish porphyry, except for the one closest to the east flanker, which is of red jasper. On the south-west edge of the circle is the recumbent stone, the largest in the circle. It rests between the two tallest upright ‘flanker’ stones.

The stones show notable geological variation, and appear to have been chosen for their colour.

Under the surface

A slight rise in the unexcavated interior of East Aquhorthies suggests the presence of a ring cairn. Excavations at similar sites reveal complex, multi-period monuments. The circles usually begin as cremation pyres, later developing into ring cairns. Enclosing s tone circles usually mark the final phase of activity.

Opening times

Please continue to follow government guidance, staying 2 metres away from other visitors, and bring your own hand sanitiser with you, to help keep everyone safe.

Facilities

East Aquhorthies Stone Circle
East Aquhorthies Stone Circle on Scran

Browse images on our online learning resource.

East Aquhorthies Stone Circle on Canmore

Read detailed information on our online catalogue of Scotland's heritage.


Geophysical survey

In 1997 English Heritage initiated a geophysical survey of the large field that contains the Great Circle and north-east circle. The survey used magnetometry,
a non-invasive technique which picks up magnetic anomalies in the ground to indicate the presence of buried features such as pits, ditches and hearths.

The survey showed that the remains at Stanton Drew are the ruins of a much more elaborate and important site than had previously been imagined.

Lying under the Great Circle are the remains of a complex pattern of buried pits, arranged in nine concentric rings within the stone circle, and further pits at the centre.

The Great Circle is itself contained within a very large enclosure ditch, about 135m (440 ft) in diameter. This is about 7m (23 ft) wide with a broad gap or entrance facing north-east.

The village also has a range of listed buildings, dating from the 13th to 15th centuries, including the church of St Mary the Virgin, the Round House (Old Toll House) and various farmhouses.


‘The Big Three’

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Perhaps the oldest remaining stone circle in England is at Castlerigg near Keswick, with 38 large stones standing up to 10 feet high. It is thought that this was originally an important site for prehistoric astronomers or early pagan rituals, as the stones are laid out in a solar alignment.

For visitors to the site, Castlerigg is often referred to as one of the most dramatic stone circles in the country as it is set against the backdrop of some of the highest peaks in the Lake District.

Castlerigg Stone Circle, photo copyright Michael Turner.

Swinside Stone Circle

Originally consisting of around 60 stones, Swinside is a remarkably intact stone circle with 55 of the megalithic structures still remaining. A small gap between the stones acted as an entrance way, and is still visible on the south-eastern side of the site.

Although most archaeologists are in agreement that Swinside was originally built for ceremonial reasons, over the years there has been an abundance of local folklore about the circle. One of these beliefs state that it is impossible to actually count the stones, although a quick five minutes looking at Google Earth quickly put that rumour to rest!

Another popular folklore tale states that it was the Devil who was responsible for the stone formation. Legend has it that the local people of Swinside attempted to build a church on the site, but every night the Devil would scupper their plans by knocking it down and placing the stones in a circle.

A Google Maps aerial shot of Swinside Stone Circle

Long Meg and Her Daughters

What a great name for a stone circle! ‘Meg’ was actually a local witch who was alive during the 1600s, and legend states that if you walk around the circle and count all of the stones correctly, and then put your ear to the largest stone called “Long Meg”, you will hear her whisper to you.

Long Meg and Her Daughers are actually just a single part of a much larger complex, with other structures and enclosures (most of which are now underground) dotted around the nearby vicinity. The smaller stone circle of Little Meg (which is actually the remains of a cairn) is one of these additional structures, and is located about 700 yards away from its larger sibling. If you visit Little Meg, be sure to keep an eye out for one of the stones which contains prehistoric markings.

Prehistoric carvings on the Long Meg stone


10 Facts About Avebury Stone Circle, A UNESCO World Heritage Site In England

The Avebury Stone Circle is an architectural marvel that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1986. Today, tourists from all over the world visit the Avebury Village in Wiltshire, a county in southwest England, just to see this ancient structure. Below are 10 facts about the Avebury Stone Circle which we include as part of our Big One Tour to the English countryside!

1. The Avebury Stone Circle dates back to the Neolithic age.

The Avebury Stone Circle was built during prehistoric Britain. It dates back to the Neolithic Age (also known as the New Stone Age) over a course of centuries, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC. Just to give you an idea of how marvelous a feat this architectural wonder is, people in the Neolithic Age still primarily used stone tools, with evidences of early metallurgy and pottery, but no advanced technology to transport and erect each stone in place. The Neolithic Age also marked the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution and the start of domestication practices in Eurasia and other parts of the world, which give an insight (but no clear evidence) on why it was built for.

2. The Avebury Stone Circle originally comprised of 100 stones.

The Avebury Stone Circle was built roughly 4,000 to 5,000 years ago and has survived centuries of weathering and erosion. Originally, there were 100 stones in the Avebury Stone Circle, with 29 or 30 stones comprising its outermost ring. The outermost ring of the Avebury stone circle has a diameter of 1,088 feet, making it Britain’s largest stone circle. Meanwhile, the northern and southern inner rings have diameters of 322 feet and 354 feet respectively.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Avebury Stone Circle. Photo Credit: © Detmar Owen via Wikimedia Commons.

3. The stones of the Avebury Stone Circle are massive.

What adds to the perplexity of the Avebury Stone Circle is just how massive the stones that comprise it are. Given the time period when these stones were erected, one wonders how prehistoric people were able to take each stone to its position and push it upright. They did not have trucks and cranes to help them put the stones in place when some of them weigh more than 40 tons (that’s 80,000 pounds!). The stones were tall, too. They measure from 12 feet to as tall as 18 feet.

4. The Avebury Stone Circle is one of several sites that comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site in England.

The Avebury Stone Circle is just one of several sites from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in the region. These sites, which you can all visit during your trip, include:
• West Kennet Long Barrow, a series of chambered tombs built around 3650 BC where fifty people were buried
• Windmill Hill, a group of three concentric but intermittent ditches where many animal bones were found, suggesting animal feasting or rituals by Neolithic peoples
• Silbury Hill, an artificial mound, the largest of its kind in Europe, which was completed in 2400 BC. Like the Avebury Stone Circle, its purpose remains unknown.

5. No one is sure what the Avebury Stone Circle was built for.

Because this British Stonehenge was built prehistorically, there are no written records to attest to their function or purpose. But several archaeologists postulated all the same. For instance, Aubrey Burl believed that whichever group of people built the Avebury Stone Circle used it as a peace offering to the gods who controlled the climate and other natural occurrences so that they might be protected from diseases and disasters that could harm them. A different theory, supported by the animal bones found around the area, suggests that it was a site for feasts and gatherings of Neolithic peoples.

6. The Avebury Stone Circle was a worship site.

Aubrey Burl’s theory about the purpose of the Avebury Stone Circle was mentioned earlier. He believed that the Neolithic peoples used it to worship gods in exchange for protection against natural disasters and diseases. As the times changed, the Stonehenge retained its religious significance. Civilisations in the Medieval Age may have also used it for pagan and devil worship.

Part of the South Inner Circle of Avebury in Wiltshire, England. Photo Credit: © Diliff via Wikimedia Commons.

7. Historical advancements destroyed some of the stones.

As time passed and civilizations became more advanced, some of the stones in the Avebury Stone Circle were destroyed. Agricultural advancements and the construction of buildings in the area led to a change in the landscape and the destruction of several stones.

8. Alexander Keiller is responsible for the preservation of the Avebury Stone Circle.

Alexander Keiller was an archaeologist who was also heir to the Dundee marmalade business. He bought the land around Avebury’s Neolithic and Bronze Age sites and proceeded to maintain and preserve these prehistoric monuments. He also built a manor in the area between the 1920s and 1930s. Several years later, the property was transferred to the National Trust and it became a museum, which you can also visit during your trip. It now houses some of the archaeological finds that were excavated around Avebury.

9. The best way to tour the Avebury Stone Circle is by foot.

There are six sites in the area that you can visit: The Avebury Stone Circle, the West Kennet Long Barrow, the Windmill Hill, The Sanctuary, the Silbury Hill, and the Alexander Keiller Museum. Thus, if your schedule allows, would spend time exploring this British UNESCO World Heritage Site is by foot. Of course, if you have limited time, you’ll still be able to see the highlights via a driving tour.

10. Drones aren’t allowed in the area!

One of the best views of the Avebury Stone Stone and nearby sites is from above but most visitors won’t be able to capture as drones are not allowed to be flown over them. Only contractors and partners who have the correct insurance and permissions are allowed to operate drones here. Of course, the viewings from the ground are still breathtaking.

The Avebury Stone Circle and the other nearby sites are a great way to learn more about ancient civilizations in England. Although its significance still remains a mystery, you will still discover a thing or two about the Neolithic Age when you tour this UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of our Stratford, Cotswolds, Bath & Avebury Stone Circle Tour.


The purpose of these stones is a puzzle that modern day archaeologists can only speculate over these ancient sites may forever remain shrouded in mystery. Many sites are believed to have been used for religious or ceremonial purposes. Let your imagination take you back thousands of years in time.

There are many ancient sites in Scotland, each with a tale to tell. Orkney and Shetland have a particularly prevalent number of standing stones but you can also find them in Dumfries & Galloway and Argyll.

Calanais Standing Stones

Check out Mo Thomson's bird's eye view video of sandy beaches and the Calanais Standing Stones, on the beautiful Isles of Lewis and Harris, in Sand and Stones.

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Pisces

Follow the shore of Faiyum around the lake all the way to the east. You'll find this circle half-sunken into the marsh, surrounded by thick reeds.

The constellation can be found directly to the right of Amun - you'll need to rotate the stars a bit to the right to make them align.


Stonehenge (c.3100-1100 BCE)

Probably the world's most famous individual example of megalithic art, the Neolithic stone monument at Stonehenge is located on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, in England. Consisting of a number of earth and timber structures, as well as the celebrated stone circle of megaliths - including five huge trilithons at its centre measuring over 24 feet in height - it was built in stages over a period of about two thousand years (c.3100-1100 BCE). While it is known mainly for its Stone Age architecture, it also contains numerous megalithic petroglyphs, and rock engravings. The monument is at the centre of a dense web of other Neolithic monuments including hundreds of prehistoric burial mounds. As to why Stonehenge was built in the first place, archeologists believe it was probably a multifunctional site of Neolithic tomb culture, involved in burial, ancestor worship and healing. At any rate, there seems no doubt that by 2000 BCE, the site had become the most important ceremonial centre in southern England. In 1986 the site was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, along with the Avebury Henge monument, also in Wiltshire. The Stonehenge site is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage. The surrounding land is owned by the British National Trust. Most of our present knowledge about the complex is based chiefly on archeological investigations conducted since 1919, and particularly since 1950.

Note: a "henge" is a circular earthwork comprising of a ditch ringed by bank of earth and stones. Thus Stonehenge is not a typical henge since its ditch is outside its bank.

History and Construction: When Was Stonehenge Built?

The origins of Stonehenge as a prehistoric site go back to at least the 9th millennium BCE - the era of Mesolithic art - when the area was still wooded. A number of large Mesolithic postholes have been found, dating to 8000 BCE, all of which originally held pine uprights nearly 3-feet in diameter, similar to several others found in Scandinavia. Later, during the succeeding period of Neolithic art, a causewayed enclosure plus some 460 long barrow tombs were built in the locality, notably West Kennet long barrow (c.3600 BCE). The largest underground burial chamber in England, it was the scene of some 45 burials of important tribal figures over 24 generations. About 3500 BCE, a cursus was constructed half a mile north of the site, as part of a general clearance of the area.

The construction of the Stonehenge monument began some four centuries later, and took place in three main stages.

Stonehenge Stage 1 (c.3100 BCE)

This first stage saw the creation of a 360 ft diameter enclosure on slightly sloping grassland, which consisted of a ditch (20 ft wide, up to 7 feet deep). Apart from two entrances to the north-east and south, the ditch was continuous, and its inside bank was built up using the excavated earth and chalky rubble. Around much of the outer edge of the enclosed area some 56 pits were dug, each about 3 ft in diameter. Christened "Aubrey holes" after John Aubrey, the 17th-century archeologist who first identified them, the pits were probably intended as postholes, although no traces of timber have been found. Some evidence suggests that the holes were designed to take stone slabs. If true, this would add 500 years to the age of Stonehenge as a megalithic site.

Stonehenge 2 (c.3000 BCE)

A number of upright timbers were erected in various patterns inside the enclosure during this period. Meantime the ditch began silting up and eventually half of the Aubrey Holes were used as tombs for cremation burials, as were other newly dug holes. These changes suggest that Stonehenge was really not much more than a Neolithic necropolis at this time.

Stonehenge 3 - Phase I (c.2600 BCE)

About 2600 BCE, Stonehenge's occupants began using stone instead of timber. They dug two concentric circles of holes (known as Q and R Holes) in the middle of the enclosure, which held as many as 80 upright bluestone pillars, each weighing about 4 tons, and measuring roughly 6 ft in height, 5 feet in width. (Subsequently, these stones were removed and their holes refilled.) The north-east entrance to the enclosure was widened so as to align it with the midsummer and midwinter solstices. It was probably during this period that other large megaliths were erected, including the Altar Stone, the Heel Stone and the Slaughter Stone, to name but three. In addition, several mounds were created, as well as a 2-mile long "Avenue" - consisting of a pair of parallel ditches and banks - which led to the River Avon.

Stonehenge 3 - Phase II (2600-2400 BCE)

During this phase, Stonehenge's builders constructed a 100 ft diameter stone circle in the centre of the enclosure, using 30 massive Oligocene-Miocene sarsen stones, which were given mortise and tenon joints before being erected and topped with a ring of 30 lintel stones, fitted together using the tongue and groove joint. Each of these sarsens was about 13 ft high, 7 ft wide and weighed around 25 tons. The height of each trilithon (upright plus lintel) was about 16 ft. More importantly, in the context of prehistoric art, each megalith had been sculpted for optimum effect. Thus each orthostat had been widened towards the top to offer a constant perspective when seen from the ground, while the lintels have a slight curve to enhance the monument's circular effect. Moreover, the inward-facing surfaces are smoother than the outer surfaces.

In addition, inside this stone circle, Stonehenge's architects erected a horseshoe of five enormous trilithons (3-stone strctures) of sarsen stone, with its open end facing north east. Each of the 15 stones weighed up to 50 tons, and stood between 20 and 24 ft in height.

Other monuments appeared in the area during this period, including Silbury Hill which - at 130 ft in height, 500 ft in diameter, and covering an area of 5 acres - is the biggest man-made mound in Europe. Built about 2660 BCE, a century before Avebury henge, it contains no graves or shrines, but nevertheless exemplifies the cultural and architectural ambitions of Neolithic man. Other important monuments include the massive circular earthwork built some 2 miles away by the River Avon at Durrington Walls, and the megalithic monument at Avebury. The latter, erected between 2500 and 2200 BCE, not long after the arrival of the sarsens at Stonehenge, occupies about 30 acres and is the largest stone circle in Europe. It consists of some 100 megaliths, ringed by a 20 foot high ring mound. Woodhenge, located about a mile north-east of Stonehenge, was another henge enclosure. About the same size as Stonehenge, it contained several concentric circles of timber uprights.

Later Construction Work (2280-1100 BCE)

During the period 2280-1930 BCE the bluestones were rearranged in a circle between the two rings of sarsens and in an oval arrangement at the centre of the sarsen horseshoe. The work was not up to previous standards and many of the stones tilted or fell over. Further bluestone rearrangements took place during the period 1930-1600, while about 1550 two concentric rings of holes (known as Y and Z holes) were dug just outside the sarsen circle. These were later filled in. About 1100 BCE the Avenue was extended both eastwards and southeastwards for about 1.5 miles, indicating that the Stonehenge site was still in use and under development. (See also: Bronze Age Art.)

Visited by the Roman general Vespasian, who built a camp alongside the Avenue near the River Avon, Stonehenge was known throughout Anglo-Saxon Britain and studied by a series of medieval scholars. Sadly, over time, the megalithic site has shrunk considerably, with many of its stone slabs having been purloined by builders and others. Its architectural features have also been affected by centuries of erosion and weather.

Although Stonehenge is known mainly for its cultural contribution to Neolithic architectural design, the site also features a certain amount of rock art, such as carvings and engravings. This collection of rock carvings, mostly created after 1800 BCE, has been described by one expert as the most significant gallery of ancient art in Britain. For instance, carvings of weaponry including a dagger, some cups and 14 axeheads have been discovered on one of the sarsens (stone 53) more carvings have been found on a number of other stones, all quite similar to late Bronze Age weapons. Recent laser scanning investigations of the surface of three stones, have suggested that other pictographs, geometric symbols and abstract signs - too weak to be seen by the human eye - may be detectable on other stones.

Archeologists believe that three groups were involved: the Windmill Hill people, the Beaker people, and the Wess-x people.

The Windmill Hill people originated in eastern England, and are named after their nearby earthworks and barrows. It is thought that they constructed the large circular furrows and mounds. One of the earliest semi-nomadic hunting and gathering groups with an agricultural economy, they attached great importance to circles and symmetrical design. The Beaker people - so-called because of their tradition of including beakers, or pottery cups, in their graves - are thought to have migrated from Spain. A progressive, well-organized but warlike people, they buried their dead not in mass graves but in small individual tombs marked by mounds called tumuli. The Beaker folk included a range of weaponry in their graves, like daggers and battle-axes - coinciding exactly with the engravings of weaponry found on some of the sarsen stones. The Wess-x People, who appeared about 1500 BCE, were the final builders of Stonehenge. One of the most advanced Bronze Age cultures outside the Mediterranean area, whose main settlements were invariably located close to important road junctions, they controlled trade routes throughout the south of the country.

Interpretation: What is the Meaning of Stonehenge?

According to Professor G. Wainwright OBE, FSA, and Professor Timothy Darvill OBE, Stonehenge was in all probability a place of healing – a prehistoric version of Lourdes. This explains the large number of burials in the area, as well as the unusually high incidence of limblessness and physical deformity in the graves. Even so, they agree with other experts that the complex was almost certainly multifunctional: being also used as a necropolis and a ceremonial place of ancestor worship. In comparison, Professor Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University is of the opinion that Stonehenge was an important ritualistic centre. He believes that Stonehenge (a domain of the dead) was linked to the circle at Durrington Walls (a place of the living). One should also note that the architects of Stonehenge incorporated a celestial alignment. The site is aligned northeast-southwest, linking up with the solstice and equinox points: thus, on midsummer's morning for instance, the sun's first rays go directly into the centre of the monument through the arms of the sarsen horseshoe. Conversely, at the moment of the winter solstice, the sun sets exactly between the largest sarsen stones. Whether this spectacular coincidence had a purely ceremonial or quasi-religious function, or whether - like the alignments at Newgrange Megalithic passage tomb and the larger Knowth megalithic tomb - it might have helped to regulate farming activities like planting and harvesting, will probably never be known. (See also, Archeological Monuments in Ireland.)

Unlike Stone Age art from the Upper Paleolithic - which consisted mostly of cave art and small "venus figurines", Neolithic art is primarily associated with pottery, textiles and monumental megalithic architecture. The oldest art involving stone structures is to be found at Gobekli Tepe (9000 BCE) and Catal Huyuk (c.6100 BCE) - both in Turkey. It consists of shallow relief sculpture and numerous engravings. Brittany and Ireland were also home to important centres of megalithic culture, such as the Barnenez mound (c.4800 BCE), the Carnac stones (c.4000 BCE) and Gavrinis (c.3500 BCE), Newgrange (c.3100 BCE), and Knowth (c.2500 BCE).

Outside Europe, the most famous form of megalithic culture are the famous Egyptian pyramids, dating from about 2600 BCE onwards. For more details about the pyramids as well as individual megaliths like the Sphinx at Giza, see: Ancient Egyptian Architecture (c.3000 BCE - 160 CE).


Avebury vs Stonehenge

These two famous prehistoric sites are both in Wiltshire and are separated by only about 20 miles (as the crow flies). It is not surprising that the two sites are often compared. Let's look at a few of the common questions that arise.

Which is older?
The stone circle at Stonehenge is roughly contemporary with the henge and standing stones at Avebury, BUT newly discovered timber structures at Avebury suggest that Avebury was being developed up to 800 years earlier than Stonehenge.

Which is Cheaper?
Avebury. There is no charge to explore the henge, stone circles, and stone avenues at Avebury. There is a pay and display parking area, but this is free if you are a National Trust or English Heritage member. Stonehenge parking and admission charges are expensive, and though National Trust and English Heritage members do get free parking and admission, they still have to pre-book tickets to guarantee admission.

Do I need to Book Tickets?
Not with Avebury. Just show up (though be warned that things can get crowded at midsummer solstice). With Stonehenge you don't 'have to' pre-book tickets but if you don't then there is a good chance you won't get in, especially during the popular summer months. Pre-booking is also slightly cheaper.

Which is more crowded?
Stonehenge, by a landslide. Let's face it, Stonehenge is one of the most popular visitor attractions in England, and with good reason. But that popularity comes at a (literal and figurative) cost. It will be crowded. There will be a steady stream of tour buses disgorging eager visitors. Avebury is a peaceful haven compared to Stonehenge. You won't get photos that don't include other visitors taking photos. Avebury, by contrast, is heaven for photographers.

Can you wander among the standing stones?
At Avebury, you can. You also share the stones with grazing sheep. At Stonehenge visitors are kept at a distance from the stones to avoid damage to the stones and the surrounding landscape.

What about facilities?
Stonehenge has top-class visitor facilities with a gift shop, cafe, museum and toilets. Avebury is a village within part of an ancient henge. It has two independent gift shops, a village shop, toilets and a National Trust gift shop. There is also the Red Lion, a delightful thatched country pub located inside the henge.

So, which is better?
Avebury is my favourite prehistoric site in England. The 17th-century antiquarian John Aubrey agreed. He famously wrote that 'it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a cathedral doeth a parish church'.

Don't get me wrong, Stonehenge is amazing, but I find Avebury more interesting and much more enjoyable to visit. One of the points in Avebury's favour is that you can wander in amongst the stones, which you cannot usually do at Stonehenge.

Avebury is accessible. The site is wonderfully open, in fact, you may think it is a bit too open as you carefully scrape sheep droppings off your shoes! Be warned, sheep wander through the fields and leave reminders of their presence everywhere. But aside from accessibility, Avebury is unique in that the village of Avebury lies partly within the henge, and a road splits the circle.

Avebury Henge and Stone Circles forms only one of numerous ancient sites in the neighbourhood. Just a few miles away is the strange conical mound of Silbury Hill, across the road from West Kennet Long Barrow. In the other direction is Windmill Hill causewayed camp, the finest hilltop camp in England. Avebury and its surroundings make for an incomparable day out exploring Britain's ancient past.

To get more out of your visit you can hire an audio guide to Avebury stone circle at the Henge Shop (available in English, French and Spanish).

Getting There

There is a small parking area in the village but that is reserved for residents. Many people are tempted to park at the Red Lion pub, but please only do that if you are planning to by a pint in the bar! Everyone else can park at the National Trust pay and display parking area on the Beckhampton Road (the A4361). Parking is free for National Trust and English Heritage members.

There is also a small layby on the B4003, at the southern end of the West Kennet Avenue, with room for several vehicles. From there you can walk up the stone row to the henge, a distance of about 0.5mile (1km).

More Photos

Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.

About Avebury
Address: Avebury, Wiltshire, England, SN8 1RF
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: 6 miles west of Marlborough on the A4361
Website: Avebury
Email: [email protected]
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Location map
OS: SU100 699
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express

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