The Wiltshire village of Avebury is setting for one of Europe’s largest Neolithic monuments. The 5,000 year old stone circle is slighly older than Stonehenge and comprises a large ditch and external bank henge 421 metres (1,381 ft) in diameter and 1.35 kilometres (0.84 mi) in circumference. This is four times the diameter of Stonehenge. Within this is the Outer Circle with a diameter of 335 metres (1,099 ft). This originally comprised 98 sarsen standing stones, some of which weighed over 40 tonnes. They vary in height from 3.6 to 4.2 metres.

Closer to the centre of the monument are two separate stone circles. The Northern inner ring measures 98 metres (322 ft) in diameter, though only two of its standing stones remain, plus two fallen ones. A cove of three stones stood in the middle, its entrance pointing northeast. The Southern inner ring was 108 metres (354 ft) in diameter but has now largely disappeared, with much of its arc lying beneath the village buildings.

Finally there is an avenue of paired stones, the West Kennet Avenue, leading from the south eastern entrance of the henge and traces of a second, the Beckhampton Avenue lead out from the western one.

This monument is run by the National Trust and is a World Heritage Site.

© Christopher Seddon 2009


Author: prehistorian

Prehistorian & author