Avebury stone circle and the White Horses of Wiltshire

"Avebury henge and stone circles are one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain - originally of about 100 stones - which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.

Avebury is part of an extraordinary set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites that seemingly formed a vast sacred landscape. They include West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill, and the mysterious Silbury Hill. Many can be reached on foot from the village. The Alexander Keiller Museum also displays many notable finds from the Avebury monuments. Together with Stonehenge, Avebury and its surroundings are a World Heritage Site. "


May 2015 was our Wiltshire roadtrip. Since we visited Stonehenge a few weeks back I have had a longing to return to Avebury again. So this is a good time to write up our previous memories.
The circle itself is enormous & encompasses the village & thankfully it's still a very welcoming place to walk among the stones.
The drive up is breathtaking... the stones are large and imposing, but in a beautiful way.




"Around 4,500 years ago, when the site of England's capital was a thinly inhabited marshland, the area around Avebury almost certainly formed the Neolithic equivalent of a city. By coincidence this waterway has become a link between the two largest cultural centres of their day to have ever existed in the British Isles. As London now contains most of England's largest buildings Avebury is the location of the mightiest megalithic complex to have ever been constructed in Britain. This henge with its enormous ditch, bank, stones and avenues survives in a much depleted state but the nearby Silbury Hill which is the largest man-made mound in pre-industrial Europe still dominates the surrounding landscape. The two largest surviving British long barrows of West Kennet and East Kennet are also prominent a short distance away and in recent years the remains of two massive palisaded enclosures have also been found. The quote that antiquarian John Aubrey made of Avebury......"it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church" recognises the true importance of what has now been largely absorbed into the modern landscape of Wiltshire. If we could return to the time when the Romans occupied the British Isles it is a sobering thought that we would have to go back as far again to find an Avebury that was already several centuries old.

The history of the modern village is inevitably linked to the prehistoric monuments that surround it. Abandoned for several thousand years the land around the stones became occupied oncemore when people of the Saxon period began to settle in the area. Their arrival and subsequent development of the present village was to have a dramatic effect on the history of the stones. The relationship between the local inhabitants and the monuments has now added an unfortunate dimension to the Avebury story that helps make it one of the most fascinating historical sites to be found in the British Isles if not the world.

It remains a magical place as so many who have been there will agree. A visit to Avebury is a very personal event. It still seems to retain, somehow, the spirits of all those who laboured in its creation or whatever it was that led them to create it. If you have never been there a visit will not be an empty experience. You will come away with a head full of questions and probably a realisation that somewhere over the years modern society has lost something important."









In true roadtrip fashion we had our picnic & continued on to discover the White Horses of Wiltshire.... 



“As from the Dorset shore I travell’d home, I saw the charger of the Wiltshire wold; A far-seen figure, stately to behold, Whose groom the shepherd is, the hoe his comb.”
CHARLES TENNYSON TURNER (1808-1879)
Wiltshire is without doubt the county of counties when it comes to white horses, with no less than nine laying within its boundaries, although only seven of these are now visible. The vast expanse of chalk downs, with their smooth, steep sides provide a number of ideal sites to exercise the art of turf cutting.

Five of the horses lay close to one another within a five mile radius ofAvebury which lies in the very centre of the Wiltshire Downs; three further horses lie a short distance further away. All may be visited by road or via track-ways, the old lines of communication in this area."










We ticked off one white horse after another, including the White horse at Uffington in Oxfordshire on the way home.


Comments

  1. Lovely, my Dad grew up here. It has always felt like home.

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