Avebury henge

What you will see at Avebury henge

Avebury henge
Avebury henge

To understand and appreciate Avebury henge you really need to appreciate the work of Alexander Keiller, the man who discovered Avebury in the 1930s.

In the medieval ages, the Christian religions saw the pagan monuments such as Avebury henge as a threat to their own religion and encouraged the faithful to destroy them.

As a result, a century ago you would have seen nothing at Avebury compared with today. Stones were buried or broken up, some of the stones in the buildings at Avebury look suspiciously like henge stones.

But thanks to Alexander Keiller, Avebury was painstakingly restored to something like its former glory, and is now owned by the National Trust, and free for everybody to enjoy and learn about.

Alexander Keiller

Avebury Alexander Keiller Museum
At Avebury you can discover more about Alexander Keiller in this museum

Alexander Keiller was rich, his wealth coming from the family marmalade and jam business, a household name 50 years ago. Keiller was a keen amateur archaeologist and after performing some local digs was so encouraged that he bought the Avebury site in the 1930s.

Of the original 600 stones that approximately made up the henge, only 16 remained at the time of purchase. For an intensive period up until the 2nd World War, stones were dug up and Keiller set about restoring the henge back to its former glory. Failing health meant that Keiller never finished his work and the site is now owned by the National Trust.

Pits where the stones stood enabled Keiller to know where the stones originally stood. Keiller first restored the avenue of stones leading up to the henge from the south, a truly impressive sight. It is is the western side of the henge that Keiller restored most, the eastern side is largely barren.

There are even stones which Keiller tried to put back together from fragments. As you walk around Avebury, concrete posts mark the location of some missing stones.

There is a very good museum dedicated to Alexander Keiller run by the National Trust which gives lots of information on his life.

Avebury compared with Stonehenge

Stonehenge landscape, Cursus
The Cursus looking towards Stonehenge

Avebury henge is a great training camp for Stonehenge, about 20 miles south. Unlike Stonehenge you can see the avenue processional route leading up to the henge and the ditch and bank that circles the henge is truly impressive today, even though it is half the size it was all those years ago.

Unlike Stonehenge, the stones at Avebury are naturally shaped. They come from the Marlborough Downs about 3 miles from Avebury - the same source as the Sarsen stones at Stonehenge.

And unlike Stonehenge, the stones have completely free access, you can walk among and touch the stones free of charge.

Avebury is far, far larger than Stonehenge. It is about a mile to walk around the perimeter on the bank alone. There is an outer ring of stones within the ditch and bank.

Then within that, are two separate henges (north and south) with their own separate ring of stones. The north henge is thought to be dedicated to the moon and the south the sun. The south henge is the most complete.

North henge and south henge at Avebury

Avebury henge stones close up
Get right up close to the stones at Avebury

North henge

At the north henge the major focus is on the two stones that make up the Cove, the ceremonial area at the heart of the henge. Like all stones at Avebury the stones alternate between male (tall and thin) and female (wide and squat). The female stone is thought to weigh up to 100 tons.

South henge

In the south henge, the stones are more complete. You are first attracted to the massive entrance stones.

A large concrete plinth now marks the position where one of the largest of Avebury's stones once stood. Known as the Obelisk, it was the central stone of the Southern Inner Circle henge.

The inner circle henges were the earliest components of the henge to be built. At about 2900 BC they predate by several centuries the final henge and avenues.

Avebury information

The Henge Shop Avebury
The Henge Shop

There are no information boards dotted around the Avebury henge site, so it's worthwhile invested in a book to accompany your visit. There are two shops at Avebury for such books, the official National Trust shop and the Henge Shop, a quirky alternative.

You can gain more information on Alexander Keiller by visiting his museum.

Volunteers from the National Trust perform walking tours around midday and early afternoon most days. These have a small fee but are worthwhile.

The volunteers are very enthusiastic and have much more material than can be crammed into the official one hour tour duration. They have fascinating photographs and maps too.

Earth mysteries, earth energies, ley lines and astronomical alignments and all that

Wishing tree, Avebury, ribbons
Sacred trees in Avebury

If you're into earth goddesses, pagan religions, astronomical alignments and things mystic, this is a great area to explore.

The Henge Shop is a good place to go. As well as an extensive range of books, crystals, dowsing forks and such like they are aware of the many "alternative" practitioners in the area.

The Wishing Tree - JRR Tolkien's trees at Avebury Stone Circle

As you wander the Avebury site you'll come across a group of beech trees on the earth bank on the eastern side of the site, said to be inspiration for JRR Tolkien's trees in Lord of the Rings. In this spiritual place many people tie ribbons to trees, and attach Tolkien quotes too.

King Arthur's Realm small group tour from London

If you are a visitor from London and would like a really special day out to remember, there is one specialist guided tour, King Arthur's Realm.

This tour will take you into the hidden world of Avalon, a full day out covering many historical and spiritual sites, including Avebury Stone circle as well as two other essential places of pilgrimage; Stonehenge and Glastonbury. Expect a full day of druids, battles, magic and fun with your knowledgeable guide. Not to be missed.

Stonehenge and Avebury tour from London

An alternative is this popular tour visiting just the two sites in one day: World Heritage Site Stonehenge day tour with Avebury. This tour runs three times a week all year round.



Glastonbury Tor, Avebury and Stonehenge tour from London

Stonehenge, Glastonbury & Avebury Small Group guided day tour from London

Flexi adult from £174 Best rate adult from £156.60 Flexi child (3-15 years) from £154 Best rate child from £138.60

• Small group day trip - maximum 16 people per tour • Admission to Stonehenge, Glastonbury Abbey & Avebury Stone Circle • Beat the crowds at Stonehenge - go there first! • Professional guide • Photo stop at Glastonbury Tor and entry to Chalice Well Gardens



Stonehenge & Avebury tour

Visit the largest and most famous henges in one day

Adult from £114 • Child (age 5-17) from £109

• Entrance into Stonehenge • Walking tour of Avebury & Avebury henge • Free time for lunch in Avebury • Visit West Kennet Long Barrow • Professional guide • Operates Wednesday, Friday & Sunday



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Stonehenge & Windsor (featuring extended time at Windsor) - from £85
Stonehenge & Avebury - from £114
Windsor, Stonehenge & Oxford - from £79
Stratford, Cotswolds, Bath & Stonehenge - from £128
Stonehenge, Glastonbury & Avebury (Small Group) - from £156.60
Bath, Cotswolds, Stonehenge & Avebury (Small Group) - from £156.60


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