It was a hot summer’s day when I came to Avebury, with the noon day sun high overhead. The stones stood gaunt and still – as they have done for millennia.
Even if you don’t buy into the new age atmosphere around these prehistoric monuments, there is something eerily magical about Avebury. I had time on my hands, so having parked the car, I decided to set off on a walk right around the circumference of the mighty henge. And it was well worth while. From the top of the bank – strengthened against erosion from tramping feet with gravel or steps in the heavily worn places, you get magnificent views across the surrounding countryside as well as across the henge itself. Tragically this serves only to reveal how much has been lost over the centuries.
But there is still plenty left.
The pretty village of Avebury nestles within the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. Recognised for its globally important Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, here you’ll find the world’s largest stone circle, stone avenues and ancient tombs. Much of Avebury and the surrounding landscape is owned and cared for by the National Trust and is free to explore for everyone all year round.
The first farmers made their mark at Avebury almost 6,000 years ago and archaeologists are still finding clues to their lives. The stone circle and huge henge banks and ditches were erected around 4,300 years ago and you are free to wander around and among the standing stones today, allowing you to walk in the footsteps of the ancestors. You can learn all about the Avebury’s prehistoric past in the Alexander Keiller Museum which is located in two galleries - a 17th century threshing barn gallery which houses interactive displays and the stables gallery which has the archaeological finds.
There are also café’s, gift shops, a second-hand bookshop and toilets in the Old Farmyard as well as an elegant tea-room in Avebury Manor. And a pub!
Avebury has been a landscape of fields and farms since the Bronze Age, so you will find sheep amongst the stones, and occasionally mud and as with all great adventures you may need sensible shoes as some of the walking conditions can be rough.