Dating from between 2900 and 2600 BC, Avebury is the world’s largest Neolithic stone circle. Originally composed of three stone circles—the largest of which comprised 98 standing stones (though only 27 now remain)—Avebury is truly immense. Though the function of Avebury is not fully understood, it was likely used for pagan ceremonies.
The county of Wiltshire is brimming with Neolithic sites. Day tours departing from London, Glastonbury, and Salisbury typically combine visits to Stonehenge, Avebury Henge, Woodhenge, and West Kennet Long Barrow, which are all part of the Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other day tours combine a trip to the Avebury site with visits to picturesque English cities, towns, and villages, such as Georgian Bath or medieval Lacock, known for its wood-framed houses and stone cottages.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Avebury is a must for history buffs and anyone with an interest in mysticism.
- Beat the daytime crowds with a guided after-hours tour.
- Part of the henge is accessible by wheelchair, and a wheelchair-accessible restroom can be found on Avebury High Street.
How to Get There
Avebury Stone Circle is situated in Wiltshire in southwest England. If you’re driving, parking is available at the National Trust parking lot, 6 miles (10 miles) west of Marlborough on the A4361. Alternatively, take the train from London Paddington to Swindon, then switch to the Stagecoach route 49 bus to Avebury.
When to Get There
Visitors can walk around the stone circles at any time, though early morning and early evening are when the site is at its most tranquil. As in neighboring Stonehenge, the summer solstice in June is a big event, and the parking lot often fills up early on this day.
History and Highlights of Avebury
Today in Avebury, only 30 original stones remain standing, though pillars mark the places where other stones once stood. It is thought many of the original stones were removed in the Middle Ages by religious zealots who wanted to wipe out evidence of England’s pagan past. Other stones were pilfered in the 18th century and used to build houses in the vicinity, some of which can still be seen across the fields. Some stones to look out for: the huge Swindon Stone, which has never been toppled, and the Barber Surgeon Stone, under which the skeleton of a man was unearthed. The tools he was buried with indicate that he was a barber-cum-surgeon.