Avebury Ring - History and Facts | History Hit

Avebury Ring

Avebury, England, United Kingdom

Avebury Ring is a vast Neolithic stone circle, probably the largest in the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Image Credit: JW Faul / Shutterstock

About Avebury Ring

Avebury Ring in Wiltshire, England, is a stone monument which encircles the town of Avebury and is believed to have been constructed between 2,850 and 2,200 BC.

History of Avebury Ring

Now comprised of a bank and a ditch with a 1.3 kilometre circumference containing 180 stones making up an inner and outer circle, the Avebury Ring is not only 14 times larger than Stonehenge, but was almost certainly completed before its famous counterpart.

It is believed the site was built as some kind of public setting where rites or ceremonies would take place – not religious ones in the sense we’d recognise them, but ones in which they could express proto-religious beliefs about world order and community hierarchy. The site was abandoned around 1,800BC.

Many of the stones which once formed part of the Avebury Ring were destroyed or buried during the Middle Ages, possibly due to an association with paganism or devil worship,  but the formation of the site is still visible from the remaining stones. Early records and maps have helped archaeologists understand the site’s probably layout.

Avebury was bought by Alexander Keiller, heir to a marmalade fortune, in the 1930s. Keiller cleared the site and re-erected many of the stones.

Today, Avebury (along with Stonehenge) is designated a World Heritage Site and is jointly operated today by the National Trust and English Heritage.

Avebury Ring today

Visitors to Avebury Ring are free to walk up to the site itself at all times and view the monument’s stones. It’s worth visiting the onsite Alexander Keiller Museum to learn more about the site, and in particular the reconstruction work undertaken in the early 20th century. The site can be relatively bleak, so wrap up warm.

There are plenty of walks nearby, and the landscape is particularly beautiful, so it’s worth factoring in some time to make the most of this!

Getting to Avebury Ring

Avebury is really only accessible by car – it lies 6 miles west of Marlborough on the A4361. Car parking is available on site – it’s run by the National Trust and needs to be paid for. The nearest stations are Pewsey and Swindon, which are 10 and 11 miles away respectively. Some bus routes run vaguely near by but are relatively infrequent.

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