Avebury Stone Circle
The Avebury Ring is a large Neolithic stone circle within and around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire. Constructed about 5000 years ago, it is one of the largest Neolithic monuments in Europe. It is located about twenty miles to the north of Stonehenge, but it predates this monument and is believed to be the oldest stone ring in the world.
Avebury Ring sits within a man-made enclosure surrounded by a massive ditch and bank, some four hundred yards or more in diameter, with the bank having a present day height of nearly twenty feet. (see the 1908 excavation photograph for an indication of the scale of the ditch and bank) Within the main enclosure is an inner ditch with four entrances, one at each of the points on a compass.
Inside the inner ditch are the ‘Sarcen’ stones of the main circle: originally there were up to about ninety eight of these giant stones but many were deliberately destroyed in the past or were removed, leaving just twenty seven standing today. These massive stones are thought to weigh upwards of forty tons and reach over twenty feet high. A ‘groundplot’ of Avebury dated 1724 gives an idea of how the site used to look. Thankfully it is now a protected ancient site.
Within the main circle of stones are two smaller stone circles: one is located in the northern sector of the Avebury ring and has just four of its original twenty seven stones left, with the other in the southern sector of the ring and having five of the original twenty nine stones still standing.
It is speculated that the inner circles were created first in about 2600BC while the outer circle and ditch were created later in 2500BC.
In addition to the main Avebury Rings, there are stone avenues and ancient burial barrows nearby.