Avebury: Britain's Most Sacred Site
Englands Stonehenge draws thousands of tourists a year, tourists who pay a fee to stand behind a fence with hundreds of other camera-toting tourists and gaze at the stone pillars. But about 20 miles north of Stonehengeand 90 miles west of Londonis Avebury. The largest known stone ring in the world is accessible to anyone who wants to explore, touch, or simply stand and look at the stones, most of which date to around 2600-2500 BCE.
The 28-acre Avebury complex, partially overlapped by the village of Avebury itself, consists of a huge circular earthwork ditch and a bank about a quarter of a mile in diameter which encloses an outer circle of standing stones. Within this outer circle are two inner circles.
Aveburys origins remain shrouded in mystery. It is estimated that its use continued throughout the neolithic and early bronze age, around 2,300 years. The length of time and the vast size of the complex suggest that the Avebury temple was the most significant sacred site in all of Britain.
Interspersed with the monuments are a 15th Century church, a 16th Century manor house, historic farm buildings, the village post office, and the local pub/hotel.
Avebury's fifteenth-century church.
Avebury has been designated a World Heritage Site and is managed by the National Trust. The Alexander Keiller Museum displays excavated material; a virtual reality show is housed in the Great Barn by the village center.
How to Get There
To get there by car from London take the easiest route to the M4 and Swindon; at Swindon leave the M4 for the A346 to Chiseldon (one mile). At Chiseldon take the A346 to Wroughton (three miles) at Wroughton join the A4361 to Avebury (eight miles).
To get there by bus from Bath: Take the #49 Badgerline from Bath bus depot, which takes about 90 minutes and stops in front of the Red Lion. Departures every hour from Monday to Saturday. Bus information: 01225464446. Badgerline: www.firstbadgerline.co.uk.