Five days to the weekend: Avebury
Why go there?
Avebury boasts the largest Neolithic stone circle in the world dating back from 2500 BC. Avebury pre-dates Stonehenge by about 500 years leaving it as one of the oldest stone circles in Europe. Avebury stone circle is surrounded by a network of connecting Neolithic monuments the most obvious being one of Europe’s largest man made mounds, Silbury Hill. Direct access to the mound is no longer available but viewing it is not a problem as you can see it from the nearby car park or the footpath running adjacent to the mound, which also leads to west Kennet long barrow.
West Kennet long barrow is a burial chamber. It has been opened up to the public allowing access to a variation of chambers. The barrow itself contained over fifty skeletons when it was excavated and these now reside in a local museum. For those keen on walking this would be an ideal place to walk too from the centre of the village, if not there is a local car park not far from Silbury Hill and a considerably shorter walk from West Kennet itself.
Avebury is a popular destination for families looking for a cheaper alternative to a day out, the circle itself is free and open all year as are the surrounding monuments. Avebury is not only a Neolithic stone circle, as it contains a small village in which many of the houses have been made out of Avebury’s rare sarsen stone’s taken from the popular hiking destination the Ridgeway.
Situated in the centre of the village are two museums, tourist shops and Avebury Manor. Avebury Manor was recently refurbished by the BBC program The Manor Reborn. The new refurbishment is a must see, with a variation of rooms taking you throughout history exploring ways in which the house may have looked during the mid sixties to the medieval period.
There are two museums in the village containing various artifacts and historical information regarding the village. Both these museums are family friendly with activities for children as well as adults. St James’ church situated a moments walk from the manor house has history of going back to the medieval time. The font inside the church is believed to be of Saxon origin and was later found to have carvings dating from the Norman period. This is a beautiful church with history literally carved into it and certainly worth a look.
On you’re visit to Avebury, it is worth taking a look at the charming Henge Shop situated in the middle of the village, this individual shop offers a selection of local artifacts and items to remind you of you’re visit.
Where to stay?
Conveniently Avebury plays host to a number of Bed and Breakfasts situated in and around the stone circle. If it is romantic views and splendor you are looking for the The Lodge Bed and Breakfast (once owned by Lord Avebury himself) can offer you 180º view of the surrounding countryside, a full vegetarian breakfast in the morning overlooking the stone circle and delightful Georgian rooms all set in the heart of Avebury. Otherwise the local market town of Marlborough is situated ten minutes away by car and offers a selection of pubs and hotels; there are regular buses available to and from Marlborough in the center of the village.
Where to eat?
For such a small village there is a choice of places to eat offered to visiting guests; The Red Lion pub offers lunch and dinner options throughout the year, whilst the Circle Café owned by the national trust offers homemade food daily and is situated next to the museums.
Avebury manor house recently opened a tearoom after its refurbishment, which offers a touch of elegance, and would be the perfect place to take lunch after a stroll around the manor house.
Tell us a secret…
Up high on one of the surrounding henges of Avebury is a quadrant of trees with roots entwined visibly above ground, it is said this particular place holds magical energy, and is where J.R.R Tolkien took inspiration for the Lord of the Rings books and the Hobbit.
Words by Lucy Blackall