When we began planning our recent trip to Britiain, my travel partner expressed interest in visiting some of Wiltshire’s Neolithic sites. Originally, we anticipated spending two days at Salisbury / Stonehenge and one day at Avebury. Plans changed the moment we arrived at Avebury; it’s where we spent all of our time in Wiltshire
Of course you’re familiar with Stonehenge, but if you’re not familiar with Avebury (the largest Neolithic henge in Britiain) you might be interested in English Heritage’s introduction to Avebury and its history; you might also take a look at The National Trust’s Avebury site.
Stonehenge and Avebury, separated by just 26 miles, belong to the same Unesco World Heritage Site. Yet while Stonehenge is treated as a museum piece (most visitors are guided, at a distance, around the monument), Avebury’s megaliths remain completely accessible. You wander about them freely and can touch them. In fact, people live within the stone circle—centuries ago, a village cropped up in its center. The village pub seems to stand at the very center of the stone circle. Moreover, other significant Neolithic sites (including Silbury Hill and the West Kennett Long Barrow) lie within an easy walking distance to the village. Consequently, once we stepped off the Swindon-to-Avebury bus we decided that Stonehenge could wait for a different trip.
To detail our Avebury journey would take far too long for one post. Instead, I’ll break it up into several. In these other posts, I’ll touch on transportation, lodging, and rambling. In brief:
- Unless you are walking, cycling, or driving, Avebury is accessible only by a single bus route. (See this post for transportation information)
- There is a magnificent pub, The Red Lion, and there are a few guest houses in/near the village. We stayed at a wonderful B & B called Dorwyn Manor, which is approximately half a mile from the pub. (See this post about our B&B experience)
- You are encouraged to interact with the landscape and its monuments. You can peer into each stone’s divots, touch each megalith, and even clamber atop and nose within a 4,000 year old barrow.
- We spent a day exploring the area outside of the village. We did not bring a proper survey map, so we got lost more than once while traipsing about the landscape. Thankfully, other ramblers would appear and advise us on directions. Even so, Wiltshire is not so uninhabited that one can be lost for very long.
I hope you enjoy these posts. If you have any questions or points you’d like to contribute, please feel free to let me know.