Avebury and the area that surrounds it is a mass of ancient archaeological sites – from Stonehenge to the West Kennet long barrows, from Silbury Hill to the Ridgeway path.
Avebury”s stone circle, is one of the most impressive and important in Britain, that dates back from around 2500 BC and consists of a bank some 450 yards (410 metres) in diameter. Originally this was accompanied by a 30-feet (9 metre) deep ditch.
There are actually three circles of stones – the outer circle and tow inner circles. The inner circles were probably built first and the outer circle and ditch added perhaps a century later.
The outer circle originally encompassed two avenues running from two of the circle”s four gates, which were positioned roughly at its north, south, east and west points.
The avenue from the southern gate survives, and has been partially reconstructed and lined with stones to show what it might have looked like when first built. It led, it seems, now vanished, avenue led to Beckhampton Long Barrow, hinting at the links that seem to have existed between many of the ancient sites in this area. Archaeological evidence suggests that Avebury Ring was used almost continually for more than 700 years after it was first built.
The stones have had a curious history, well be a reconstruction. The problems began when many of the stones were damaged and removed by farmers during the 18th century. A book by William Stuckeley published in 1743 and describing in detail the mystery of the site and its remains may have slowed the destruction, but we know that many of the stones were re-erected in the 1930s by Alexander Keiller in an imaginative but not necessarily historically accurate way.
The exact purpose for which Avebury Ring was made is still a matter for conjecture, but it almost certainly had religious and ritualistic significance.
Pictures of Avebury Ring on (Pictures of England)