the site of an ancient monument consisting of a large henge,
avenues and barrows,
surrounding the village.
It is one of the finest and largest Neolithic monuments
in Europe, about 5,000 years old. Avebury is a Scheduled
Ancient Monument, a World
Heritage Site, and
The word henge refers
to a particular type of earthwork of the Neolithic period,
typically consisting of a roughly circular or oval-shaped bank with an
internal ditch surrounding a central flat area of 20 m or more diameter.
Also referred to as the New
a period in the development of human
beginning about 9500 BC in the
Middle East that
is traditionally considered the last part of the Stone
with the rise of farming
when metal tools became widespread in the Copper Age or
Bronze Age, or
developing directly into the Iron
was when man
and gathering to agriculture and
In the 4th
millennium BC, around the start of the Neolithic period in Britain, British
society underwent radical changes. These coincided with the introduction to
the island of domesticated species of animals and plants, as well as a
included pottery. These developments allowed hunter-gatherers to settle down
and produce their own food. As agriculture spread, people cleared land. At
the same time, they also erected the first monuments to be seen in the local
landscape, an activity interpreted as evidence of a change in the way people
viewed their place in the world.
history of the site before the construction of the henge is uncertain,
because little datable evidence has emerged from modern archaeological
finds of flints at
Avebury, dated between 7,000 and 4,000 BC, indicate that the site was
visited in the late Mesolithic
Stone Age period
by hunter gatherers.
Although the henge is not perfectly circular, it has a diameter of about
420 metres. The ditch alone was 21 metres wide and 11 metres deep, with a
sample from its primary fill carbon dated to 3300 - 2630 BC.
the henge is a great outer circle. This is one of Europe's largest stone
a diameter of 331.6 metres, Britain's largest stone circle. There were
originally 98 sarsen standing stones, some weighing in excess of 40 tons.
The stones varied in height from 3.6 to 4.2 m, as exemplified at the north
and south entrances. The fill from two of the stoneholes has been carbon
dated to between 2900 and 2600 BC.
Nearer the middle of the
monument are two additional, separate stone circles. The northern inner ring
is 98 metres in diameter, but only two of its four standing stones remain
upright. A cove of three stones stood in the middle, its entrance
facing northeast. The southern inner ring was 108 metres in diameter before
its destruction in the eighteenth century. The remaining sections of its arc
now lie beneath the village buildings. A single large monolith, 5.5 metres
high, stood in the centre along with an alignment of smaller stones.
conjectured a sequence of construction beginning with the erection of the
North and South Circles around 2800 BC, followed by the Outer Circle and
henge around two hundred years later, with the two avenues added around