Avebury is an impressive stone circle.
It is a true henge monument...
With the huge stones you would expect...
And since it's a henge... with a huge circular bank and ditch.
Huge as in the bank is a mile around...
And even though the ditch is impressive, it is only half its original depth.
It is so big that it's hard to get a photo that really tells you what it's like.
It is the largest stone circle in Europe.
We've read that it is approximately 14 times larger and 500 years older than the more famous Stonehenge.
There are about 650 massive stones arranged in circles and avenues.
There are two ceremonial avenues of standing stones departing from the main ring.
You can wander along one... the West Kennet Avenue. It was originally 1.5 miles long (2.5 km) and connected Avebury to another small stone circle called "The Sanctuary" on Overton Hill.
This was originally a wooden circle with sarsen stones added later.
Today all that can be seen are concrete markers showing the former positions of the circles.
It's one of our favorites not because of its great size, but because we felt like we discovered it all by ourselves the first time we went.
It doesn't get the publicity that Stonehenge does.
Its stones are not as finely sculpted and finished, but you can wander among the stones and somehow feel the ancient power of the place.
There is a road that passes right through the circle.
The beauty of Avebury is that there is a village right there.
In fact the 400 year old Red Lion Pub sits within the stone circle right on that road. Where else can you get a bite to eat and a pint inside a stone circle?
Avebury receives more visitors all the time.
If you arrive on a Bank Holiday, like we did one time, you will say, "Wow, how can anyone say this is undiscovered and uncrowded!"
Plan to arrive in the middle of a quiet, non-holiday week, and you will feel like you have it pretty much to yourself.
Just a little south are other interesting sites... Silbury Hill is the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe.
The base is perfectly round.
You can climb it for a view around the country side.
No one really has an explanation for it's original purpose.
Though scientists have dug here, nothing significant has been found to date as far as we've read. Is it a sundial? A rich burial site? Your theory is as good as anyone's so far.
Research is going on at Stonehenge and these related sights all the time, so we may fall behind on some of that information.
A short distance from Silbury Hill is a neolithic burial site called the West Kennet Long Barrow.
It is visible from Silbury Hill. This barrow was probably in use for 1,000 years for multiple burials.
The mound itself is 110 yards long (100 meters)... a long barrow indeed.
You can walk to it from Avebury (about 1.5 miles, 2.5 km) or from Silbury Hill (1 mile, 1.6 km) or you can park nearby and walk to explore it (1/2 mile, 0.8 km).
This amazing stone circle lies only about 24 miles (39 km) north of Stonehenge and is part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
You can easily spend a full day hiking peacefully around the stones and earthworks.
Visit it before or after you visit Stonehenge.
There are shops like the Henge House where you can buy books and souvenirs.
There are several B&Bs in the village.
An information center can help find a room, or you can ask at the Red Lion Pub...
They had three basic rooms one time when we were there. If you're lucky, they might still have them. Snag one and you get to sleep in a stone circle!
The second time we visited that's exactly what we did... what better way to feel the mystery.