On my first trip to England in April, 2004, my only day out of London was spent on a tour of, among other stops, Stonehenge – my main destination that day. At the time, I had never heard of Avebury. When I saw it on the itinerary for my second visit in 2008, there were no complaints.
This gives you an idea of what to expect in Avebury. This, in my mind anyway, is quintessential English countryside. Green grass and sheep and pigs (you’d have to see it larger to realize that those aren’t all sheep!). And this pretty much sums up Avebury, a sleepy but beautiful little village in Wiltshire. Bucolic is the word that comes to mind.
There’s one thing that sets Avebury apart from other English villages, it was built in the midst of a 5,000 year old stone circle! The stone circle at modern day Avebury was originally a large ring of standing stones with a earthen mound or “henge” and ditch surrounding it. The site is a contemporary of Stonehenge but actually a bit older. Here we see a few of the surviving stones and it’s obvious that the comparably modern buildings interrupt the original circle.
Here we can see more of the mammoth stones used in the construction of this neolithic site. It boggles the mind how they were moved without what most of us would consider tools necessary to the job today. Stone tools, brute force, and human ingenuity got the job done, though! You can also see a portion of the earthen mound that surrounded the site.
A close-up of these stone sentinels of a lost era. Their exact cause for being is lost to us, but researchers at Stonehenge believe that there were winter and spring solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. There’s evidence of a wooden village near Stonehenge from the same era, where they believe the living came only for the solstice and the cremated remains of the dead were buried at Stonehenge, the land of the dead. It’s possible there was a similar arrangement at Avebury.
All that’s sure is that in time the old ways were forgotten and the stones were pagan relics. In the 17th century, the circle was still largely intact with all stones accounted for either still standing or laying near where they had once stood. By the next century, this was not the case. Many of the stones had been broken up in the name of making room for farming and to remove pagan relics. Some were used in buildings in the village. It’s a pity that the circle did not survive intact. Today there are concrete pilings noting where the missing stones stood.
My last shot from Avebury is of the mound of earth that surrounds it. While this is a part of the site, to me this picture speaks more to the limitless future. There’s something about that tiny thread of humanity walking along this green hill with the wide sky above them that just really speaks to me. This is easily my favorite picture from Avebury. And as much as I loved my first trip there, this last autumn visit was far more visually pleasing as you can tell!
For more prints from Britain, please check out my Britain Prints!