On our return from our short stay in Weston-super-Mare we decided to take a route home that would allow us to stop at two of Britain’s most famous prehistorical monuments, the first of these being the neolithic stone circle at Avebury.
One of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain, it contains the largest megalithic stone circle in the world, and is both a tourist attraction and a place of religious importance to contemporary pagans. Constructed over several hundred years in the Third Millennium BC during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, the monument comprises a large henge (a bank and a ditch) with a large outer stone circle and two separate smaller stone circles situated inside the centre of the monument. Its original purpose is unknown, although archaeologists believe that it was most likely used for some form of ritual or ceremony.
The car park is located to the south of the stone circles and is free to National Trust members which was nice as we are some. Following the path towards the main village takes you close to the very nice visitors’ centre and while we did spend a few minutes and a few quid there the main purpose of our visit was to wander around the site of historic interest.
This wasn’t our first visit to Avebury’s stone circle – we used to come fairly regularly to pick sloes for gin – and as such we suspected from experience that we might run into certain people who are drawn to the stones and their alleged mystical properties. One of our encounters was with a man with an obvious mental illness who couldn’t look at us directly and instead held a mirror up to his face to stare at us and others in order to shout incomprehensible gibberish. A sad affair but he seemed in otherwise reasonable health. Our second encounter was with a young woman in her twenties who moved from stone to stone, standing with her back to each one and stretching out her hands to touch the surface with her eyes closed. Well, each to their own.
If metres-high standing stones erected around four and half thousand years ago isn’t your thing but sheep are then you’ll be pleased to know that Avebury has you covered there as the land is used extensively by the creatures. This does mean that you need to be a little careful where you walk as you make a circuit of the neolithic monument if you’re worried about getting ovine excrement in your car.