The Story of Avebury: (10,000 years in 60 minutes) Explore the amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury – home of the largest stone circle in Britain – in the company of an author and Megalithic academic.
The awe-inspiring stone circle of Avebury, a few miles north of Stonehenge, is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, and rightly so, but unlike its more famous neighbour, Stonehenge, is unfenced. On this walking tour of the site, you will be able to wander freely among the stones.
In this low-level walking tour we'll delve into Deep Time to explore the amazing history of Avebury. Meeting at the main car-park you'll be guided around the Avebury site by a lecturer, author and storyteller, who will bring alive the epic sweep of Prehistory in situ. The walk will circumnavigate the main circle of the stones, and will be divided into four sections:
PART 1: A LINE IN THE CHALK
We explore the first quarter of the Avebury circle, and delve 10,000 years into the past, as we look at the earliest activity in the area from the Mesolithic period (8500-4500 BCE). We’ll hunt and gather the evidence of the earliest human activity in the area, and spend time up-close-and-personal with the standing stones – a chance to tune into their energy and connect to ancient history if you wish!
PART 2: ROLL OUT THE BARROW
We explore the second, most dramatic, quarter of the Avebury circle – with the most iconic megaliths, the mysterious obelisk, and the Goddess and Altar stones, plus the amazing beech grove with its offerings (a chance to spend a moment meditating within these incredible trees once visited by The Lord of the Rings author, JRR Tolkien). We explore the key period for the construction of Avebury (Neolithic 4500-2500 BCE), when the massive henge was created and the mighty sarsen stones transported and erected. We’ll also look at the Bronze Age (2500-800 BCE), when we start to see Round Barrows appear in the surrounding landscape.
PART 3: STONE-SMASHERS & ANTIQUARIANS
We move onto the picturesque third quarter of the Avebury circle, with its charming thatched barns – and the iconic Cove pair of stones. Here you’ll learn about the destructive Middle Ages – when there was a spate of stone-smashing, which ended disastrously! And then we’ll galloped ahead into the Early Modern Period, where we’ll meet the gentlemen antiquarians who first ‘discovered’ and surveyed the Avebury monument. We’ll learn of their fanciful theories, and you can decide how wide of the mark they were!
PART 4: MR MARMALADE SAVES THE DAY
In the fourth quarter of the Avebury circle, we’ll bring the story up-to-date, from the Late Victorian to the Present Day. Weaving amongst the stone you’ll learn how the son of a ‘marmalade magnate’ saved the stones and radically transformed the village of Avebury – preserving it for future generations. You’ll be shown the picturesque National Trust section, with the Alexander Keiller Museum (entry not included), gift shop and tea rooms. Here we’ll end the tour, unless you wish to continue chatting over refreshments!
This walk is not about covering lots of distance, but about zooming in on the details - things that may easily be missed by the casual visitor. Each magnificent megalith will be observed up-close, and time will be allowed for connecting with the stones and for photo-opportunities.
*There will be an option afterwards for refreshments either at the National Trust tea rooms or The Red Lion. A village shop also sells snacks and drinks.
Activity: light. Slopes/steps. Suitable footwear recommended.
Duration: 90 minutes (including introductions and collection from car-park).
This can also be combined with a walking tour of Stonehenge and transport can be provided.