Sunday, May 3, 2009

Avebury - a Present from the Past


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At the heart of pre-historic Avebury is the henge. Compared with other henges it is massive and though erosion and vandalism have reduced it considerably it still remains an impressive spectacle. Its construction was spread over several centuries beginning about 3000 BC when the Cove and the earliest stage of the Sanctuary were built. It would be another 600 years before the final form was achieved when the avenues were added about 2400 BC. It consists of a circle of land surrounded by a ditch and bank, the bank being outermost. The area covered by the circle is about 28.5 acres and the circumference is approximately 0.8 of a mile.

Around the outside of the circle once stood 98 large sarsen stones some of which weighed as much as 60 tons and perhaps more. Within this large outer ring are the remains of two smaller stone circles one of which originally consisted of 27 stones and was about 320 feet in diameter (northern circle) and the other which was about 340 feet in diameter and consisted of 29 stones (southern circle).


Both of these inner circles are each much larger than the circle of stones at Stonehenge. It has been calculated that the area occupied by the stone circle at Stonehenge would fit into the outer stone circle at Avebury around 130 times.

It remains a magical place as so many who have been there will agree. A visit to Avebury is a very personal event. It still seems to retain, somehow, the spirits of all those who laboured in its creation or whatever it was that led them to create it. If you have never been there a visit will not be an empty experience.

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You will come away with a head full of questions and probably a realisation that somewhere over the years modern society has lost something important.

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