From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Avebury & St. James Church
Statistics
Category
County
Coordinates
Grid
Condition
Age
Admission
Henge
Wiltshire
51° 25′ 43″ N 1° 51′ 15″ W
SU10137002
-
2600BC
Free
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  • History
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Avebury is a Neolithic henge containing three stone circles and is part of the village of Avebury in Wiltshire. It contains the largest stone circle in Europe.

Avebury was built around 2600 BC and consists of a large henge with a large outer stone circle with two separate smaller stone circles inside, near the centre of the henge. The original purpose of the henge is unknown, although it is believed that it was most likely used for some form of ritual or ceremony.

The site was virtually abandoned during the Iron Age, the Romans used the site during their occupation of Britain. Avebury was slowly resettled during the Anglo-Saxon period, the village was at first built around the henge and then later was extended into it. Later, during the Norman period, the site was associated with the devil and many of the stones were buried, also some of the stones were removed, broken up then used as building materials. Soon after the toppling of many of the stones, the Black Death hit the village in 1349, decimating the population.

By 1837, many of the Neolithic stones at Avebury were long gone, some buried by pious locals and others broken up for building materials in the 17th and 18th centuries. A wealthy politician and archaeologist called Sir John Lubbock, preserved the henge by buying most of the land in and around the monument.

The village now is a tourist attraction kept by The National Trust.

St. James Church is located in the village of Avebury and some of the church dates from the year 1000. The Anglo-Saxons thought that the stone circles had magical powers and built the church close to them. Aisles were added the the 12th century and then enlarged in the 15th century. The tower was also added.