The Avebury megalithic stone circles

While in Wiltshire earlier this month, I stayed in the village of Avebury, which lies within the world’s largest megalithic stone circle, and is about a mile north of Silbury Hill (see previous post at Exploring-the-barrow-downs-of-wessex

Constructed over several hundred years during the Neolithic period from around 3,000 BC to 2,600 BC, a large henge (a bank and a ditch) with a large outer stone circle encircles part of Avebury village. Two separate smaller stone circles are located closer to the centre of the henge.

The ditch and mound surrounding the Avebury outer stone circle

The outer stone circle is 332 metres in diameter with a circumference just over 1,000 metres and encloses two smaller stone circles near its centre.[1] The available evidence suggests that in the early Neolithic, Avebury and the surrounding hills were covered in dense oak woodland, and as the Neolithic progressed, the woodland around Avebury and the nearby monuments receded and was replaced by grassland.

The great outer stone circle originally contained 98 sarsen standing stones, some weighing in excess of 40 tons.

One of the outer circle stones.

The largest stone is estimated to weigh more than 100 tons, making it one of the largest ever found in the UK. Radiocarbon dating of some stone settings indicate a construction date of around 2870–2200 BC.

The Avebury stone circles are less well known than the better preserved and more famous Stonehenge, about 17 miles to the south, as In the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods, local people destroyed many of the standing stones around the henge, both for religious and practical reasons. In the 20th century, archaeologists restored much of the monument, re-erecting stones which had been toppled. A geophysical survey of the circle in 2003 revealed at least 15 of the megaliths lying buried and identified where they fitted in the circle [1].

At the centre of the inner northern circle is the “Cove”.

These two stones form the “cove” marks the centre of the inner northern circle and is thought to be the oldest part of the complex, erected around 3,000 BC.

I had found this brass dowsing rod in some long grass and it did seem to want to align with various stones. Perhaps the energy field of the stones is the reason that the SatNav system in my car crashed when I drove into Avebury and my mobile phone also had no reception within the circle.

Using the brass dowsing rod

Part of the Southern Inner Circle.

The West Kennet Avenue, an avenue of paired stones, leads from the southeastern entrance of the henge towards West Kennet and the Sanctuary and is thought to have been constructed around 2,400 BC. There are also traces of a second Avenue leading out from the western entrance.

The Avenue at sunset

I had walked the Avenue earlier in the day, after I left West Kennet Long Barrow, but I returned near sunset, and managed to take some nice photos.




Nine Stanes, Eslie the Greater and Eslie the Lessor

I have had a longstanding interest in megalithic monuments since I was a teenager. In part sparked by my interest in astronomy as a teenager, since the megalithic monuments of Europe show that Neolithic humans had sophisticated astronomical skills. And in part, by my interest in deep ancestry (see previous post And also by their connection with the barrowdowns of Middle Earth. On my first extended trip to Britain, I visited various megalithic stone circles in England and explored the barrows around the Ridgeway near Oxford.

So on my trip to Eastern Scotland last Easter, I took a look on the internet to see whether there were any megalithic monuments within an easy drive from the area I was staying in near the villages of Mathers ( And discovered there were three stone circles about 45 km north-west of St Cyrus where I was staying. Continue reading

Maternal ancestors: Bronze age, iron age, Roman Britain

This is the last of a series of posts on my deep maternal ancestors, identified through analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is passed only from the mother to the child and so provides a trail of maternal ancestors identifiable through the mutations accumulated in the mtDNA. In this post I summarize the “recent” maternal ancestors who lived through the beginnings of agriculture in Britain, the British bronze age, the British iron age, the Roman occupation, and post-Roman Britain.

Continue reading