Rites of destruction

It is thought that 98 huge stones once made up Avebury's outer circle, now only 27 remain.

Many standing stones were removed over the centuries by locals for building material and to make way for crops.

The church encouraged the dismantling of circles as Avebury was such a powerful pagan site.

Huge pits were dug underneath the massive Sarsens and fires lit, causing the stones to crack. Also some stones were buried, which ironically has safeguarded them from being destroyed in later years as building material.

The missing megaliths are now represented by concrete plinths, such as in the centre of the Southern Inner Circle where a tall 20ft menhir weighing near 80 tons - The Obelisk - once stood. This towering stone is thought to have been the ceremonial central point of Avebury.

John Aubrey, an amateur 17th century archaeologist, recorded most of the layout of stones and William Stukeley, an antiquarian, measured many of the stones before the destruction of much of the site.

Aubrey wrote that Avebury does 'as much excell Stonehenge as a Cathedral does a parish church'.

During the 1930s marmalade millionaire, Alexander Keiller, bought part of Avebury village and restored some of the buried stones to their original positions.

Avebury stone circle pictures

Avebury - one of the world's biggest stone circles

Click on the pic to see full size version
Swindon Stone

The Swindon Stone

This great stone is thought to weigh 65 tonnes and marks
the northern entrance.
It is one of the few Avebury megaliths that has never fallen.

The Cove

This consists of two standing stones which were thought by antiquarian William Stukeley to have been aligned to the moon's most northerly rising point. He named the northern inner circle - luna circle.

Others believe the stones are aligned to view the midsummer solstice of the sun. There used to be a third stone at the north side which faced the existing tall 'male' stone.
The Cove

Avebury southern inner circle

Southern inner circle at Avebury

Avebury megalith
Avebury stone circles
The Devil's Chair Stone

The Devil's Chair Stone has a ledge
inside the hollow.

The Blacksmith's Stone

The Blacksmith's Stone was re-assembled from fragments
found in a forge. The iron wedge that had been used to break up the megalith remains embedded in the base.

The Barber-Surgeon's Stone

A male skeleton was discovered under a fallen Sarsen and dated by coins to the early 14th century. He was believed to be a barber-surgeon due to a pair of scissors and medical probe, and was probably involved in bringing down the stone. He remained buried under the 13 ton megalith until 1938. This accident may well have deterred the villagers from further destruction of the powerful monuments.

Avebury stone circle pics


Avebury Summer Solstice pics 2010

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