Avebury framed by the stone circle
Avebury shown within Wiltshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|Website||Avebury Parish Council|
Avebury (//) is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. Much of Avebury village is encircled by the prehistoric monument complex also known as Avebury. The parish also includes the nearby villages of Avebury Trusloe, Beckhampton and West Kennett.
The Avebury monument is vast, and consists of several smaller sites of varying dates. The earliest of these, the earthworks, dates to between 3400 and 2625 BC. Later additions include a henge and several stone circles. Starting in around the 14th century locals began dismantling the stone circles for one reason or another, to clear land, to provide material for other building projects, or simply to efface a pagan monument. In 1648 John Aubrey visited the site and found most of the stones still standing or lying nearby:
These Downes looke as if they were Sown with great Stones, very thicke; and in a dusky evening they looke like a flock of Sheep: from whence it takes its name. One might fancy it to have been the Scene where the Giants fought with stones against the Gods... I was wonderfully surprised at the sight of those vast stones, of which I had never heard before; as also at the mighty Banke and Graffe [ditch] about it. I observed in the Inclosures some segments of rude circles, made with these stones, whence I concluded, they had been in old time complete.
In the 18th century William Stukeley visited the site and chronicled the further damage that had been done. In the 1930s the archeologist Alexander Keiller re-erected many of the fallen stones, partially restoring the circle to its original condition. In 1943 the British government took possession of the monument and the village; they are currently administered by the National Trust. In 1986 UNESCO added Avebury, along with Stonehenge, Silbury Hill, and associated local sites, to its World Heritage List.
Besides the Avebury Stone Circle itself, there are numerous other prehistoric sites nearby, including West Kennet Long Barrow and the West Kennet Avenue, both of which are near to the included settlement of West Kennett. The name of the settlement is always spelt with two 't's whilst the archaeological sites are generally spelt with one.
Parish church and well
The Church of England parish church has an 11th-century Saxon nave in which two original Saxon windows survive. In the 13th century the church's dedication was recorded as All Saints but it now bears a dedication to Saint James.
The village pub, The Red Lion, claims to be the only pub in the world to be enclosed by a stone circle. The pub has been built around the 86 foot deep village well which has been covered over with glass and now features as a dining table. An inscription around the well claims that at least one villager died after falling down it.
Avebury Priory, Manor and Garden
The house was built in about 1557 on the site of a Benedictine alien priory. The priory had been founded in 1114 as a cell of the monastery of Saint Georges de Boscherville near Rouen in Normandy. During the Hundred Years' War against France, Henry V had all alien priories dissolved. Avebury priory was dissolved in 1411 and its property granted to Fotheringhay College. The college then held the manor of Avebury until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.
Avebury is the setting for a 1977 cult television series Children of the Stones that depicts Avebury as a town controlled by the stones.
Avebury is the setting for Robert Goddard's 2005 fictional thriller, "Sight Unseen".
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Avebury.|
- List of places in Wiltshire
- List of civil parishes in England
- Petrosomatoglyph Symbolism of megaliths
- Crowley, D.A. (ed.); Baggs, A.P.; Freeman, Jane; Stevenson, Janet H. (1983). A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12: Ramsbury and Selkey hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Victoria County History. pp. 86–105.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (revision) (1975). Wiltshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 96–103. ISBN 0-14-0710-26-4.
- Pugh, R.B.; Crittall, Elizabeth, eds. (1956). A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Victoria County History. pp. 392–393.
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