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Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles, around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, in southwest England. Unique amongst megalithic monuments, Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe, and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain.

Built and altered over many centuries from about 2850 BC to 2200 BC, it now appears as a huge circular bank and ditch, enclosing an area of 281 ⁄2 acres (111 ⁄2 hectares), including part of Avebury village. Within this 'henge' ditch is an inner circle of great standing stones, enclosing two more stone circles, each with a central feature.

Neolithic Henge and Stone Circles

Standing stones and stone circles, dotted the British Isles have puzzled English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer Aubrey’s. Who built them? Why? When? The great architect Inigo Jones, swayed by his passion for the geometry of the classical architect Vitruvius, was sure that Stonehenge, the most famous of megaliths, had been mathematically constructed by the Romans. But from the 1640s, British scholars were starting to read recent Scandinavian analyses of the megaliths in Northern Europe. Aubrey’s friend, the F.R.S. and physician Walter Charleton, countered Jones with his hypothesis that the British megaliths were in fact Danish in origin. Aubrey, however, who discovered Avebury in 1649, correctly reasoned that the megaliths were pre-Danish, pre-Roman, possibly Druidic, and certainly very ancient.

Below is the earliest ground-plan of Avebury by John Aubrey in 1663.

British archeologist William Stukeley was the first, who made the archaeological investigation in XVII century of both Avebury and Stonehenge. He envisioned Avebury as part of a huge druidic serpentine temple. Below is the map of Avebury, created by him.

Reconstructed Map of Avebury drawn by Dr. William Stukeley (b. November 7, 1687 – d. March 3, 1765) - with Silbury Hill 

When William Stukeley visited Avebury in the 17th century he became the unwitting witness to a period of wholesale destruction of the Avebury sarsens, ironically in order to provide building materials for the village and church that now stand within the complex.

British archeologist Richard Colt Hoare's survey, made in 1815 shows how the site has been systematically reduced over time.

The site only became completely protected when the Scottish archeologist Alexander Keller became its owner in the 1930's and excavated and re-erected many stones during these years. The site's present appearance owes much to him.

Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge 'sacred landscape', whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at.

Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Avebury Henge and Stone Circles are in the freehold ownership of The National Trust and in English Heritage guardianship. They are managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.

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