A DAY AT AVEBURY (2)
As you continue along the road a mixture of concrete plinths and occasional stones accompany you until you are suddenly confronted by some large stones dominated by two massive megaliths to the left of a group of trees on the outer bank of the Henge. At this point it is easy to be distracted by the spectacle in front of you but take care as it is here that you join the busy road that runs through Avebury village on its way to Swindon.....Turn left at this junction and after a few hundred yards you will see the main visitor car park on your right ( 6 ) into which you will need to turn. Once parked a small path takes you past the cricket pitch up to the outer bank of the Henge and then into the village High Street.....By now you are probably ready for some refreshment and something to eat.....The Red Lion Pub can be found where the High Street joins the main road or signs will lead you to the museums where a restaurant is available.
After replenishment you may feel like visiting the museums, exploring the shops or be keen to continue your exploration of the Henge....Assuming the latter I will continue (though a visit to the museums is recommended if you can fit it in).
If you are at the museums/restaurant complex a small flight of steps and gate ( 7 ) will take you take you into the NW quadrant of the Henge where you will get your first good view of the outer stone ring and its relationship to the ditch & bank....Follow the ring of stones round and remember that most of them were dug up and re-erected by Alexander Keiller during the 1930s....Where stone holes were found but the actual stones were missing he marked with concrete plinths.....As you get nearer to the road you start to realise that you are approaching some stones that are distinctly different.....You come to a stone that is significantly larger and bulkier than those you have just walked by and you are suddenly aware that the next stone on from this is not only even bigger, it is colossal!.....Diamond shaped and standing on its point it is known as "The Swindon Stone"....Almost hanging over the road it is one of a pair of stones that formed the portal to the northern entrance to the Henge....Standing by this mighty megalith helps bring into focus just what a massive undertaking the Avebury Henge represents.
A tidy pathway takes you from the Swindon Stone along the hedge to a gate (
) where you will need to cross the road to an opposite gate that is the access to the NE quadrant.....take care crossing here as traffic can suddenly appear around the nearby corner.....Once you are into the NE quadrant you are confronted by another two massive stones. These are the surviving stones of a feature known as "The Cove" which was at the centre of the Northern Inner Circle of which there are only four stones surviving the most obvious of which stands alone off to the left of the Cove.....Recent investigation of the Cove stones has revealed that the larger component may be the most massive surviving stone of the whole monument as a large portion of it remains underground and the stone could weigh as much as 100 tons!....From here a well trodden path takes you down the slope toward the eastern entrance of the Henge where you will find another massive stone lying on its side. This stone has been numbered 73 and must have been a portal megalith of the nearby entrance.
A small gate nearby (
) will take you across the lane and into the SE quadrant of the Henge....The path will now lead you onto the top of the outer bank. As you climb the bank don't miss the spectacularly exposed tree roots that are on your left....many visitors have left their mark on the tree trunks over the years...... A pleasant meander along the bank now gives you a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside and the Henge itself. As you stare down to the bottom of the ditch it is worth remembering that it is now only a third of its original depth and the bank was once substantially higher....it is an awesome realisation.
From here you are aware of the abundance of ancient Bronze Age round barrows that exist in the area, most of them obvious from their tree-covered profiles on the surrounding downland.....Eventually you will come to a group of trees that grow on the bank at the south entrance where you will find yourself staring down at the two colossal stones that formed the portal to the West Kennet Avenue and which formed the original south entrance ( 10 ).
Descending the bank and walking up to these massive megaliths again brings a feeling of awe at the achievements of our Neolithic ancestors.....No doubt you will feel the need to sit upon the small stone "seat" that nature has formed on the left hand stone which is known locally as "The Devil's Chair".....
To the right of these entrance stones and further into the Henge a small stone sits in the grass....this is known as "The Ring Stone"....its purpose a mystery. next page