It was a Monday, neither too cold and definitely not too hot. Just very windy.
Time to check out some Wiltshire historic land and the small village which is situated within a circle of ancient stones.
We decided to take the long way to see Britain’s unsung Mystical destination and the village of Avebury which is situated in the middle of Neolithic stones. Just a mention that this is the second place with said stones we have visited, the first was in Carnac, Brittany in France. Where in Carnac there is long, mysterious rows of standing stones were erected in parallel lines long before the pyramids of Egypt. That is another place worth a visit.
Up and down a few hills, thankfully due to its chalky soil it dries rather fast with the road not too muddy. Past a large cowshed, then finally the view of the village was in sight. For a moment or two, I did wonder if we had started off on the right track. It wasn’t the most pleasant of weather days, with a cold wind whistling past my ears.
We had walked 7 km with more to come, so for me, that meant we needed to stop and have a coffee before we ventured over to appreciate the stones with a close-up view. Unlike Stonehenge, most of the stones at Avebury are able to be touched and walked around, which makes it quite a unique experience.
At the moment the usual cafe is having a refurbishment [until the end of April?], though luckily for us the National Trust had set up a pop-up cafe, so for many other walkers and us could indulge in a coffee with a scone, jam and the delicious clotted cream. We had a satisfied look on our face similar to a cat who had just devoured a bowl of cream.
Full and content with not a cheese sandwich in sight it was time to admire the small village of Avebury.
The first stop was the museum. Unfortunately, our arrival coincided with a bus load of people, we decided to forgo that part. Instead, we bought a ticket to view the manor garden.
After such a harsh winter the garden isn’t at it’s best right now, a month from now would have been more ideal to enjoy the blooms and the work that is being currently done. As I have mentioned on one or more occasions, timing is everything! The Manor and the rest of the quaint houses were enjoyable to view and admire as we strolled past them. Not forgetting the chapel and dovecot that caught our attention.
Now to the Neolithic stones for which this place is famous for, they are set in a circle surrounding the village. It was now our time to commune with the megalithic world.
We head into the south-west quadrant. Towering over us is a curving row of sarsen stones weighing between 10 and 100 tons apiece. Greyish and weathered, the Avebury stones are surrounded by a deep circular henge dug out of the soft chalk ground by Neolithic tribes some 5000 years ago.
What was the purpose of Avebury Stone Circle?
No one really knows. Though it’s believed to relate to the worship of a fertility goddess. The stones weren’t shaped but were chosen for their natural forms: mainly rectangles to represent the male and diamonds the female.
Initially, the vast Avebury Stone Circle contained two smaller circles. One which held a massive phallic-shaped Obelisk is now lost. The other involved three female stones [two are still standing], these were known as the Cove and were aligned with the northerly rise of the moon.
Some believed the Avebury Stone Circle was the work of the devil, which lead to the toppling and burial of the stones, a practice that was only halted when one landed on a travelling surgeon-barber, prematurely entombing him. The other school of thought was that the smaller stones were most probably used to build. [information gained by a knowledgeable blogger and historian – April Munday].
Further destruction of Avebury Stone Circle came in the 17th century when many of the stones were cleared for farming. Finally, in the 1930’s, a wealthy anthropologist, Alexander Keiller, spent today’s equivalent of £2 million to partially restore the site.
Wiltshire is indeed a place of mysteries with the Avebury Stone Circle not the only thing to view. If you have the time, go past Silbury Hill as you can see West Kennet Long Barrow. This is a multi-chambered tomb as old as 3500BC.
To contemplate what we had seen, we had a beer at the only pub in the world inside a stone circle. So says the sign on the outside wall.
Then came the last leg of our walk, back to the car via a different way. This required us to follow in a zig-zag fashion from one field to another and across roads which were, in fact, a stone-lined processional route that leads us from the stone circle to the Sanctuary, where an ancient temple once stood.
It was a grand day, with a longish walk, food to replenish, ancient history to make us think. Then a beer in a 400-year-old pub in the middle of a Neolithic stone circle.
What more could a girl want on a Monday in April?
Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk – today she’s in South Shields, where she discovers a Roman Fort. A place we have yet to explore.
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