Avebury Stone Circle




5 miles (8kms)

262ft (80m)
2hrs 30min

About the walk

Avebury's great stone circle is one of the most important megalithic monuments in Europe and it shares its setting with a pretty village. The 200 stones (only 27 remain) were enclosed in a massive earthen rampart nearly a mile (1.6km) in circumference. One can only wonder at the skill, vision and beliefs, not to mention the sheer dogged hard work, that enabled the people of that time to move huge stones for many miles and dig thousands of tons of earth to create such landscapes.

Alexander Keiller's vision

Avebury today owes as much to archaeologist Alexander Keiller as to the vision of our ancient ancestors. As heir to a fortune made from marmalade, Keiller was able to indulge in his passion for archaeology. In the early 1930s he came to Avebury, which then had a thriving community within and around the 4,500-year-old circle, and determined to restore it to its original glory; a prehistoric complex on a scale to match any in the country. All his energies and a large part of his fortune was spent on purchasing the land, excavating the stones, and although contentious to modern archaeologists, he re-erected fallen stones and set up concrete markers to replace those he believed were missing. Trees were cleared from the ditches and, as and when the opportunity arose, buildings within the circle were purchased and demolished. Some of the villagers left the area and others went to the new houses in nearby Avebury Truslow.

Keiller's work was curtailed by lack of funds and, after World War II, he sold the site to the National Trust. His dreams were never fully realised and questions were raised as to whether he should have tried to restore the site. Should ancient landscapes be protected by riding roughshod over the interests of those who have subsequently come to live and work there?

Whatever your views, there is much to see and enjoy on this walk. Unlike at Stonehenge, you can roam freely around Avebury and this enthralling walk lets you explore some of Britain's finest prehistoric monuments. There is an imposing 1.5-mile (2.4km) avenue of standing stones from where, perhaps, ancient processions would lead down to Silbury Hill, an entirely artificial structure 130ft (40m) high. Smaller in scale but just as intriguing is the West Kennett Long Barrow, the second largest barrow in Britain at 300ft (91m) in length. There is a liberal scattering of tumuli over the area, the last resting places of many a noble and priest. Finally, alongside the A4 is The Sanctuary, the site of major wooden buildings, possibly used for religious and burial rites.

Walk directions

From the National Trust car park walk to the main road and turn right. In 50yds (46m), cross and go through a gateway with a blue bridleway arrow. Pass through another gate and follow the path alongside the river. Go through two more gates and cross two stiles, passing Silbury Hill.

Beyond a gate, walk down the right-hand field-edge to a gate and the A4. Cross over and turn left, then almost immediately right through a gate. Walk down the wide path and cross a bridge over a stream. Go through a kissing gate and turn sharp left.

To visit West Kennett Long Barrow, shortly turn right. Otherwise go straight on around the left-hand field-edge to a stile and continue along a track. At a staggered junction, keep ahead across a stile and walk along the right-hand field boundary. Cross the stile on your right in the corner and proceed up a narrow footpath.

At a T-junction, go left and descend to the road. Turn left, then just beyond the bridge, take the bridle path sharp right. Follow the right-hand field-edge to a gap in the corner and turn sharp left following a track uphill. At the top you'll see tumuli on the right and The Sanctuary on the left. Continue to the A4.

Cross the A4 and head up the Ridgeway. After 500yds (457m), turn left off the Ridgeway on to a byway. Bear half right by the clump of trees on a tumulus and keep to the established track, eventually reaching a T-junction by a series of farm buildings that are part of Manor Farm.

Turn left, signed 'Avebury', and follow the metalled track through the earthwork and straight over the staggered crossroads by the Red Lion Inn. Continue along the road to the wooden signpost and walk back to the car park.

Additional information

Tracks, field paths, some road walking, several stiles

Downland pasture, water-meadows, woodland and village

Keep dogs under control across pasture and NT property

AA Leisure Map 15 Swindon & Devizes

National Trust car park in Avebury (fee for non-members)


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About the area

Discover Wiltshire

A land shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, Wiltshire evokes images of ancient stone circles, white chalk horses carved into hillsides, crop circles and the forbidden, empty landscape of Salisbury Plain. To many M4 and A303 drivers heading out of London through the clutter of the Thames Valley, Wiltshire is where the landscape opens out and rural England begins.

Wiltshire’s charm lies in the beauty of its countryside. The expansive chalk landscapes of the Marlborough and Pewsey downs and Cranborne Chase inspire a sense of space and freedom, offering miles of uninterrupted views deep into Dorset, Somerset and the Cotswolds. Wiltshire’s thriving market towns and picturesque villages provide worthwhile visits and welcome diversions. Stroll through quaint timbered and thatched villages in the southern Woodford and Avon valleys and explore the historic streets of the stone villages of Lacock, Castle Combe and Sherston. Walk around Salisbury and discover architectural styles from the 13th century to the present and take time to visit the city’s elegant cathedral and fascinating museums. And if all of that isn’t enough, the county is also richly endowed with manor houses, mansions and beautiful gardens.

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