Avebury is similar to Stonehenge in that it contains huge rocks arranged in specific patterns. They are both classified as "henges" because they are neolithic earth works with ditches and banks. The big stones are just gravy. What makes Avebury a cathedral of megalithic sites is that it contains multiple huge stone circles, ditches, lanes of stones, etc. It is so big that words and photos don't really do it justice.
|Just a small slice of one of the stone circles|
We took in some views of the circles and touched a few rocks on our way to the visitor's center.
|This one looks like it came from Easter Island|
|Lucy was too tired to turn around|
|Lucy got her energy back!|
Avebury was built around 5000 years ago during the stone age. It was built using only stone tools, rope, and deer antler "shovels". And lots and lots of human sweat. It must have taken thousands upon thousands of hours of labor, at a time when England was probably very lightly populated.
|Not much progress from pre-historic to post-modern man|
The visitor center was not fancy, but Jacob and Lucy were highly entertained by it. One display described the animals that lived in the area 5000 years ago and had little cubby holes to put your hand into. Assuming it had some sort of "feel this thing and guess what it is" purpose, I put my hand in. A wolf howled immediately and I jumped back. My hand was okay. I showed it to Jacob, who also jumped. But he loved it. Jacob decided to listen to 20 howls and put his hand in repeatedly while counting out loud. Other nervous patrons decided that they were done with the visitor center and ducked outside. This gave us plenty of time to play with all the exhibits, including the neolithic tool set.
|Neolithic tools: Deer shoulder=shovel Deer antler=pick axe|
|Ready to get to work 3000 BC style|
Using those simple tools, Avebury's builders moved an incredible amount of earth and stones. The whole complex is really awe-inspiring. Archeologists still aren't sure exactly how they built it or what the purpose was.
The site contains an inner circle of stones with no ditch and then a larger outer circle that includes a fair bit of the town within itself. People are free to roam through most of the area and ponder the amazing accomplishment of our forebears.
|Stones inside the ditch and berm|
|Jacob by the inner circle|
|The path outside one of the circles|
|The henge or ditch that goes all the way around the site|
|Trees are few in the area|
|The inner circle is near the town (that's a chapel on the far right)|
We also discovered other real and frivolous mysteries.
|Why do people put ribbons in this tree by the stone circle?|
|Is ice cream allowed by the stones?|
|Lucy wonders how to play the game|
|Jacob enjoyed the peddle-powered tractor, especially when we pushed from behind!|
The area also includes the recently restored Avebury Manor (which was featured in a BBC show, or so lots of signs said) and gardens, neither of which we saw.
|The Manor tours started late and were of less interest to us|
|Spring had not reached the garden yet|
We visited St. James' Church in Avebury, though that's a topic for the next post!