About an hour and 45 minutes outside of London lies the little country town of Avebury. Avebury is home to the Avebury Stone Circle, the largest prehistoric site in Britain. Less visited and renowned than Stonehenge, the Avebury Stone Circle and town offer a much quieter and closer look at their henge. Whereas Stonehenge ropes off the entire stone circle area and prevents entry when closed, Avebury is not regulated at all, leaving you free to visit at any time day or night and get up close and touch any of the stones.
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The Avebury Stone Circle dating as far back as 2850 BC, is part of a larger network of prehistoric sites in the area that include the nearby West Kennett Long Barrow and Silbury Hill. Although the purpose of the stones and nearby areas is yet to be discovered, some speculate that it is a system of Neolithic sacred sites. Others speculate that aliens left these as part of a map or message for future extraterrestrial visits. You can make up your own assumptions.
Our late afternoon visit on a dreary misty day was quiet and private as we were the only people visiting the Avebury Stone Circle. We came from Stonehenge stopping first at West Kennett Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, although having driven from London, the reverse would have saved us more than 40 minutes of road time. No two stones are alike and unlike Stonehenge, they are not mounted on top of one another but instead are aligned in two rows that encircle the town of Avebury. The oddly shaped stones were large with some at least 2-3 times the height of your average person. The fields were filled with sheep with full coats of fur; they seemed like cotton balls sprinkled across the fields from a distance. Walking through parts of the Avebury Stone Circle, we imagined how it would serve as a landing strip for alien space crafts. The stone circle is much large than you would imagine from reading about it or seeing images online. You don’t simply show up and see a circle as with Stonehenge; but rather visit bits and pieces at a time.
The town of Avebury was small and people were scarce. I am not sure if it was the hour of the day, but if we saw 3 people out, it was too much. Then we walked into the Red Lion Pub and found where everyone was hiding! As if out of a storybook, the Red Lion Pub stood out in the town with its thatched roof and white paint in a town with mostly brick or stone buildings. The daylight faded fast and we were attracted by their Fish and Chips special of 2 for 9.95£ before hitting the road back to London. It had been a long day and we were famished. The pub had an eclectic style with old wooden floors near the entrance and plaid curtains. Take a look at the full Red Lion Menu and Specials. We ordered at the bar and sat in a booth nearby to wait for our order. The bartenders weren’t especially friendly and seemed somewhat bothered by our presence. It seemed that they were preparing for something and we intruded right in the middle of it. We chatted with a woman and her son as we waited. We learned that she lived in the country and didn’t care for London or the politics around the royal family as it seems to engulf the people of London. She expressed that most residents of the countryside shared this sentiment. She was very amicable and even offered us her phone number in case we got lost on our way back to London. The fish and chips dish were great and the beer was pretty cheap at 2£.
The Red Lion Pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of Florrie; a woman who was thrown into a well by her husband after he caught her cheating. She is said to disturb men with beards (perhaps her husband or lover had one) and haunt the women’s toilets. The well can be seen inside the pub near the bar area; the oldest part of The Red Lion. The men’s restroom is also humorous with each urinal labeled as small, medium, large and liar. There is also an Inn you can stay at but we headed back to London that evening.
The Avebury Stone Circle and surrounding prehistoric sites will provide an unusual look into thousands of years past. It is only a few miles from Stonehenge so combining your country excursion west of London would be easy and you’d have a day exploring prehistoric earth.
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