Hands up if you’d love to see not one – but six – Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in one day. If you raised your hand – literally or figuratively – then this epic Avebury walk is for you.
Scott and I love history and the outdoors, so when Valentine’s Day came along earlier this year, we made it our mission to see as many historical places within the Avebury World Heritage Site as possible.
We were amazed at how much we saw and experienced – from multiple historical sites we never knew existed to epic views and even an al fresco picnic in the glorious winter sunshine.
And here’s how you can follow in our footsteps. Or, if walking’s not quite your thing, then we hope you still enjoy reading about the incredible historical sites we experienced during our Avebury walk.
Epic Avebury Walk: 6 Incredible Neolithic & Bronze Age Sites Await!
Scott and I used two trails as inspiration to help us map out the walk we tried ourselves on Valentine’s Day. These are linked below so you can see this circular Avebury walk at-a-glance:
- Avebury’s World Heritage Circular by AllTrails
- Avebury Stone Circle, The Sanctuary, West Kennett Long Barrow and Silbury Hill by Walking Englishman
The walk is about 5.5 miles long and takes around 3-4 hours depending on your fitness level. We would describe the walk as moderate as there are rocky tracks to follow and a couple of hills to climb along the way.
We hope our blog post helps you to learn more about the various Neolithic and Bronze Age sites you can look forward to seeing on a walk like this. And as always, we hope you’ll feel inspired to visit.
Happy reading, wandering and discovering!
Stop 1: Avebury Stone Circle
- Created: Between 2850 BC and 2200 BC (approx)
- Size: 100 stones across three stone circles
- Purpose: Ceremonial site
- Quick fact: Avebury Stone Circle is the largest stone circle in the world!
Let’s start our epic Avebury walk at one of the most well-known Neolithic sites within the Avebury World Heritage Site: Avebury Stone Circle.
Built between 2850 BC and 2200 BC (approximately) and consisting of over 100 stones across three stone circles, Avebury is said to be the largest stone circle in the world.
Yep, it’s bigger than its more famous cousin: Stonehenge!
Archaeologists have linked the stone circle at Avebury to Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites.
Today, you can see the stones up close and wander around the ramparts where you might see twisting and turning tree roots from ancient trees.
It’s well worth a visit!
Psst! If you want to join the English Heritage so you can park at Avebury for free, then you can grab 20% off gift and annual memberships right now. Just click this link and use our exclusive discount code: WOWEHM20.
We recommend starting your walk here in the morning because Avebury can get quite busy by the afternoon.
Once you’ve seen all there is to see here, head back to the main car park and walk out of the exit.
Cross the road when it’s safe to do so and you should find a gate leading to a public right of way signposted for Silbury Hill.
That’s our next stop on this mini adventure!
Stop 2: Silbury Hill
- Created: Between 2470 BC and 2350 BC (approx)
- Size: 30 metres high and 160 metres wide
- Purpose: Unknown
- Quick fact: Silbury Hill is roughly the height and volume of the Egyptian pyramids!
If you follow the public right of way from Avebury to Silbury Hill, then you’ll wander past this Neolithic mound within about 20 to 30 minutes or so.
It’s so big, you can’t miss it!
At 30 metres high by 160 metres wide and taking roughly 4 million hours to create, Silbury Hill resembles the height and volume of the Egyptian pyramids. Incredible, huh?
Archaeologists believe Silbury Hill was built between 2370 BC and 2350 BC, but they have yet to discover its purpose.
Scott and I thought it might’ve been a burial mound, but no such evidence has ever been found, making Silbury Hill one of the most mysterious stops on this Avebury walk.
Please note that you’re not allowed to climb Silbury Hill, but you can walk around the base if you wish. Scott and I admired it from afar instead.
From Silbury Hill, continue along the public right of way until you reach the main road nearby (the A4).
Once again, cross the road when it’s safe to do so and go through another public right-of-way gate, which leads to West Kennet Long Barrow.
Stop 3: West Kennet Long Barrow
- Created: 3650 BC (approx)
- Size: 3.2 metres high, 25 metres wide and 100 metres long
- Purpose: Burial site
- Quick fact: You can see inside West Kennet Long Barrow for free!
West Kennet Long Barrow is located at the top of a hill amongst farmer’s fields. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to it from the gate you entered along the main road.
You can’t see the barrow from the bottom of the hill, but there’s a clear track leading up to it, so you should find it without too much trouble.
Once you do see it, you’ll wonder how you ever could’ve missed it. At about 100 metres long, it’s an impressive chamber to discover!
Built in around 3650 BC, West Kennet Long Barrow is one of the largest Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain.
It was used as a burial site for approximately 1,000 years. At least 46 people were buried or had their cremated ashes laid to rest here before the chambers were blocked up.
Today, you can climb some steps and stand on top of the barrow to admire the 360-degree views across the surrounding countryside. You can even see Silbury Hill from up here!
Afterwards, you can venture inside to see a handful of chambers at the front of the barrow.
When we visited on Valentine’s Day, the aroma of incense filled the chamber. We followed this aroma and discovered someone had left incense sticks and flowers, which added intrigue to our visit. Who left them behind? And why?
Stop 4: The Sanctuary
- Created: 2500 BC (approx)
- Size: 1.5 miles in diameter
- Purpose: Ceremonial temple
- Quick fact: A teenage boy from very far away was buried here in the early Bronze Age.
From West Kennet Long Barrow, you’ll need to go back down the hill you climbed and turn right when you get to the bottom.
Our next stop on this epic Avebury circular walk is called The Sanctuary. It’s about 1.5 miles (walking distance) from West Kennet Long Barrow. You’ll follow various public right-of-way tracks to get there.
It’s believed that the creation of The Sanctuary began in about 2500 BC.
Although you can now only see a small circle of stones, there was once a complex arrangement of wooden posts on top of these stones.
Used as a ceremonial temple in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods, archaeologists who excavated the site in 1930 found various items such as animal bones, pieces of pottery and tools made from flint. These are believed to have been offerings.
These same archaeologists also discovered that a teenage boy was buried at The Sanctuary in the early Bronze Age who is thought to have lived far away from this area – possibly from western or northern Britain, Ireland or maybe even north-west France.
I wonder who this boy was. Was he deemed important considering the distance his body was carried to be lain to rest here? One can only wonder.
From The Sanctuary, you’ll need to cross the road and walk through a car park to get back onto the public right-of-way, which will take you to the next stop on this Avebury circular walk – and possibly my favourite of all these historical sites.
Stop 5: Six Round Barrows
- Created: Bronze Age (exact or approximate dates are unknown)
- Size: Various sizes ranging from 22 metres to 41.5 metres in diameter
- Purpose: Burial sites
Once you’ve followed the footpath for about 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll come to a section that either takes you straight on or you can turn left.
Turn left at this point and follow the path down a slightly sloping hill before you reach a grove of ancient trees.
This is one of the “Six Round Barrows” that adorn the landscape.
Used as burial sites and cemeteries in the Bronze Age, these barrows feature ancient trees, which cover large burial mounds.
Knowing just how ancient and important these trees are is what makes this my favourite of all the sites you would’ve seen on this walk.
When we visited, we were the only people there and we couldn’t hear any other noises. It was haunting yet beautiful at the same time.
Once you’ve experienced the magic of this group of trees, it’s time to make your way to the final stop on this Avebury walk: West Kennet Avenue.
Stop 6: West Kennet Avenue
- Created: 2400 BC (approximately)
- Size: The average size of each stone is 3 metres tall
- Purpose: Burial sites
- Interesting fact: The stones started to disappear long before the 1600s – possibly to be used as building materials.
From the “barrows”, continue down the sloping hill following the public right-of-way by the side of West Kennet Farm.
After about 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll be able to follow the B4003 road, which will lead you past many Neolithic stones, which are about 3 metres high on average.
This strip of road is known as West Kennet Avenue and there were once 100 pairs of stones here.
Interestingly, it was discovered that many of the stones started to disappear long before the 1600s – when the avenue was first recorded in historical archives.
Later, in the 1700s, some stones were broken into fragments to be used as building materials.
Is this what happened to the stones that disappeared before the 1600s? Possibly.
Archaeologists also discovered that these stones were likely erected as burial sites as they’ve found human remains buried at the foot of the stones.
These people were likely either very important or buried here as part of sacrificial offerings.
If you follow West Kennet Avenue, you’ll eventually come to the village of Avebury and the infamous stone circle you saw at the beginning of the day.
From here, you can go back to your car and remember all the incredible historical sites you saw in just one fascinating walk.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this epic Avebury walk you can do. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, then please leave us a comment below and we’ll reply asap…
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