I was in England for a month and a half and I didn’t make it to Stonehenge. I know, I know! Even when I was staying close by, I still never made it to see one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. Bummer. Luckily, I did get to visit the Avebury stones! I can’t compare the two sites since I’ve never been to Stonehenge, but I do know that you are limited in how close you can get to Stonehenge unless you book a private tour. At Avebury, you are free to walk among the stones and even touch them!
It is completely free to visit Avebury since the stones are maintained by the National Trust. You can get there by local bus and there isn’t a visitor center or busloads of tourists. You just walk into the field through a visitor gate and explore these mysterious stones! If that weren’t enough, there is a nice cozy pub called the Red Lion next to the bus stop where you can grab a drink or some fish n’ chips while admiring the stones. The pub totes the tagline “the only pub in the world inside a stone circle” which is a pretty epic claim to fame!
The Avebury Site
The Avebury site is made up of a henge and several stone circles, including one of the largest stone circles in the world. The site is believed to date to around 3000 BC and was constructed over several hundred years. During the medieval period, some of the stones were destroyed and taken down. Archaeologists in the 1930s restored many of the fallen stones to their correct positions so visitors get a better idea of how the site looked thousands of years ago.
When you walk around the site, you can definitely appreciate how enormous of a task it would be to build this. The henge is massive. It is hard to imagine how anyone could move such large stones so long ago. And archaeologists still haven’t solved the full mystery of this site. Why was this site built? What did people do here? What did they believe?
At the Avebury site, you get a rare chance to walk through ancient history and touch monuments that were built thousands of years ago, without the commercialized touristy stuff. If you’re visiting England, make sure to spend the afternoon exploring Avebury.