Avebury Henge: Stone Circle Older than Stonehenge

Prehistoric Britain is primarily associated with Stonehenge. However, the Avebury Henge, located in Wiltshire, England is actually older than Stonehenge. Additionally, the site is the home to the largest megalithic stone circle in the world as well. The henge site dates back to the 3000s BCE, roughly 5000 years ago, and excavations showed that people continuously developed it. Today, the complex is mainly a cultural attraction for tourists. Moreover, it is also a popular place for the contemporary pagans movement who are trying to revive the religions in Britain pre-Christianity.

Avebury Henge

The henge site currently consists of a large henge and smaller stones circling it. Historians believe that in its prime, the site originally comprised 100 stones and 30 stones were in its outermost ring. This ring nearly had a diameter of 1,100 feet which makes Avebury Henge the biggest stone circle complex in Britain. What is more interesting is the sizes and the weight of the stones. Some stones at the site weigh 40 tons and are nearly 6 meters tall. Archeologists wonder how these people managed to get the stones in place while the modern trucks and cranes barely can.

Avebury Henge and the sunrise

Despite the constant excavations and studies, Avebury Henge remains a mystery. It is one of the most complex prehistoric sites in the world because its true purpose is still an enigma. Some believe that it was an offering to the local deity of weather for its good graces. The animal bones in the area suggest to some that the site was actually a place of gathering, feasts, rituals, and festivals.

Avebury Henge and the scenery

The cultural and architectural merit of Avebury Henge was obvious not just to the modern world but to the Romans as well. When Rome invaded Britain in 43 CE, they mostly settled in Southern Britain. After some time, they found out about the site, and people from near Roman villages started to visit the henge complex as tourists. The demand for the site was so much that the Romans built a road just to get to the henge more easily.

Avebury Henge from above

When Britain converted to Christianity, the henge complex began to be seen as the Devil’s monument. In the early 14th century, some villagers partly demolished the site. However, this did not continue because a person was apparently crushed by one of the rocks. Fearing that they angered the henge, the locals stopped going near it and left it by itself. Until the 16th century when two British antiquarians started working on it, the complex remained as it was.

Avebury Henge sheep
Avebury Henge stones
Site stone circle
stones at the site
henge stones close up
henge and the ground