Ancient Britain: Avebury







Last of our destinations during our day long tour of Ancient Britain was Avebury. Like Stonehenge, Avebury is very well-known and many believe it is the superior stone circle. Certainly it is the largest of its kind by area and number of standing stones. I’ve read conflicting information on the original number of stones of which many have been lost or damaged, one site says 98.

My personal impression of the Avebury stone circle was of some disappointment. I was not able to feel the magic I felt at Stonehenge. Certainly it was accessible, being able to walk into the enclosed pastures and right up and among the stones. Their sizes varied quite a bit, from small to a bit over human height, and the shapes from tall and slim to chunky and square, and all placed at some distance from each other. I knew it would be quite different from Stonehenge’s smaller circle of bigger standing and horizontal stones.

But… there is a road and a town breaking up the circle so we could not see the whole. We were able to walk around one area, much too slowly because we were taking photographs while also stepping carefully around dozing sheep and their droppings. Pastoral and pretty, yes. I wondered if we had gone the best way around for we noticed most of the others walking elsewhere including on the surrounding henge. Perhaps our guide could have been a bit more helpful in suggesting the best walking route. We had arrived late in the day behind schedule, so there was not enough time left to see it all. We finally had to rush for a much-needed bathroom break and a take-out cup of coffee before returning to our van to head back to London. Anyway, essentially it was far too short a time to capture the spirit of the place. That can be and usually is the way with guided tours, I know with some small experience.

As for photography, it seems that the best atmospheric photos are taken early or late in the day or during mist and rain. Almost four years ago I wrote about Avebury linking to a beautiful and informative site that I’m happy to see is still up: Avebury – A Present from the Past. It includes gorgeous photos, stories and information including other related sites in the area, but I can’t judge for the scientific accuracy. Also, this aerial view helped give me a better sense of the Avebury, Silbury Hill and West Kennet Barrow area – wish I’d had it with me on the tour.

As has been said in some of the earlier articles by me and some commentors, a first time tour really is to give general impressions, an overall picture and is helpful in showing what one wants to revisit alone in greater depth. It’s unlikely that we would have been able to cover so many places in one day on our own, which is one reason of course why we took this tour. I would love to spend more time in these ancient places of mystery and power so hopefully there will be another chance for me to revisit these sites, as well as many more, in the future.

I’m so very grateful to my husband for taking so many great photographs on this tour, especially under the time pressures, something that inhibits me from doing it. I just wanted to absorb the feel of these places though sometimes I would point out spots that I particularly wanted photographed. He told me that he was surprised how much he enjoyed this tour which makes me glad since I desired it, researched it and booked it.

Ancient Britain Tour series of articles:
Old Sarum
Wiltshire Flint
White Horses
Silbury & West Kennet

July 16, 2009 in Culture, History, Rock Art & Archaeology, Travel by Marja-Leena