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Avebury Day Trip - Suggested Itinerary and Tour

Avebury is a small village in northern Wiltshire that is the location of Avebury Ring, a Neolithic stone circle. The village makes for an enjoyable day trip by providing visitors a series of good hiking routes and interesting historic monuments.

Avebury Ring standing stones

The ancient standing stones of Avebury Ring

Avebury offers a fascinating atmosphere, which blends the mystical allure of the ancient religious site with the quintessential English village. This guide will provide a suggested itinerary for a day trip to Avebury and includes: details of the sights, entrance fees and other tourist information.

Getting to Avebury

Avebury is in a very rural region and there is limited public transport from the popular tourist centres of Salisbury, Bath or Bristol. There is no train station close and the most regular bus service connects Swindon and Marlborough, so generally most visitors to Avebury rent a car.

Avebury  to Swindon bus

There is a regular bus service from Avebury to Swindon

Even though Avebury is in the middle of the countryside, car parking can be very difficult - especially during the summer. The main car park is managed by the National Trust and the parking costs a staggering £7.00 for the day (£4.00 after 4pm), but it’s free to English Heritage and National Trust members. There is a small overflow car park, but it fills up quickly; never park on the roads with double yellow lines, as you will get a ticket/fined/towed away. Other parking options include the car park at Silbury Hill, or the roads with no line markings.

Avebury What to See

There are two main sights of Avebury: the stone circles and Avebury Manor. It is suggested to visit the manor first as there is limited capacity, and during the summer season timeslots are allocated to visitors - the rings have stood for over 3,000 years and they will still be there after visiting Avebury Manor. The main hiking trail is a 6mile (10 km) circular route which takes in all historic sites; a map showing the route can be found here.

Avebury Manor national trust

The gardens of Avebury Manor

Why visit the Manor when you’ve come to see the Stone Rings?

The manor is one of the most interesting and engaging stately homes found in England, simply because it encourages people to explore the rooms instead of passing through them. Visitors are allowed to handle every object, open every draw and even lie in the ancient beds. For children this is a captivating experience of living history, while adults will be equally impressed, even if it is only for the bizarre exercise machine found in the dining room. Each of the 9 rooms reflects a different time period of the manor house, ranging from Tudor era (16th century) through to the 1930s. Surrounding the manor house there are pretty flower gardens and ornamental grounds with specially cut bushes.

Tudor Parlour Avebury Manor

The Tudor Parlour in Avebury Manor

The entrance fee to the Manor is £10/£5/£25 (adult/child/family), and a typical visit lasts 30-40 minutes in the house and some extra time for gardens. Some visitors may complain that the manor is over-priced, while history fanatics may leave disappointed, but for most visitors Avebury Manor is a great and unique tourist attraction.

Barn Gallery Avebury

The ancient roof of the Barn Gallery

Located in the courtyard of Avebury Manor is the Alexander Keiller Museum, which is divided into two sections: The Stables Gallery and The Barn Gallery. These museums detail the history of Avebury by displaying the objects discovered (Stables Gallery) and interactive displays (Barn Gallery). These museums are informative, although small and quite expensive (£4.90/£2.25/£12.25 Adult/child/family), especially after paying the National Trust £7.00 for car parking.

Avebury church of Saint James

The church of Saint James

Overlooking the Manor is the Saxon (1000AD) church of Saint James Church. This pretty church underwent major reconstruction during the 12th century and is a blend of many different ancient architectural styles. The church is free to enter.

Time For Lunch

Avebury is a very small village and the number of eating choices is very limited. The most popular option is the Red Lion pub (part of the Old English Inns (Greenking) chain) and main dishes range in the £9-10, the food in the Red Lion is good quality but there can be a delay at busy times.

Red Lion pub in Avebury

The Red Lion pub in Avebury

There is a café in the National Trust complex (the Circles Café) next to the Barn Gallery, which sells decent food. The two shops of the village also sell pre-packed light lunches and snacks. Nothing in Avebury offers great value for money; for a larger selection of restaurants, try visiting the scenic town of Marlborough, which is located 7 miles to the east.

Avebury Rings

The rings of Avebury are free to visit and there are no opening times, which also means that they can be enjoyed at your own pace. Free and informative guides can be picked up at the visitor centre in the car park or at any one of the National Trust buildings. To discover more about the rings, we recommend joining one of the organised walking tours that depart from the Barn Gallery (£3-7 suggested fee)

Details of Avebury Rings

There is one outer ring and two smaller rings inside the larger out ring. The outer ring has 98 standing stones of varying shapes and sizes, and the ring follows a ridge and moat that extend around the village. The circumference of the large ring is 1 mile and it’s a pleasant 30 minute walk. The ring section south of the village tends to be the busiest, while the north eastern is the quietest, as it is the least accessible. Inside this outer ring there are two smaller stone rings that have a total of 83 stones.

Avebury standing stone

A lone standing stone outside Avebury

Many of the stones are missing and are marked by place holders; these stones were removed during the Saxon and Victorian eras for two very different reasons. During the Saxon era (800-1000ad) the church set about actively destroying the pagan symbols and parishioners were encouraged to smash the standing stones. During the industrialisation and rapid building phase of the Victorian era (1860-1890), the stones were removed to use as construction materials for the village of Avebury. Much of this “new” village was cleared in the 19th century as the importance of Avebury became apparent.

 

In 1925, Alexander Keiller, a wealthy gentleman with a passion for archaeology, purchased the village and set about identifying and restoring the original monuments. This included the demolition of much of the Victorian village, whose residents were rehoused. What we see today at Avebury is the result of Keiller’s work, but it remains unfinished, as it was permanently interrupted with the start of WWII.

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