Sadly the Avebury monuments have suffered greatly at the hands of the more recent inhabitants of the area....It is estimated that the henge and avenues originally contained well in excess of 600 stones but so many have been destroyed that only 76 of them are now visible though excavations and surveys in recent years have revealed that at least 20 others remain buried.
Apart from the "Obelisk" all the stones that are shown on this map can still be seen by the visitor. Small crosses mark the positions where the holes of destroyed stones have been found. Of the small stones belonging to the "Z feature"six have survived.
stones of the outer circle
stones of the south entrance
the "Barber Stone"
outer stones of the northern inner circle
outer stones of the southern inner circle
stones of "The Cove"
As the stones lay on the ground the upper faces which were exposed to weathering became pitted and eroded whereas the undersides remained unaffected and relatively smooth. When the builders of the Avebury henge erected them they tended to set the least eroded faces toward the inside of the circles.
Two features within the henge have recently been discovered which await thorough investigation. These are now indicated on this plan. A survey at the end of 2003 has revealed that a number of stones remain buried around the eastern perimeter of the henge (see "The Marmalade Man").
CLICK BUTTON for a larger map showing the full numbering of the stones within the henge
CLICK BUTTON for an aerial photo showing previously unknown features inside the henge.
The obvious source of the stones used in the construction of the Avebury monuments was the Marlborough Downs about two miles to the east of Avebury itself where thousands of naturally occurring stones lay scattered on the landscape. The stones are believed to have formed from sedimentary deposits that had accumulated on top of the underlying chalk layer. Many of these downland stones have now been broken up and removed for modern building material but the National Trust plantation at Lockeridge Dene and the small valley at Piggledene preserve many of the stones and gives some idea of the abundance that was available to the builders of the henge during the neolithic period.
Computer users will find that a great many can be spotted still lying in the downland fields using the popular "Google Earth" software....The sarsens at Piggledene have become a noted environment for lichens and mosses. They can be found next to the A4 road just to the west of Fyfield.
the position of the "Obelisk"
the "Vulva Stone"
the "Ring Stone"
The surviving stones of the outer circle on the western side of the henge were found and re-erected by Alexander Keiller. When he first saw the monument only one stone in the SW quadrant was standing. The others still lay, mostly buried, awaiting re-discovery. The wonderful arc of stones we see to-day is part of the legacy he left for us to admire.
"Swindon Stone" inner face
"Swindon Stone" outer face
CLICK BUTTON for William Stukeley's assessment of the stones that formed the entire monument
CLICK BUTTON for Richard Colt Hoare's interesting
survey of the henge made in 1812
This charming engraving of the south entrance is dated circa 1830.
CLICK BUTTON for an article about
the location and formation of the stones.
My first visit to Piggledene was made more memorable by a very modern event....It was during a sunny summer afternoon when a friend and I were exploring the sarsens that a faint but thunderous rumble began to emanate from the clear blue sky above. As the sound got louder we looked up to see the unmistakable shape of Concorde at very high altitude and shining in the sun....After our initial surprise we found ourselves discussing quite what a Neolithic observer would make of such a sight and just how quickly the human race had come from flint axes to supersonic aircraft....The experience somehow served to emphasise that, when compared to the true geological age of the stones that lay around, the builders of Avebury's monuments were no more than the blink of an eye away.
CLICK BUTTON for the Google
Earth view of the Avebury area.
Formed over 30 million years ago sarsen stones lay in abundance at Lockeridge Dene. They are known locally as "Grey Wethers" due to their resemblance to sheep.
"Google Earth" view of some of the many sarsens that survive in the valley at Piggledene.
This amazing recreation by Nicholas Mann showing the central area of the henge helps emphasise the sadly depleted view we have today (scroll to view)....courtesy of Nicholas Mann