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When visiting Engand, many tourists only visit Stonehenge and miss out on the opportunity to walk among a stone circle – one of the only ones with a pub in the middle of it!
Stonehenge stands somewhat seemingly alone in the countryside. The bluestones having been placed first, then adjusted, the megaliths that represent Stonehenge today were actually placed later. We don’t know the actual purpose of Stonehenge but as it predates the druids by some milnea I have a feeling it wasn’t for druid worship (unless it is time-travelling druids which could also explain how they transported those stones).
As a result of the recent discovery of a vast number of burials around the site (over 200 are estimated to be in the area), a new theory has emerged that Stonehenge was a place to celebrate the lives of the dead. We cannot be sure that it was not the presence of Stonehenge or something perhaps before it that resulted in this becoming a place of multiple burials. There is a woodhenge monument not far away however even less is known about it.
The reason so many thought Stonehenge was associated with druids, besides romanticising everything, is that each year, on the longest day of the year, the sun always rises over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge – a single large sarsen stone which stands outside of the main monument. And the sun always sets over the Heel Stone on the shortest day of the year.
There is mention of an avenue that links Avebury with Stonehenge but few people seem to visit this other stone circle, despite its link with Stonehenge. Avebury is another place where burials were found but as the village grew up in the circle – possibly related to church building on places seen as pagan sacred sites in order to facilitate the conversion of the locals – there is a lot which has been lost.
Avebury is actually the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. The henge, or circular Neolithic earthwork consisting of a bank with a ditch on the inside, at Avebury is quite large at just over three quarters of a mile in circumference. At the time if its creation, it would have been around 29 feet deep and an extremely impressive mark on the landscape.
At the end of the Avenue, linking Stonehenge to Avebury via a once stone-lined path, are the series of stone circles. The large outer stone circle contains two smaller inner circles within it. The stones themselves are of a local sarsen stone. At Avebury you are free to wander among the stones and touch them and sit in them ad be among them. At Stonehenge you are forced to keep your distance. To really experience an ancient monument in person, when visiting Stonehenge make the time to visit Avebury and have lunch in the pub in the middle of an ancient stone circle. Only in England!
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