West Kennet Round
Archaeologist's highlight: "It always gives me pause for thought that West Kennet Long Barrow had already stood for over a thousand years by the time the Great Pyramid in Giza was built. When you step inside it you're entering one of Britain's earliest built structures.
Along the way
The West Kennet Avenue terminates at the Sanctuary, dating back more than 4500 years, originally consisting of a circular timber post structure, now replaced with stones. Impressively, the circular bank and ditch structure surrounding the stones (the 'henge') was dug out using only picks made from red deer antler. West Kennet Long Barrow, pre dating the Sanctuary, Avebury Henge and Silbury Hill, at around 5,650 years old, is one of the best preserved long barrows in the country. You can go inside the tomb, which used to contain the remains of around 50 people.
Old Farmyard, Avebury
Starting in the Old Farmyard by the Museum: Barn, walk out of the Farmyard past the café and the shop. Climb the steps ahead of you into the henge and stone circles. Go left following the line of stones until you reach the road. Take the footpath on your right, at the end, cross the road and go through the pedestrian gate.
Turn left and follow the fenceline to the ditch and henge bank, then turn right and continue along the egde of the ditch until you see a pedestrian gate.
Go through the gate and onto a lane. Turn left and follow this lane for 700 yards. You will pass a series of farm buildings on your right.
Immediately after the last building turn right up a track. Walk up this straight track for about 1 mile until you are almost at the top of the hill.
When you get to the Bronze Age barrow with many beech trees growing on top, look for a pedestrian gate on the right. Built around 4000 years ago at least 100 of these burial mounds once dotted the downland around Avebury. Some mounds cover the burials of a single individual while others mark the spot where several people were buried. Go through this gate, follow the path down hill as it weaves past another three barrows and continue on down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill you will see a pedestrian gate. Do not go through instead turn left along the bottom of the field, following the fenceline until you pass a house. Shortly after you will see a gap in the boundary.
Go through the gap, carefully cross the road and go over a stile on the opposite side of the road. You are now following the course of the West Kennet Avenue. If you look towards the hedgerow on your left you can still see a fallen standing stone. Turn left and cross the field, looking for a gate ahead of you, go through, cross the minor road, through another gate opposite and into the next field. Continue up the field and through a pedestrian gate.
You have now reached the Sanctuary. Originally built as a timber monument, the wooden uprights were later replaced by a double circle of standing stones, the last of which were not destroyed until the 1720s.
When you are ready, exit through the pedestrian gate opposite the one you came through, turn right and follow the track. After around 250 yards turn right going downhill along the edge of the field. When you reach the road, turn left, over a bridge and after a few yards you will see a track on your right hand side. Follow this track for around 200 yards and look for a narrow footpath on your right hand side which passes through a line of trees.
At the end of this path is a stile, go over the stile and into a field, keeping the fenceline on your left. Cross another stile, over a lane, take the track ahead and go over another stile. After another 400 yards turn left and join a path leading up the hill.
Once at the top you have reached West Kennet Long Barrow. At just over 100 yards long West Kennet is one of the longest long barrows in the British Isles. It was already 700 years old by the time the Avebury Stone Circles were built. When you are ready, head back down the hill. At the fenceline turn left and follow the path, go through a kissing gate, cross the river and head for the road. You will see Silbury Hill ahead of you. Go through a kissing gate, turn left and when you see a pedestrian gate on the other side of the road, carefully cross the road and go through it.
Keeping the hedgeline on your left, continue to follow this path, passing Silbury Hill and the Winterbourne Stream on your left.
Follow the stream a further 700 yards until you reach a road. Carefully cross the road into the National Trust car park.
National Trust car park, Avebury
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