The stone circle in Avebury was the first wholly new thing for both of us that we visited during the trip. London we’d both visited, even if some of the specific spots we visited within the city were new to one of both of us, and Bath I’d been to before, but Avebury was totally new.
Avebury, like Stonehenge, is a ring of large stones erected in prehistoric times. Only Avebury is relatively less well-known. Also unlike Stonehenge, the stones sits amid the village of Avebury (or rather, the village sits amid the stones). Stonehenge, by contrast, is surrounded by fields and fields and fields (and, as we’d later discover, tank proving grounds of some sort), with any villages miles away. Avebury’s stones lack the lintel stones of Stonehenge, but the circumference of the stones is much larger and you can walk among them and touch them.
You’re not supposed to, but you can even climb on them, like this guy:
The imagery of Stonehenge has been so thoroughly reproduced across the world that it’s instantly recognizable. They were a standard Windows desktop background, for goodness’ sake. It’s almost anti-climactic when you finally see them in person because they look like every picture you’ve ever seen of them. The Avebury stones, by contrast, feel much less hyped, much more real, more mysterious.
It’s a five minute walk or so from the car park to the small museums which provide interpretation and context for the stones. We decided to see as much as we could. The manor closed first, so we bought tickets in the barn gallery/museum/gift shop and set off toward the manor.
Even in the misting rain, the experience was lovely and otherworldly. The lack of people increased the surreal feeling,especially compared to the crushing crowds at the Baths and in the cities where we’d spent the previous days.
We were walking through a wonderland. And once we got to the gardens surrounding the manor, the Wonderland.
It was incredible.