British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain
Avebury_StoneCircle.jpg

Avebury

Avebury

This genuinely huge and complex collection of stones consists of an outer ring surrounded by a massive ditch and bank.  There are two inner rings, north and south of the center - one of these has three stones in its center, and a long avenue linking this monument to another called The Sanctuary that is over one mile away to the southeast. Another avenue also led southwest towards Beckhampton but by the 18th century this had been entirely demolished by local farmers. The present village of Avebury occupies only about a quarter of the land inside the gigantic earthwork circle.

There is actually sparse folklore associated with the site. The larger ceremonial complexes seem to somehow beguile the storytellers with their vastness and inscrutable nature and belie the ability for storytellers to do as their wont.  No tales of devils, witches, giants or wizards are held accountable for the building of such an enormous structure. But there are a few stones singularly that have associated tales. One large diamond-shaped stone that lies by the road is said to cross the road at midnight when the clock chimes.  Another is called the Devil's Chair because there is a hollow space where someone can sit.  But for such a magnificent monument, these are paltry tales indeed.

On the same site that the 12th century parish church now sits, a Saxon church was built along with a settlement.  The early medieval villagers, for no recorded reason, instigated a systematic demolition of the site and destroyed and buried many of the standing stones within the circle. In a geophysical survey of the area, fifteen stones were found buried this way.  By the 14th century this work was still going on, as it's recorded that one man was crushed by a falling stone - his remains were discovered and the coins in his pocket confirm the date of his demise.

By the late 17th century a still more ruinous phase was begin, fires were lit to weaken the stones and cold water thrown over to crack them and use the remains as building materials.