Avebury Day Pilgrimage

SW England, 1 day, English Heritage, Prehistoric

Avebury Day Circular Pilgrimage –
11 miles, 1 day, with Windmill Hill loop – 7 miles without (purple route on Google Maps)
Overton Down extension to walk along Ridgeway (green route on Google Maps)

A circular day route starting and ending at National Trust Car Park in Avebury, heading first from Avebury to the Sanctuary near East Kennett.
See Google Map waypoint descriptions for more info on each holy place.

Experience the majesty of the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world, before heading along the Ridgeway to the even older Sanctuary, the ancient meeting point from which the West Kennet Avenue once extended all the way to Avebury. Then rise to West Kennet’s Long Barrow, and maybe hum or sing in this wonderful acoustic, resonating with the spirits of old. Onwards to the source of the River Kennet, the Swallowhead Springs, and their watchful guardian trees. Next is the largest (and most mysterious) prehistoric mound in Europe – Silbury Hill; then it’s over Waden Hill before descending to what remains of the West Kennet Stone Avenue, through which you wind your way to Avebury’s stone circle, and the Tolkien trees that inspired the Ents. Next is Avebury’s Anglo Saxon St James’ Church, before reaching the Adam and Eve stones that once started the ancient Beckhampton Avenue, the alternative snaking processional avenue that approaches Avebury from the south-west. A final gentle climb to Windmill Hill, the Avebury ritual complex’s oldest site, with its magical panoramic views at sunset. And like the circularity of Avebury itself, you complete your journey by returning to the stone circle, knowing the place for the first time.

Avebury Day Linear Pilgrimage –
9.5 miles, 1 day, from Alton Priors Springs and Yew Tree
(orange route on Google Maps)

Starting at one of the sources of the River Avon, the Broad Well of Alton Priors, you then visit an ancient yew tree in the nearby churchyard, climb Pewsey Downs accompanied by a view of the White Horse to Adams Grave Long Barrow, and then along the Ridgeway, past the larger East Kennet Long Barrow to join the route above at the Sanctuary.


Highlighted holy place: West Kennet Long Barrow: Near the start (or end) point of the Ridgeway, 6000 years old and ritualistically mysterious, West Kennet Long Barrow is a prehistoric long barrow where people were once buried as prominently as possible. Stand atop its elegant ridge and survey the undulating Avebury landscape. To enter, slink round the guard stone and walk slowly in silence. Light a candle there, but remember to blow it out before you go, and perhaps hum or sing in the amazing acoustic in the end chamber.

Highlighted holy place: Swallowhead Spring – ​In the magical landscape of Avebury is hidden a particularly numinous set of springs, from which the River Kennet flows. The Guardian Trees bend over it protectively to mark its channel. Put your hands in to make contact, and use a virus-free filter to drink the pure water. Tip-toe over the stepping stones to walk to Silbury Hill and you are away on your journey – perhaps a pilgrimage along the River Kennet?

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The Extension Loop to Windmill Hill


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