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Wiltshire Community History

Avebury Search Results

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This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

Map of the Civil Parish of Avebury:

Map of the Civil Parish of Avebury

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

From the Ordnance Survey 1890s revsion of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.

Thumbnail History:

The village and parish of Avebury lies a short distance north, north east of the centre of the county and it was very much the centre of a hugely important area in Neolithic times. Here is an ancient landscape; more ancient than Stonehenge and much greater. Among just some of the prehistoric sites within the parish are Silbury Hill, Windmill Hill and West Kennet long barrow as well as the stone circle and avenues of Avebury itself. For good measure there is also a part of the early routeway of the Ridge Way, and part of a straight Roman road in which there is a kink to enable it to avoid Silbury Hill.

The earliest known settlement in the area was an early Neolithic one on Windmill Hill, which was replaced by a causewayed camp around 3,250 B.C. The West Kennet long barrow is the longest chambered tomb in the country and was first started around 3,000 B.C. and seems to have remained in use for a thousand years. Silbury Hill is the largest prehistoric man made mound in Europe and was begun around 2,750 B.C. in July or August as has been found because there are the remains of winged ants under the lowest layer of the mound. The first phases of the stone circle were begun about 2,500 B.C., or a little later, and culminated in the massive megalithic monument with the Kennet Avenue leading to the Sanctuary on Overton Hill and the recently rediscovered Beckhampton Avenue. Later there was a Pagan Saxon settlement and there is a Viking burial in Silbury Hill. No wonder that Avebury is a World Heritage Site and is arguably the most important in the United Kingdom.

Although, in historical times, Avebury was generally unknown other than to local people, it was brought to the attention of Charles II and the Court by the antiquarian John Aubrey who had 'discovered' it when riding in the area in 1649. From then there was considerable interest although from the late 17th century some stones were broken up for building materials. Houses were also built within the circle and in 1870 Sir John Lubbock, later Baron Avebury, bought much of the area to prevent further change. In 1924 Alexander Keiller bought Windmill Hill and by 1939 had bought Avebury Manor, the whole stone circle, many village houses and much other land. As the owner he was then able to excavate and reconstruct the monument, including digging up and re-erecting stones buried in medieval times, to the state in which we see it today. In 1943 the site was bought by the National Trust and the monument is now managed by English Heritage. Most of the finds from excavations in the area are held in the Alexander Keiller Museum in the High Street (Tel. 01672 539250)

The village itself grew around the manor houses of Avebury and Avebury Trusloe on the gravel soils at the headwaters of the River Kennet where it rises at Swallowhead Springs. Originally the road, now a green lane, from Marlborough came over the downs and through the circle where it met the existing Swindon to Devizes road. This was the coach road in the early 18th century and the village spread eastwards along it. The road was superseded in 1745 when a new road, the present A4, was turnpiked. The village today is full of attractive houses, mostly set away from the Devizes to Swindon road which makes a double bend through the circle and around the Red Lion, an early 17th century farmhouse which has been a public house from 1822. The Manor House, as we now see it, shows the work of several centuries with a mid 16th century east wing, an impressive main hall and porch of 1601 and later extensions of the 17th and 18th centuries. There are antique and gift shops in the village and visitors are to be found here most of the year. There is now a large visitors' car park away from the village off the Devizes road to the south of the circle. From here it is only a short walk into the village.

This is an excellent area for walking with good access to the Ridgeway and the areas of sarsen stones on the Marlborough Downs. There are also two other settlements here. Beckhampton was a small medieval settlement, which grew when the new road was turnpiked in 1745 and an inn, the Catherine Wheel, later the Beckhampton Inn and now Beckhampton House, was built. Further expansion took place in the 20th century with the growth of the racing stables here. The smallest settlement is at West Kennett, south east of Avebury, which was always the least prosperous and populous settlement in the parish although it expanded in the 19th century.

CouncilWiltshire Council
Web Sitewww.wiltshire.gov.uk
Parish CouncilAvebury Parish Council
Parish Web Site 
Parish Emailclerk@aveburyparishcouncil.org

Churches: Information on both current and disused churches and chapels.

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Population 1801 - 2011

Photographs: If images have been added for this community they are available here.: We hold a collection of over 50,000 photographs of places in Wiltshire in the County Local Studies Library. These may be viewed at this library and copies of out of copyright material may be purchased. We can search for a picture of a building or event if you e-mail us with details.

Historical Sources: A select list of books and articles is listed in 'Printed material'. You may go directly to the actual text from some of these.

Printed Material: This is a select book-list for the community but in the case of a town there may be hundreds more books, pamphlets and journal articles.

The full text of some items is available to view on this site.

The Victoria History of Wiltshire (opens in new window) is a partnership between local authorities and the Institute of Historical Research at London University. The History of Wiltshire is now the largest county history in the country and is still growing. The volumes are divided between general and topographical with Volumes One to Five covering subjects such as prehistory, ecclesiastical, economic and political history. The Volumes from Six onwards are topographical and will ultimately provide a comprehensive and systematic history of every single town and parish in the county.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

Newspapers from 1738: These newspapers covered this community at different times. Newspaper titles in bold text are either the ones you should check first for information about this community.


Maps: listed are maps on which you can find this community. All maps are Ordnance Survey maps.


Archaeological Sites: A Sites and Monuments Record (opens new window) is maintained by the County Archaeology Service and covers some 20,000 sites. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society was formed in 1853 and have been publishing an annual journal since 1854. The journal contains both substantial articles and shorter notes on archaeological excavations, finds, museum objects, local history, genealogy and natural history.

Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Avebury

Folk Biographies from Avebury

Folk Plays from Avebury

History of Buildings: The collections of the Wiltshire Buildings Record are housed in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings, listed as being of architectural or historic importance, is 73. There are three Grade I listings, The Church of St. James, Avebury Manor, and the Great Barn, and one Grade II* listing, the Dovecote at Avebury Manor.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

Local Authors: There could be an author who was born or has lived in this community.

Literary Associations: Some communities have featured in novels or may have been the main setting for a book.

Registration Districts: If you want to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate you can contact the local registrar.


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Wiltshire & Swindon Archives

Wiltshire Wills Search by name, occupation, or subject for details of a will from this parish held in the Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office.

Genuki Family History - Wiltshire

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