Avebury rivals - some would say exceeds - Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex prehistoric site in Britain.
Built and altered over many centuries from about 2850 BC to 2200 BC, it now appears as a huge circular bank and ditch, enclosing an area of 281 ⁄2 acres (111 ⁄2 hectares), including part of Avebury village.Within this 'henge' ditch is an inner circle of great standing stones, enclosing two more stone circles, each with a central feature.
The site's present appearance owes much to the marmalade heir Alexander Keiller, who excavated and re-erected many stones during the 1930s, and whose archaeological collections are displayed in the nearby museum. Many stones had been broken or buried in medieval and later times, one crushing its destroyer as it fell.
Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge 'sacred landscape', whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at. Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Avebury Henge and Stone Circles are in the freehold ownership of The National Trust and in English Heritage guardianship. They are managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.