Begun in about 3000 BC, the Sanctuary was originally a complex circular arrangement of timber posts, which were later replaced by stones. These components are now indicated by concrete slabs.
Its function remains a mystery: possibly it enshrined the dwelling place of some revered person, and certainly huge numbers of human bones were found here, accompanied by food remains suggesting elaborate death rites and ceremonies. Later, West Kennet Avenue was constructed to connect it with newly-built Avebury, reinforcing the status of this enigmatic but clearly very important site.
The Sanctuary is in DCMS ownership and in English Heritage guardianship. It is managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.
Read more about the history of the Sanctuary.
Before You Go
Parking: We recommend parking in the layby next to the site, to avoid crossing the busy road. There is also parking on the opposite side of the road.
Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.
Please be aware: English Heritage does not permit drone flying from or over sites in our care, except by contractors or partners undertaking flights for a specific purpose, who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have the correct insurances and permissions, and are operating under controlled conditions.
Plan a Great Day Out
The best way to explore Avebury and its various sites is on foot. You should wear appropriate footwear and prepare for the weather.
Begin your visit at the Alexander Keiller Museum to find out about the six sites within the care of English Heritage and their significance, including Avebury Stone Circle, West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, Windmill Hill and Silbury Hill.
Toilets and a café are available near the museum in Avebury.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. The English Heritage Trust is a charity, no. 1140351, and a company, no. 0744722, registered in England.
- 66% Self-generated income
- 20% One off capital grant
- 14% Government funding