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Avebury, Wiltshire,



Avebury village first appeared between 500-600AD, as a Saxon settlement. The artefacts from this early settlement were found around the church. The Saxons called the ditch weala Ditch of the Britons. The name from Avebury may well have come from a Saxon leader called either Ava or Affa who is supposed to be buried in the rampart. The village church is St James and goes back to Saxon times. It contains a medieval rood-loft as one time hidden was discovered again in 1810. There is also a carved font believed to date from the 12th Century. During the 12th and 13th centuries the theory is that both christian and pagans continued to use Avebury as a place of worship. In the 14th century and with the raging plague and also effort from the powerful Benedictine Priors led to suppression of pagan worship.

The scare mongering stated that the circle was seen as a potentially dangerous focus on witchcraft and efforts were made to destroy them. In the 17th century hardly any of the early homes remained in the circle and by the 18th century techniques for breaking larger stones had been developed so these were used to build the houses in the village which you can see today.

In the 19th century a campaign to stop further destruction of the stone circle was led by Reverend King and Lord Avebury. Reverend King was Avebury's vicar and Lord Avebury was Sir John Lubbock who purchased Silbury Hill and parts of Avebury in the 1870's to protect them from further damage. In 1883 both Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow became the first ancient monuments to be officially protected by law by an Act of Parliment.

Avebury and Avebury Stone Circle are situated on the Wiltshire Downs near Marlborough and twenty miles from Stonehenge. Avebury is the largest stone circle throughout Europe and is assumed to have been constructed in Neolithic times which is between 2700 and 2500 BC. The Beaker people who were pottery makers were believed to be an influence on the making of Avebury's development because earthenware was found at the site. The standing stones in Avebury are in a circular pattern with three quarter mile diameter, it is thought that they are the only stones in Britain to have build a town inside the circle. Avebury is a large outer circle. two inner circles surrounded by a massive ditch and rampart. The site has also got two avenues of standing stones. To the south is thought to be main ancient processional route this is referred to as The Sanctuary and to the west is Beckhampton Avenue. Avebury the whole site has 200 standing stones still remaining by geo physical evidence shows that originally there would have been roughly 600 stones including the stones in the Avenue. The rest may have been taken away for building purposes or removed in an attempt to destroy an obviously pagan place of worship.

Situated in the village of Avebury The Red Lion, which without fear of contradiction is the only inn in the world that is located inside a prehistoric stone circle. Whitewashed walls and dark thatched roof provide a cosy feeling for a building that dates back to the early 1600s. It was a farmhouse until 1802 when it obtained a licence to become a coaching inn.

The Red Inn has attained the needs of hungry and weary travellers and thouse who venture to this spiritual village to experience its aura of magic and mystery. The pub is known for a few ghostly visitors the first being a phanton carriage drawn by ghost horses that on occasion have been seen clattering across the courtyard and landlords prefer not to be part of this spectral visitor as the rumour is that it is a sign of tradegy and a relative is going to die!

There is also the ghost of Florrie who during the 17th century English civil war we are told her husband returned home from the conflict unannounced and caught her in the arms of another man. He apparently shot her lover dead and slit his wife's throat before dragging her body to the well and throwing her down it then sealing it with a huge boulder. The well can still be seen in one of the pub's front rooms today. Florries ghost has remained behind ever since on the look out for a man with a beard although we do not know if it represents her husband or lover. She has been seen coming in and out of the old well which is now glassed over and serves as a drinks table and quirk. Bearded customers appear to attract her attention. In one incident at the pub a chandelier was seen spinning around at an alarming rate the manager was summoned. The manager noticed a man with a bushy beard sat directly underneath and he nodded knowingly. The bedrooms are said to be haunted by two children who guests have seen cowering in a corner of the Avenue bedroom. An ethereal woman is seen sitting writing at the table she is either unaware of the childrens distress or unconcerned because she often accompanies them. Strange orbs of light, weird shadows flickering and cold spots all add to the atmospheric old inn.

The pubs manager finds it a tranquil and calming place and feels it aids his sleep.

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