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Avebury, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Avebury, or Abury, a village and a parish in Wiltshire. The village adjoins a head stream of the river Kennet, 1½ mile N of Silbury Hill, 4 miles N of Wans Dyke, 6½ W of Marlborough station on the G.W.R., and 8 SSE of Wootton-Bassett. Its site is a flat area of 28 acres, once occupied by a vast Druidical temple. Dr. Stukeley, who examined the temple in 1720, supposed it to have originally consisted of 650 stones, and to have included the whole site of the present village. It is surrounded by a broad ditch, outside of which is a lofty vallum, intended, it is supposed, to enable spectators to observe the ceremonies over the whole extent of the area. Within the ditch was a circle, 1400 feet in diameter, formed of 100 upright stones, from 15 to 17 feet in height, and about 40 in circumference, placed at a distance of 27 yards from one another. Within this were two circles, each consisting of two double concentric rows. In the centre of the northern circle were three large stones, two of which are still standing, whilst in the centre of the southern circle was one large stone, the remains of which were discovered in 1870. The grand circle had two entrances, consisting of double rows of 100 upright stones each, placed at equal distances, and extending a mile in length; the one terminating in a double concentric circle of smaller diameter, and the other having a stone larger than the rest at the extremity. Of this vast structure few traces now remain, the stones having been broken down and used in the construction of the houses of the village, and in repairing the roads. Many barrows and tumuli, together with Druidical stones, are in the neighbourhood; and a most remarkable one is that called SILBURY HILL. The parish includes the tithings of Beckhampton and West Kennet. Acreage, 4690; population, 674. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office. The manor was given, in the time of Henry I., to the Abbey of Boscharville, in Normandy; passed first to Winchester College, Oxford, next to the collegiate church of Fotheringhay, in Northamptonshire, and went, at the dissolution, to Sir William Sharington. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; net value, £277. The church is an ancient structure of stone and flint, with some Norman features, some Saxon and probably still earlier British remains having been revealed and carefully preserved during recent repairs, and has a curious Norman font. There is a Free Church of England and a Baptist chapel.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWiltshire 
Ecclesiastical parishAvebury St. James 
HundredSelkley 
Poor Law unionMarlborough 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Avebury:

BaptismsBannsMarriagesBurials
1607-1880 1621-18371621-1880

Churches

Church of England

St. James (parish church)

The parish church of St James is a building of stone, in the Saxon, Norman and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, aisles and south porch, with an embattled western tower with pinnacles containing 5 bells and a clock: the Saxon font, with Norman carving, is carved with the figure of a bishop holding the Gospels to his breast, and piercing, with his crozier, a serpent which lies coiled around: at the south entrance is a rich Norman doorway, and over the chancel arch a rood-screen, beautifully painted, and which has been carefully restored: in the chancel is a monument to John Truslove, dated 1593: the church was thoroughly restored in 1883 at a cost of £3,000: there are 250 sittings.


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Avebury from the following:


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online:

CountyWiltshire
RegionSouth West
CountryEngland
Postal districtSN8
Post TownMarlborough