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Avebury (St. James)

AVEBURY (St. James), a parish, in the union of Marlborough, hundred of Selkley, Marlborough and Ramsbury, and N. divisions of Wilts, 6¾ miles (W. by S.) from Marlborough; containing, with the tythings of Beckhampton and Kennet, 751 inhabitants. This parish, in which the river Kennet has its source, comprises about 4641 acres; the soil is a light earth resting on chalk, and the surface is undulated. The village is built on a portion of the area anciently occupied by a stupendous monument called Abury, supposed to have been constructed by the Britons, for the purposes of religious worship or national assemblies. It consisted of an extensive ditch and rampart, including double circles of large unhewn stones, many of which have been broken, and used as materials for building the houses in the village, and for other purposes. In the vicinity are several barrows, and among them the very large and remarkable one, close to the turnpike-road, called Silbury hill, which covers an area of five acres and thirty-four perches, and exceeds in dimensions every similar work in Great Britain, being 2027 feet in circumference at the base, and 120 at the summit; its sloping height is 316 feet, and its perpendicular height 170 feet. Within a short distance of this are remarkable stones termed the Grey Wethers, and about a mile north of the village is a cromlech. The living is a discharged vicarage, to which that of Winterbourne-Monkton was united in 1747, valued in the king's books at £9; net income, £178; patron, the Crown; impropriators, the family of Hopkins. The glebe consists of 16 acres. The church is of Norman architecture. An alien priory, dependent on the Benedictine abbey of Bocherville in Normandy, was founded here in the reign of Henry I. Robert of Avebury, who wrote a history of Edward III., is supposed to have been a native of the place.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.