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West Kennet Long Barrow, Avebury

#3 of 11 in Things to do in Avebury
Must see · Ruin · Historic Site
The West Kennet Long Barrow, also known as South Long Barrow, is a chambered long barrow located near the village of Avebury in the south-western English county of Wiltshire. Probably constructed in the thirty-seventh century BCE, during Britain's Early Neolithic period, today it survives in a partially reconstructed state.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by pastoralist communities shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, the West Kennet Long Barrow belongs to a localised regional variant of barrows in Western Britain, now known as the Cotswold-Severn Group. Of these, it is part of a cluster of around thirty centred on Avebury in the uplands of northern Wiltshire.

Built out of earth, local sarsen megaliths, and oolitic limestone imported from the Cotswolds, the long barrow consisted of a sub-rectangular earthen tumulus enclosed by kerb-stones. Its precise date of construction is not known. Human bones were placed within the chamber, probably between 3670 and 3635 BCE, representing a mixture of men, women, children and adults. There is then an apparent hiatus in the use of the site as a place of burial, probably lasting over a century. Between 3620 and 3240 BCE it likely began to be re-used as a burial space, receiving both human and animal remains over a period of several centuries. Various flint tools and ceramic sherds were also placed within it during this time. In the Late Neolithic, the entrance to the long barrow was blocked up with the addition of large sarsen boulders. During the Later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, the landscape around West Kennet Long Barrow was subject to the widespread construction of ceremonial monuments, among them the Avebury henge and stone circles, the West Kennet Avenue, The Sanctuary, and Silbury Hill.

During the Romano-British period, a small coin hoard was buried in the side of the long barrow. The ruin attracted the interest of antiquarians in the 17th century, while archaeological excavation took place in 1859 and again in 1955–56, after which it underwent reconstruction. Now under the guardianship of English Heritage, it is classified as part of the "Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites" UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open without charge to visitors all year round.

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West Kennet Long Barrow reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
360 reviews
  • Worth the short walk, parking is easy and can visit Silbury hill whilst you are there. Soak up the ancient history and vibes  more »
  • It is certainly worth a visit , however be prepared for circa 1/2 mile walk each way. From a historical point of view it is outstanding. I have to be honest and say I felt a little uneasy inside...  more »
  • Great to actually be able to walk inside the monument... we were lucky to meet The General and his guitar... he was waiting for sunset with his friend… We sat a while and passed the guitar around and played some tunes whilst the swallows came and went to feed their baby chicks! Can't promise that everytime (!) you visit but can promise a great little find and worth a visit for historians and hippies alike!
  • Set is beautiful rolling country side. Very interesting place with a moving feel about it. Would benefit from more information signs to know more of the history. Stunning views toward Silbury Hill. Limited parking spaces available.

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