The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Round Barrow(s)


This site has been known as Penning or Avebury Down 'Stone Circle', but it's actually thought to be the remains of a bell barrow. It has a 3m berm between its mound and its (now faintly perceptible) ditch. Today there are six large sarsens which make up the 16m diameter circle, with a number of smaller stones towards the still slightly raised middle. However, when the site was visited by Merewether in the 1840s he made a sketch that showed 8 stones and four pits from which others had been removed. He found pottery fragments and animal bones on partially excavating the area. Only about 250 bell barrows are known in Britain and most are in Wessex, though ones with such large stones making up the peristalith are unusual around Avebury. They were generally the pretty impressive final resting places of important men from the community.

(details from EH's record of Scheduled Monuments on Magic)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st October 2006ce

Comments (2)

Thank you for this Rhiannon. I came across this little 'stone circle' last weekend while out with a Ramblers group - walking down to Avebury from the Ridgeway via some obscure rights of way through fields. Such a surprise, with the great round barrows of Avebury Down also in view. A perspective I had not seen before. Had it been elsewhere, I would have said it looked like a stone circle but somehow in such close proximity to Avebury it didn't. It was good to read your explanation. tjj Posted by tjj
27th March 2014ce
I do believe I've visited it too, our tma comrade Scubi was kind enough to show me. It's strange isn't it when you find somewhere new so close to such a well known place like Avebury, but no-one's there - it gives a new perspective as you say. The stones are really quite massive though? which you'd think wouldn't be that common associated with a mere barrow. But then again this is Avebury, I guess there's huge stones for the taking in the vicinity. And they're pretty small fry in comparison with those of the circle and the avenue aren't they. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th March 2014ce
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