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West Kennet Avenue and an earthwork bank east of West Kennett Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Avebury, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4174 / 51°25'2"N

Longitude: -1.8424 / 1°50'32"W

OS Eastings: 411055.772142

OS Northings: 168723.422643

OS Grid: SU110687

Mapcode National: GBR 3VS.30F

Mapcode Global: VHB45.0MVR

Entry Name: West Kennet Avenue and an earthwork bank east of West Kennett Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1882

Last Amended: 13 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015547

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28131

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Avebury

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Details

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the West Kennet Avenue
which runs south from the Avebury henge to a smaller henge known as `The
Sanctuary'. It also includes an earthwork bank east of West Kennett Farm,
running parallel to the River Kennet. The site lies within the Avebury World
Heritage Area and is one of the focal monuments on which the designation was
based.
The Avenue winds its way across the landscape east of Waden Hill and the River
Kennet for a distance of about 2.3km. It is formed by two roughly parallel
rows of standing sarsen stones dating to c.3000 BC. The best preserved
section, which includes several re-positioned stones and concrete markers,
includes a roughly 800m long stretch of 27 sarsen stones. The rows stand on
average around 15m apart and the stones in each row are about 20m apart.
Partial excavations in the past and more recent non-intrusive surveys have
provided evidence for the line of the Avenue and some of its history. In 1913,
for example, a burial was found in the socket pit beneath one of the stones,
and further pits and features have been identified both within the line of the
Avenue and in close proximity to it on either side. These include an
occupation site containing hearths, rubbish pits, pottery sherds and other
remains, excavated by Alexander Keiller who was largely responsible for the
interpretation and preservation of the Avebury henge in the early 20th
century.
At the southern end of the Avenue, where it runs north of the River Kennet, is
a linear earthwork bank. Its exact function and date of origin are not known
but in its present form it appears to be associated with medieval management
of the Kennet valley. However, its location between the Avenue, the Sanctuary
and the West Kennett Farm palisaded enclosures (all the subject of separate
schedulings) mean that it may well have a much earlier origin. The bank runs
for a distance of about 320m, measuring up to 7m wide and as much as 1m high.
Within the area between the Avenue and the River Kennet there have been a
number of finds over the years, including stone axes, pottery and later
Romano-British jewellery and coins.
Excluded from the scheduling are all boundary fences and walls, the concrete
markers, the surfaces of all roads, and all standing structures, although the
ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the
17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a
World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West
Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill
causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the
other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other
associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest
and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual
monuments in the country.

Avenues consist of upright stones set in two more or less parallel lines, upto
1.5km or more in length. They are sited close to prehistoric burial monuments,
such as small cairns or cists, and to ritual monuments, such as stone circles,
and are therefore considered to have had an important ceremonial function.
Stone alignments, including Avenues, were being constructed and used from the
Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c.3000-1000 BC) and provide
rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during these periods. Due to
their rarity and longevity as a monument type, all examples that are not
extensively damaged will be considered worthy of protection.

The West Kennet Avenue survives well despite previous agricultural activity.
It has been shown by various surveys to survive along the majority of its
route which runs from Avebury to the smaller henge known as the Sanctuary.
Partial excavation has shown that evidence of the ritual and ceremonial use of
the monument will survive in the form of buried and surface remains within the
wider landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
AVWH 327, C.A.O., Earthworks, (1990)
SU16NW106 AVWH 144, C.A.O., West Kennet Avenue, (1990)
SU16NW555 AVWH 188, C.A.O., Large Number of Skeletons, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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