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


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015547

Date first listed: 18-Aug-1882

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of West Kennet Avenue and an earthwork bank east of West Kennett Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Avebury

National Grid Reference: SU 10817 69038, SU 11526 68097


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 28131

Legacy System: RSM


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)

End of official listing