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Historic England Research Records

The Avenue

Hob Uid: 858883
Location :
Wiltshire
Amesbury
Grid Ref : SU1320242090
Summary : A pair of roughly parallel earthwork banks, each with an outer quarry ditch, running from the River Avon at Amesbury to Stonehenge. The Avenue is generally regarded as representing a processional approach to Stonehenge, and has sometimes been linked with the postulated movement of the blusetones from the Avon to the monument. From the Avon, the Avenue runs about 1km north-west before curving gently to the west for around 500 metres. It then runs west-north-west in a straight line for 850 metres before turning abruptly to the south-west for a final, straight 530 metre stretch to Stonehenge. The Avenue is circa 34 metres wide near the Avon, gradually narrowing to around 21.5 metres at Stonehenge. Apart from the final straight length towards Stonehenge, much of the Avenue survives only as cropmarks. There is no good evidence to support the idea that the Avenue ever featured a stone setting. Details of all previous excavations along the course of the Avenue are provided and discussed by Cleal et al (1995). It is regarded as part of Stonehenge Phase 3 (late Neolithic-early Bronze Age, c2500 to 1600BC), and essentially as a single phase monument, contrary to Atkinson's previous phasing. Scheduled.
More information : SU 1230 4224 - SU 1270 4258: The Avenue (AT), (SU 1270 4258 - SU 1416 4155: The Avenue (AT) (course of) (NAT) (1)

Stone records a further northeast extension of the Avenue (to SU 1340 4310) eventually linking to the River Avon at West Amesbury, seen as two dark lines under the plough. (2)

The Avenue is clearly visible running from Stonehenge to SU 1290 4257. The external ditches are very indefinate and unsurveyable. Published 1:2500 survey revised. No trace of the remainder can be seen on the ground though it can be identified on some APs. Nothing can be seen of the suggested extension though examination of the numerous APs suggests that the soil discolourations are natural. (3)

The Avenue is the formal approach to Stonehenge, possibly linking it to the River Avon, a distance of 2.5 km. It was constructed when the henge ditch was partially silted, and comprises two parallel ditches c.23m apart with internal banks defining a central area 12m wide. Less than a third of it survives as an earthwork, the remainder visible on APs. Excavations (4-6) show it was constructed in at least two phases. The earlier, a straight section running from Stonehenge to the northeast for 530m before it bends sharply ESE, was constructed during Atkinson's Stonehenge peroid II (7), Pitt's Later Megalithic phase (8), when the entrance to the henge was widened and redesigned. It is visible as an earthwork. During its later phase the Avenue was extended from the bend, crossing Stonehenge Bottom, onto Seven Barrow Ridge then down towards the river (SU 142414). It was constructed during Atkinson's peroid IV, Pitt's Post-Megalithic phase. It is visible only on APs.

The possiblity that the Avenue may have contained paired orthostats was suggested by John Aubrey in 1666, but evidence is very limited. The only surviving account for evidence of this is dated 1740, and is in the form of holes present in the avenue banks. A geophysical survey of 1979 located anomalies clustered around the banks (8-11).

Excavations carried out at the same time located a possible paired orthostat to the Heel Stone; it was suggested that these may have been the first pair of a stone avenue. (12-13)

The CBA Implement Petrology Committee lists a group VI axe (Wilts. no. 238) allegedly from the avenue but its precise provenance is unclear. (14)

Stonehenge, the Avenue and 3 barrows adjacent to the Avenue forming part of a round barrow cemetery on Countess Farm. Revision to EH scheduling information.(15)

The Avenue is visible on aerial photographs, and has been mapped by both RCHME's Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP and EH's Stonehenge WHS Mapping Project. The western part of the feature, about one third of its length, is visible as a very slight earthwork, while the rest appears as a cropmark. (16-18)

Earthworks surveyed at 1:1000 and 1:500. (19-20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : OS 6" 1961
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Source Number : 2
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Rec. 6". October 1939 (F.J Stone)
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Stone axe studies, volume 2 : the petrology of prehistoric stone implements from the British Isles
Source details :
Page(s) : 158
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.67
Source Number : 12
Source : Stonehenge in its landscape : twentieth-century excavations
Source details :
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Vol(s) : 10
Source Number : 13
Source : Archaeological assessment of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and its surrounding landscape
Source details : Record number 722
Page(s) : 244
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Source Number : 14
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 27-Jul-95
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Source Number : 15
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH scheduling revised, 27-JUL-1995
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Source Number : 16
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : USAAF US/7PH/GP/LOC122 1050-52 24-DEC-1943
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Source Number : 17
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU 1342/38 (ACA 7086/1166) 19-MAY-1934
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Source Number : 18
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU 1441/18/174-5 (968/174-5) 18-JUL-1976
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Source Number : 19
Source : Research Department Report Series
Source details : DJ Field, MCB Bowden and S Soutar 2012 The Avenue and Stonehenge Bottom, EH
Page(s) : 19-23, 34-6
Figs. : 10, 12, 16
Plates :
Vol(s) : 31-2012
Source Number : 20
Source : Research Department Report Series
Source details : D Field and T Pearson 2010 Stonehenge: Stonehenge WHS Landscape Project, EH
Page(s) : 15
Figs. : 2, 8
Plates :
Vol(s) : 109-2010
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ANK 07-JAN-1971
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Source : Stonehenge avenue and later ditches/ink survey
Source details :
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Source : Stonehenge avenue and later ditches/pencil survey
Source details :
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Source : SU 14 SW 275 (1971)
Source details :
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Source Number : 4
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details : Vatcher, F de M, HL Vatcher. Excavation and fieldwork in Wiltshire, 1967, Winterbourne Stoke/Wilsford
Page(s) : 108
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Vol(s) : 63, 1968
Source Number : 5
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details : F de M Vatcher, HL Vatcher.
Page(s) : 123
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Vol(s) : 64, 1969
Source Number : 6
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details : Smith, G. Excavation of the Stonehenge Avenue at West Amesbury, Wiltshire.
Page(s) : 42-56
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 68, 1973
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Atkinson, RJC (1979) Stonehenge (3rd edition)
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Source Number : 8
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details : Pitts, MW. On the road to Stonehenge: report on investigations beside the A344 in 1968, 1979 and 1980.
Page(s) : 75-132
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Vol(s) : 48, 1982
Source Number : 9
Source : Stonehenge and its environs: monuments and land use
Source details :
Page(s) : Nov-13
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Stone circles of Britain : taxonomic and distributional analyses and a catalogue of sites in England, Scotland and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 445
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 215 (i-ii)

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Late Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -2900
Monument Type : Embanked Avenue
Evidence : Earthwork, Cropmark
Monument Period Name : Early Bronze Age
Display Date : Early Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -1600
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Embanked Avenue
Evidence : Earthwork, Cropmark

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SU14SW168
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WI 62
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 10390
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 14 SW 275
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 219914
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 219759
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 932707
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 932714
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121113
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121114
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121123
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121125
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121076
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121080
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121082
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121091
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121045
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1121087
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1580342
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE, AVENUE TERMINAL & HEELSTONE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1919-01-01
End Date : 1926-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AVENUE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1923-01-01
End Date : 1923-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AVENUE, SOUTH OF AMESBURY-STONEHENGE ROAD
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1927-01-01
End Date : 1927-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AVENUE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, TRENCH: STONEHENGE TO KINGBARROW WOOD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1968-01-01
End Date : 1968-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AVENUE, WEST AMESBURY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AVENUE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE AVENUE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1979-01-01
End Date : 1980-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE: HEELSTONE AND AVENUE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1979-01-01
End Date : 1980-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, KING BARROW RIDGE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE AVENUE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE AVENUE: FIRST BEND
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE: 20TH CENTURY EXCAVATIONS PROJECT
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: SALISBURY PLAIN TRAINING AREA NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1994-12-01
End Date : 1995-08-01
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE AVENUE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, A303 STONEHENGE DIVERSION (AREAS VI & VII)
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: STONEHENGE WHS MAPPING PROJECT NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2001-02-01
End Date : 2001-07-01
Associated Activities : Primary, A303(T) AMESBURY BYPASS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: STONEHENGE WHS LANDSCAPE PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE WHS: THE AVENUE/STONEHENGE BOTTOM
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31