Home Newsletter Locations Diary
Topic Alpha County Sections By

Travellers Resource

West Kennet Long barrow

near West Kennet/Avebury, Wiltshire

Location Guide

"A part of the World Heritage Site - Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites"

English Heritage say "One of the largest, most impressive and most accessible Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain. Built in around 3650 BC". This dates it about 400 years before Stonehenge was started. It was in use for over a thousand years, up to around 2,200BC. After this it was filled in, but was then used for unknown use after this.

The remains of at least 46 bodies ranging from babies to old people have been found in it, but as many are not complete, they may not have all been destined to stay there.

Located not far from Avebury some say connected with The Sanctuary   and accessed from the road by   Silbury Hill and across two fields following a footpath.

It is classified as a chambered long barrow and a severn-cotswold tomb, and is similar to others found in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Wayland's Smithy   in Oxfordshire. I have visited many of these and West Kennet is far larger than the others allowing you easy access, while some of the others you have to get down and crawl in, and others are incomplete. As a teenager I visited and slept the night in this one, on my own at around mid summer, in those days it smelt fresher than it does today and was not visited as much. A local legend tells how this tomb is visited on Midsummer Day by a ghostly priest and a large white hound.

It's made up of a very long wedge shaped mound, around 100m long and only the East Kennet Long Barrow, (SU116668) that is in sight of this one, is longer. A small open forecourt area leading to a main passage with 5 chambers off, two pairs and a larger one at the end. Only the end chamber is large enough for an adult person to lay fully out, and this is large enough for several to have been put in at a time. It is said that the end chamber was used for the burial, but once the person had decomposed the bones were stored in the side chambers. At the front, pointing east-ish is a number of very large Sarsen stones.  There are ditches each side, but these may not be easy to see, and the earth from these was used to construct the mound. Some of the stones came from the nearby downs, still some distance given the size of the stones,  while some smaller ones came from around 30 miles away.

Like all long barrows we don't know if it's original use was for burials or if it had another function and were later reused for this. Some have a single family in, and it may be that some of these were used for homes and protection from the weather, shutting off the entrance eventually suffocating the inhabitants.  West Kennet Long Barrow would make a good cave home, but as archaeologists estimate that it took 15,700 man hours to construct it seems excessive for this use.

Some of the mound has collapsed, but the main part with the chambers is intact. The collapsed parts are probably a result of earlier archaeological digging. There are some boundary stones but I think these are modern just signifying the area that is the barrow so it does not get damaged.

West Kennet Long Barrow is in private ownership and in English Heritage guardianship. It is managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.

We have more images which can be found in our gallery via this link

Location: West Kennet Long Barrow, nr West Kennet/Avebury, Wiltshire

Grid Reference: SU104676 Ceremonial County: Wiltshire

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap Google (good)

Getting there: Parking on the side of A4, or the car park for Silbury Hill   nearby. 3⁄4 mile SW of West Kennet, along a footpath off the A4.

Access: Access across footpath, 2 fields from A4
Website: English Heritage

Other Useful Websites: Wikipedia   pegasusarchive (just photos)

Mysterious britain stonepages      sacred-destinations     weirdwiltshire

Postcode: Telephone:
Opening Times: Open all the time, but there may be some restrictions around the summer solstice 20-22 June, so check before if you propose to visit at this time.

Charges: None

Nearby Locations: Avebury    The Sanctuary      Silbury Hill 
Other Location Pages: Ridgeway Path    

Stonehenge    Durrington Walls    Woodhenge 

Avebury    Silbury Hill, nr Avebury      The Sanctuary, nr Avebury

Other Relevant Pages:

World Heritage Sites      World Heritage Sites in the UK

World Heritage Sites - Further Information

Notes: Information on the East Kennet Long Barrow, that is not open to the public can be found at themodernantiquarian    kennet   megalithic


Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park   Section: Heritage Key:
Page Ref: West_Kennet_lb Topic: Burial Chambers and Mounds  Last Updated: 04/2009


This page:

Link directly to this page, with text or the button on right.

Text linking: West Kennet Long Barrow on Photographers Resource

Linking Instructions                            http://www.photographers-resource.co.uk/

Photographers Resource, all the information for the photographer