West Kennet Long Barrow (Featuring Silbury Hill)

Burnsie in front of West Kennet Long BarrowWest Kennet Long Barrow is one hell of an impressive structure. This is fortunate because it is also one hell of a way from the nearest parking spot and I would not have been too pleased to walk so far for little reward. Situated close to Avebury Village, West Kennet commands great views of the surrounding World Heritage landscape. It is to be found just off the A4 between Marlborough and Beckhampton (you can't miss it, when you see the gigantic Neolithic mound, stop!) From the lay-by at the foot of Silbury Hill, West Kennet is reached via a little path, up a steep hill, between two fields. When you finally reach the place Silbury Hill looks even more impressive than it does from car level, and Windmill Hill can be seen in the distance. Fantastic!

The Barrow itself is stunning. If Long Barrows are your thing, then it really doesn't get better than this. A long narrow structure (100 metres long I'm told) covered in earth and accessed at one end between some giant stones. It's that big that not only can you stand up; there's headroom! Once inside, this is the perfect spot to chill out, so long as no tourists arrive to spoil the moment. It certainly gets you out of the wind. However, it's not as big on the inside as it is outside, but like anyone cares!

Standing atop West Kennet, Silbury Hill is clearly visible only a short distance away. Silbury Hill viewed from West Kennet Long BarrowThis man made structure is the greatest Neolithic mound in Europe, standing 130 feet (39 meters) high. Throughout the centuries, herds (the correct collective noun) of amateur archaeologists, have tunnelled into the mound hoping to find ancient artefacts, or buried treasure, but to date none have been found. More modern techniques have revealed that the mound is completely man made from the ground up and was never designed as a resting place for the dead. It was just constructed to look good and guess what? It does! West Kennet also has a friend: East Kennet Long Barrow, which is situated about half a mile to the South East. Unfortunately there is no public access to the barrow and it remains unexcavated and covered in trees.

So don't forget if you are going to see Avebury make sure you call in at West Kennet. Even if it is one hell of a hike.