Posted by: travelrat | August 31, 2009

The Search for the Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

Avebury, August 3rd and August 17th 2009

We took our visitors to see the ancient stones at Avebury. The site has changed little since the last time I visited; just the sheep-droppings are a little thicker, and the car park is now pay-and-display. The stones themselves haven’t changed since Alexander Keiller put them back where they belonged in the 1930s.

Last Christmas, though, we received, among our presents, the ‘Avebury Calendar’, which hangs on the kitchen wall, and the August picture is of a set of stepping stones.

I think our visitors found these stones more fascinating than the upright ones at Avebury. Where are they, we were asked. I said I didn’t know; as far as I know, there’s no open water for miles around. So began the Search for the Stepping Stones.

The ‘Henge Shop’, a sort of general store cum souvenir shop in Avebury had no information … odd, because from thence came the calendar! And, being Monday, the TIC was closed … which was a pity; I wanted to show our visitors the TIC anyway, because it’s claimed to be the only one in England in a consecrated church.

However, a subsequent email to the Henge Shop brought the reply … they’re at Swallowhead Spring, near the West Kennet Long Barrow, on the other side of the A4 road, we were told.. I paid a quick visit to the Ordnance Survey website, and downloaded a little map … little only in the area it covered; it was a copy of the 1:25,000 OS map … on which Swallowhead Spring was marked!!

So, since we had to drop a couple of grandchildren off in Swindon, we had a look for them on the way. It was easy enough to find them; the stones were there all right, large stones; maybe the same kind of sarsens from Lockeridge Down, from which the circle at Avebury, and a large part of the one at Stonehenge is composed. But the river they spanned wasn’t! In this area, the River Kennet dries up completely in summer!


  1. Glad you tracked them down. We found some fun stepping stones on a stream in the middle of Seoul—the stream was a surprise, not the stepping stones!

  2. I would love to see those stones. How magical. I’m sure your visitors enjoyed the adventure of finding them!

  3. Hi, if you’d walked a little further you’d have found the tiny swallowhead spring, in the crook of the hill, source of the Kennett and another river that sets off north of the stones. In the winter (it’s dry in summer(

    I don’t know why this place is not acknowledged as it is, in my opinion, a key part of the Avebury complex. Maybe it’s private land.

    Water and springs etc were necessary and sacred – those stones must be ceremonial –

    No- one knows to go there except a few “druid” types who leave little woven things in the tree or by the hole in the hill.

    It’s all very silent and magic and I am glad you found it too!

  4. Thanks for your comment! You may care to have a look at and which are accounts of subsequent visits.

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