November 2007: It was only a week after Halloween and in England with the cool, Autumn mornings and fall colors, it still felt like Halloween to me even though it isn’t celebrated like in the USA. Instead, it was Guy Fawkes Day, commemorating a failed attempt by a group of English Catholics to assassinate the Lutheran King in the 1600’s by burning down the parliament building.  The attempt to kill the king failed and the assassins were captured, tortured and executed in a grizzly fashion at the Tower of London. Ever since, Nov 5 has been a holiday in England where people have bonfires, light off fireworks in memory of the failed assassination attempt and children go house to house asking for a penny for the Guy, the British version of Halloween trick or treating.  Whatever the holiday, England is full of history and old places, many steeped in haunted legends. I was in London for a long weekend, and I wanted to immerse myself in one of these haunted places. After visiting the London Bridge and the Tower of London, where Guy Fawkes and many others were executed and tortured, I decided to take bus out to Avebury, a small 1000-year-old village surrounded by neolithic stone circles of mythical origins, where my goal was to stay in a haunted Inn from the 1600’s.

London Bridge on the Thames River 

About Avebury

Avebury is a small village that dates back a thousand years or more.  It consists of a small cluster of old traditional English buildings some with grass roofs and a few churches or abbeys with creepy old graveyard of crumbling tombs. then there is the Red Lion Inn, which dates back to the 1660’s, is the only inn where anyone can sleep within an ancient stone circle.  The Inn has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in England. It is believed to be haunted by many ghosts but one of the chief ghosts is of the wife of one of the Inns owners in the 1600’s. She was murdered by her husband when the husband came home after fighting in the civil war at the time only to find that she had been having an affair. He murdered her and threw her body into the well and sealed it shut. The well is in the middle of the Red Lion Inn and is covered with glass and currently used as a bar. My room, one of the few rooms that guests can stay in at the inn was located directly above the well and is meant to be one of the most haunted rooms in the inn. Many guests have been unable to stay the full night because their blanket has been pulled from their bodies or they have awakened to womans presence at the foot of the bed or have had their feet being pulled on.

What really makes Avebury significant is the stone circle that surrounds around it. The stone circle and ditch were built approximately in 3400BC. Then over the years, the town of Avebury was built inside of the stone circle. The stone are as large as the ones in nearby 5000-year-old Stonehenge but unlike Stonehenge you can walk up to them, and they are near a town. They surround Avebury making Avebury the only town surrounded by a Neolithic stone circle. The stone circle is thousands of years old, and its purpose is a mystery. It was built by Celtic Druids but other than that little is known about it. Then nearby is the man made Silbury mound, which in volume is as large as the Giza pyramid but made entirely of chalk and covered by grass. The mound is also neolithic and its purpose is unknown. There are theories it could be a tomb or have a religious significance, no one knows.  All of these factors make staying in the small little village of Avebury a fascinating and creepy experience.

 

Me at Stoonehenge-5000-year-old neolithic stone structure built by Druids possibly as a sun dial for ceremonial purposes, but no one knows for sure

To get to Avebury I took a bus from London, a double decker and I made sure to sit on the front of the top deck above the driver’s cabin. It was hard to believe such a huge bus could navigate the small little country roads. I got off the bus at Stonehenge and spend an hour visiting the famous druid stone circle. Then after Stonehenge I caught another bus to Avebury only a few miles away and was dropped off in the center and I checked into my place of stay for the night, the Red Lion Inn. 

One of the ancient ditches dug out of the ground where stones also once stood before being removed by villagers to be used as a building material

Ancient stone structures that form a stone circle around Avebury

Ancient stone structures that form a stone circle around Avebury

There were only a few patrons at the bar when I checked in. The first thing I did is drop off my backpack in my room upstairs above the bar and return for a beer. I started talking to the bartender about the town and the bar and of course ghosts. The bar tender did confirm that he had seen some unexplainable things in the bar and that some guests have fled in the middle of the night. This is why they only accept payment at the time of check in. After finishing my beer, I let the bar tender know that I planned to explore the town and the stone circle, and they reminded me that I needed to be in the room before 11pm because the door to the upstairs hallway will be locked by then and no one will be able to exit or enter. I thought this was strange and a bit sinister. When I asked why, the bartender replied for security reasons. It occurred to me that maybe it was to keep frightened guests from stirring up a panic in the middle of the night when seeing specters. I made sure to create my own escape route if I needed one out the window of my room and over the rooftop and climbing down a telephone pole to the outside below. 

There were only a few patrons at the bar when I checked in. The first thing I did is drop off my backpack in my room upstairs above the bar and return for a beer. I started talking to the bartender about the town and the bar and of course ghosts. The bar tender did confirm that he had seen some unexplainable things in the bar and that some guests have fled in the middle of the night. This is why they only accept payment at the time of check in.

Red Lion Inn

I hurried out from the inn in the evening to explore Avebury and the stone circle which I had all to myself  There were no fences or no tresspassing signs. The little creepy town of Avebury was all mine to explore. 

St James Church built in 1300s and meant to be haunted by a monk that is sometimes seen wandering the graveyard. I didn’t see anything but there are some strange orbs in my photo. 

Tombs at the St. James Church

Walking around at night was incredible. The town was ghostly, and no one was out. The old church with the tombstones in front was fun to explore in the dark. It too has a reputation as being haunted by one of its previous priests. Then I walked through the farm fields among the giant neolithic rocks of the stone circle that towered above me. Over the years the rocks had fallen and over the years the rocks were erected, and crops were grown around them or fields of grass for sheep grazing and in some cases materials from them were used for building materials. One farmer that was harvesting rock for his house was crushed by one as it tumbled over him and people after this believed it to be a curse to disturb the rocks. Today they are protected.

Walking among the rocks was creepy especially since there are all kinds of UFO and ghost type legends associated with them. Ornate crop circles with precise dimensions only able to be viewed from the air were popping up in the area on a common basis and there were never any spectators on the ground. Are these being created by mischievous people trying to have a laugh? Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for such an effort. But it’s anybody’s guess.

My Room at the Red Lion Inn

I explored for hours, and I didn’t see any supernatural events or UFOs, but I did get a scare when I walked around a stone circle and I started a group of ravens that erupted in squawking and shrieks. 

Then because it was close to the time that the inn would lock the doors, I had to return to my room.  My room was with no frills, but the price was good, and the history and legend were what I was here for. I left a small night lamp on so I could keep an eye on the activities in my room and I made sure to cover my feet with my blanket. In the end I didn’t sleep very well. I had lurid dreams and in one dream I saw a woman standing beside my bed but when I awakened, she wasn’t there. I was so psyched about seeing ghosts that I started to see them in my dreams, at least I think they were dreams. Once morning arrived, I jumped out of bed to explore the town some more and to catch my bus back to London after having a very interesting experience in the little town of Avebury. 

13 + 10 =

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