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determine a definite origin, purpose or interrelationship among the stones. According to various theories, the entire site may have comprised a single religious, magical or psychic center, or one specific set of stones may have served as sites for fertility, religious or burial rites or for astronomical purposes.

The most widely accepted theory holds that Avebury was built by prehistoric Beaker folk, so named for their beaker pottery, over a period of five centuries. Beaker pottery has been found in the area, and timber buildings were uncovered at the site, suggesting that Avebury might have once been a settlement of huts. The name Avebury, however, implies that at some time in its history, it was a burial site and was referred to as such in the 10th-century charter of King Athelstan.

One scenario holds that Avebury was built for seasonal festivals, and the stones were arranged for processionals. Some observers see male and female aspects to the pillars and diamond shapes of the stones. Silbury Hill may be an image of the pregnant Goddess, another fertility symbol. Still another symbol is the Devil's Chair, a huge stone that measures 14 feet wide by 13 feet high and contains a ledge. In folk tradition, Avebury village girls would sit on Devil's Chair on Beltane (May Eve) to make wishes.

The stones of Avebury are widely believed to be the collectors and repositories of Earth and psychic energy, which supposedly was known to the original users of the site and which can be dowsed. The area around Avebury has been popular with the makers of crop circles. See MEGALITHS.

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