Wed, 22 Jul 2020
Avebury Stone Circle Picture: James Dobson
THE National Trust and Avebury village are open to visitors once again now the lockdown restrictions have eased.
The Trust’s car park and toilets have reopened and local shops, the pub and the Trust’s own restaurant have also opened their doors to visitors again.
Avebury, part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, is the site of the largest stone circle in the world and part of the village and archaeology is looked after by the National Trust.
If you take a stroll around the stone circle on a normal summer’s day, you might well encounter people meditating, pagan ceremonies taking place, children playing, families picnicking and sheep peacefully grazing.
However, this year, like most other villages in the country, Avebury had to close its businesses and facilities when the coronavirus pandemic led to an enforced lockdown.
Operations manager at National Trust at Avebury, Eva Stuetzenberger, said: “It was a tough time for all of us.
"Managing an open access site during a pandemic is something nobody had experienced before. We were particularly mindful of the impact on the village, especially the concern among residents, some of whom were vulnerable, about the number of visitors still likely to visit Avebury. With that in mind we took the sad decision, at an early stage, to temporarily close all our facilities.”
The community shop and the Post Office remained open throughout lockdown in order to serve the local community and provide home deliveries for the vulnerable.
Ms Stuetzenberger continues “It’s a huge relief to be able to welcome people back to Avebury. Reopening hasn’t been as straight forward as it might sound though and was a real learning curve when it came to implementing government and National Trust guidelines to ensure everybody’s safety.
"The visitor experience on site has changed in many ways, but the feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive with people appreciating the site more than ever before.”
Unlike many National Trust sites, people do not need to book before visiting. Social distancing measures are in place across the visitor route and the restaurant is currently only doing takeaway food and drinks with seating across the Old Farmyard.
The Trust advise visiting their website beforehand so that people know what to expect. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury