St James Church, Avebury, Wiltshire

Horse head + circle
Horse head, circle

Just outside the boundaries of Avebury Stone Circle lies the parish church of St James. It dates back to Saxon times, with additions from the Normans and in the 13th Century.

The south porch has many reused stones, including one in the window frame dated to 1660-something and replaced upside down.


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There is no graffiti visible in the nave of the church, but the tower is the domain of the bellringers and round the font the walls are covered in dates, initials and symbols. The 1411 date seems to be in modern plasterwork, so I don’t think it goes as far back as it promises. There is a charming horse’s head, however and a strange symbol that appears to be a heart. I would say sacred heart, but that the reformation happened 70 years before that symbol came into common use.


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The only other graffiti in the church is to the side of the pulpit. There is some hatchmarks and a faint, but mostly complete, compass daisy wheel. I must also mention the smiley lion that peers from out of chancel to the south of the church.


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St James Church
Church Walk


Correspondent: Anthea Hawdon