As everyone knows, rating heritage sites in terms of which is “best” is naff, populist and meaningless. On the other hand “Which? Magazine” has just rated Avebury as the second best heritage site in the whole world! So quite a sensible exercise then!

The Cove, Avebury,  Image credit Chris Brooks, Heritage Action

The Cove, Avebury by Chris Brooks, Heritage Action

It was only just pipped by Monte Albán in Mexico and was well ahead of third placed Herculaneum. The judges were Professor Tim Champion  of the Royal Archaeological Institute, Professor Henry Cleere – former World Heritage Coordinator for ICOMOS, and Dr Annabel Lawson – founder of heritage tour specialists Adante Travels. They used 25 criteria including the visitor experience, presentation and preservation of the site and the ability to learn from and engage with the site. They praised Avebury for “its quiet, rural setting and for the visitor experience. Visitors can wander freely among the stones – unlike at its sister site, Stonehenge.

Second best on the whole planet is a pretty stunning assessment and serves as a timely reminder of just what a jewel we have in Britain. But it also brings home how crazy it is that people are still climbing up Silbury and damaging it with very little having been done to dissuade them. What would we say if it was being allowed to happen in a Third World country?