A TOP druid has branded a decision to shut the waterlogged Avebury henge “difficult” – but says he accepts the decision as necessary.

The National Trust has closed the 5,000-year-old henge, stone circles and West Kennet Avenue, fearing that visitors walking over the waterlogged site could cause serious damage to archaeological treasures beneath the ground.

The site, which has been owned by the National Trust since the 1940s, is an important one for pagans. Druids have celebrated solstice ceremonies at the stones for thousands of years.

Archdruid Terry Dobney, the current Keeper of the Stones at Avebury, said he accepted the National Trust’s decision to close the site: “I have to allow the National Trust to manage the site to the best of their abilities. It’s a difficult decision, obviously.

“I came past the entrance the other day and it was a quagmire.”

Mr Dobney said that the “temple” of Avebury was where druids have predicted weather patterns and the success of crops for generations.

“Who do we trust the least?” Mr Dobney asked. “The weather man and the politicians. The druids were both.”

Whether the druids held any responsibility for the current wet weather hitting Avebury could not be said.

The National Trust say that the stones could remain closed to visitors for “a few weeks”.

Dr Nick Snashall,  the trust's archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, said: "We know through geophysical surveys and excavation that there is more archaeology under our feet as we walk around Avebury.

"However, the topsoil here is very thin and the archaeology can be quite near to the ground surface. So it’s important that we take steps now to ensure that people walking through the deepening mud don’t damage the site.

"The henge and West Kennet Avenue have been here for 5,000 years, and it’s our responsibility to make sometimes difficult decisions that will ensure it’s here for another 5,000 years and beyond."

The Red Lion pub, Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury Manor and other trust facilities will be open as normal.

During the henge closure, parking in the National Trust car park will be free.

For more, visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury.