What is it about Stonehenge that sparks our imaginations? The stones are usually associated with the Druids in common myth, but the Druids are said to have lived much later than the original construction.
Almost 1.6 million visited the site on the Salisbury Plains in 2017. Most visitors stay a respectful distance from the stones behind a lower rope barrier, but you can take a guided tour that allows you time to wander among the stones (no touching please!)
If you go, it’s best to arm yourself with some of the lore that surrounds the site, otherwise the mystery of what you are looking at can be lost. Here’s an interesting link that covers some of the basics. Also check out books about Stonehenge on Amazon.
First of all, Stonehenge and neighbouring Avebury combined is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. By the way, if you go to Stonehenge, be sure to also visit Avebury. It’s am amazing circle of standing stones surrounding the town of Avebury. Here, you are free to wander and touch the stones, some of which have magnetic properties. Researchers estimate that the amount of earth that was moved to build the Avebury circle is equivalent to the weight of the stones in the Great Pyramid at Giza. Amazing! Personally, we found Avebury fascinating, so if you get the chance, take in both.
It’s believed Stonehenge dates to 3000 B.C., but the date tends to move depending on who is providing the history. The large stones, called Sarsens, are said to have been brought there about 1,500 B.C. They were brought to the site from around Avebury, some 30 kms away. Weights vary from 20 to 50 tons, so no small feat to transport them. The first stones moved to the site are called Blue Stones and weigh about four tons each. They were brought from Wales, some 300 kms away.
Leading up to Stonehenge, researchers have found what’s called the Stonehenge Avenue – a road that runs from the river Avon to Stonehenge, and was believed to have been used for ceremonial processions.
Of course the purpose of Stonehenge, who built it and how are the big mysteries. It’s best to read several sources to get a feel for what researchers have found. This link will get you started.
In general, the stones are aligned with the planets and solstices, so the site may have been a calendar marking significant times in the year.
We have been to Stonehenge twice, and frankly found the Special Access tour the best way to go. While being close to the stones is awesome, being able to walk among them is very special.
When you go:
We arranged for a Special Access tour (also called an Inner Circle tour) through Golden Tours of London. If you’re a Stonehenge fan, then the $225 price per adult is not a deterrent, and the tour takes you to the old Roman Baths as well and includes a lunch. The trip takes nine hours from London, so be prepared for a full day. Be sure to book early online as the spaces fill quickly.
If you can, schedule a trip to Avebury as well. Well worth the time to spend a couple of hours walking among the stones.
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To help guide you around, Lonely Planet likely has a book for you. Go to Indigo’s Lonely Planet pages and search for the one that works for you.
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