One of the most interesting places to visit in England is Stonehenge. It is located approximately 9 miles outside of Salisbury, Wiltshire. Whether you are an overseas visitor or a local, a Stonehenge tour is a must on your holiday itinerary.
Wiltshire itself is a lovely county and in and around Salisbury there are many delightful old Inns, Hotels, Guest Houses and B&B’s. There is sure to be something to suit your budget and taste.
The easiest way to get to Stonehenge is by car or by bus. At peak times parking can be a problem so it is best to get there fairly early.
If you are driving you might also like to visit the ancient stones at Avebury, Wiltshire. Salisbury too is worth a visit, with its beautiful cathedral, the oldest clock in Europe, the Magna Carta, lovely old streets and a great market.
My first visit to Stonehenge was in the late 60’s at around midnight one August night. In those days there was no security and it just sat there in a field. We parked at the side of the road and walked across to it in the moonlight. It was a magnificent and memorable sight and somehow to see it first at night seemed perfect. It added to its already great mystery.
Now however it is a World Heritage Site and as such you have to enter from the car park and pay of course. It is still a thrilling sight and there is the added benefit of tour guides and brochures.
Most of you will have seen pictures of Stonehenge but you may not know much about its history:
It is probably the most important historic site in Britain. What we see today was completed about 3,500 years ago. However building started some 5,000 years ago.Initially it was a large earthwork or Henge. Inside the earthworks were Aubrey Holes cut into the chalk floor. These formed a circle about 284 feet in diameter. Cremated remains have been found in them but it is believed the holes were not graves but meant to be part of a religious ceremony. After this stage of building the Henge appears to have been unused for about 1,000 years.
Then, around 2150 BC. 82 bluestones from the Preseli mountains, in south-west Wales were transported to the site.
The third stage of Stonehenge, was about 2000 BC, which saw the arrival of the Sarsen stones. These stones were probably brought from the Marlborough Downs near Avebury, in north Wiltshire, about 25 miles north of Stonehenge. The largest of the Sarsen stones transported to Stonehenge weighed 50 tonnes and transportation by water would have been impossible, the stones could only have been moved using sledges and ropes.
These were arranged in an outer circle with a continuous run of lintels. Inside the circle, five trilithons were placed in a horseshoe arrangement, whose remains we can still see today.
The final stage took place soon after 1500 BC when the bluestones were rearranged in the horseshoe and circle which still stands today. The original number of stones in the bluestone circle was probably around 60, these have long since been removed or broken up. Some remain only as stumps below ground level.
Whether you are interested in a Stonehenge tour to see an ancient monument, as a place where Druids hold their ceremonies, a place of supernatural interest or one of historical interest and importance it is sure to thrill and excite you and your imagination.