Stonehenge, the world-famous prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, has captivated the imagination of visitors for centuries. Stonehenge tours
In this guide, we’ll explore the rich history of Stonehenge, how to plan your visit, and the various tours available to experience this iconic site in all its glory.
Stonehenge History: Unraveling the Enigma
Stonehenge’s origins date back to around 3000 BCE, but its true purpose remains a subject of much debate among archaeologists and historians. Some theories propose that it served as a ceremonial site for Druids, while others suggest it was a celestial observatory or even a healing center. Despite the ongoing mystery, one thing is certain: the monument stands as a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient people who built it.
- Early beginnings: The first phase of Stonehenge’s construction is believed to have started around 3000 BCE, with the creation of a circular ditch and a bank known as a henge.
- Bluestone phase: In 2500 BCE, large bluestones from Wales were transported over 150 miles to the site, creating the initial stone circle.
- Sarsen phase: The final phase saw the arrival of massive sarsen stones, which were erected in a circle with lintel stones connecting the uprights. This iconic configuration is what we see today.
How to Get to Stonehenge: Planning Your Journey Stonehenge tours
Stonehenge is easily accessible by car, train, or bus. The most convenient way to reach the site depends on your starting point and preferred mode of transportation.
- By car: Stonehenge is located just off the A303 road and is approximately 90 miles from London. There is a dedicated visitor car park on-site.
- By train: The nearest train station to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which is well-connected to major cities like London and Bristol. From Salisbury, you can take a Stonehenge tour bus or a local bus to the site.
- By bus: National Express offers direct coach services to Stonehenge from various locations, including London Victoria Coach Station and Heathrow Airport.
Stonehenge Opening Hours: When to Visit
Stonehenge is open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Opening hours vary depending on the season:
- Summer (April – September): 9:30 am to 7:00 pm
- Winter (October – March): 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
It’s worth noting that the site can get quite busy during peak seasons and holidays, so it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance and arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Stonehenge Tours: Exploring the Monument
There are various Stonehenge tour options available to suit different preferences and budgets. Some of the most popular options include:
- Guided tours: Expert-led tours offer valuable insights into the history and significance of Stonehenge. Many guided tours also include stops at other nearby attractions, such as Salisbury Cathedral and the ancient city of Bath.
- Audio tours: For a self-paced experience, visitors can rent an audio guide at the site. The audio tour provides detailed information on the monument’s history and construction, allowing you to explore at your own leisure.
- Special access tours: For a truly unique experience, consider booking a special access tour that grants you entry to the inner circle of stones. These tours are limited in availability and must be booked in advance, but they offer an unparalleled view of the monument.
- Themed tours: Themed tours are available for those with specific interests, such as photography or archaeology. These specialized tours often provide a more in-depth exploration of the site and its surrounding area.
Stonehenge Summer Solstice: A Magical Experience
The summer solstice, usually occurring on June 21st, marks the longest day of the year and holds special significance at Stonehenge. During this time, the rising sun aligns perfectly with the monument’s central axis, casting a magical glow over the ancient stones. Thousands of visitors gather at Stonehenge to witness this awe-inspiring event and celebrate the arrival of summer. If you’re planning to attend, make sure to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds.
Other Nearby Attractions: Make the Most of Your Visit
If you’re visiting Stonehenge, consider extending your trip to explore some of the other fascinating attractions in the area:
- Avebury Stone Circle: Another impressive prehistoric site, Avebury is home to the largest stone circle in the world, encompassing a charming village.
- Salisbury Cathedral: This stunning Gothic cathedral, boasting the tallest spire in the UK, houses one of the best-preserved copies of the Magna Carta.
- Old Sarum: The ancient hillfort of Old Sarum offers a glimpse into over 2,000 years of history, including Roman, Saxon, and medieval remains.
Conclusion: Experience the Enchantment of Stonehenge
From its mysterious origins to its awe-inspiring architecture, Stonehenge is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and the enduring power of human ingenuity. By following our comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to this iconic site. So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready to step back in time at Stonehenge!