One place that has been on my list of places I must visit, is Stonehenge, and this year we managed to fit a visit in by adding a couple of extra days to the end of our holiday. Stonehenge is perhaps the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe if not the world, and I was really excited about visiting.
We arrived back in the UK and as we had added an extra couple of days we planned to spend these in Wiltshire, fitting in a visit to Longeat Safari Park, Stonehenge and a nights camping at Botany camp site.
I booked our visit to Stonehenge, that morning, and we managed to get tickets for the five of us for 5pm that day, not sure if we would been able to visit without prior booking as they were extremely busy.
Tickets are priced at £16.50 (£18.20 gift aid) for an adult and £9.90 (£10.90 gift aid) for a child. English Heritage members, under 5’s, and National Trust members are free. If you pre book parking is also free.
Stonehenge Visitors Centre
Once you gain access to the visitors centre there is much to see, the Neolithic houses, the Stonehenge exhibition, the visitor shop and café. Included in the entrance fee is a short 5 minute bus ride to the Stone Circle.
The Neolithic houses are just outside the visitor centre. Here you can step inside the houses to see how people lived almost 4,500 years ago.
We were able to chat to some of the sites volunteers who were dressed in clothes from that age and discover how the houses were built, all based on the evidence of dwellings that had been found nearby.
There is also a ‘test your strength’ area where you can attempt to ‘pull’ one of the giant stones that make up the Stonehenge Monument.
Standing in the Stone
Based in the visitors centre, this is an amazing audio-visual 360 degree view from inside the Stones. By standing in the centre you can experience a little of how it feels to stand in the middle of Stonehenge at the winter and summer solstice.
There is also an interactive map where you can see how the environment has changed over the lifetime of Stonehenge
On display in the exhibition is around 250 archaeological objects and treasures that were discovered in the surrounding landscape, some of these pieces are jewellery and tools etc but there also human remains in the collection. One piece on display is the face of a man from 5,500 years ago and this was brought about by a forensic reconstruction based on bones found near Stonehenge.
Here you can buy pretty much anything featuring the Stonehenge Monument on it, bottles of wine, tea towels, clothing, mugs etc … It really is the perfect place to purchase a special memento of your visit.
The café we found was extremely busy, but it’s a great place to stop off before catching the bus to the stone Circle
Stonehenge is an iconic symbol of Britain and perhaps even the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. It is owned by the Crown, managed by English Heritage and the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust
The buses from the visitors centre to the stone circle are very regular, but always extremely busy. You can opt to walk to the circle and this takes around 10 minutes. We choose to wait for the bus, ordinarily we would have walked just to tire the children out, but we had been up since 4am, pitched the tent and walked around Shearwater Lake so they were pretty tired already by this point.
On arrival at the circle we could see that the stone circle itself is now roped off to visitors to protect the site, but we could still get close enough to appreciate the enormity of the monument.
Stonehenge consists of a ring of standing stones, each stone around 13ft high, 7ft wide and weighing approximately 25 tons each, and this was built by a culture that left no written records, in stages, between 3100 BC and 1600 BC. How this was managed is a subject of great debate, was it supernatural or something as basic as creating a track of logs to roll the stones. However this was achieved what we can see today is absolutely awe inspiring.
Woodhenge is an atmospheric Neolithic site close to Stonehenge, and entry to the site is free.
Concrete markers have been used to replace the six concentric rings of timber posts which are believed to have once supported a ring-shaped building.
It is an interesting site, but not as impressive as its neighbour, Stonehenge.