Post code: SP3 4DX
Admission: £15.50 for adults buying tickets on the day
On the way back from Torquay, we had driven through Wiltshire and seen the impressive Stonehenge on the horizon. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is somewhere I had always wanted to visit. After visiting it I believe that it’s somewhere everyone should visit, whether you’re living in the UK or coming to us for a holiday.
It was a slightly odd occasion to be visiting, having just stayed overnight in Devon and the whole family being eager to get home as soon as possible. The rain was putting everyone off too, with my dad saying every few minutes “Are you sure you want to do this? We could just go home?”
The ticket price includes a 2 minute bus journey which takes you up to the stones, entry to the associated exhibition and the mock Neolithic houses that have been built on the site. It was a very rainy day, but I actually think I enjoyed it more for that reason.
In the end it was only my brother and I who took the plunge, embraced the rain and made the journey up to the stones. In the rush, we had forgotten to buy audio guides but I didn’t really lament this too much because (1) I don’t have the attention span anyway; and (2) any questions that I had saved up to google later, were answered in the exhibition.
We walked around the stones and took some photographs, eventually making our way back to the bus to the visitor centre. Some people may think that £15.50 is a lot to pay for a walk around some ancient stones but I feel like it was money well spent. You might spend £15 on an evening meal, a trip to the cinema or a top that you wear once and never wear again! It’s much better to use that money observing Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument.
There are many theories about Stonehenge, but this is what I managed to glean from my visit!
Who built Stonehenge?
This is probably the biggest area for speculation. Was it Merlin? Was it the Druids? Was it aliens? The official line seems to be that it was built by a sophisticated tribe of Neolithic people, around 2500 BC.
How was it constructed?
Again, this area causes much debate. Tools made out of animal bones and antlers were found on the site and these are the tools which are thought to have helped in the construction of Stonehenge. It is thought that timber sledges and rollers were used to transport the heavy sarsen and bluestone rocks to the site, and hundreds of people would have been used as the labour force. The structure has also been fixed together using advanced techniques of interlocking wooden joints and perfectly balanced lintels.
Analysis of the stones has revealed that they are not native to the area in which Stonehenge was built. The origin of the bluestones has been traced to the Preseli Hills (over 150 miles away), which raises the question, how were they transported to their current site?
The Stonehenge we see today is the not the version that may have existed 3000 years ago. It is thought that the structure would have evolved over a period of 1,500 years, possibly reflecting changes in use and symbolism.
What was its purpose?
This is another grey area. Stonehenge was constructed in a period before written records, so all the information we have is made up of speculation and debate. What is clear is that the ground upon which this structure was built was originally used as a burial ground. The ashes and remains of many deceased humans have been found in the foundations by archaeologists.
The most popular theory is that it was built as a temple to be aligned with the movements of the sun. On the summer solstice, the sunrise is said to shine directly through the entrance to the temple and on the midwinter solstice the sun sets through the opposite archway.
Today, Stonehenge is a popular tourist destination but is still an important site to the pagan and druid communities. They descend on Stonehenge on the winter and summer solstices to celebrate some of the oldest festivals in the world.
In summary, rain or shine I would definitely recommend a trip to Stonehenge. Just a 2 hour drive from London and located near the beautiful city of Salisbury, it makes for a day trip with a difference!
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji