A Visit to Stonehenge
How to Visit Stonehenge from London ?
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that is well worth visiting. This group of upright stones is a calendar, a burial place, a place of worship, of healing and of dancing. Above all, it is a place where people gather, which it has been down through the ages.
The stones have fascinated people for centuries. Archaeologists have made studies, novelists have spun stories around them and, of course, tourists and visitors from all over the world have travelled to Stonehenge. Even the surrounding land is of historic interest, since numerous prehistoric burial sites have been found there.
What is there to see ?
The monument consists of a series of concentric circles. The outer barrow, which is now overgrown with grass, dates from around 3000 BC and is made of the heaped-up bones of cremated humans. The circle inside the outer barrow is marked by 80 postholes, 43 of which contain a “blue” stone, each about two metres in height. Inside of this circle is a group of 30 standing stones with crossing lintels, dating around 2300 BC.
The newest and innermost arrangement dates from around 1600 BC. It consists of 10 upright stones, about 4 metres high and 2 metres wide, standing in pairs. A large lintel stone crosses each pair. Another stone grouping, like an altar, sits in the opening of the “u” formed by these monoliths.
Previously, the public had access to the stones at all times. However, because of the erosion of the stones and increasing evidence of their archaeological worth and that of the surrounding site, access is now restricted to guided tours that begin in the nearby visitor’s centre.
Options are available at the centre. You have access to an audiovisual experience that will take you on a journey through time. The centre has a souvenir shop and a café. You can also see an exhibition outlining the history of Stonehenge. You can explore the landscape on the visitor shuttle, walk to the stones or take the shuttle halfway and then complete the journey on foot.
It is advisable to buy your ticket via the Stonehenge National Trust website, since discounted rates are available when you do it this way. Child, family and concessionary rates are available.
How to get there ?
If you are travelling by private car, free parking is on offer to people with pre-booked tickets. Entry to the monument is by timed ticket, so allow plenty of time for your arrival.
The journey from London takes 1.5 hours by motorway. When travelling on a budget, consider sharing a car with a group of enthusiasts. The best way to organise a group is to post a note on Facebook or another social media website, registering your intention in making a trip and inviting people with a similar interest to travel with you. This way, you can share costs and exchange information about the historic site, along the way.
Another option is to travel by train from London’s Waterloo Station to Salisbury rail station, where tour buses leave for the historic site. A number of these tours combine trips with either or both Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum, where you can see Neolithic artefacts that are connected with the Stonehenge site.
Generally, how much of the Stonehenge site you see and how you experience it is up to you. Artists, photographers and writers, and anyone else with an interest in the past will find it a rich and rewarding experience.
Coaches – Tours from London
You can also book a place on one of the many tours from London that combine a Stonehenge trip with other historic attractions in the southwest of England. The Stourhead estate is one of these. It is the stately home of the Hoare banking family, the house designed by Sir Colen Campbell while Henry Hoare II designed and laid out the extensive gardens in their distinctive neo-classical fashion. Both house and gardens are open to the public.
In nearby Somerset, Bath is a beautiful and historic city, famous for its spa rooms and Georgian architecture. Also on the route is Kelmscott Manor, the old house that the famous Victorian designer William Morris transformed into his country retreat.
These tours cost extra money up front but the price usually includes entrance to all attractions. Overall, it is well worth paying a visit to Stonehenge, both to view the site on its own and to see it in the midst of all of the other historical attractions in this extraordinary area of England.