Summer Holiday: Pt 11 – Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Within the parish of the town of Amesbury, in Wiltshire, stands one of the most famous landmarks in the World.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is the remains of what was once a ring of standing stones, set within various earthworks. Located 8 miles (13 km) north of the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, the site was built between 3700 BC and 1600 BC by prehistoric man. There are many other Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments surrounding Stonehenge itself, making the whole site the most dense complex of prehistoric monuments in England.

No one is quite sure what Stonehenge was used for, but evidence suggests it might have been used as a burial ground or possibly for worship. Whatever is was used for, there is no question that Stonehenge is a great feat of prehistoric construction.

In 1986 the site was added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites alongside the nearby Avebury Henge, another prehistoric monument.

SH1

Above is Stonehenge as we can see it today. The monument has been restored many times as many of the stones were leaning or had fallen over completely.

Before the standing stones we see today were erected, there were two other structures. The first was a circular bank and ditch enclosure measuring 110 metres (360 ft) with a large entrance to the north east and a smaller entrance to the south. The second, the evidence of which is no longer visible, was a timber structure built within the enclosure.

The monument we know today was built around 2600 BC. No one is sure how the stones were moved or erected, and one theory is that the stones were transported all the way from modern day Pembrokeshire, some 150 miles away.

SH2

It’s amazing that something this old, and so important to British History is just sat in a field next to the A303. On the way in we went straight past it on the road before pulling round to the visitor area. It was jam packed with tourists from all over the world, more than we have seen so far on our travels.

On the 18th of December this year, English Heritage’s new £27 million visitor and exhibition centre opened a mile and a half away from Stonehenge. Also included in the project was the grassing over of the A344 next to the monument, the demolition of the old visitor centre and the restoration of the surrounding land. A fleet of shuttles now link the visitor centre to the site itself.

For more information, and also a virtual tour of Stonehenge, visit their site.

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