Stonehenge – Britain’s Best Historic Site
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument without parallel. Stonehenge voted ‘Britain’s Best Historic Site’ and ‘UK’s top wonder in a list of the country’s unmissable attractions, the ancient site also topped a survey of the ‘Seven Wonders of Britain’. Part of an ancient landscape, Stonehenge is one of the most thought-provoking and keenly debated ancient monment in the world.
Stonehenge was erected between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC by no less than three different cultures and its orientation on the rising and setting sun has always been one of its remarkable features. Whether this was simply because the builders came from a sun worshipping culture, or because – as some scholars believe – the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery to this day.
Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is surrounded by the remains of ceremonial and domestic structures, some older than the monument itself. Altogether, the site covers some 2,600 hectares and comprises over 400 scheduled monuments.
Thanks to Stonehenge’s shaped stones, unique jointing and perfect geometry, this amazing feat of engineering is not only the most sophisticated stone circle in the world, it is also unique in that it is the only one to have lintels around the top. The name Stonehenge – literally ‘hanging stones’ – is thought to originate from Anglo-Saxon times.
The Stones themselves came from two sources: the smaller bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in South Wales, and the larger Sarsen stones from the Marlborough Downs some twenty miles away. Interestingly, what we see today is only about half the original monument – some stones have fallen down, while others have been taken away to be used for building elsewhere.
Visiting Stonehenge is easy, it is located just off the A303 / A344 and near the A360 roads (the Postcode for Stonehenge for Sat-Nav is SP4 7DE) . Taxi fares to Stonehenge from Amesbury or Salisbury are competitive, and Wilts & Dorset bus company operate a Stonehenge Tour from Salisbury.
There are a number of walking and cycling routes to take you to Stonehenge – crossing the very busy A303 is best avoided. Some of the best routes can be accessed from Amesbury where there is an inderpass under the A303 which will also lead you to Durrington and the other important archaeological sites of Durrington Walls and Woodhenge.