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When you think about the great cities across the country, it is always the big ones that spring to mind.
While the streets of London may be paved with gold and Liverpool may have been European Capital of Culture, there is one UK city that has overtaken them all to be in the top ten cities to visit in the world in 2015.
Salisbury may be thought as somewhere to stop for lunch after visiting Stonehenge but it is so much more than that. Historically, it is one of the most important places in the country and probably the best city in the UK for a tourist to visit.
And here’s why …
1. It’s the home of the Magna Carta
In 2015 the Magna Carta will be 800 years old and Salisbury is preparing to give it a grand birthday party. One of only four surviving copies can be found in the city and it is one of the most important documents in English history.
The Magna Carta formed the basis of our country’s law for centuries and was signed by King John at the behest of barons around the land.
2. There’s the world’s oldest mechanical clock
It may not be at the top of most people’s bucket lists but Salisbury does boast a mechanical clock from the middle ages that dates from 1386, which is housed in the 13th century cathedral.
It has been hailed as one of the UK’s forgotten jewels, though I expect the person whose job it is to wind it up everyday is very much aware of it.
3. The majesty of Salisbury cathedral
Built in the 13th century, the cathedral has the tallest spire in Britain. At 404 feet high, it is also the tallest masonry structure and was completed a whole century after the cathedral was finished.
The cathedral took 36 years to build and used over 70,000 tons of local stone which was back breaking work for some poor individuals.
4. See how a prime minister lived
When he wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of running the country, Sir Edward Heath would retire to Arundells, his sanctuary in Salisbury.
Whilst here he would enjoy his grand collection of paintings, with an eclectic mix of originals from the likes of Winston Churchill to LS Lowry and now it is preserved for everyone to enjoy.
5. You can get a decent pint
With over 80 pubs in a relatively small town, there is plenty of choice if you fancy a couple of swift ones. The good news for the discerning ale drinker is that local brewery, Hop Back, own a number of the pubs and a great pint is guaranteed.
6. It is full of literary references
The Salisbury International Arts Festival is renowned worldwide and brings together some of the biggest names. The city is also the backdrop for Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure.
Less obscure is the fact that William Golding, who was a teacher in the city, used his spare time to write Lord of the Flies and thus become the bane of English Literature students for years to come.
7. Sir Christopher Wren inspired the architecture
He was born 382 years ago and was celebrated in a Google doodlerecently and he was born not that far away from Salisbury.
Whilst Christopher Wren may forever be linked with redesigning London after the Great Fire, he also had a hand in the architecture of his home city too.
He pointed out that the cathedral spire needed straightening (and strengthening), which probably went down a treat with the proud engineers who were involved with maintaining it.
8. Independent shops have flourished
With most town centres having a familiar look to them, Salisbury has become a whole lot more independent. All the usual big names can still be found, but it is individuality that is at the fore and boutique shopping should be your expectation.
Daily guided coach tours from London visiting Salisbury Cathedral and Medieval City.
Private guided tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury for and small groups
The Stonehenge Travel Company,
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Would you fancy spending eternity inside a burial chamber in the corner of a field in Wiltshire? I do!
The first “Neolithic” long barrow to be built in the UK for 5,500 years has been completed and already the first urn of human ashes has been placed inside.
The structure at All Cannings near Devizes, took almost nine months to build, using traditional materials and stone working techniques.
The tomb, designed by farmer Tim Daw, has been positioned to let the midwinter sunrise shine right down the length of the chamber where people’s ashes will be placed in urns set into the walls.
What is a long barrow?
- Barrows are artificial hills of earth and stones built over the remains of the dead
- They were usually reserved for members of the social elite or Anglo-Saxon royalty
- Ordinary people were usually cremated or buried in more humble graves
- They were first constructed in about 4,000 BC up to the late pre-Christian era
- England’s most famous barrow is at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk
News link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-29225327
Visit the Long Barrow website here: http://www.thelongbarrow.com/
We intend to include the Long Barrow on future tours and I have already booked a niche.
The Stonehenge Travel Company, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Christmas in Salisbury, Wiltshire is a truly magical time with special family events, twinkling lights and much more…
Salisbury will be hosting yet another Christmas Market promising some wonderful stalls, perfect for all your Christmas shopping, in the historic setting of the Guildhall Square.
Come to Salisbury’s lovely and very British Christmas Market! Rated by the Daily Telegraph in 2013 as one of the ‘Top 5 Christmas Markets in the UK’, we believe you will find it to be one of the most attractive and enjoyable Christmas Markets in the country.
During the Christmas Market there will be a programme of local choirs and music groups performing festive music, with many retailers in Salisbury organising additional special events.
This year we will also be celebrating ‘Christmas Traditions from around Europe’, with special events planned for St. Andrew’s Day, St. Lucia Day and St. Nikolaus Day, as well as the annual Lantern Procession on Thursday 27th November and a new event called ‘All Salisbury Sings’ on Friday 19th December: Visit the Salisbury Christmas Market website
Visit the excellent Visit Wiltshire website for further details: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/whats-on/salisbury-christmas-market-p1367503
In addition to our colourful Christmas Market, Salisbury holds it’s traditional and vibrant Charter Market in the central Market Place each Tuesday and Saturday which incorporates a local Farmers’ Market too. In addition a Farmers’ Market is held every Wednesday at the Poultry Cross.
Take a stroll to Salisbury’s beautiful Cathedral Close and admire the grandeur of the surrounding buildings before visiting Salisbury Cathedral – if you are feeling active why not take a trip on one of the popular tower tours to find out more, and be rewarded with a most magnificent view of Salisbury from high. Follow this with a visit to the multi-awarding winning Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum to discover more about the history of this medieval City.
Christmas Highlights at Salisbury Cathedral:
- Christmas Twighlight Tower Tours
BBC Wiltshire Carol Service
The Christmas Procession
Christmas Events for families
Download information about Salisbury Cathedral key Christmas services and events here
Salisbury Tourist Information
Why not find out more about this medieval City by taking part in a guided walk that leaves Salisbury Information Centre in Fish Row every Saturday and Sunday at 11am.
For more information on what to see and do, and where to stay please visit Salisbury Information Centre, Fish Row or call 01722 342860.
The Stonehenge Travel Company (Proud Visit Wiltshire Member)
Private guided tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge.
WILTSHIRE DOWNS, England — Standing at the center of the Stone Circle of Stonehenge in the moments before dawn, lulled by low-hanging rain clouds, I am, for a while, unable to understand why so many pilgrimages have been made here.
Sure, the setting is attractively pastoral, with gently rolling fields and dark patches of trees on distant hills. But the vista verges on the ordinary. I can even make out the line of a highway not far off, cutting across the meadows, commuters’ headlights poking through the mist. In the half-light, the surrounding stones seem almost familiar and scarcely mysterious.
Is this really the place that Thomas Hardy called “a very Temple of the Winds,” describing it “rising sheer from the grass,” its stones seeming to hum with sound? Did Christopher Wren, the great architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, really think so much of Stonehenge that he left his signature chiseled in one of the stones? And why should this site now lure as many as 18,000 celebrants to a summer solstice festival on the day the sun rises through a gap between its central stones, bisecting the monument?
But after the rain, when the sun breaks through the clouds and the pillars of rock cast corridors of shadow, all misgivings are cast aside. In the privileged calm of early morning – an enviably timed visit that can be arranged with English Heritage, the government agency that manages the area – I begin to understand why more than 1 million visitors a year are drawn here. I see, too, why its nearly completed $44 million transformation has been so celebrated.
The renovation has eliminated a highway that nearly abutted the stones (leaving intact, at least for now, the heavily trafficked road some 500 feet away). And it demolished a similarly intrusive visitor center, replacing it with another a mile and a half away, invisible from the monument, designed by Denton Corker Marshall to appear delicately self-effacing even while enclosing an introductory exhibition, a cafe and an extensive gift shop. A shuttle transports visitors to the main attraction, which requires tickets, typically costing about $25, for entry at a specific time or about $35 for “out of hours” stone circle access.
This touristic enterprise also involves a kind of restoration. The goal is not to restore the stones themselves. That would have been impossible, even in the 12th century, when the earliest known history of Stonehenge appeared (in a volume now on display at the visitor center): Constructed by a race of giants, it was transported to its current site by the wizard Merlin.
And, anyway, what would Stonehenge be restored to? It began as a circular earthwork, created about 3000 B.C.; its major stone circle with enormous pillars topped by lintels dates to about 2500 B.C. The evolving ceremonial site included circles, ovals and horseshoe patterns and apparently remained in use for another thousand years. Extensive work in the 20th century lifted, straightened and set some stones in concrete to prevent tipping. (The largest weighs more than 35 tons.)
The goal now is to restore the landscape, which researchers have been examining recently because of its intimate connections to the site. This emphasis can be felt throughout the new visitor center. A 360-degree theater uses finely detailed laser scans of the stones to show the monument’s evolving shape, while a wall-size animated map shows Stonehenge within a puzzling network of mounds and ditches, barrows containing burial remnants, and vestiges of unexplained earthworks that extend for miles. Display cases show some 300 artifacts that outline the region’s varied modes of life and death during the site’s evolution.
A similar emphasis is evident in the elegant new $4 million Wessex Gallery, at the nearby Salisbury Museum, which gives a reverse archaeological history of the region, proceeding backward in time. Its 2,500 artifacts – including the Stonehenge Archer, a skeleton dating from as early as 2400 B.C., found in a ditch in 1978 – are accompanied by images of a pastoral landscape that still holds unexplored secrets.
I am also preoccupied with the surrounding landscape that morning, standing within the Stone Circle. It is an enclosure that leads us to look outward. During the hours of sunrise (and sunset), when shadows are long, the patterns change every moment. The shadows of the stones hug the ground, climb neighboring pillars, slide over nearby ditches.
The axis of Stonehenge was originally determined by the sun’s rising and setting during summer and winter solstices, when symmetrical movements of shadows must have been something to behold. But even visiting at another time of year, I feel as if I were in a languorously turning kaleidoscope. The stones provide a medium through which we perceive the landscape. We emerge, entranced by the expanse around us, attentive to its details. The site reveals the setting; the setting, the site.
At first, the landscape seems a nondescript series of meadows; now it becomes far more intricate. Look toward the northeast, and you clearly see faint traces of the Avenue, an ancient earthwork path that extends 1.5 miles, ending at the River Avon. One hypothesis is that the river was used to transport the stones of the inner ring (called “bluestones”) which came from Wales, some 150 miles to the west.
I walk across these fields and become aware of dips and banks, ridges and mounds: eroded remnants of ancient human activities, many seemingly related to the monument. Recently, the remains of a Neolithic human settlement were discovered at the Avenue’s other end, near a circular timber counterpart to Stonehenge. During the recent restoration, natural rock fissures were discovered beneath the Avenue that are aligned with Stonehenge’s solar axis and may even have determined the monument’s location. In an article in Smithsonian magazine this month, “What Lies Beneath Stonehenge,” Ed Caesar describes the latest explorations using three-dimensional GPS-guided measurements that have revealed new subterranean features.
The temptation is to think of Stonehenge as a “thing,” a monument erected at a particular time with a particular purpose. Yet displays here suggest that over the 1,500 years or so that the site was in use, cultures and rituals changed along with it.
One of the intriguing things about Stonehenge, as we are reminded again and again, is that it can’t really be pinned down; we will never know enough. Was it a burial site, a temple, an astronomical model, a healing center, a monument to the ancestral dead?
We are destined to feel unsettled, even after learning from the fine exhibitions nearby. In J.M.W. Turner’s 1827 watercolor of Stonehenge, on display in Salisbury’s Wessex Gallery, lightning strikes near the center of the Stone Circle. The flash is luminous, exhilarating. But dread mixes with illumination, mystery with enlightenment. Why is the outer ground littered with the carcasses of shepherd and sheep? A bolt from the heavens? We aren’t certain. It is a bit frightening, which makes the painting as uncanny as the place.
Article source link: http://www.adn.com/article/20140909/among-ancient-stones-magic-potent-ever
Stonehenge Guided Tours, Salisbury, Wilsthire
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours….
THIS beautiful leafy county has more to offer than the historic site of Stonehenge1. Wonder at world-famous Stonehenge. The mysterious, magical stone circle dates back to 3100 BC and now has a revamped visitor’s centre to help bring history to life. english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/Stonehenge
2. Climb the 332 steps to the top of Salisbury Cathedral tower for a great view. Salisbury’s pointy gothic cathedral has the tallest tower in Britain.
3. Meet a real film star. Picturesque Lacock village is a firm favourite with film and TV producers. The village’s historic buildings have starred in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and Cranford and in screen in the Harry Potter film, The Half-Blood Prince and Wolfman.
4. Take the family on a day trip to the Iron Age settlement of Old Sarum. Just two miles from Salisbury, it marks the site of the original cathedral and the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark on the fort. The gift shop even sells wooden bows and arrow too to take you back in time. english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-sarum
5. Shop in Kate Middleton’s former neighbourhood. Marlborough is where she went to school and the market centre boasts great tea shops and an interesting selection of independent and interesting upmarket shops.
6. Go back in time to see the oldest working steam engines in the world at Crofton Beam Engines where the 200-year-old engines pump water to the highest point of the Kennet and Avon Canal. Marvel at the historic architecture and picnic in the grounds. croftonbeamengines.org/index.html
7. Discover the walled garden or take the kids to learn to climb a tree and be amazed by the world-famous Stourhead gardens which have been stunning visitors since they first opened in the 1740s. nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead
8. Enjoy a cruise along the canal at Bradford on Avon. Barge trips leave from the lock, just outside the town centre, all year round. visitwiltshire.co.uk/explore/towns-and-villages/bradford-on-avon-and-trowbridge
9. Tuck into pheasant, smoked salmon and traditional desserts of rhubarb or sticky toffee pudding at the recently revamped Methuen Arms in Corsham, just eight miles from Bath.
10. Walk the footpath up to Chernhill Down to come face to face with the giant white horse carved on the edge of the hill. The chalk horse was cut in 1780 and you’ll find it off the A4 just east of the village of Cherhill.
Full article By: Anne Gorringe: http://www.express.co.uk/travel/shortbreaks/473383/10-things-to-do-in-Wiltshire
Join us on a guided tour from Salisbury and explore historic Wiltshire
The Stonehenge Travel Company
Mystical Landscape, magical Tours
Plains, Trains and Automobiles: Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination
Take some time out and escape to Wiltshire this year. Find out more about this mysterious and beautiful part England.
The newly completed Stonehenge visitor centre deserves an extended visit. We recommend staying in Wiltshire and exploring the surrounding area, rich in history, myths and legends. Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination. Set among some of the most beautiful countryside and with a 5,000 year old history the area is steeped in history but with its eye firmly fixed on the future.
Salisbury is a bit of a rail hub with main lines and frequent trains going east to London, south to Southampton and west to Bath and Bristol. Frequent trains run from London’s Waterloo station taking approximately 80 minutes to do the journey. There are normally two trains an hour operating up until very late evening. During the week, the cheap tickets are not available until after the morning commuter rush. Don’t worry if your accommodation is in London, its very easy to get to Salisbury or Bath from London by train and the trains run till late so there is still time to get back to London last thing.
Here are some examples of how accessible Wiltshire is using the Inter-City services from central London:
• London (Paddington) – Bath and Bristol via Swindon (55 mins),Chippenham (70 mins) and Great Bedwyn (90 mins).
• London (Waterloo) – Salisbury (90 mins) and Tisbury (103 mins).
Salisbury is one of England’s most wonderful cities – a medieval masterpiece with something for everyone. From traditional English pubs to cosmopolitan street cafes and from hard-to-find specialist shops to major high street stores, you’ll find it in Salisbury. And at its heart there is the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, towering over the city as it has for over 750 years. Step outside of the city and you are in another world. Green hills, crystal clear rivers and picturesque towns and villages just waiting to be discovered. And, of course, there’s Stonehenge. The world’s most famous stone circle stands just a few miles north of Salisbury – a must see destination.
Stonehenge Stone Circle is the most famous and enigmatic Megalithic site in the United Kingdom. Dominating the landscape of Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire, the giant standing stones of Stonehenge – some weighing up to 50 tonnes – are a mysterious icon left by mysterious ancient peoples. You may have a special interest in burial chambers, the construction of Stonehenge, the purpose and culture of the people that built the henge.
English Heritage Stonehenge Visitor Centre. The fantastic new £27m visitor centre at Stonehenge is now open, offering tourists an interactive experience and the chance to examine prehistoric objects. Visitors are transported by shuttle bus more than a mile (2km) from the venue to see the stones.
Discover prehistoric sites and rare species preserved on Salisbury Plain. An ocean of grassland and a sweep of big sky. Ancient monuments loom out of the mist; camouflaged soldiers crouch in the undergrowth. Salisbury Plain is a landscape of extremes. It is the largest remaining area of chalk grassland in Northwest Europe and home to 2,300 prehistoric sites yet also the largest military training area on British soil.
Avebury Stone Circle Avebury rivals – some would say exceeds – Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex pre-historic site in Britain. Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge ‘sacred landscape’, whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at. Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Mysterious Crop circles Salisbury Plain is well known for its crop circles and much mystery still remains as to why they occur and the meanings behind their complex formations. A tour of the ancient hills and vales of Wiltshire which are, inexplicably, the world capital of crop circles Crop circles in Wiltshire often occur around the heart of the county in and around Avebury, usually first appearing in April and continuing into the summer months. Crop circle guided tours can be arranged from Salisbury or Bath
Guided Tours from Salisbury can return to Salisbury or why not make the most of your sightseeing and be dropped off in Bath, Southampton or even London. Popular destinations can include: Salisbury Cathedral and the Magna Carta | Old Sarum Hillfort | Stonehenge Stone Circle and the new visitor centre | Woodhenge and Durrington Walls | Ancient Chalk Hill Figures | Pewsey valleys | Salisbury Plain and mysterious crop circles | Avebury Stone Circle | West Kennet Long Barrow | Silbury Hill | Lacock Village | Castle Combe Village | The Cotswolds | Glastonbury Tor and The Isle of Avalon
Needless to say private guided tours are bespoke and can be tailoured to suit your needs in the date(s) you wish to travel. Stonehenge private access tours allow you to enter the inner circle of Stonehenge before or after it is officially open to the public.
A once in a lifetime opportunity!
We would be delighted to arrange a private guide tour of Wiltshire and help you with your Salisbury Travel plans. Email us: tours@StonehengeTravel.co.uk or visit our website: http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
Some Salisbury and Stonehenge links:
Visit Wiltshire: Discover things to do and places to visit across Wiltshire. Plan your visit, book hotels and accommodation and find out what’s on in the county. http://www.VisitWiltshire.co.uk
Download the Visit Wiltshire Apps here: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/plan-your-visit/apps
Magnificent Salisbury Cathedral with the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom, home to the finest of the four surviving original Magna Carta 1215: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/
Old Sarum Hillfort: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-sarum/
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, in Wiltshire, England was opened in 1966 and was the first drive-through safari park outside Africa: http://www.Longleat.co.uk
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years: http://www.WiltonHouse.co.uk
Amesbury Museum & Heritage Centre: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/amesbury-museum-and-heritage-centre-p1536253
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum: Showcasing the medieval Cathedral town of Salisbury and the ancient wonders of Stonehenge. http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/
The Cathedral Express. Wonderful days out by steam train: http://www.steamdreams.com/
English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
The Stonehenge Tourism Website: http://www.Stonehenge-Tourism.com
London to Salisbury Trains: http://www.thetrainline.com/
Guided Tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
For Stonehenge and Salisbury News follow us on Twitter: @SalisburyTours
Local Wiltshire Tour Guide
The Stonehenge Travel Company