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The Mystery of Stonehenge
The iconic stone-age circle of rocks of Stonehenge on the windswept Salisbury Plains are a must-see on any UK travel bucket list. We were keen to explore the mystery of Stonehenge
Mystery and much conjecture surrounds the purpose and construction methods of the UNESCO world heritage site.The monument is said to date back some ten thousand years.
Was it a Druid temple? Is it an ancient burial mound? Just how did they heave those massive rocks? How did they secure the uprights before placing the heavy lintels on top? The incredible construction has managed to stand since time immemorial.
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An afternoon at Stonehenge
Keen to soak in some of this ancient history, we visited Stonehenge late one afternoon as part of a Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge bus tour.
The tour was certainly worth the additional cost. The logistics of travelling from London to each of these sites independently are not easy and an experienced tour guide is on hand.
There is also the fact that you can’t just “rock up” and visit Stonehenge, which is no longer readily accessible, you do need to pre-book.
Stonehenge visitor centre
Arriving at a very commercialised visitor centre approximately two kilometres from “the stones” visitors are greeted with displays including a reconstructed neolithic village, historical displays of local artefacts and interactive educational exhibits.
Disappointingly, we spent more time here than at the circle itself, partly because visitor times at Stonehenge itself are limited.
From the visitor centre, we were taken on a ten minute shuttle bus to “the stones”. Visitors are given approximately half an hour, before being “bussed” back to the tourist centre to allow the next group of visitors access.
You can also choose to take the walk back, and wander through the ancient henges, however our group tour schedule didn’t allow for this.
Along the way the tour guide pointed out the earthworks, ancient burial mounds and circular “henge” monuments in the surrounding fields. Finally the famous circle of massive stones appeared at the top of a rise. We were also provided with an audio guide to use as we visited the “Stones”.
View the Stones from a distance
A fence now surrounds the stones. Visitors can only view the monument from a crowded boardwalk encircling the stones by around 10 metres. It was hard to appreciate the mystery of Stonehenge while dodging selfie sticks and elbowing through crowds.
I was in awe at the massive structure, marvelling at how neolithic builders managed to heave those massive lintels on top of the stones. Ian was, well, underwhelmed.
In fact he couldn’t believe that this was the ‘much-hyped’ world heritage monument.
I suppose over-commercialism has taken away some of the mystery and awe of Stonehenge. Tourism certainly seemed to have ruined the atmosphere of what we expected to be a truly memorable site.
Early morning Stonehenge tours
You are able to book early morning or late afternoon Stonehenge tours, where you can get close to “The Stones”.
Limited numbers on these special access tours may well provide a more peaceful serene atmosphere. More in keeping with the history of the site.
Yes we can tick this one off our “bucket list” and say we have been there. But it certainly isn’t on the list of “places we must return to.” I certainly don’t thing AUD 40 each to visit was worth the expense.
In fact our tour bus stopped on the highway around the corner and we all managed to take much better photos than we did trying to jostle through the crowds of selfie sticks on the boardwalk at the site.
Did we miss something? We’d love to hear about what you thought of Stonehenge in the comments.