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If you are visiting southern England, a visit to Stonehenge is almost a must do. Ask people on the street to name the top five tourist sights in England, I suspect Stonehenge would be on most list. Never the less, many leave Stonehenge slightly disappointed, "I thought it would be bigger", "This site is over rated, Avebury's stones are better", "You can not walk among or even touch the stones".

By luck as much as by design, we arrived early at Stonehenge. The first in the gate, I feel no pressure to rush to the stones, not realizing with in minutes the hordes will arrive.

Other pre-roman sites in the UK:
Avebury Circle
Stonehenge
The Hurlers

Outside link on Stonehenge:

English Heritage
BBC History of Stonehenge, short video
 


Photo above - Stonehenge just as the bus tours arrive.

Still, Stonehenge represents well the mystery surrounding bronze and pre-bronze culture in the UK. Who were the people that started the first earthen works at Stonehenge (3000 BC) and who carried on their work until completed around 1600 BC? What is Stonehenge significance, religious, legal (boundary setting, law giving), astronomical? There is no end to the speculation as to who and why but facts are somewhat limited. During excavation, a number of cremations have been discovered but it was not until recently that scientific dating of cremation remains has been possible. It is now known that cremation burials have been a part of Stonehenge's history from its earliest beginnings until the last stone was erected at the site, a time span of over 500 years.


The top of the stonehenge stones can be seen over the heads of a crowd of people
Photo Above - This is what you should expect to see if you are not one of the first to arrive.

The sun is already well up in the sky, right at the proper angle to silhouette the stones on our approach. I try taking a few photos, after all, this is the closest we will be allowed to the structure.

Now, realizing we will soon be engulfed in tourist I have my son back track with me, so we can take the path to the left of the stones. This move buys us a good ten/fifteen minutes of peace before meeting the crowd again, half way around the circle.


stonehenge

Stonehenge was in use from 2800 BC until after 1100 BC. Early Stonehenge consisted of circular earthwork enclosures, some possibly dating back to 3000 BC. The rock structure we see today, was put in placed from 2000 to 1500 BC, during the early Bronze Age.

Stonehenge has the largest stones of any standing stone circle in the UK. If you are looking for the largest circle of standing stones you will need to go to Avebury.

Set between two roads, one actually gets a good view of Stonehenge traveling down the main road.

I think it was in 1994, a couple years after my first visit to Stonehenge, that I read of a plan to re-located the main road underground and return the site to what it would have looked like before industrial man appeared on the scene. As I recall, the plan was to build quit a distance from the actual Stonehenge a visitors center. With in the visitor center a full size replica of the Stonehenge was to be housed. Visitors willing to walk the distance to the real site, would get to actually walk right up to the stones. Since 1994, there has been much discussion and no action. But, I was told that on my very day of visit to Stonehenge, the original plan had received final approval.

 

Visit Avebury's Stone Circle


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The information on this page is from my July 2006 visit to the UK
This page last updated June 2008