Stonehenge has its roots steeped in history and mystery and is part of a World Heritage Site that encompasses several monolithic sites in the Wilshire/Avery region in England. It’s a site that should be seen within one’s lifetime and shouldn’t be missed if you have the opportunity.
Stonehenge was built in four stages with the prehistoric Neolithic peoples beginning somewhere around 3700 B.C. The final stages were completed by ancient peoples around 1600 B.C. There have been several hypotheses as to who built this monolith and what purpose it served.
In the beginning, Stonehenge was a large earthwork (Henge) that was simply a ditch with its bank and the Aubrey holes. Then the bluestones arrived, thought to have come from over 200 miles away in Wales, whose construction is admired for the advanced technology it took to complete. The third stage brought in the Sarsen stones that probably took a good 100 men to bring from the Marlborough Downs area. This is what formed the outer circle. The final stage had the bluestones rearranged into a horseshoe shape that we are able to visit today.
Who Built It?
There’s still a controversy on who exactly built Stonehenge. Most theorize that the Druids who lived in the United Kingdom hundreds of years ago were responsible. Earlier accounts, though, indicate that Merlin himself built the Henge, leading to the Arthurian legends. Others thought, perhaps, that it was Roman-built, but that was disproved by carbon dating that places Stonehenge much earlier than the Roman settlements in the area. But archaeological evidence shows that a Neolithic tribe took this great task upon themselves and that similar peoples in the area built upon the plan as time went on.
With many ideas behind the “who,” there are just as many, if not more, ideas behind the “why” of Stonehenge. The initial assumption was that it was a place for Danish royalty to be crowned. But then it was thought to be a temple of the Druids, a place of worship, a place of healing, an astronomical “computer” that could surmise the upcoming eclipse or solar events. Rituals were probably performed here, as evidence has shown. And yet some mystery arises when pondering why human remains have been found there.
When to Visit
Stonehenge is open every day of the year, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Operating hours vary throughout the year, so check before you go, but generally, they go along with daylight hours. Normally, you’ll only be able to access the outer circle; however you can request access to a small VIP list for visits to the inner circle, which can only be visited off-hours. Adult, children, and family tickets are offered. You can visit Stonehenge via train, car, or bus.
Where to Stay
There are several hotels near Stonehenge, including:
Holiday Inn, Salisbury: 2 miles from Stonehenge, accessible rooms, free parking, air conditioning
The Bear Hotel, Hungerford: Suites, flat-screen TV, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi
Combre Gove Manor Hotel: garden lodge, free Wi-Fi, health club, pool
This is a gorgeous area of the world, and you should feel remiss if you can’t get out to visit Stonehenge at least once in your lifetime. Plan to stay in the region for a while to catch as much as possible.