Our guide to visiting Stonehenge

An icon of England, Stonehenge is a magnificent prehistoric site that is instantly recognized the world over but remains shrouded in mystery and whilst dating back to 3000 BC continues to baffle experts to this day.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric circle of monoliths standing on the Salisbury Plain in the picturesque Wiltshire countryside approximately 9 miles from Salisbury itself. The site was constructed in phases with an outer bank dating back to 3000 BC whilst the standing stones that we see today are thought to have been erected in 2500 BC which predates the Aztec Pyramids and the statues of Easter Island. Due to its historic significance, together with a number of surrounding prehistoric sites including Avebury Stone Cirlce, Silbury Hill and Old Sarum, Stonehenge enjoys World Heritage Status.

The era in which Stonehenge was constructed, along with where the rocks used originate, offers one of its many mysteries. The circle consists of 40 blocks of Bluestone whose source has been tracked to the Preseli Hills of South Wales which lies some 250 miles from where the rocks currently stand. Whilst some theorize that glacial movement may have transported the rocks in the previous ice-age, there is little evidence to support this and as a result it seems more likely that the rocks, weighing up to 50 tons each, were quarried and transported by man power. This would be an impressive feat with today's technology and quite how it was achieved several thousand years ago remains a mystery.

Question marks not only surround how but also why the stone circle was created. Theories for the purpose of Stonehenge have been bounced back and forth for many years and include that it served as a temple, a place of sacrifice and burial, a place of worship to the sun or an astronomical calendar. This latter theory seems the most probable as the site seems to be aligned with sunrise and sunset on the Summer and Winter solstices but, again, no concrete conclusions have ever been drawn.

Regardless of its purpose and quite how it was constructed, today Stonehenge is one of Britain's most popular visitor attractions. Whilst its visitor facilities do not compare to other attractions in Britain, and the nearby road can be distracting, there is an intriguing audio guide available and it is impossible not to get swept up in the unique air of mystery and myth which surrounds the site. Whether in sunshine or low hanging mists, Stonehenge provides a magnificent photo opportunity and to marvel at the stones and first-hand is a magical experience. Stonehenge is an absolute must when touring the south of England.

Related Guides

Relevant Tours

England Tours of Oxford

Experience all that is great about Britain on the ultimate tour of England, Scotland and Wales. See it all, from the thriving capital cities of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff to the remote Scottish Highlands, tranquil Lake District and spectacular Snowdonia National Park. Along the way you'll experience diverse cultures and histories and see world-famous landmarks.

England Tours - Stonehenge

A British Journey takes you from Scotland to England's capital city enjoying a wealth of cultural highlights along the way. Explore the Highlands in miniature and the metropolis of Glasgow before passing south through the inspiring landscapes of the Lake District and Cotswolds to glorious historic cities including Chester, Stratford upon Avon and Bath.

Tours of Cornwall - St Michaels Mount

A tour to England's sunny South West and the charming regions of Devon and Cornwall. Discover historic locations such as Stonehenge, Plymouth's Mayflower Steps and Bath's Roman Baths not to mention the dramatic landscapes of the Devonshire moors and the seascapes and craggy coastlines of Cornish Peninsular. Highlights include Tintagel Castle and the historic village of Lacock.

Tours of Wales - Brecon Beacons

Experience the contrasts of two distinct British cultures on this tour of England and Wales.  Enjoy the stunning vistas of the Cotswolds and Snowdonia National Park to the icons of English and Welsh history at York Minster, Shakespeare's Stratford, Cardiff Castle and Stonehenge.

Tours of England - Bath

Enjoy the history and grandeur of an ancient land on this castle tour of England. By day you'll explore castle ruins, historic sites, stunning landscapes and cultural jewels such as Oxford, Stratford, Chester, York and Bath whilst by night you'll live like royalty as you experience historic and characterful castle hotels and opulent country manors!

Castle Tours - Blenheim Palace

Indulge in the history and heritage of England, Scotland and Wales by day and see its character reflected in your unique and distinguished accommodation each night on this deluxe tour of Britain. Enjoy elegant cities in York, Bath, Oxford and Edinburgh as well as the natural beauty of the Cotswolds, the Yorkshire Moors, the Scottish Lowlands and the mountains of Snowdonia.

Tours of Scotland - Edinburgh Arthurs Seat

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the contrasting cityscapes of the British capitals in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.  Travelling by rail you can maximize your vacation time by gliding between these cultural centres in super-quick time.

Tours of England - Liverpool

Indulge in a tour of two of Britain's unique nations as you explore the sights and sounds of England and Scotland. From the vibrant and historic cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and York to the stunning landscapes of the Lake District and the Scottish Trossachs not to mention a host of icons and lesser known gems along the way.

More Travel Guides

Contact us