This powerful prehistoric structure is one of England’s most visited monuments and an important UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stonehenge is a mysterious ring of monolithic stones that has confused archaeologists for centuries. Admire this fascinating structure against the haunting backdrop of Salisbury Plain and discover what’s known about its puzzling history at the modern visitors’ center.
Stonehenge was built beginning as early as 3000 B.C., with the construction believed to have taken place in several stages. Archeologists debate the purpose of the monument, although its symmetry and location suggest it was a type of observatory or time-measuring device. It’s thought that the monument you see today is only part of the original complex, with many original stones stolen for use as building materials over the centuries. Follow the site’s modular walkway, which will take you on a full circuit around the stones.
It’s no longer possible to enter the stone circle without special advanced arrangement. A rope barrier keeps visitors 50 feet (15 meters) away from the stones. Bring some binoculars so you’ll be able to inspect the prehistoric carvings on the stones, which are not clearly visible from a distance.
Stonehenge is best visited early in the morning or in the evening. Crowds are typically thinner at these times and the lighting casts compelling shadows on the stones, enhancing their mystical presence. Head to the top of nearby Amesbury Hill to see wonderful panoramic views over the site.
Be sure to check out the visitors’ center, which features an exceptional exhibit dedicated to the monument. You’ll see prehistoric objects discovered in the area, including a flint arrow tip embedded in human bone as well as a recreation of the face of a Neolithic man. A 360-degree projection allows you to see what it would be like to stand in the middle of the stone circle and watch the seasons change through time-lapse photography. The center is located 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) away from the monument, but shuttles run frequently between the two if you don’t feel like walking.
There is an admission fee to explore Stonehenge and the visitors’ center. Hours vary by season. To reach the monument, take one of the regular buses running from Salisbury.