From as early as elementary school we are taught about Stonehenge – the prehistoric monument in the English countryside that no one knows exactly how or why it was built. It is a place we learned more about in my college Architectural History courses, and one that quickly was added to my bucket list of places to visit if I ever made it to England.
In my mind, Stonehenge was always larger than it actually is and so far from civilization that you had to make special arrangements to get out there. Let’s blame that fallacy on the pictures in the text books and not enough information about the surrounding area. But really our first glimpse of the prehistoric monument was as we passed it on the motorway on the way to our bed and breakfast in Shrewton. This did take away a touch of the magic I assumed I’d feel seeing Stonehenge for the first time.
Our visit to Stonehenge was arranged by Visit Wiltshire and after we found our lodging for the night at Rollestone Manor, we doubled back to visit Stonehenge. The parking lot for welcome center and English Heritage site is right off of the main road, and guests are greeted with an modern welcome center with a cafe, gift shop and a Neolithic Home set exhibit that allows guests to see how the builders of Stonehenge lived. You can experience being inside the stone circle through a video and take a picture “pulling” one of the iconic stones of the monument.
Guests at Stonehenge are able to rent an audio guide to the historic site for a £3 fee. The audio guide gives you some insight into some theories of why the monument was built as well as guides you through some of the 250 prehistoric items around the grounds, including burial mounds and the stone circle itself.
While my initial thought was the site was far from civilization, the modern world has hit Stonehenge but is still kept at a distance. Throughout the historical site, you will have access to WI-FI to share your experience. You can reach the Stonehenge monument two different ways, by foot from the visitor’s center or using the shuttle that runs every 5 minutes. Several of the burial mounds and other historic items are within walking distance of the main monument, but the shuttle will only take you to and from the main stone circle.
Over the years, a rope perimeter was added around the main stone circle to help preserve it. Initially, we feared this would keep us too far away to actually experience Stonehenge. At the nearest point, you are only about 15 feet from one of the large triliths, and as you circle the monument you are a bit farther away. Your views of the monument change as you go around the perimeter and you experience it differently each time.
While being able to go up to the stones would be a bit more impactful (you can schedule a special tour for this experience), standing so close to history is an amazing experience. We highly recommend visiting Stonehenge near dinner time so you can get as close to sunset as possible. Take a little bit of time to enjoy the mystery and the beauty of ravens all over the site as well.
Find out how to schedule your visit to Stonehenge and check out more images below: