Hi again! About 2 hours outside of London lies a mysterious prehistoric monument that has fascinated people for years: Stonehenge. I was lucky enough to visit this World Heritage sight during my work trip through the UK, and I was surprised by how moving the experience was for me.
To give you a little history, Stonehenge is estimated to have been built in 2,500 B.C. That means it’s about 4,500 years old! It is arguably one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world today. The land Stonehenge is on was privately owned until 1918 – when it was donated it to the UK and preservation work began. Since then, millions of visitors have been able to check out these monolithic stones.
Originally Stonehenge was set up with an outer circle and a smaller oval inner circle. It is still a mystery as to the purpose of Stonehenge. In the 17th century, people believed it was a Druid temple, built by Celtic pagans, however recent studies have proved it outdates the Druids by almost 2,000 years!
One of the more probable explanations is that it was built to track the seasons via the sun. The main axis of the stones is aligned by the solstice. Around June 20th, the sun rises over the horizon to the north east, signaling the start of summer. Similarly around December 20th, the sun sets in the south west in the gap between the two tallest stones (one of which has fallen), marking the start of winter. Another probable explanation for Stonehenge’s existence was recently discovered when archeologists found hundreds of human bones, dating across a 1,000 year span at Stonehenge. This lead historians to believe this was more prominently used as a burial ground and a temple honoring the dead. To this day, no one truly knows the original purpose for the stones.
Today, visiting Stonehenge is an incredible experience. The newly renovated visitor’s center is where you can pick up your audio guides and wait for the bus to take you to the stones. Inside there is a cafe where you can grab a bite to eat, check out an exhibit explaining some of the history of the stones as well as browse the gift shop. Outside the visitor’s center are recreations of Neolithic homes, so you can really immerse yourself in the time period!
It costs 19 pounds for an adult to visit Stonehenge. I highly recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance, as they are more expensive if you buy them upon arrival and there can sometimes be a long wait. For information about opening hours & ticket types, click here: Stonehenge tickets.
Getting from London to Stonehenge is simple enough, and worth the day trip if you have enough time. You can take a train departing Waterloo station every 30 minutes to Salisbury station. From Salisbury, it is only a short bus ride to Stonehenge. In total, the journey takes about 2 hours each way.
If the weather is nice, I highly recommend taking the walk instead of the bus! In recent years, they shut down the road that drives past Stonehenge so only the buses travel back and forth. It’s a brilliant way to approach the stones, seeing them slowly build over the rolling green fields. It took my breath away! There is a path around the stones that leads you in a complete circle, so you’re able to see them from all angles. You are never close enough to touch the stones, but the experience is fantastic nonetheless.
Stonehenge was one of my favorite parts of my work trip through the UK! For more information on things to do in London, check out our City Guide of London.