English Heritage
Wiltshire SP4 7DE
Most visitors to Britain have usually heard of the ancient stone circle called Stonehenge but are not too sure exactly where it is. It is located in south England on Salisbury Plain, approximately 88 miles (142 km) from London. Using public transport, Stonehenge makes an easy day trip from London (see Getting There information below).
Stonehenge is so old that there is no contemporary written record for its evolution or construction. Everything we know is based on modern archaeological techniques and informed interpretation of the remains so there are several theories about Stonehenge. However, it is generally agreed that it was built c. 3600 BC and was a place of ritual significance for Neolithic and Bronze Age tribes for approximately 2,000 years.
Stonehenge and nearby Avebury are among the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of standing stones arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored. These holy places and the nearby Neolithic sites are an incomparable testimony to prehistoric times.
The Stonehenge prehistoric stone circle has always been a favourite haunt of visitors. Its size and position obviously held great significance and recent archeological research has found that it was always used for cremations and burials. Many legends account for the presence of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge Legends
One legend has the Devil buying the stones from a woman in Ireland. It is said that he wrapped the stones and brought them to Salisbury plains where he erected them. The story continues that the Devil threw one of the stones at a Friar who displeased him and that the stone struck the Friar on the heel before it stuck in the ground. That stone is still there today and is called the ‘Heel’ stone.
Another story has it that Merlin the Magician from the Arthurian legend cast a spell on the stones making them lighter allowing them to be transported to their present position by 15,000 knights.
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Salisbury Plain
With modern archaeological techniques we now know much more about Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape but why it was built at that particular location and what went on there is still a mystery.
Seven thousand years ago the area was heavily wooded and populated by nomadic tribes. When these nomads decided to settle down and become arable farmers, the woodland was cleared. This is how we see Salisbury Plain today.
UNESCO World Heritage
In 1986 Stonehenge was co-listed with Avebury to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its official title is now ‘Stonehenge, Avebury & Associated Sites’. The property is internationally important for its complexes of outstanding prehistoric monuments. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world, while Avebury is the largest.
Together with inter-related monuments, and their associated landscapes, they demonstrate Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and mortuary practices resulting from around 2000 years of continuous use and monument building between circa 3700 and 1600 BC.
Three Major Phases of Construction
- The Circle and Henge
The Stonehenge circle and henge on the Chalklands was one of two focal points for England’s Neolithic and Bronze Age civilizations – the other was Avebury. Strictly speaking the circle is not surrounded by a henge - the embankment is on the wrong side of the ditch. This is unique to Stonehenge and nobody knows why.
The earthworks were the earliest phase of the monument and have been dated to approximately 3100 BC and the first structures erected were wooden.
Bluestones were the first stones to be erected in the circle but there are divergent opinions as to when. One theory says they were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, and another suggests the bluestones may have been raised at the site as early as 3000 BC. What is now known is that the bluestones were naturally occurring glacial remnants and not transported from Wales as previously thought.
The last major phase of construction was around 2600 to 2400 BC when the largest stones were erected and the north-eastern entrance was widened to align it to precisely matched the direction of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset of the period. This phase of the monument was abandoned unfinished.
The Monument Today
Stonehenge remains one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments in the world on account of the sheer size of its megaliths, the sophistication of its concentric plan and architectural design, the shaping of the stones - uniquely using both Wiltshire Sarsen sandstone and Pembroke Bluestone - and the precision with which it was built.
The outside circle of 24 foot (7.3 metre) high standing stones is topped with shaped stone lintels weighing over forty tons (36.3 tonnes) each. The lintels have a recessed cavity into which a shaped stone peg on the upright fits. How these technological marvels were achieved is open to conjecture but they are a marvelous sight to witness.
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Plan Your Visit 
Visiting the Monument
Visitors are no longer permited to wander among the stones as shown in the photographs above but a path and a low chain wire fence runs around the circle providing uninterrupted views of the stones.
Entrance to Stonehenge is now managed through timed tickets and advance booking is the only way to guarantee entry on the day and time of your choice. By booking in advance you will also benefit from an advanced booking discount.
Opening Times & Admission Prices
Open all year except 24 & 25 December.
Last admission is 2 hours before advertised closing time.
Hours: Generally 09:30 – 17:00 hours. Check the English Heritage website link below for current opening times.  
- Timed Tickets
Tickets may be booked online (recommended) or purchased at the ticket office on site. Entrance to Stonehenge is now managed through timed tickets and advance booking is the only way to guarantee entry on the day and time of your choice. By booking in advance you will also benefit from an advanced booking discount. Web: English Heritage/ Stonehenge Opening Times & Prices & Timed Ticket Purchase    External Link
- Note
English Heritage and National Trust members must also book in advance for their FREE visit. (Free visits are applicable to English Heritage members and members of the National Trust in England or those who hold a National Trust Touring Pass only - this does not include National Trust Scotland or other National Trust affiliated organisations). All members must show a valid membership card on arrival to be granted free parking and site access.
Disabled Access
Yes. For detailed information go to  Web:  English Heritage/ Stonehenge/ Access    External Link
Ticket Office, Audio Guides, Toilets, Café, Exhibitions, Shop and Parking are all located at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the west of the stone circle and out of sight of the monument.
From the new Visitors Centre, a shuttle service runs to the stone circle, stopping off halfway to allow visitors the opportunity to walk the remaining stretch should they wish. During the trip the henge emerges slowly over the horizon to the East.  
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)3703 331 181
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website   English Heritage/ Stonehenge    External Link
Getting There
- By Car
The Visitor Centre and Car Park is off the A360 at Airman’s Corner, just within the World Heritage Site but out of sight of the monument. It is designed with a light touch on the landscape - a low key building sensitive to its environment.
- By Public Transport
The Stonehenge Tour Bus is the public bus departing from Salisbury rail and bus stations. Go to Tour Link  Web:  The Stonehenge Tour    External Link
For more information about travelling to Stonehenge see Wiltshire County Council's travel information site  Web:  Connecting Wiltshire/ Travelling to Stonehenge    External Link
Google Maps - Stonehenge

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