Stonehenge. Is it a significant part of our history and evolution, or just a random collection of stones in a field? Tourists travel from all over the
world to see it and we still don’t know for sure why it’s there, or indeed if it has any significance at all. It doesn’t seem to be associated
with an exact event in history, or even one particular person and can’t be proven to have been built with a certain purpose in mind. But it still
draws in plenty of visitors who are happy enough to look at something that has no apparent meaning or even story attached to it.
It is thought to have taken roughly 600 years to build starting in about 2600 BC using spotted dolerite bluestones from the Preseli Hills (or later
believed to be Carn Goedog) which is about 150 miles away in South Wales. There is much controversy as to how the stones were transported from their
origin to their final resting place. They are believed to have used rafts to float them up the Bristol Channel, along the river Avon and finally onto
land in what is now Amesbury a couple of miles to the east and along a pathway called ‘The Avenue” for the last part of their journey.
Situated in the county of Wiltshire in the south of England and just ten miles north of the town of Salisbury, it gets seen by a VERY large number of
passing motorists every day as it’s just 100 metres to the north of the very busy A303.There are no parking places on this road, so any potential
visitors have to use the parking provided at the English Heritage run visitor centre a short distance away. It is owned by Edward Seymour the first
Duke of Somerset but funded by the Heritage lottery fund, so why did I have to pay what a consider an expensive £14.90 to get in to see the
The old visitor centre was considered to be something of a disgrace and not something we’d want first time visitors to England to remember us for,
and from the state of the toilets must have been built shortly after the monument itself. It was just over the road (The A360) from the stones and
could be reached with a walk of just a few minutes via a tunnel under the road.
It has finally been knocked down and has now been replaced by a £27 million purpose built building that was opened at the end of last year. This is
about 1.5 miles to the north west of the old one at Airman’s Corner with access to the stones either on foot along the road, over The Cursus using
the sign posted Stonehenge Trail, or during the busy season on one of the many shuttle buses that run between the two sites. I have to say well done
to English Heritage for putting the new visitor centre out of sight of the monument in an attempt to put it as much as possible into the sort of
isolation it would have been in when it was built. The eastern end of the A360 from the old visitor centre to the A303 has been dug up and will soon
be nice fresh green grass again, and the section of this road from the stones to new visitor centre is now closed to the public and is only used by
the shuttle buses when they’re running. This just leaves the A303 stopping it from returning fully to it’s tranquil past. There are various plans
in the pipeline including putting into a tunnel for a mile or so and making a deep cutting in the ground that would only have the road visible from
directly above, but as yet nothing has been decided or approved.
The only real complaint I have is the lack of any sort of signs such as ‘This way to the stones,be prepared to walk 1.5 miles’. In fact there were
no ‘This way’ signs of any kind, so I followed the people in front of me who were probably also hoping the people in front of them were also going
to the stones and also no idea of how far it was. It was pretty obvious from the shuttle buses that went past every five minutes or so that this was
the way to the stones, but I still have to mark them down a few points for the missing signage. I’m not complaining about having to walk, as you see
from the photos it was just the most fantastic weather with amazingly photogenic clouds. In fact you really do need to walk this if you’re don’t
want to miss a lot of the other features that sometimes get over looked such as the Cursus.
Anyway, here’s how it all looks now in August 2014.
The first sight visitors see of the new building……
A modern reproduction of an original stone as used to build the Henge showing how it was transported…..
Why don’t we walk along this anonymous unsignposted road,it might go to somewhere interesting?
I wonder where they’ve been?
This lot must be lost, they’re walking the other way…..
Are we there yet dad?
Yes son,yes we are there!
A view towards the south. The road is the A303 which MIGHT be ‘lost’ one day and the field immediately behind the couple on the bench is where the
famous Julia set crop circle appeared back in 1996…..
This is all that’s left of the eastern end of the old A360, soon to be grassed over……
Taking a different route back. This is the start/end of the Stonehenge trail that takes you up towards the Cursus and past the burial
Gradually climbing and looking back towards the Henge….
Just about to reach the Cursus…..
The other end of the trail, the Cursus is through the gap in between the two lines of trees…..
Almost back at the visitor centre and some fabulous clouds…..
They even built a small Neolithic village to give us some idea how they lived when the Henge was built….
edit on 28-8-2014 by Imagewerx because: (no reason given)