Was the unique Neolithic monument designed for sound? Our Bardic Tour Guide Academic investigates…

For anyone who has ever been to Stonehenge for one of the four solar festivals – Summer or Winter solstice; Spring or Autumn equinox – it is impossible to think of it without thinking of some kind of music: the drumming circle that sometimes last all night, building up to a crescendo at dawn (and then continuing as the perpetual soundtrack of the sunrise celebration); the melodies of a wandering minstrel, strangely-attired saxophonist, opportunist young band with full kit, community choir, or scratch protest band; the chanting of Hare Krishnas, Pagans, Druids, and enthusiastic crowds; or even just the countless pilgrimage mixtapes listened to on the way there and again. It seems the unique Neolithic monument was designed for sound, as all who have stood within the inner circle when a great chant or cheer has been raised would agree – the stones act as tuning forks, and the circle seems to come alive with song.

              Archaeacoustic theories about Stonehenge, and other prehistoric monuments, have been around for a long time, but a 2020 study by the Salford Innovation Research Centre, based at the University of Salford, confirms the design intentionality of this. The researchers rebuilt a precise 3-D printed scale model of a complete Stonehenge in their sound lab, and used this to recreate the acoustics of the third phase, when all the trilithons were locked into place, and the inner ring of bluestones from West Wales stood sentinel like a ready-made (or reconfigured) stone audience. As an aside to the latest discovery of what appears to be the proto-Stonehenge at Waun Mawn, it is interesting to note that to this day the National Eisteddfod of Wales conducts its bardic inaugurations in specially constructed stone circles, as a symbolic recreation of the ‘pocketful of stones’ its spiritual founder, Iolo Morganwg, used to create a sacred circle on Primrose Hill, in 1792.  The Cornish scholar, Alan M. Kent, has noted how the Kernow Mystery Play tradition had their own equivalent Gorseth circle, the Plen an Gwari, or ‘playing place’ (with two surviving, the Plain in St Just, Penwith; and St Pirran’s Round in Perranporth). And across the Greco-Roman world the amphitheatre took this basic concept to its zenith, such as in the theatre of Epidaurus, which could seat 14,000 people, who were able to hear a stage whisper from a performer standing on its proscenium stage. And yet, according to the scientific modelling of the Salford researchers, it seems Stonehenge was not designed to enhance this acoustic effect for a large gathering, but only those standing within the inner circle. Susan Greaney, senior properties historian for English Heritage, concludes that:  ‘the results show that music, voices or percussion sounds made at the monument could only really be heard by those standing within the stone circle, suggesting that any rituals that took place there were intimate events.’

              Writer Paul Deveraux has made an in-depth study of archeoacoustics, which he summarises in his 2001 book, Stone Age Soundtracks. It is hard to disavow the heightened acoustics of sites like the underground Neolithic temple, Metageum, in Malta, or of Newgrange (where, it has been noted, drumming creates observable patterns in the dust-mote laden shards of sunlight that seem to be encoded in the chevrons and spirals of the petroglyphs adorning its passage and entrance stones). The ‘vibes’ of such places have led to artistes like Julian Cope actually recording within chambered barrows (‘Paranormal in the West Country’, from his 1994 album Autogeddon, was recorded in West Kennet long barrow). The Beatles visited Stony Littleton long barrow, while the guests of Sergeant Peppers’ cover artist, Peter Blake, in Wellow. Whether they made any music there is unknown, but Ringo apocryphally said, ‘It’s a great place to get stoned.’

              Yet, even with a plethora of educated guesses there is a telling absence of instruction tablets from the archeoarchitects, So, pending the discovery of a ‘Rosetta Stone’, the jury is still out on whether prehistoric monuments were sonic temples, or if the phenomenon is just an interesting side-effect.

              Nevertheless, the Counter Culture has not shirked in providing its own Stone Age soundtrack for Stonehenge. Most people associate Stonehenge with one song, the satirical rock anthem, ‘Stonehenge’ from This is Spinal Tap (1984). It is hard not to think of it without images of diminutive descending megaliths and pratfalling little people being conjured from the dry ice of movie memory. 

And yet in the same year as Rob Reiner’s comedy classic, the prog-rock band who is entwined with Stonehenge more than any other, Hawkwind, was playing an epic summer solstice set at what was to be the last Stonehenge Free Festival. With their lysergically-enhanced sci-fi flavoured psychedelia, legendary light shows,  epic lyrics by New Wave author Michael Moorcock, body-painted dancers, and Warp Factor 10 wildness, Hawkwind were the unofficial laureates of Stonehenge.

When the Stonehenge Free Festival was smashed in the Battle of the Beanfield of 1985 it seemed like the silver machine of the Counter Culture had been shot down in flames, but its spirit re-emerged in the road protest movement that was to be a rallying point throughout the late 80s and 90s. During a 15 year exclusion zone around Stonehenge during the times of the solstices, raggle-taggle bands like the Spacegoats and the Poison Girls kept the spirit of the Free Festival going, their pixie-punk offerings conveying messages of ecological awareness and anarchy. 

With the opening up of access for the summer solstice in 2000 many old veterans were reunited and new bloods were initiated into the Stonehenge family, a Hakim Bey ‘temporary autonomous zone’ or Brigadoon that continues to manifest (excluding periods of pandemic lockdown) at the solar festivals once more, albeit in a more civilised, co-ordinated way – with infrastructure such as parking, toilets, lighting, and walkways, provided by English Heritage, to manage the often large crowds. And new stars have emerged in this Neolithic platform for a new millennium – made internationally famous by the news crews and, increasingly so, by the smartphone footage shared on social media – including the striking crimson ensemble known as the Shakti Sing Choir, who introduce some quality harmonies to an often ragged, and discordant, free-for-all. Yet Stonehenge is nothing if not a broad church, and all are welcomed – whatever their ability. This is part of its popularity, resilience, and unique ambience – it offers a chance for everyone to shine, to have their moment in the sun, ‘under the eye of light’ as the druids say.  It offers a world-famous platform for exhibitionists, the ultimate busking spot, but also for everyone to dress up, strut their stuff, and have a good time. Some have used Stonehenge as a backdrop for their own pop videos or comedy routines – the Norwegian comedy duo, Ylvis, combined the two in their own mock-anthem of 2013, ‘Stonehenge’; Germanic rapper Kellegah throws Stonehenge into the mix in his song of 2019 without any apparent significance; while Soundgarden’s grungy  ‘Exit Stonehenge’ of 1994 starts with the memorable line, ‘Jesus I can’t feel my penis.’ And yet, in contrast, gentle, heartfelt songs such as Kellianna’s ‘Stonehenge’ evoke the spiritual feelings of many a pilgrim to the stones.  Without a doubt, music and spirituality go hand-in-hand at Stonehenge – it provides an expression of belief system, ideology, and lifestyle.

Let us end our brief foray into the music of Stonehenge with a song which, although it doesn’t mention the iconic stone circle and was composed amid the concrete sarsens of the capitol, seems to evoke the spirit of the very best of the gatherings to have graced such places over the years – David Bowie’s ‘Memory of a Free Festival’ from his second self-titled album of 1969. This was actually inspired by a free festival he had helped organise at the bandstand of Croydon Road Recreational Ground in Beckenham on 16th August, 1969, to raise funds for the Beckenham Arts Lab, which was formative to his artistic development. Both a paean and a eulogy for a golden day, it ends with a chorus that could sum up the hopes of many a pilgrim-reveller, making their way to the stones for the solstice, ‘The song machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party…’

If this has whetted your appetite and you want to experience Stonehenge for yourself then why not book a Stonehenge inner circle experience tour or join the celebrations at the Summer Solstice

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The Music:
Spinal Tap – ‘Stonehenge’ (1984)
Hawkwind – ‘Hawkwind Solstice At Stonehenge’ (1984)
Shatki Sings Choir – ‘May We Live in Peace’ (2015)
Ylvis – ‘Stonehenge’ (2013)
Spacegoats – ‘Thirteen Moons in Motion’ (1994)
Soundgarden – ‘Exit Stonehenge’ (1994)
Poison Girls – ‘Stonehenge’ (2004)
Kellianna – ‘Stonehenge’ (2004):
Paul Oakenfield – ‘b2b CARL COX at Stonehenge

Relevant Stonehenge Links:
Heavy rock music: Stonehenge was a ‘neolithic rave venue’ – Daily Mail
The first-ever scale model of Stonehenge that lets researchers explore how the monument would have sounded in its heyday has been created by UK researchers. – Stonehenge News Blog
Salford scientists reveal the ‘sound of Stonehenge’ – The Guardian
Stonehenge Private Access Inner Circle Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Stonehenge enhanced sounds like voices or music for people inside the monument – Science News
Scientists recreate prehistoric acoustics of Stonehenge – The Independent
Stonehenge enhanced voices and music within the stone ring – Science for Students
Stonehenge Solstice and Equinox Tours – The Stonehenge Tour Company
The lost sounds of Stonehenge – BBC

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WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
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Join the throng of summer celebrations and soak up the unique atmosphere of Stonehenge with our special access tour to the inner circle of the stones. Celebrate the magic of the 2021 summer solstice at the heart of Stonehenge, just as our ancestors have over thousands of years

The solstice itself is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator, with the sun appearing to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day and shortest night of the year and Stonehenge is a perfect marker of the sunrise and sunset on this date, aligned to exactly pinpoint this turning point in the sun’s journey. It is believed to have been used as an astronomical calculator, as certain stones align with key dates in the seasons. Revellers typically gather at Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle, to see the sun rise. The Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone, set outside the main circle, align with the rising sun

Apart from its architectural significance, Stonehenge holds a place of sacred importance to many. Much of its history is still shrouded in mystery, though one thing that’s sure is that it was built upon a landscape that had long been used for religious purposes.

When celebrating midsummer, Pagans draw on diverse traditions. In England thousands of Pagans and non-Pagans go to places of ancient religious sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury to see the sun rising on the first morning of summer.

The famous Stonehenge circle is normally roped off to the public, but special access is granted four times a year that allows our groups to get so close to the stones. This is only on the mornings of the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox.

There is always an array of flamboyant head pieces, outfits and face paints on show. If you stand in the right place inside the monument you can see the sun rise above the Heel stone and its rays will beam directly into the centre of Stonehenge. Many visitors who gather to do just that invariably experience powerful emotion at the moment when the sun rises over the mystical circle on solstice morning, and find themselves amidst all sorts of alternative believers like neo-pagans and druids in fantastic garb who are conducting esoteric ceremonies. It’s a magical ‘life changing’ moment and well worth crossing off your bucket list.

STONEHENGE SUMMER SOLSTIC TOUR OPTIONS:
We offer 3 exclusive Stonehenge Summer Solstice tours to choose from that depart from London, Bath or Southampton. Return travel by luxury midi coach with an expert Stonehenge specialist tour guide on board, VIP parking and entry.  This year we are also offering a free souvenir guide book and optional audio guiding app in most languages:
Summer Solstice Sunset Tour on 20th June 2021
(8 hours): London Departure £99. Bath Departure £79
Summer Solstice Sunrise Tour on 21st June
(8 hours) 2021 London Departure £99. Bath Departure £79
Sunset and Sunrise Solstice Combo Tour 2021
(16 hours): London Departure £149. Bath Departure £119

WHAT IS STONEHENGE AND WHY DO PEOPLE GO THERE FOR THE SUMMER SOLSTICE?
Solstice, or Litha means a stopping or standing still of the sun. It is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its maximum elevation.  The tradition of going to Stonehenge dates back thousands of years when Neolithic people, it’s believed, created it to be a temple aligned to the sun.
This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun. The Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun’s energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light.
Like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For Pagans this spoke in the Wheel of the Year is a significant point. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits.
This is a time to celebrate growth and life but for Pagans, who see balance in the world and are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL:
Please note that as a responsible tour operator we have a duty of care towards the places we visit and in this case we ask you to be take great care when visiting the historic site. It is important that Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments are preserved for future generations and we ask you not to touch the stones, and not to leave any litter at the site.

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WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
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When commercial traveller, photographic inventor, and amateur antiquarian Alfred Watkins wrote up his lecture expounding his theory about ancient routemarkers in Early British Trackways (1922), delivered to the Woolhope Club of Hereford only five months previously, he started a movement, some would say a craze, which shows no signs of diminishing even in the cold light of the 21st century.

            From his business peregrinations up and down the Welsh Marches Watkins deduced that prehistoric travellers must have created a system of routes and landmarks to aid navigation, and upon realising this  he felt he ‘held in [his] hand the key plan of a long-lost fact’. When he glimpsed in an epiphanic flash ‘the original sighting pegs used by the earliest track makers in marking out their travel ways’, it seemed as though a secret map of Britain had been revealed to him. Such a claim met with ‘violent opposition’, but he fine-tuned his controversial theorem in The Old Straight Track: its mounds, beacons, moats, sites and mark stones, his influential monograph published in 1925. Watkins drew upon archaeological, topographical, and etymological evidence, tested by exhaustive field research. He postulated that alignments had developed over a long period of time – beginning in the Palaeolithic – and that navigational aids were placed along them, starting with simple piles of stones (walkers’ cairns, such as can be found on many summits and popular walking routes across Britain), which were sometimes developed into megalithic monuments, churches, towers, follies, and so forth, through the ages, the initial purpose fading in the mists of time: ‘The straight track became an organised possession of the community for all to use, but mystery and reverence for a superior knowledge grew round its making and its mark-points’. Critically, Watkins did not perceive these ‘leys’, as he called them (from the Anglo-Saxon word for a clearing, and linked to ‘sight’) as in any way supernatural. He emphasised the practical application: ‘Utility was the primary object’. Only later, Watkins suggested, did such sites become co-opted for religious purposes, such as the predominance of churches dedicated to the Michael on hill-tops – the archangel who is commonly depicted as slaying the dragon with his spear, or ‘fixing the point’, focalising the serpent energy of the land in geomantic terms.

Yet Watkins’ revolutionary idea was tantalising enough to inspire generations of ‘ley-hunters’, and it is hard not to be caught up in his vision when he, in a rare moment of lyricism, waxes about his grand vision: ‘imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach, and paid out until it touched the “high places” of the earth at a number of ridges, banks, and knowls.’ Watkins envisioned ponds and streams being deliberately enhanced to reflect beacon fires lit upon the high places. Anyone who has stood upon Glastonbury Tor on a sunny day would have witnessed this phenomenon, as the sunlight reflects off the dykes that thread the Somerset Levels, creating chains of light across the land.

            And Watkins’ vision was to act like a beacon fire to many who followed. His work was taken up in the late Sixties by antiquarian and occult author John Michel, in The View Over Atlantis (1969), who took Watkins’ ideas, and run with them – reconceptualising his ‘leys’ as ‘leylines’, a matrix of energy stretching across not only Britain, but the world, and connecting ancient sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Machu Piccu in Peru, and Stonehenge. These energy lines were seen as the meridians of the planet, to use the analogy from Chinese acupuncture, with sacred sites acting as ‘needles of stone’ (an idea crystallised by Tom Graves in his 1978 book). Leylines had gone viral, a meme that the Counter Culture adopted as their own. Some have tried to adopt a scientific approach to their study, most notably Paul Deveraux, who has undertaken extensive field research at sacred sites, (the Dragon Project of the late Seventies), yet the leyline theory is largely discredited by archaeologists. It is argued that you could draw a random line on a map and the probability is that it will intersect ‘sacred’ or historic sites; also, that the sites offered as evidence of a ley vary so widely over time and usage that no single, coherent purpose can be applied to them. And yet humans, the pattern-making creature, love to see patterns. We are biologically hard-wired to respond to simulacra – from our mother’s face, to human forms in nature. We seek meaning in what is otherwise a random, meaningless universe. It is no wonder we fashion lines of narrative, or song, to guide us – internally and externally – across life’s journey.  It is something we have been doing for at least fifty thousand years, as the complex system of the Aboriginal dreamtime, with its songlines, attests. It seems unlikely that such an intuitive (and useful) way of mapping only developed in a single place on Earth. Enigmatic monuments like the Nazca lines in Peru, and the cursus in England, suggest otherwise. Deveraux suggests these could be ‘spirit roads’, and are a macrocosmic version of the countless ‘corpse paths’ found in many cultures. Certainly, there is more to such routes than the prosaically utilitarian. Some historic routes, such Roman roads, droveways, saltways, the ‘herepaths’ (or military track) of Alfred the Great, General Wade’s roads across Scotland, and so forth, clearly did have a primarily practical purpose – and although sometimes these overlap with other, older routes or usages, there are too many obscurer routes, ‘hidden paths that run towards the moon, or to the sun’ (as Tolkien put it), to be simply ignored. And the fact is (perplexing as it may be to an empirical, rationalist paradigm) that many of them can be dowsed. They are discernible, and anyone with a pendant, rod, or sensitive persuasion, can detect them. Many converge at Stonehenge – the Spaghetti Junction of leylines (or Mother Node, if you prefer) – and cross the land and beyond, as Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst have pointed out. Something is there, and what that signifies – Palaeolithic navigational aids, geomagnetic earth energies, the meridians of Mother Earth, ghost paths, extraterrestrial guidance beacons – who can rightly say?  Perhaps the true nature of such alignments depends on the awareness and paradigm of the one seeking them – we find the road we wish to walk; the evidence to support the theory we wish to believe. It seems ley/lines are to be experienced, more than understood – and they add a little bit of mystery to a world suffering from a dearth of the imagination. They provide a counter-narrative, of other ways of experiencing reality, one that opens up, rather than shuts down possibility. It turns the prose of the everyday into a poem, even a song. They offer another way of being in the landscape. Choosing to follow these invisible paths is an act of faith – like The Fool in the tarot, the seeker steps off the precipice of reason and hopes their vision will sustain them. It certainly sustained Watkins.  So, it feels right and fitting to give the man who started it all the last word: ‘Such alignments are either facts beyond the possibility of accidental coincidence or they are not’.

SOURCE: The Stonehenge News Blog

If this has whetted your appetite and you want to go explore the mysteries of Stonehenge further then have a look at our exclusive Stonehenge special access tours or even organise a specialist ‘New Age Experience’ Tour and try your skills at dowsing

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The train to Stonehenge from London is a reliable and economical option. With trains running every 30 minutes during the day, it’s also a flexible way to plan your visit. There isn’t a direct train link from London to Stonehenge, the closest train station is in Salisbury, which is 9 miles from Stonehenge.

Situated in the south of England, this prehistoric monument in Wiltshire is a true wonder of the world. This spiritual stone circle is an awe-inspiring site just 2 miles from Amesbury and 9 miles from Salisbury.

The train from London’s Waterloo Station to Salisbury (South Western Railway line) will take about 1.5-hours. Expect a round trip London to Stonehenge train ticket to cost around £37.00, although this price can vary depending on the day and time of your departures.

Salisbury is home to England’s finest medieval Cathedral and has the best surviving copy of Magna Carta. The medieval city is well worth exploring and has a bustling charter market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. We highly recommend an overnight stay in this historical city should you have the luxury of time.

Once you arrive in Salisbury, you’ll need to hop on a Stonehenge tour bus that will take you directly to the Stonehenge visitor centre or book our flexible budget private tour from Salisbury option – our expert Stonehenge tour guides deliver a Stonehenge experience that goes well beyond what public tours can offer. You also get to explore the greater Stonehenge landscape covering features of Stonehenge like Woodhenge / Durrington Walls / The Cursus where the most recent archaeological discoveries were made.

Have your own transport and want a Stonehenge tour?
We can also arrange for a local Stonehenge expert to meet you at the visitor centre for a unique guided walking tour incuding Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape

PRIVATE STONEHENGE TOUR FROM SALISBURY
Stonehenge, the UNESCO world heritage site, may be the country’s most famous landmark, its construction still baffling historians today and delighting any and all visitors. But we’ll take you beyond it , on a guided walking tour. First exploring and appreciating its ancient monoliths, before moving onward to the surrounding area which boasts burial mounds and primordial pathways cut into the chalke.

“Find out the details of this year’s amazing discovery at Durrington walls, of the ‘Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts”

We’ll visit Durrington Walls, the ancient settlement that housed the builders of stonehenge and Woodhenge – Stonehenges’ equally  mysterious and ancient cousin, a complicated network of wooden posts that has to be seen to be believed.

Returning to the comfort of our luxury minivans, you will also enjoy a stunning drive through the vistas of the Woodford Valley and stop at Old Sarum – an iron age fort whose history spans 5,000 years and involves Romans, Saxons and even Victorians, just ask your guide…

It has never been a better time to visit Stonehenge and its breathtaking landscape which literally bulges with history. Our luxury minivan tour can take groups of up to 8 passengers plus your driver / guide to a variety of beautiful and fascinating spots in the Wiltshire area.

Our expert local expert guides create the premier tour experience. They will bring to life the histories and the myths that saturate every inch of Wessex’s verdant ground. Find out the full range of theories of how Stonehenge was constructed as well as the traditional myths which are thousands of years old and have been passed down generations…

…find out  all the facts and fictions of this famous landscape, any and all questions are welcome.

Our guides are locals who proudly maintain up to date knowledge of all the areas’ archaeological and historical concerns, and have an especially good eye for a local pub. They transform the experience of visiting the area, unlocking its secrets and ensuring you maximise your enjoyment –  making it an event to remember!

VIEW FUTHER STONEHENGE TOUR OPTIONS FROM LONDON
VIEW FUTHER TOUR OPTIONS FROM SALISBURY
SALISBURY TOURIST INFORMATION

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WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
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If you’re only going to be in London for a short time you can still visit Stonehenge in the scenic Wiltshire countryside and immerse yourself in London’s culture and history with a private guided full-day tour.

PRIVATE  LONDON SIGHTSEEING TOUR
London: one of the great world cities, jam-packed with amazing buildings and iconic landmarks. London is filled with centuries of history and culture, as well as the legacy of remarkable individuals. London is filled with centuries of history and culture, as well as the legacy of remarkable individuals. Discover London’s highlights on our private half day city tour. A great street level tour and introduction to London with photo stops.

This introductry tour focuses on the big landmarks in Westminster – Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and a few hidden gems.

London is filled with centuries of history and culture, as well as the legacy of remarkable individuals. Discover some of its most emblematic sights during a private half day tour with an expert guide who’ll tell you about how the city developed and the key figures who made the city what it is today from Henry VIII to Nelson and Elizabeth II

“A great street level tour and introduction to London with photo stops”

Visit Stonehenge
After your London highlight tour we head for the most famous prehistoric monument in the world.

Stonehenge, a world heritage site, stands alone in the vast empty tract of Salisbury plain. Its origins date back nearly 5,000 years and it has been home to pagan religion and spiritual worship, not to be mention public debate ever since. What was this vast collection of stones intended for? Was it an observatory of the moon, a temple to the sun, or an elaborate cemetery? Who were the people who carried and carved these 40 ton rocks? Come and unlock the secrets for yourself and marvel at this remarkable and mysterious feat of ancient engineering and design.

*See London’s landmarks on an all-encompassing tour.
*Panoramic chauffeur-guided visit of London with photo stops
*Personalize your route to hit the city highlights of most interest to you.
*Complimentary pick up and drop off anywhere in central London.
*Visit the Stonehenge Exhibition and Museum.
*Guided Walking Tour of the Stone Circle

VIEW TOUR: Morning Panoramic Chauffeur-Guided London Highlight Tour With Stonehenge Stone Circle In The Aftenoon

DEPARTURE FROM LONDON OR SOUTHAMPTON:
1-4 Passengers From £395
4-7 Passengers from £495
8 – 16 Passengers from £795

Stonehenge Guided Tours
WINNER: BEST STONEHENGE TOUR SPECIALIST 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2021
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
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We’re a very proud bunch – we’re so proud that we have dedicated this whole blog to tell you how award-winningly brilliant we are! All the shiny industry travel awards we have won have been a result of our hard work, dedication and real relationships we’ve built with our customers. We’ve been recognised as “Best Historical Tour Operator” in the South West England Travel and Tourism Awards 2021; what’s not to be proud of! 

Presrige Award Winner: Best Historial Tour Operator 2020 / 2021

The extensive research and judging process is driven by merit and centred around an in-depth evaluation of skills and the tour services we offer.  We have demonstrated expertise within our field, dedication to customer service, positive feedback from our customers, innovative tours and practises, great value and a commitment to promoting excellence.

“I feel very proud and thankful we have won these prestigious travel industry awards. I am proud of my fantastic team. Thanks to all our Stonehenge tour guides, drivers, customer service team and operations centre
OPERATIONS MANAGER

Stonehenge Guided Tours also recently won ‘Best Stonehenge Specialist’ 2020 / 2021 by industry professionals and peers;

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Discover three of Britain’s ancient stone circle monuments, built by our Stone Age ancestors. Full Day Megalithic Tour. Experience something magical, mysterious, and truly magnificent!

Avebury henge and stone circles are one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. 

This small group guided tour starts with Stonehenge where you walk in the footsteps of our ancestors from 5,500 years ago and see and experience these mysterious stones. The best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.

After we travel to Avebury. The awe-inspiring stone circle of Avebury, a few miles north of Stonehenge, is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, and rightly so, but unlike its more famous neighbour, Stonehenge, is unfenced. On this guided walking tour of the site, you will be able to wander freely among the stones.

This is followed by a visit to the Rollright Stones. The Rollright Stones is an ancient site located on the Oxfordshire & Warwickshire border. The complex consists of three main elements, The Kings Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights. Antiquarians date this monolithic mystery as pre-Stonehenge, locked in local legend the stones are said to be a petrified army from long ago. Some people refer to it as the Cotswolds Stonehenge, the circle of stones measures 100ft across and consists of 77 Stones.

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones, often associated with funerary monuments such as burial cairns and round barrows. Where excavated stone circles have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were designed and laid out carefully. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead.  In the 20th century, the stones became an important site for adherents of various forms of folk religion, who hold rituals and ceremonies here. The Cotswold Order of Druids, among others, regularly observe festivals here.

This Full day tour departs every Wednesday and Sunday (April – September 2021)

Please visit our new Stonehenge Tour website for itinerary and booking details

STAY SAFE: Private Tour Option
Only want to travel with your family or chosen group? Why not book the entire vehicle and take a private tour? Choose any Stonehenge itinerary from only £79 per person! View our Custom Tours

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Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
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The Winter Solstice sunset at Stonehenge is, alongside the Summer Solstice sunrise, its defining alignment. For thousands of years it has been witnessed and celebrated by the countless pilgrims who have trekked to the unique monument. The story of Stonehenge is part of the vaster epic of the sun.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice with and without the pilgrims

4.63 billion years ago our sun burst into life – a nuclear reactor fusing 500 million tonnes of hydrogen each second. Its parentage was grand and mysterious – a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust experiencing the passing shockwave of a supernova. From this immaculate conception the solar system was born. The resulting nebula eventually coalesced into our glorious sun, father of the planets in our solar system family and bestower of fortune on his favourite offspring: Earth. Here conditions in the Goldilocks zone between the extremes of intense heat and cold proved favourable for another explosion – this one of biodiversity. A perpetual work in progress, the natural selection of evolution eventually produced homo sapiens, a hominid that was the best of many drafts.

Book your Stonehenge Summer or Winter Solstice tour in advance and cross it off your bucket list

Enter, a mere 200,000 years ago, humankind.  

            For a long time our ancestors scratched a living – although some no doubt proved excellent hunters, expert gatherers. Some were even good at art. But then the Ice Age came – the ultimate lockdown. When the survivors emerged, stiff-jointed and blinking at the sunlight, the land had changed – scoured and shaped by the retreating glaciers. Strange stones were left upon the chalk in the south of the (now) island that became the ‘British Isles’, a chip off the proto-continental blocks, Laurentia and Gondwana: the wayward offspring of the Old and New Worlds, as they became.

            Around 6000 years ago our restless hunter-gatherer ancestors started to settle down and began to grow crops and husband livestock. Some of them eventually decided a particular spot on Salisbury Plain would be perfect for a big white circle of packed chalk, glowing in the moonlight amid the scrubland. The bank and ditch enclosure of the henge was formed with antler picks and oxen-shoulder blades, and lots of sore backs and elbow grease. Just as they were catching their breath from a serious bit of landscaping, some irritating priest decided it would be rather nice to have a timbered circle (of which the Aubrey Holes remain). Then another bright spark, perhaps trying to outdo the first decided that some strange blue stones from 250 miles away would be even better. With much to do the eighty stones, each weighing a backbreaking 4 tonnes each, were transported from the Preseli Mountains in Wales to the sacred plain of Salisbury. These were placed within the henge, with an entrance way pointing towards the midsummer sunrise.

            At the mirror sight of Durrington the south circle was aligned to the midwinter sunrise. Both sights – the henge of the living, the henge of the dead – defined by their relationship to the mighty sun.

In the third phase of Stonehenge’s 1500 year construction the mighty sarsens, or ‘grey wethers’, scattered over the Wiltshire Downs but clustered in a particularly attractive clump in what is now West Woods were transported the ‘workers’ camp’ at Durrington, before being dressed and dragged to the ring on the plain. Here 60 were place in an ingeniously interlocking outer ring of trilithons, with an inner horse-shoe of 15 more. These were aligned to catch the ball of the sun like a gigantic baseball mitt as it rose over the outlier Heel Stone at the time of the summer solstice sunrise – the longest day of the year, when the northern hemisphere is tilted (at 23 degrees – approximately the angle created between an outspread index finger and thumb) closest to that fiery nuclear fusion reactor, 147.35 million km away. The photons generated there take 8 seconds to reach Earth – golden strings pulled taught to the plain, guided by the Avenue, as though to the bridge of a vast violin. Each year two major chords are played upon it – the summer and winter solstice, each note lingering for precisely half the year. Minor chords are played upon it as well, modulated by the respective ‘bridges’ of the trilithons and surrounding monuments – the equinoxes and various lunar and celestial cycles. The deeper chord of the winter solstice is drowned out annually by the sometimes vast numbers who converge to the summer solstice glorious crescendo – but those who are wiser know the quieter, stronger power of the midwinter music. And the ancestors knew too – for they made sure to align Stonehenge to it in an alignment of equal importance to the midsummer one.


            The winter solstice sunset, framed by the inner trilithons, is a breathtaking cosmic drama, re-enacted every year – the ultimate mystery play. And not wishing to miss out on a good party, the people of the Neolithic came from far and wide (as the large quantities of charred animal bones left over from midwinter feasts at Durrington attest) to witness and celebrate the rebirth of the sun, when after three days of  apparent stillness upon the horizon it begins its six month journey back to its northernmost point. From generations of observation the stone-builders knew that the solstitium, the still point, marked the turning in the sun’s annual migration (or rather our migration around the sun): from this nadir the days will start to get longer. The light and warmth will return. This was of huge significance to the ancestors, and it is no less so for dwellers of the northern hemisphere, affected as we are by the cold and dark in all kinds of ways. Our planetary sun lamp is the antidote to our collective seasonally adjusted disorder. We bask in it. Even if we cannot feel its warmth on a chill day, we can feel uplifted by its presence. It reminds us that however dark it gets the light will vanquish it – our solar hero will save the day.

            And so witnessing the winter solstice at Stonehenge – whether at sunrise or sunset – is to commune with those who designed and raised the stones, and who have been bearing witness for millennia. It is a humbling and inspiring experience, one that puts our lives into perspective, and realigns us to a vaster cycle – allowing us to all dance to the music of the spheres

SOURCE: The Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOUR
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – HOLIDAY EXTRAS
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Spring and Autumn Equinox Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS

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We’re a very proud bunch – we’re so proud that we have dedicated this whole blog to tell you how award-winningly brilliant we are! All the shiny industry awards we have won have been a result of our hard work, dedication and real relationships we’ve built with our customers. We’ve been recognised as “Best Stonehenge Guided Tour Specialists” by industry professionals and peers; what’s not to be proud of!  

The extensive research and judging process is driven by merit and centred around an in-depth evaluation of skills and the tour services we offer.  We have demonstrated expertise within our field, dedication to customer service and a commitment to promoting excellence.

Stonehenge Guided Tours, has demonstrated excellence and commitment in this industry, even in the face of uncertainty, its a privilidge to be recognised.

Stonehenge Guided Tours has also been nominated for the South West England Prestige Awards 2020/21 – watch this space…………………………………

“I feel very proud and thankful we have won this prestigious travel industry award. I am proud of my fantastic team. Thanks to all the Stonehenge tour drivers, tour guides, operations and customer service!
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The world-famous Neolithic monument of Stonehenge is on everyone’s bucket-list, or seems to be – going by the droves who visit it every year – but many miss out on its sister UNESCO World Heritage Site at Avebury, only 17 miles away. What are they missing out on, and is it even better? Does it out-henge Stonehenge?

When in Wiltshire, one should most certainly visit Stonehenge, which is undoubtedly the world’s most famous stone circle. But one should also make time to visit Wiltshire’s “other” stone circle, Avebury — which holds the distinction of being the largest in the world.

Stonehenge has long been a must-see for any visiting England and venturing beyond the capital – and rightly so. The iconic stone circle, standing proud on Salisbury Plain, is one of the seven ‘modern’ wonders of the world (as opposed to the classical ones, of which only the Great Pyramid of Giza survive), and in 2019 1.6 million people visited it.  Let us first consider its attractions before looking at its great ‘rival’, Avebury.

To its deficit are: the hordes of tourists, queues, pricey entrance fee, and the fact you cannot walk amongst the stones unless you’re on a special private access tour, such as Stonehenge Tours run).

Right, so that’s Stonehenge. Now, let’s travel north (17 miles by crow) to Avebury and consider its attractions…

  • The largest stone circle in Britain at 1,088 feet across, comprising (originally) 98 sarsens configured as one large circle containing two smaller ones.
  • The henge of Avebury is deeper, wider, and far more tangible than the slight dip of Stonehenge. If it is ‘henge’ you want – Avebury is the place to experience it.
  • The only stone circle with a pub in the middle of it (The Red Lion!).
  • Free to enter (except for parking).
  • You can walk amongst the stones.
  • The Avebury landscape (all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site) contains incredible, unique monuments, including Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe; West Kennet long barrow (the best preserved example of a Cotswold-Severn transepted barrow tomb); the Sanctuary; Seven Barrows; the Ridgeway; Fyfield Down sarsen field; and Windmill Hill early Neolithic enclosure and Bronze Age barrow cemetery.
  • A selection of small businesses selling local produce, art and crafts.

To its deficit, the visitor facilities are pretty basic (a small car-park that is often at capacity in the summer; the National Trust tea rooms are currently only offering takeaway; and service in The Red Lion is glacial). The post office/grocery store is probably the best option for a quick snack.

Nevertheless, I think it is clear that Avebury offers so much and any visitor to the area is missing out on something very special if they don’t include it in their itinerary. While access to Stonehenge remains restricted during current ‘lockdown’ rules (and closed for the Winter Solstice) Avebury provides an excellent alternative that will not disappoint.

Visiting Stonehenge once?   Do it with the experts!!!!!

VIEW: Stonehenge and Avebury Guided Tours
VIEW: Avebury Guided Walking Tours
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WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialist 2021 – Travel and Toursim Awards

Stonehenge Guided Tours
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
www.StonehengeTours.com