The summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that happens every year. Unless you are lucky enough to live close by for many of the thousands of sun-worshipping pilgrims who flock to the unique UNESCO World Heritage monument, it really is a bona fide top grade ‘bucket list’ experience, up there with visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza, Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Taj Mahal, or Machu Piccu – for Stonehenge is indubitably one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

Once seen up-close-and-personal, which is only possible at the solstices and equinoxes (excluding pandemics and other acts of god), unless a private access tour is booked, the stones are never forgotten. Visitors who make a special effort to visit Stonehenge specifically at the time of the summer or winter solstices will experience something perhaps indistinguishable to the Neolithic affect intended by its architects and priesthood over the 1500 years of its construction (3100-1600 BCE) and primary usage – for the 75 interlocking sarsen stones, and (approximately) 80 blue stones are, among other things, a gigantic solstice engine: designed to be a place to not only precisely observe the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset, but a place activated by this vast celestial drama.

The energy released by the summer solstice sunrise is a visceral whoop of joy: a universal ‘Yes!’ that makes those holding vigil erupt spontaneously into cheering, chanting, hugging, and dancing. It is a beautiful moment that cuts through all barriers, and the party that often builds throughout the preceding night really erupts at this point – but it is one without alcohol or drugs. For even if such things were not firmly forbidden by English Heritage (and bags are scrupulously checked before entry), they are really not needed in the natural euphoria of the moment.

The family-friendly atmosphere is warm-hearted and infectious – one can simply wander amid the stones and revellers enjoying the vibes; join in a druidic ceremony; witness a handfasting (a pagan wedding), knighting (performed by no less than King Arthur Pendragon), or a barding in the gorsedd bardic circle that traditionally follows the dawn druid ceremony. One can dance with wild abandon to a drumming circle, or join in yourself if you bring along a percussive instrument – but be warned, for suddenly you can find yourself shaking your feathers next to a unicorn, dragon, green man, or fairy! If you prefer you can meditate by a stone, imbibing the energy lines that have been tangibly dowsed around the temple – a nexus for many mysterious forces, both visible and invisible. (source Stonehenge News Blog)

Our company is the only one that specializes in private access tours to Stonehenge and has built up, over twenty years and more, a vast body of knowledge informedby cutting-edge research into the secrets of the stones. Many of our satisfied clients come back again and again, and stay in touch – because once the solstice or equinox is experienced at Stonehenge you are part of aninternational fellowship of pilgrims. Friendships can be forged on our toursthat last a lifetime. All are united by the unique experience – for you are no ordinary tourist, and this is no ordinary tour. We love taking our pilgrims tothe stones, because we love going ourselves. We want to share the magic of these special places with you.

The adventure starts here……………………..

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Sunrise Tour – Book here
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour – Book here
Stonehenge Spring Equinox Tour – Book here
Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Tour – Book here

View all Stonehenge Solstice Tours in our online shop.

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Due to the popularity of our annual Stonehenge Summer and Winter Solstice tours, we are pleased to offer a new intimate small group tour experience that will depart from Salisbury and Southampton.

Imagine the day: picked up from a central location in Salisbury – with its magnificent cathedral sporting the tallest spire in England, one of the best preserved copies of the Magna Carta, and the oldest working clock in Europe – you are transported to the world-famous Stonehenge ancient monument, where you can greet the solstice or equinox dawn as pilgrims have done for millennia. Then you will be taken through picturesque villages and quintessentially English countryside to Stonehenge’s sister site, Avebury. Here, you’ll be able to walk freely among the largest stone circle in Europe, and explore the other mysterious monuments that comprise a vast temple landscape. To finish off, time to visit the charming National Trust tearooms, giftshop, or the only pub inside a stone circle! Finally, you’ll be taken ‘back to the future’ and to Salisbury with plenty of time to enjoy the Cathedral, shopping and fine-dining on offer. Five thousand years in a day. Imagine

The mighty, mysterious 5000 year old Neolithic monument of Stonehenge is one of the seven wonders of the world; and its sister site, Avebury, close by, is equally as significant, but off the radar for most visitors. On this exclusive access tour led by experienced, knowledgeable guides you will be taken into the heart of the stones, and into the heart of their mystery.

Our company is the only one that specializes in private access tours to Stonehenge and has built up, over twenty years and more, a vast body of knowledge informed by cutting-edge research into the secrets of the stones. Many of our satisfied clients come back again and again, and stay in touch – because once the solstice is experienced at Stonehenge you are part of an international fellowship of pilgrims. Friendships can be forged on our tours that last a lifetime. All are united by the unique experience – for you are no ordinary tourist, and this is no ordinary tour. We love taking our pilgrims to the stones, because we love going ourselves. We want to share the magic of these special places with you.

Highlights:

  • Pick up from Salisbury in a luxury mini coach – an ideal base and great for shopping and fine-dining.
  • Watch the solstice sunrise at Stonehenge – a truly breath-taking moment!
  • Take part in a druid ceremony, or just enjoy the festival vibes.
  • Scenic route to Avebury, UNESCO World Heritage Site, including photo opportunities of white horses (chalk hill figures) and thatched cottages.
  • Guided walks to the key sites in the Avebury landscape: West Kennet Neolithic long barrow (probably the best preserved and biggest), Silbury Hill (the largest man-made mound in Europe), the Ridgeway (the oldest trackway in Europe), the Avenue (sacred processional route of standing stones) & more – the choice is yours.
  • Optional visit to the Alexander Keiller Museum and learn about the fascinating history of Avebury’s rescue.
  • Enjoy the picturesque National Trust tea-rooms, village pond, and charming historic buildings.
  • Great souvenir & gift shopping at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, and the local shops in Avebury.
  • Visit the only pub inside a stone circle!

On our tours the emphasis is quality, not quantity – and we will as much as possible go at your pace, and offer you as much or as little as you want, in terms of guiding, itinerary, and content. This is your special day out – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these unique sites.

The adventure starts here………………………………..

We have several tour options to experience the Solstice or Equinox Stonehenge celebrations including departures from London, Bath, Southampton or Salisbury.

You can book direct with Stonehenge Guided Tours or via our online Stonehenge store

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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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WILTSHIRE’S historic Neolithic site at Stonehenge appears to be top of most people’s bucket list of attractions to visit following the end of the Covid pandemic lockdown.

Our exclusive Stonehenge private access tours can sell out months in advance so we recommend booking earlier rather than later

Having been unable to travel as freely as possible for the past year, thousands of Brits and Europeans have begun to plan their post-pandemic holidays and create a bucket list of items they would like to tick off with any extra money they have saved during the Covid-19 crisis.

A new study by Audley Villages reveals which destinations and attractions are on our bucket lists, and exactly how much they will cost to complete.

In order to do this, the company looked into Google search data, Instagram hashtags and press mentions of 141 bucket list items including destinations, landmarks, theme parks and activities.

Stonehenge consistently comes above Buckingham Palace and the London Eye as the most sought-after British landmark to visit.

The research suggested if everyone who searched for Stonehenge were to visit the location once in their lifetime the attraction could generate over £34 million in revenue. With over one million Google searches Stonehenge is set to be one of the most popular UK attractions post-Covid.

Many of the attractions which Europeans want to visit in the UK highlight our rich history – and they don’t come at a high price point.

Visiting Stonehenge costs £21.50 per adult, while the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace will cost an adult just £26.50, and Hadrian’s Wall being free to visit if you pick the right spot.

You should book your discount Stonehenge tickets in advance and our Stonehenge tours are limited to small groups so plan ahead

FULL STORY – WILTSHIRE TIMES

Please visit our website and book your Stonehenge tour now

COVID-19 PROTOCOL WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURSES IN PLACE: Stonehenge Tours has acquired the Industry Standard certificate ‘We’re Good to Go’ certificate which means our business has followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. Responsible Tourism. We take extra care so you stay safe! MORE DETAILS

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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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The 17th Century gentleman antiquarian, John Aubrey, is a fascinating, if elusive figure. Most famous for his proto-biography anthology, Brief Lives, in which he pithily captures in a few well-turned lines the key movers and shakers of his age, he is somewhat eclipsed by the greater lives he wrote about. Of Welsh descent (with family connections in Hereford and South Wales), Aubrey was born in Easton Piercy, Wiltshire 1626, and was to witness some of the most tumultuous events in English history.

Growing up within living memory of the rein of Elizabeth I, and amid the ruinous devastation caused by her murderous father, Henry VIII,  Aubrey was the witness firsthand the chaos of the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the merry England of Charles II, the brief rein of James II, and the Glorious Revolution, which saw in William and Mary. Living through such turbulent times, it is perhaps small wonder that Aubrey developed an obsession for the collection and preservation of the fragile, precious icons of the past. As his biographer, Ruth Scurr, pointed out, he was not alone in this predilection: ‘Rescuing or remembering the material remains of lost or shattered worlds became compelling for many who lived through the English Civil War.’ (2015: 4)  Yet Aubrey felt he was not only born in the right time, but the right place: ‘I was inclined by my genius from childhood to the love of antiquities: and my Fate dropt me in a countrey most suitable for such enquiries.’ One could also say ‘county’ as much as ‘countrey’, for in Aubrey’s birthplace and home, Wiltshire, he found an area worthy of a lifetime’s study.

With its hundreds of prehistoric monuments it is an antiquarian’s paradise. It seemed to have his name on it, literally. In 1649, when out hunting, he stumbled upon a remarkable arrangement of stones, half-hidden behind ivy and briar and apparently ignored as the mundane backdrop to the lives of simple farming folk, who grazed their livestock and grew their crops amongst them. This was the village of Avebury, and Aubrey couldn’t help but be tickled at the similarity between the names.

Stonehenge Close up. Join one of our exclusive special access inner circle tours and learn more about John Aubrey and the Aubrey Holes

By the time Aubrey was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 news of his discovery of a monument, which ‘…doth exceed Stonehenge as a Cathedral does a Parish Church,’ reached the ears of Charles II, who asked Aubrey to show it to him on a hunting trip in Wiltshire. The monarch asked Aubrey to dig for treasure, but Aubrey discretely deferred this royal command, and instead undertook something for more useful.  He conducted a proto-survey of it, alongside one of Stonehenge in 1666, where he discovered the holes of timbered uprights, which bore cremated Neolithic remains – thousands of individual bone fragments from 56 individuals. These became known as the Aubrey Holes. Aubrey was educated in Dorset, then Trinity College, Oxford, before taking the bar at the Middle Temple, London. Although he moved in exalted circles as a member of the Royal Society, Aubrey often struggled with money. Fortunately, as an erudite and entertaining conversationalist (and, perhaps, more importantly a great listener) he was a favoured guest and enjoyed the rolling hospitality of his wealthy circle. Yet, living amid other lives had its deficits – although it was ideal ‘access’ for a future biographer, it meant his own projects were always deferred and piecemeal (tellingly, Miscellanies was the only monograph published in his lifetime, although he authored several, notably on his beloved Wiltshire, and he laboured upon his magnum opus, Monumenta Britannica, for thirty years).

Aubrey himself, an agnostic with more of a belief in astrology, thought such professional procrastination was written in the stars, as he reflected in later years, writing about himself like a subject of one of his own brief biographies: ‘His life is more remarqueable in an astrologicall respect then for any advancement of learning, having from his birth (till of late years) been labouring under a crowd of ill directions’. But it is precisely that restless interest in all things that resulted in the preservation of so much priceless history, for his precious collection of books, manuscripts, artefacts, art, and antiquities, was eventually bequeathed to Elias Ashmole, who went on to found the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  

Aubrey died in Oxford in 1697, at the end of a relatively brief (the Biblical ‘three score years and ten’) but certainly ‘remarqueable’ life. Through his tireless efforts he saved for posterity many treasures from the deluge of time, and his own legacy should be celebrated as Wiltshire’s most remarkable son.

SOURCE: Our sponsors at Stonehenge News

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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 Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
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
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
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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

Stonehenge Guided Tours
WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
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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

Stonehenge Guided Tours
WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
Operating Stonehenge Tours Since 1990
www.StonehengeTours.com

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
www.StonehengeTours.com

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;

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