stonehenge tours


On 21st December, hundreds of visitors from all over the world with gather at Stonehenge to mark the Winter Solstice, watching the sun rise over the world-famous stones.

21 December 2013Winter Solstice at StonehengeAt dawn, the central Altar stone aligns with the Slaughter stone, Heel stone and the rising sun to the northeast, creating one of the most spectacular sights of the year. The event marks the point at which the majority of wine and beer was ready to drink and the cattle was soon to be harvested; becoming a huge celebration.

And today is no different. Attracting locals, families, tourists and party goers, the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge has become one of the year’s most popular events. But this particular tour has been granted private access by the English Heritage, meaning visitors will get the chance to experience the stones before the masses arrive.

Leaving London at the crack of dawn, the tour arrives with time to spend two hours inside the circle before the area is closed off to the public, and witness the sun rising, along with the traditional Druid ceremonies and festivities the Winter Solstice brings.

Where: Amesbury

Venue: Stonehenge

Address: Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE

How much: £99 per adult, £89 per child aged 3-16 years

Opening times: Coach will leave London around 5am

For more information on Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour, go to: www.Stonehengetours.com (Operated by Solstice Events UK)

Looking for more fun things to do this December? Check out our guide to what’s on, from festive afternoon teas to the best Christmas things to do in London… 

Article source: http://www.redonline.co.uk/travel/what-s-on/stonehenge-winter-solstice-2013 (Hannah Dunn,)

Guest Blogger
Stonehenge Tour Guide

Avebury Stone Circle rivals – some would say exceeds – Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex prehistoric site in Britain. 

Built and altered over many centuries from about 2850 BC to 2200 BC, it now appears as a huge circular bank and ditch, enclosing an area of 281 ⁄2 acres (111 ⁄2 hectares), including part of Avebury village.Within this ‘henge’ ditch is an inner circle of great standing stones, enclosing two more stone circles, each with a central feature.

Avebury Stone Circle Tours

The site’s present appearance owes much to the marmalade heir Alexander Keiller, who excavated and re-erected many stones during the 1930s, and whose archaeological collections are displayed in the nearby museum. Many stones had been broken or buried in medieval and later times, one crushing its destroyer as it fell.

Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge ‘sacred landscape’, whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at. Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Avebury Henge and Stone Circles are in the freehold ownership of The National Trust and in English Heritage guardianship. They are managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.

Take a tour of Stonehenge and discover more about the neolithic man and the landscape they shaped. At Avebury, walk amongst the stones, visit the Alexander Keiller Museum to find out about the arcaeological excavations Keiller did in the 1930s and visit the Avebury Manor and Garden, nearby West Kennet Long Barrow.

Avebury Links:
The Henge Shop – a unique location in the centre of Avebury, the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world.
English HeritageAvebury Stone Circle.
Stonehenge Guided Tours: Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle Tours
National Trust:  Avebury Visitor Information Centre
Visit Wiltshire:
Official Wiltshire Tourism Authority

Avebury News Updates:
Follow Avebury Stone Circle on Twitter for all the latest news and events.

Guest Blogger
Stonehenge Stone Circle Tour Guide

The council in Windsor is looking at ways it can benefit from tourism.

Wondsor Castle ToursThe news comes after a tour company said last week it would no longer bring visitors to the town due to parking problems.

At a meeting last night a forum agreed to explore how they can increase the time holiday-makers spend in Windsor.

The suggestion follows changes at ancient Stonehenge. The attraction in Wiltshire is in the process of a £27m project. The changes include a 10-minute shuttle from a new visitor centre being built 2km from the stones. This means it will require a significantly extended visit time for tour operators.

At the Royal Borough’s visitor management forum, members said tour firms take visitors on whistle-stop day trips around the UK only spending a few hours in Windsor, before moving on to attractions such as Stonehenge.

Instead they want people to stay in Windsor all day, overnight or longer.

They said tourists are rushed up to Windsor Castle and back – without visiting other attractions or the town centre – and they want people to have a ‘better and more rounded experience’.

Ideas suggested include improving the route from Windsor Coach Park, in Alma Road, to Windsor Castle, giving the park a facelift and creating a ‘my favourite or perfect day’ borough itinerary.

Chairman Cllr Alan Mellins (Con, Cox Green) said changes at Stonehenge may force tour operators to adapt their itineraries and spend more time in Windsor because Stonehenge is harder to be completed quickly.

Vice-chairman Cllr Andrew Jenner (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) said it does not matter ‘how pretty’ Windsor is – it was about changing the ‘mind set’ of operators.

They suggested day trips combining Windsor with just Oxford or Hampton Court, rather than with Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge.

Tourism facts for Windsor:

– Last year between 1.2-1.5 million visitors came through Windsor Coach Park in Alma Road.

– Money made from the tourist coaches coming to Windsor was said to be worth about £22million to the borough’s economy.

– The average time spent by a visitor to Windsor is two to four and a half hours.

– Top tourist enquries to http://www.windsor.gov.uk in 2012 were Windsor Castle with 992,652 views, and Changing of the Guard with 55,030.

– The top events people searched for in 2012 were the Armed Forces Muster and Parade and Ascot Carriages – carriage rides through the Royal Landscape.

– Press coverage of the Royal Borough in 2012 reached over 145 million people and was valued at half a million pounds.

– Windsor is home to two of the UK’s Top 20 visitor attractions – Windsor Castle and Legoland.

Full article: http://www.windsorexpress.co.uk/News/Areas/Windsor/Stonehenge-revamp-could-be-opportunity-for-Windsor-17012013.htm

Stonehenge News Team

Tours from Antiquity have released a new Archaelogy Tour for 2013.

The ultimate weekend excursion from London. Offering the best of British in a relaxed and well-paced holiday.
Some of the most imposing architecture and mysterious ancient monuments in the world, certainly within the United Kingdom. These sites coupled with the beautiful Wiltshire and Oxfordshire countryside offer the participants of this holiday a special and unique experience.

Special Access to the Stonehenge Circle.

STONEHENGE, PREHISTORIC WESSEX, BATH AND THE COTWOLDSStonehenge, Prehistoric Wessex, Bath and the Cotswolds tour introduces our guests to some of the most imposing architecture and mysterious ancient monuments in the world, certainly within the United Kingdom. These sites coupled with the beautiful Wiltshire and Oxfordshire countryside offer the participants of this holiday a special and unique experience. Our holiday is original, imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced. Knowledge of the subject matter provided by our archaeologist and the destinations combine with detailed attention to practical matters, ensure an enriching and smooth-running experience. Coupled with the archaeology, TFA holidays offer our participants immersion into the English countryside, focussing on local tradition, culture, archaeology, heritage, landscapes and food and drink.

6-8 September 2013
From London we start our tour with the ancient rolling downlands Oxfordshire and a visit to the internationally-renowned Bronze Age Uffington White Horse, situated within a unique complex of ancient monuments.

Our afternoon is spent enjoying two of Englands most picturesque villages, Lacock and Castle Combe. Lacock has been used as a background film set for films including Harry Potter and Castle Combe is regarded by many as the prettiest village in England.

We start the morning at the Avebury World Heritage Landscape. We visit Silbury Hill, the largest man-made hill in prehistoric Europe. We enter the 5500 year old burial chamber of West Kennet Long Barrow, entering a sacred space originally reserved only for ritual specialists and the dead. After which we visit the largest stone circle in Europe at Avebury, with its beautiful medieval village situated inside. As John Aubrey in the 1600’s notes [Avebury]…”does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church.”

Lunch is spent in Salisbury where we enjoy the splendour of Salisbury Cathedral.

The afternoon is spent exploring landscape directly surrounding Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. We start by visiting Durrington Walls ‘Stonehenge builder’s village’ and Woodhenge, we then walk over the ridge visiting several burial mounds, Stonehenge Cursus and finally the Stonehenge Avenue. The day is finish with a private access visit to Stonehenge, an opportunity limited to a handful of visitors, were our archaeologist will delve into understanding this enigmatic and ancient monument.

We start our visit to the centre of Bath with a walking tour of the most impressive examples of architecture Bath has to offer, visiting the Assembly Rooms, Royal Circus and Royal Crescent.

Our guest then enjoy admission to the famous Roman Baths, the site of the only thermal springs in Britian. After you enjoy the splendour of the Baths, you are given amble ‘own time’ to explore the remainder of this city at your own pace.

Finishing the day with a visit to the National Trusts, Prior Park; with its beautiful views of the city-scape of Bath. From here we head back towards London.

Visit their website: http://www.toursfromantiquity.com

Wiltshire Tour Guide

 

Stonehenge is a ‘must see’ for anyone visiting the UK. Our Stonehenge Special Access Tour gives you privileged access to the Stone Circle

As one of the country’s most famous World Heritage sites most visitors are not allowed direct access to the stones, but we Stonehneg inner circle tour - close uphave arranged with English Heritage for privileged access before or after the site opens to the general public between April and September only.

Stonehenge Guided Tours, the operator twin the special access visit with Salisbury for morning visits and Avebury for evening tours.
The tour starts and finishes in Central London. The special access visits are either earaly in the morning or in the evening outside public opening hours.

There are different itineraries depending on the time of your visit.

Sonehenge Guided Tours, the operator twin the special access visit with Salisbury for morning visits and Avebury for evening tours.

Morning Itinerary Including Salisbury
After the special access visit a short drive is taken through the beautiful Woodford Valley. Next stop will be at Salisbury Cathedral, where you will have free time to explore this beautiful and historic medieval Cathedral.
Price includes Special Access to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and English Breakfast plus of course the services of the guide.

Avebury Henge

Before the special access visit a visit is made to Avebury, another henge and much else Neolithic besides. A great training camp for Stonehenge itself.
You will have free time to explore this picturesque and historic village ringed by the largest stone circle in the world. Join your guide for a pint of fine English Ale at the Red Lion Pub – the only pub in the world located in the middle of a stone circle! (soft drink can be arranged as an alternative option)
Also walk up the hillside to West Kennet Long Barrow one of the largest Neolithic burial tombs in Britain and over 5000 years old.

Price includes Special Access to Stonehenge, expert guided tour of Avebury and West Kennet Long Barrow and a pint at the Red Lion Pub.

As the sun begins to set, we enter the stone circle (which is normally roped off to the public) for a unique private viewing. The most dramatic and atmospheric way of visiting Stonehenge.
On selected days the tour operates in reverse, beginning with a private viewing of Stonehenge before it opens to the public in the morning, so we see the stones in the eerie morning light. This is followed by our visits to Lacock and Bath.

These tours sell out very quickly as the demand far outstrips supply of available places – be sure to reserve your place early.

For this and other Stonehenge Private Access Tours visit: www.StonehengeTours.com

Stonehenge Private Access Tours – Go beyond the fences!
In addition our regular ‘scheduled group tour’ departures we are often able to get permission from the English Heritage for additional ‘inner circle’ tours for small groups (1-16 persons). These can be sunset or sunrise times depending on availability. These bespoke tours can also include Salisbury, Avebury, Bath, or Warwick Castle etc and can depart from London, Salisbury or Bath. This can often be cheaper than joining a scheduled tour, offers more flexibility, more personal and a better alround experience. Email us your desired dates and group size for a prompt reply. Click here

Stonehenge Guided Tours
The Stonehenge Experts

Ancient people probably assembled the massive sandstone horseshoe at Stonehenge more than 4,600 years ago, while the smaller bluestones were imported from Wales later, a new study suggests.

The conclusion, detailed in the December issue of the journal Antiquity, challenges earlier timelines that proposed the smaller stones were raised first.

Ancient Stone Circle of Stonehenge at Sunset. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

“The sequence proposed for the site is really the wrong way around,” said study co-author Timothy Darvill, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University in England. “The original idea that it starts small and gets bigger is wrong. It starts big and stays big. The new scheme puts the big stones at the center at the site as the first stage.”

The new timeline, which relies on statistical methods to tighten the dates when the stones were put into place, overturns the notion that ancient societies spent hundreds of years building each area of Stonehenge. Instead, a few generations likely built each of the major elements of the site, said Robert Ixer, a researcher who discovered the origin of the bluestones, but who was not involved in the study.

“It’s a very timely paper and a very important paper,” Ixer said. “A lot of us have got to go back and rethink when the stones arrived.”

The Wiltshire, England, site of Stonehenge is one of the world’s most enduring mysteries. No one knows why prehistoric people built the enigmatic megaliths, although researchers over the years have argued the site was originally a sun calendar,a symbol of unity, or a burial monument.

Though only some of the stones remain, at the center of the site once sat an oval of bluestones, or igneous rocks (those formed from magma) that turn a bluish hue when wet or freshly cut. Surrounding the bluestones are five giant sandstone megaliths called trilithons, or two vertical standing slabs capped by a horizontal stone, arranged in the shape of a horseshoe.

Around the horseshoe, ancient builders erected a circular ring of bluestones. The sandstone boulders, or sarsens, can weigh up to 40 tons (36,287 kilograms), while the much smaller bluestones weigh a mere 4 tons (3,628 kg). [In Photos: A Walk Through Stonehenge].

Past researchers believed the bluestone oval and circle were erected earlier than the massive sandstone horseshoe.

But when Darvill and his colleagues began excavations at the site in 2008, they found the previous chronology didn’t add up. The team estimated the age of new artifacts from the site, such as an antler-bone pick stuck within the stones. Combining the new information with dating from past excavations, the team created a new timeline forStonehenge’s construction.

Like past researchers, the team believes that ancient people first used the site 5,000 years ago, when they dug a circular ditch and mound, or henge, about 361 feet (110 meters) in diameter.

But the new analysis suggests around 2600 B.C. the Neolithic people built the giant sandstone horseshoe, drawing the stone from nearby quarries. Only then did builders arrange the much smaller bluestones, which were probably imported from Wales. Those bluestones were then rearranged at various positions throughout the site over the next millennium, Darvill said.

“They sort out the local stuff first, and then they bring in the stones from Wales to add to the complexity of the structure,” Darvill told LiveScience.

The new dating allows the archaeologists to tie the structure to specific people who lived in the area at the time, Darvill said. The builders of the larger sandstone structures were pig farmers found only in the British Isles. In contrast, the bluestone builders would’ve been the Beaker people, sheep and cow herders who lived throughout Europe and are known for the distinctive, bell-shape pottery they left behind.

The new timeline “connects everything together, it gives us a good sequence of events outside, and it gives us a set of cultural associations with the different stages of construction,” Darvill said.

By: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2012 02:25 PM EST on LiveScience

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

Explore thousands of years of mystic, historic happenings and ye olde English eccentricity

Simon Heptinstall from London’s TNT Travel Magazine visits Wiltshire.

Wiltshire is surely an epicentre of oddities. From inexplicable crop circles to mysterious prehistoric sites, this quintessential slice of unspoiled England is one of the most baffling and interesting places on the planet.

Photos: David Williams, Keith Chaloner/Visit Wiltshire, Britainonview, Getty  Read more: Weird Wiltshire: From mystical Stonehenge to crop cricles and ancient burial sites - TNT Magazine  Follow us: @tntmagazine on Twitter | tntmag on Facebook

Photos: David Williams, Keith Chaloner/Visit Wiltshire, Britainonview, Getty

I’m intrigued by the countless tall tales I’ve heard, and decide the best place to start a tour of weird Wiltshire has got to be Stonehenge.

Theories abound as to how the massive stones – some weighing as much as 50 tonnes – came to be arranged in ancient times. Were they gifts from extraterrestrial beings?

Magically transported through a wave of Merlin’s wizardly wand in the times of King Arthur?

Or simply heaved into place by tough primeval men, for use as an astrological calendar?

However the circle was formed, these mammoth rocks standing on an empty hilltop like the discarded stone lego of giants, are still one of the most imposing sights I’ve ever clapped eyes on

A £7.80 ticket buys you access to the perimeter of the stones, but rather than stump up that cash, I find a signposted National Trust walk, which loops around the surrounding fields.

From here I can still see the famous stone circle and also get a satisfying sense of its place in the ancient landscape of avenues and fields.

A short drive from Stonehenge, through rolling chalky hills, takes me to its lesser-known Stone Age neighbour, Avebury, one of the biggest prehistoric sites in Europe.

Photos: David Williams, Keith Chaloner/Visit Wiltshire, Britainonview, Getty

Photos: David Williams, Keith Chaloner/Visit Wiltshire, Britainonview, Getty

Its sprawling inner and outer stone circles were formed for some long-forgotten purpose, and are connected to the nearby town via a grassy ‘avenue’. This is marked by pairs of large grey stones and leads past ramparts, ditches and tombs.

Naturally, such a mystical scene attracts all the nutters, and I pass groups of beardy druid-types hanging around the various rocks, muttering what sound like charms or spells to themselves.

One old hippy tells me a local legend: if you press your ear to a stone you can hear voices from the past.

I test his theory and strain to catch a whisper from anyone, a Pagan god perhaps, or just a long-deceased worshipper, but eventually give up – his hearing must be better than mine.

Avebury is a real hotbed of quirky old sites.

A short walk away is Silbury Hill – a chalk lump of 40m high, it’s the tallest man-made mound in Europe, comparable in size and age to some Egyptian pyramids.

Its purpose is again unknown – there’s a definite trend here – but legend has it there’s a man on horseback and covered in gold buried in its heart.

Archaeologists have been tunnelling into the mound for years, though, and haven’t found anything yet.

From one burial site to another, the next place on my list to explore is West Kennet Long Barrow – an underground chambered Neolithic tomb

West Kennet Long Barrow

Photos: David Williams, Keith Chaloner/Visit Wiltshire, Britainonview, Getty

Constructed around 3650BC, this atmospheric chamber was in use for at least 1000 years, until it was sealed with chalk rubble and boulders.

Some archaeologists believe this happened at the same time the stone circles at Avebury were built, indicating a dramatic change in beliefs or religion.

Deep inside the chamber, I can’t resist letting out a ghostly “woooh”, which echoes around the old stones.

I’m quickly shushed by a serious-looking spiritualist kneeling on the ground nearby. Time to call it a day.

The next morning I check out Wiltshire’s eight white horses, landmark figures carved into the side of chalk hills. No mystery here though, they were formed by eccentric landowners just a few hundred years ago.

One of the most spectacular, at Cherhill, was designed in 1780 by Dr Christopher Alsop, known as ‘the mad doctor’, who shouted directions to its makers through a megaphone from the bottom of the hill.

Finally, I clamber to the top of Westbury Hill to get a view of the intricate crop circles in the fields below.

From geometric patterns to swirling circles, some of these appeared as recently as last month, yet as little is known about their origin as about Stonehenge’s.

One thing is clear though – Wiltshire shows no signs of getting any less weird over time.

Eat, sleep, drink

For top-notch veggie fare, head to the Circle Restaurant (High St, Marlborough, tel.             01672 539514      ). Sandwiches, soups and cream teas are the order of the day. Mains from about £5.

The Red Lion is a classic old thatched country pub within Avebury’s stone circle.

The pub grub is affordable with main courses from £8.89.

For one of the best selections of real ale in the county, visit The Inn With The Well, a pub with plenty of character. Pints from £3.15.

Quaint Tudor wood panelling and roaring fires set the scene at The Sun Inn, where pints start from about £3.

Avebury Life is a budget B&B embracing Wiltshire eccentricity. It advertises to those coming to “experience the strength and energy of the stones” or “connect with the crop circles”. Double room with en suite from £70pn.

Stay in a grand farmhouse a short drive from Avebury at Blounts Court Farm near Devizes. From £35pppn, it’s a bargain.

Getting there

Take the train from London Paddington to Swindon from £46.30 return. Then take the number 49 bus from Swindon to Avebury (doesn’t run on Sundays).

Links:
http://stonehengetours.com/weird-wiltshire-stonehenge-crop-circle-tour.htm (Weird Wiltshire Tour 2012)
http://www.weirdwiltshire.co.uk/
http://www.tntmagazine.com
http://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk
thetrainline.com
english-heritage.org.uk

Needless to say we operate dily tours from London visiting all the locations mentioned. – www.StonehengeTours.com

Stonehenge Guided Tours

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