Visit Wiltshire


Aerial archaeologist Ben Robinson visits Amesbury in Wiltshire where excavations have revealed that the history of people living in this location dates back much further than previously thought.

Photo: English Heritage

Photo: English Heritage

New evidence from the dig, at a site called Vespasian’s Camp, has revealed traces of human settlement 3,000 years before nearby Stonehenge was built. A team of archaeologists has uncovered evidence of sustained hunter gatherer activity which dates to 8,000 years ago – long before Stonehenge
David Jacques explains why the discovery is of international importance and what it means in terms of unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge, located less than a mile away.

The Flying Archaeologist – Stonehenge is broadcast on Friday, 19 April at 19:30 BST on BBC One West and South. The series is broadcast nationwide from Wednesday, 1 May at 20:30 BST on BBC Four Watch a clip here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22019089

Work on a multimillion-pound visitor centre at Stonehenge is progressing well, English Heritage has said.

The £27m scheme, which includes grassing over the road alongside the ancient monument, is due to be complete by the end of the year.

Car and coach parks have been laid out and the visitor centre’s roof is ready to be installed, the charity said.

Stonehenge director Loraine Knowles said the building was “just one aspect in transforming” the site.

Work on the new galleries and facilities, being built about a mile-and-a-half (2.4 km) west of the stones, began in July.

Two “single-storey pods” covered by a canopy roof are being built to house an exhibition and education space, cafe, shop and toilets.

A section of the A344, which runs next to the World Heritage Site, is due to be closed at the end of June and grassed over.

The remainder of the A-road will be closed to traffic in late 2013, to allow a shuttle to operate between the visitor centre and the stones.

‘Uplifting experience’

“The way in which people visit Stonehenge in the future will change,” said Ms Knowles.

The new visitor building for Stonehenge​ The visitor centre is expected to open in late 2013

“The construction of the visitor building is just one aspect in transforming what is widely agreed to be an unsatisfactory tourist and cultural experience.

“We will be uplifting the whole experience to a level that befits this extraordinary and important monument, not just upgrading the visitor facilities, important though those are.”

Stonehenge, constructed between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC, is thought to have been used for a variety of religious ceremonies.

It attracts around 900,000 visitors a year – about 70% come from abroad.

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-21499114

Stonehenge News

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

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

MORE than 5,000 people turned out to greet the sun at Stonehenge on Friday morning.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2012

The weather held off for sunrise at the Winter Solstice celebrations and only one arrest was made for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

An English Heritage spokesman said: “This year the weather was particularly fine and the ancient stones were bathed in winter sunshine. The atmosphere throughout was good natured.

“English Heritage would like to thank everyone who helped organise this year’s celebrations.”

Source: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk

Visitors were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise

 


Stonehenge Guided Tours – 

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

This computer-generated image just released by English Heritage gives an impression of the superb facilities which will welcome groups arriving at Stonehenge when its new visitor centre opens late next year.

stonehenge-visitor-centreThe dedicated coach park to the right of the picture will have spaces for 30 vehicles and there is an optional drop off bay in front of the coach reception building – where pre-printed tickets will be available for collection.

Groups will walk the short distance from the coach park to the new visitor centre shown on the left of the image, which will contain:

imaginative museum-quality exhibition galleries

a 114-cover café, with outdoor seating for 60 under a canopy and room to expand by a further 70 seats during the summer peak

expanded retail space that is over four times larger than the existing shop

ample toilets, including disabled toilets

Just outside, groups will hop on to the transit service for the 2km journey from the visitor centre, to the Stone Circle. Able to accommodate 900 passengers every hour, the transit stops once during the 10 minute drive to the Stones, so that passengers can walk a part of the way if they wish.

On arrival at the Stone Circle, they will enjoy a much quieter and greener experience – central to the exciting project being led by English Heritage is the removal of modern clutter next to the monument. This includes the closure of the A344 – which currently runs right past the monument, almost touching the Heel Stone – the removal of ugly high fencing and the existing outdated visitor buildings and car park nearby and the reinstatement of a grassy landscape. Restoration of the landscape is due for completion in summer 2014.

English Heritage is recommending that tour operators and GTOs plan in a dwell time of at least two hours for groups to fully appreciate and enjoy the enhanced experience Stonehenge will offer from late 2013. A pre-booked timed ticketing system will ensure that queues are kept to a minimum.

Construction work began on the new visitor centre in July and while the new facilities are being built, it is business as usual at Stonehenge with group visits unaffected. Popular Stone Circle Access visits – outside normal opening hours – are also unaffected and may be pre-booked.

From late Spring 2013, coaches approaching Stonehenge will be re-routed to the existing parking and visitor facilities, when the A303/A344 junction closes at Stonehenge Bottom so that work can start on de-commissioning the road. Coach drivers should look out for the diversion signs and a little extra time should be planned in to itineraries to take account of the slightly longer arrival and departure routes.

Travel trade clients booking visits to Stonehenge in the future will enjoy the same generous group discounts as now (10% discount for 11 or more people, with a free place for a driver and group leader), as well as a dedicated phone line for bookings/information and dedicated website pages.

Full Article and other Wiltshire news:  http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk

When completed, the new visitor centre will make it possible for the first time to present the fascinating story of Stonehenge on site. The archaeological gallery will feature important objects on loan from local museums and outside will be three Neolithic houses, recreated using extremely rare evidence of domestic buildings from prehistoric England recently unearthed near Stonehenge.

Watch the Video here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/our-plans/our-proposals/

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

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