This full day tour from London starts when you’re picked up at your hotel by a London black taxi driver – the world’s finest!  Acclaimed the world over for having to complete the fiendishly difficult ‘Knowledge of London’ series of tests before they are awarded their coveted green badge, your London black taxi driver is required to know literally thousands of streets, landmarks and places of interest. Every single London black taxi driver has been rigorously vetted, so you know you’re in safe hands too.

Climb Glastonbury Tor

Your cabbie will drop you off at your starting point where your tour bus awaits you, offering you the kind of comfort you deserve: all coaches feature reclining leather seats, air conditioning, and panoramic windows so you can sit back and enjoy the stunning views of the English countryside.

The first stop of the day is the magnificent, enthralling Stonehenge. This iconic structureexcalibur has puzzled archaeologists and historians for centuries, and its true purpose remains a mystery to this day. How did the stones get transported thousands of years ago from so far away? What is the secret of its remarkable layout? We’ll be exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site with your qualified tour guide, who will escort you into the cinema for a 360- degree experience of what it would be like to be in the centre of Stonehenge from its beginnings 5,000 years ago.

You’ll also be able to view the many artefacts recovered from the tombs dotted around the surrounding landscape of lush, rolling green hills, as well as a nearly complete skeleton of someone who lived in the area before Stonehenge was even begun.

Outside the monument there will be a chance to explore some of the huts recreated from findings at the nearby “Durrington Walls” 2 miles away. You’ll get the chance to step into the huts and see how the people who built Stonehenge lived. From here we hop on to the courtesy bus that takes us up to the site of Stonehenge itself.

day-tour-image-24The remarkable thing about Stonehenge is its unique design and the craftsmanship involved in building this extraordinary site, and your guide is on hand to talk about some of the theories, and point out the site’s distinctive features.

From here we push deeper into what is often referred to as Arthur’s Britain. The countryside gradually becomes hillier and more remote as modern civilisation melts away behind us. We pass iron age fortresses, doll-like thatched cottages, ancient landmarks, villages with old gaols and a pub that was run by a notorious highwayman.

From here we approach Glastonbury and the much-photographed Tor (hill) that silently Glastonbury Abbeydominates the landscape for miles around. We’ll pull into the small nearby town for our fish and chip lunch at an award-winning restaurant that has been a family business for over a century. From here we’ll cross the road into Glastonbury Abbey to search for the final resting place of King Arthur himself. According to contemporary reports, the monks who lived at the Abbey discovered the tomb of Arthur following a fire. But to many people, Arthur is not dead at all – he sleeps nearby ready to awake when England is in peril. Stories of Arthur abound here in Glastonbury – the Isle of Apples – as do legends of fairy folk, saints and magic, all weaving through the landscape and remembering the deeds of long ago.

Our tour continues with a visit to the revered Chalice Well, where you can take for free the healing waters from the Lion’s head spring. Here too is an example of the Glastonbury thorn brought from the Holy Land by Joseph of Arimathea. The Chalice well itself has never been known to dry out – not even in the most severe droughts – and it was here that Joseph hid the Holy Grail. Since that time, people have travelled from far and wide to benefit from its healing properties.

Now for some serious hiking – but only if you want to! This is your chance to walk to the top of the town of Glastonbury and marvel at the magnificent views across to the city of Wells, Porlock, Dunster and even across the Bristol Channel to the principality of Wales – the land of the dragon. The tower of St. Michael stands as testimony to the medieval monks’ determination and engineering skills. But the tower holds a gruesome secret, and there’s an intriguing story of an encounter with the fairy kingdom too!

Avebury Stone CircleTime to leave now for our final stop of the day and the village of Avebury. On our way there we’ll see a striking white horse carved into the hillside to commemorate the triumph of an English King over the Vikings back in the 800s. We’ll also be driving past an old country mansion which became the subject of a notorious (and true!) murder mystery, a place that is in fact at the origin of the enthusiasm for detective novels going back to the 1800s that kick-started the popularity of the detective novel, captivating the imagination of readers and amateur sleuths on both sides of the Atlantic.

Then onto Avebury.

Measuring 400 metres across its diameter, the stone circle of Avebury is the largest in the world and – like Stonehenge – is a world heritage site. We’ll have time to explore the site together with your guide who tell you about the barber stone and the haunted pub, and will show you some great photo spots. We’ll also be doing some dowsing at the site to discover the power of the stones.  There’ll be time to pop in to the famous ‘henge’ shop and find out about crystals and crop circles, and you might even want to take home some dowsing rods of your own… From here we’ll get back on our coach that will take us past the mysterious pre-historic mound of Silbury Hill – the largest in Europe.

We drive back via the lovely market towns of Marlborough and Hungerford. We’ll see Marlborough College, the school attended by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie amongst others. Here, too, is another prehistoric mound which, according to legend, conceals the Round Table along with Merlin the Magician.

We’ll be joining the freeway back to London and drive past Windsor Castle, the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018, and you’ll be dropped off at Gloucester Road. Should any passengers require onward transfers then please speak to the guide beforehand.

Whats Included

Fully Guided Lecture Standard Tour

Admission to Stonehenge

Admission to Glastonbury Abbey

Climb Glastonbury Tor

All Travel in Luxury Mini-Bus from Central London

View and book this magical day tour here

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10-day exploration of ancient sites from Stonehenge to the Aran Islands.

Across the lush landscapes of England and Ireland lie some of the most important and intriguing prehistoric monuments in the world. In the company of local archaeologists, authors, and historians, uncover the stories of Neolithic and Bronze Age civilizations—and the mysteries of their legacies—as we make our way from Stonehenge to Ireland’s Bend of the Boyne, the Aran Islands, and more. –

National Geographic Trip Highlights

Take an insider’s tour of legendary Stonehenge and its adjacent sites with a local expert.
Explore the boglands of Céide Fields, a 6,000-year-old site excavated by archaeologist Seamus Caulfield.
Delve into the heritage of the Aran Islands with the director of the islands’ college.
Take a walking tour of the Burren National Park with a local author and discover Bronze Age sites amid this otherworldly limestone landscape.

This superb 10 Day Expedition Tour includes:

Avebury and Stonehenge (Day 3)
Step back thousands of years among remarkable megalithic monuments at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Avebury and Stonehenge. At Stonehenge close up
Avebury, stroll around the largest stone circle in the world, excavated in the early 20th century by archaeologist Alexander Keiller. Examine the site’s standing megaliths with a local expert, and examine artifacts found here at the Alexander Keiller Museum. Walk past Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest man-made, prehistoric mound, on the way to the Neolithic chambered tomb at West Kennet Long Barrow, which predates Stonehenge by some 400 years. Then head to legendary Stonehenge for an insider’s tour with local expert Pat Shelley. Visit the adjacent sites of Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, where the site’s builders are believed to have lived, and learn about recent discoveries that have shed light on the mysteries surrounding these sites. –

Learn about prehistoric civilizations with a seasoned archaeologist

2015 Tour departures:
June 06th – 15th
June 13th – 22nd
September 05th – 14th

Mysteries of Prehistoric England and Ireland Tour can be booked direct via the National Geographic Expedition Website

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From Neolithic stone circles to gothic cathedrals, history is all around us. So hit the road and get up close to the ancestors

Stonehenge
Stonehenge is an important stop on any tour of historic sites. Photograph: Getty Images

Early civilisation
Next year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215, the basis of our modern democracy. Only four copies remain of the Great Charter, one of which is in Salisbury cathedral. Start your journey here and climb the country’s tallest spire. Walk out into the Meadows to gaze back at the cathedral as John Constable did when he painted Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows in 1831.

It’s a short drive out into the Wiltshire countryside to Stonehenge. The ancient stone circle has a new visitor centre, which explores the many theories surrounding its mysterious creation, possibly as long ago as 2500BC. Don’t miss the nearby village of Avebury, which is surrounded by three circles of standing stones, and the Neolithic chambered tomb of West Kennet Long Barrow, which dates from about 3650BC.

Drive on to Bath, your final stop, to see the Roman Baths and experience the healing geothermal waters for yourself at the fabulous Thermae Spa. Here you’ll find an open-air rooftop pool to contemplate it all from.

Hadrian's Wall

Visit the longest continuous section of Hadrian’s Wall still standing. Photograph: Getty Images

Along the wall
Carlisle has long been strategically important, close to the border with Scotland, and was once on the very outermost edge of the Roman Empire. As a result there is plenty of history here. See the city’s timber-framed Guildhall and visit the 12th century cathedral, one of England’s smallest, before taking a walk around Carlisle Castle, which has 1,000 years of military heritage and is also where Elizabeth I kept Mary, Queen of Scots, as her “guest” in 1568.

Drive out of the city on the A69, which hugs Hadrian’s Wall all the way to Newcastle upon Tyne. Stop first at Birdoswald Roman Fort, where you can see a model of the wall as it appeared when complete, as well as the longest continuous section of it still standing today. Next up is Vindolanda, home to the Vindolanda tablets, the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain, and a world-class museum of Roman objects.

From here, it’s just 45 minutes to Newcastle upon Tyne, with its 12th century castle keep and ancient cathedral. It is better known, though, for its vibrant cultural scene, so don’t miss Baltic, a contemporary art gallery housed in a converted flour mill.

Skara Brae

The ancient village of Skara Brae on Orkney. Photograph: Getty Images

Ancient treasures
History doesn’t get more potent than on Orkney, where a cluster of hugely important Neolithic sites stand against a dramatically beautiful landscape.

Pick up a car in Kirkwall and make the short drive out to Maeshowe, the most impressive Neolithic burial chamber in a landscape dotted with them. The guided tour is fascinating, with tales of 12th-century Viking raids (and graffiti) and the jaw-dropping explanation of how at the winter solstice the tomb is aligned perfectly to the rays of the sun.

The nearby lochs of Stenness and Harray are separated by promontories that once formed the heart of Orkney’s Neolithic ceremonial complex. Today the standing stones of Stenness remain, along with the Ring of Brodgar – originally 60 stones, now 27.

Drive on west to the Bay of Skaill and the amazingly well-preserved village of Skara Brae. This 5,000 year-old settlement was buried until a fierce storm uncovered it in 1850, revealing dwellings with everything from beds to fireplaces, cupboards to tables. Add a roof and you could happily live here.

Oxford's dreaming spires

Oxford is home to some of England’s finest architecture. Photograph: Getty Images

Spires and spies
Oxford is known for its “dreaming spires” and the university city is home to some of England’s finest architecture. Top pick is Christ Church College, where Christopher Wren’s imposing Tom Tower lords it over the city’s largest quad, surrounded by honey-hued stone buildings that are photogenic from any angle. Don’t miss seeing the Radcliffe Camera, an 18th-century rotunda that forms part of the Bodleian Library, the country’s largest after the British Library.

From Oxford, it’s an easy drive to Bletchley Park, once Britain’s best-kept secret and today home to the world’s largest collection of Enigma code-breaking machines. Explore the Second World War code-breaking huts and discover the life and work of pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing in the exhibition.

Drive on to Cambridge, where yet more spires and college quads await. The most imposing is King’s College, where the chapel represents the zenith of gothic architectural design, with four spiky turrets and copious stained-glass windows.

Article source: The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/enterprise-open-road/2014/nov/21/the-uk-top-historic-sites-itineraries-drive-history

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Grand, centuries-old cathedrals distinguish Great Britain’s cities and towns, providing spiritual nourishment to those who visit. These places of worship seem ancient almost beyond imagination. But long before Gothic cathedrals … long before recorded history even, Britain’s stone circles were this land’s sacred spots.Stonehenge Sunrise Tour

Stonehenge is the most famous of these – and has a new visitors center to serve nearly 1 million annual sightseers. As old as the pyramids, this site amazed medieval Europeans, who figured it was built by a race of giants. Archaeologists think some of these stones came from South Wales – 150 miles away – probably rafted then rolled on logs by Bronze Age people.

Most believe stone circles functioned as celestial calendars, and even after 5,000 years Stonehenge still works as one. As the sun rises on the summer solstice (June 21), the “heel stone” – the one set apart from the rest – lines up with the sun and the altar at the circle’s center. With the summer solstice sun appearing in just the right slot, prehistoric locals could tell when to plant and when to party.

Despite the tourist hordes, Stonehenge retains an air of mystery and majesty (partly because smartly designed barriers, which keep visitors from trampling all over it, foster the illusion that it stands alone in a field).

While Stonehenge is viewable only from a distance, Britain is dotted with roughly 800 lesser-known stone circles. A favorite is Avebury. Just 19 miles north of Stonehenge, it’s 16 times as big. And Avebury is a megalithic playground, welcoming kids, sheep and anyone interested in a more hands-on experience. Visitors are free to wander among its 100 stones, ditches, mounds, and curious patterns from the past, as well as stroll in the village of Avebury, which grew up around and even within this fascinating 1,400-foot-wide Neolithic circle.

In the 14th century, in a frenzy of religious paranoia, Avebury villagers buried many of these mysterious pagan stones. Their 18th century descendants hosted social events in which they broke up the remaining stones. In modern times, the buried stones were dug up and re-erected. On a recent visit, enjoying the half-mile walk along the perimeter path, I tried to make sense of the earthen ditch and bank, grateful for the concrete markers showing where the missing broken-up stones once stood.

In the moorlands of southwest England, smaller stone circles composed of weathered craggy rocks are even more evocative. (Good local maps mark them.) Windswept and desolate, Dartmoor National Park has more of these than any other chunk in the country. On one visit, I trekked from the hamlet of Gidleigh through a foggy world of scrub brush and scraggy-haired goats on a mission to find a 4,000-year-old circle of stone. Venturing in the pristine vastness of Dartmoor, I sank into the powerful, mystical moorland – a world of greenery, eerie wind, white rocks and birds singing but unseen. Climbing over a hill, surrounded by sleeping towers of ragged, moss-fringed granite, I was swallowed up. Hills followed hills followed hills – green growing gray in the murk.

Then the stones appeared, frozen in a forever game of statue maker. For endless centuries they waited patiently, still and silent, as if for me to come. I sat on a fallen stone, observing blackbirds and wild horses. My imagination ran wild, pondering the people who roamed England so long before written history, feeling the echoes of druids worshipping and then reveling right here.

The Castlerigg Stone Circle is a highlight in England’s Cumbrian Lake District. While just off the main road near the town of Keswick, it feels a world away. With each visit I marvel at how the stones line up with the surrounding mountain peaks. Sitting alone (except for the sheep) in the middle of this circle of stones, drenched in lush and pristine Lake District beauty, I imagined dancing druids, and dancing flames, and the fear that winter would snuff out spring forever.

Scotland has its own breed of stone circles. At Clava Cairns, set in a peaceful grove of trees just a few minutes’ drive from Inverness, are the remains of three thought-provoking stone igloos, each cleverly constructed with a passageway that the sun illuminates, as if by magic, with each winter solstice.

Nobody knows for sure what these stone circles meant to the people who built them. But their misty, mossy settings provide curious travelers with an intimate and accessible glimpse of the mysterious people who lived in prehistoric Britain.

When in Britain, strive to find your own private circle – an obscure, weathered bit of 4,000-year-old mounds and ditches with a couple of surviving upright stones. Come just as darkness is chasing out the twilight, and imagine rituals from the dank and misty past. The chill and the wonder will combine to leave you with a lifelong memory.

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.  Link: http://www.buffalonews.com/columns/rick-steves/stonehenge-is-a-tourist-mecca-that-still-retains-an-air-of-mystery-20140907

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Stonehenge Landscape ToursStonehenge is the best known of all the prehistoric monuments in the British Isles and probably also in Europe. Along with the Neolithic monuments around Avebury situated 28km to the north, it forms a UNESCO recognised World Heritage Site (WHS), the parts of which are separated by the southern edge of the Marlborough Downs, Pewsey Vale and the Salisbury Plain military training area.

The Stonehenge Landscape takes in much of the World Heritage Site around the famous stone circle. The National Trust owns 830ha of land surrounding Stonehenge, and within the extended landscape around the stone circle are burial mounds and a huge ‘cursus’ enclosure.

The Stonehenge Landscape takes in the henge monument at Durrington Walls – the largest henge in Britain. Walk the ceremonial routes travelled about this extraordinary landscape in the footsteps of the builders of Stonehenge.

There are terrific views of Stonehenge from paths through the Landscape. During June and July the fields are covered with a profusion of wildflowers.

Among the area included in Stonehenge Landscape are Stonehenge Down, which features ceremonial walkway, a Bronze Age barrow cemetery, and the cursus enclosure. At King Barrow Ridge are further Bronze Age mounds, and at Normanton Down is a round barrow cemetery. Entry to Stonehenge Landscape is free, although at peak times there may be a charge at the Stonehenge car park for visitors who are not members of the National Trust or English Heritage.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/archaeological-field-survey-and-investigation/stonehenge-landscape/

Link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/

Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle Landscape Tours: http://www.stonehengetours.com/

Stonehenge Tour Guide