Book your 2018 sunset or sunrise tours in advance

Stonehenge Special Access visits are available most but not all months of the year, (no visits in October and November and are not available on and around the midsummer’s day). Evening Special Access is only available in the summer months.

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“Being able to walk amongst the stones at dawn without the crowds and without the rope barrier is a truly magical experience and wonderful phot opportunity”

Demand for Stonehenge access tours far exceeds supply, dates are often sold out months in advance. Do not expect to get tickets without ordering well in advance. Register your interest with us now and our booking experts will send you exclusive dates sent in advance before official publication. Also includes our ‘early bird’ booking offer.

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2018 Private Group Custom Tours
We specialise in arranging customised Stonehenge tours to suit your requirements. Our door to door service will take you wherever you want to go…….at the time and pace to suit you. Our personalised service gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility without the worry of driving so you can all relax and enjoy the day.
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SUN-seekers will be alarmed to know that the summer solstice is just around the corner. The pagan celebration falls in June every year. 

Even though the midsummer date is when we get the most daylight of the year, it also marks the time where the days start shortening ahead of winter.

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The summer solstice is considered to be the longest day of the year because it’s when we get the most daylight. Getty Images

Here’s everything you need to know about summer solstice 2017…

When is the summer solstice?

The midsummer date is set based on the planet’s rotational axis.

It’s decided based on the sun’s tilt towards the sun, which hits its maximum at 23° 26′ and falls between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere.

This year, the summer solstice will take place on Wednesday, June 21st
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The date is decided based on the angle of the Earth’s tilt. Getty Images

What is the summer solstice?

The ‘longest’ day of the year marks the middle of summer.

This is because the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most aligned with the sun, providing us with the most daylight of the year.

After June 21, the nights will began to close in as our planet rotates away from the sun.

The date where Earth is the furthest from the star is marked by the winter solstice.

What’s the summer solstice got to do with Stonehenge?

The day is celebrated by pagans and druids, with rituals of rebirth performed throughout history on the day.

One of the biggest celebrations in the UK occurs at Stonehenge with crowds gathering to watch the sunrise.

The tradition sees revellers waiting by the Wiltshire monument on midsummer, facing towards the north-easterly direction.

Crowds of devotees, often dressed for the occasion, regularly gather to watch the moment the sun rises above the Heel Stone.

It’s just one of the many pagan festivals, which include midwinter and imbolc – the day that traditionally marks the start of spring.

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Revellers face the sun as they watch it rise up around the Wiltshire monument

How else is the summer solstice celebrated?Midsummer festivities are held across the world in many different cultures.

In many cases, the rituals are linked with themes of religion or fertility.

Wianki celebrations in Poland are similar to those held in Britain, as the day is largely considered a pagan religious event.

There are different traditions across Europe, with Estonia using the day to mark a shift in agricultural patterns.

In Russia and Ukraine, it’s tradition for revellers to jump over bonfires to test their courage and religious faith.

Article source: By Sophie Roberts The Sun News

Cross it off your bucket list this year and join our Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tour. Guided tours with luxury transport depart from Bath and London on 20th and 21st for sunset and sunrise.

Stonehenge Guided Tours
The Stonehenge Experts
Established 1995

Stonehenge – a name that evokes a great many emotions in a great many people. For some it is a place of pilgrimage, a place to connect with the ancestors and for others it is seen as a tourist trap or something to tick off the bucket list. For centuries it has captured our imagination; never has a heritage site been so controversial – something which continues to this day. In this post it is not my intention to give a full on thesis about Stonehenge, there are plenty of books/websites who do this already. Instead it is simply an overview of what is currently understood about the site, its surrounding landscape and my own personal thoughts.

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Stonehenge is situated on the Salisbury Plains, to the south is the busy A303, a main road between the south-west and London, and for many years the equally busy A344 ran alongside the site. This latter road was removed sometime ago to improve the visitors experience. Today there are ongoing discussions regarding the upgrading of the A303 and a proposed tunnel. It is a highly emotive subject, on one hand I understand the need to improve the road situation (ask anyone who is stuck in a traffic jam on the A303) but as an archaeologist I am also aware of the sensitive nature of the surrounding heritage landscape (and yes I am on the fence). Mike Pitts in his recent post discusses the pros and cons for those of you who are interested.

For the visitor today the focus is on the large stone circle with its trilithons, they marvel at how it could have been built by ‘primitive man’ often leading to suggestions of alien intervention and lost technologies.  But such thoughts only serve to belittle our ancestors and our past.  Others may ask why did our ancestors build Stonehenge?  Often the answers are unimaginative and simple – sun-worship; display of power; ancient computer; druid temple – once more when we look only for one answer to a what is obviously a complicated site of great longevity we belittle their achievements.  Instead if Stonehenge was understood in terms of the wider landscape and as a site whose history spanned several millenia we might come to some small understanding of how and why.

In today’s world of instant gratification where everything has a beginning and an end,  it is hard to imagine beginning a project knowing you might not see it finished but this was a reality for the builders of Stonehenge.  It has lead some to suggest that it was not the end product which was important but the doing, the act of building which was in fact the purpose.  Suggesting a cyclical thought pattern which can be seen in other aspects of prehistoric life – round houses, stone circles, round barrows.  in addition, time itself was most likely viewed in cycles, the phases of the moon and the movement of the seasons are all cyclical events which would have been of great importance to prehistoric people trying to make sense of their world.

“So was Stonehenge ever ‘finished’?  The answer to that has to be no, because completion was never the intention of the people who created it.” (Pryor F. 2016 ‘Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape).

It is well known that Stonehenge itself had many incarnations, perhaps meaning new and different things with each alteration or rebuild.  To understand Stonehenge it is important to consider it in the wider context of the surrounding landscape (there are literally hundreds of prehistoric monuments around it) in all the different phases.

The Mesolithic Story

The story of the Stonehenge landscape begins back in the Mesolithic, ongoing recent excavations at Blickmead are providing archaeologists with tantalising clues as to why this area was important to our ancestors.  The site is situated near a spring by the River Avon, excavations began in 2005 and almost immediately were fruitful.  Basically, the deposits consisted of an array of Mesolithic settlement debris, mostly flint fragments (tens of thousands) but also a great number of animal bones.  Interestingly, the site also yielded the largest collection of auroch bones ever found on a Mesolithic site in Britain so far.  Other animals which were hunted and consumed included red deer, wild boar and salmon – this has led archaeologists to suggest that feasting was a common occurence around the spring.  The spring itself is quite unusual as it has the tendency to stain flints and other materials a bright magenta pink – the importance of springs in later prehistory is well attested to.

In 1966 row of four large pit like features were found during upgrades to the old carpark close by Stonehenge.  When excavated one was found to be a the root-hole of a tree and the other three were holes dugs to hold large poles.   Examination of the material from these features gave a date range from between 8500 and 7000BC.  The posts would have been approximately 75cm in diameter and were from pine trees.  Later in 1988 another post-hole was discovered south and east of the original pits but it was contemporary.

So here we have a landscape already well populated by hunter-gatherer communities who revered certain natural features long before Stonehenge makes an appearance.  A landscape which had meaning to the people who inhabit it; who had traditions and memories of place.

At around 3500BC (Neolithic) with the arrival of farming these communities and their traditions had evolved and more permenant features began to make an appearance on the landscape.   Long barrows such as those at East and West Kennet or Winterbourne Stoke were the first to appear and by 3400BC the Stonehenge Cursus and Lesser Cursus was under construction.

3000BC – The first official phase of construction

In many parts of Britian at this time a new type of monument was being constructed, these were earthwork enclosures which are referred to as henges.  They consist of irregular cut ditches encircling a defined area with corresponding banks.  Stonehenge’s earliest phase was one such earthwork.  Here there were two entrances one faced north-east and the other faced south.  The north-easterly entrance remained in use for much of the sites lifetime and appears to be important to its function.  The entrance is aligned along a line of natural gullies which face towards the midsummer sunrise in one direction and the midwinter sunset in the other.

These natural gullies would have been visible to the people of the Mesolithic and may have been why the large pine posts were erected where they were – the midsummer and midwinter solstices were just as important then as they were to the later prehistoric communities.

Inside the earthwork enclosure around the inner edge of the bank were fifty-six regularly spaced pits – these are now known as the Aubrey Holes.  There is some discussion as to what they were or what they contained – small stone uprights or wooden posts?  However, what is known is that eventually they did contain cremated human remains.  Similar deposits have been found in the partly filled ditch and cut into the bank suggesting that at this stage in its history Stonehenge was used as a cemetary, among other things.
Read the full story (article source) here: Toni-maree Rowe – Write

Further Reading

Pryor F (2016) Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape

Parker-Pearson M  et al (2015) Stonehenge: Making Sense of Prehistoric Mystery

Parker Pearson M (2013) Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery

Bowden M et al (2015) The Stonehenge Landscape: Analysing the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Join s on a Stonehenge guided tour and hear all the latest theories.
Stonehenge Guided Tours (est. 1995)
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The Stonehenge Experts

Why does Stonehenge exist? We explore the pick of the theories, which are all totally sane and reasonable.

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From archaeologists to modern-day pagans to Spinal Tap fans, Stonehenge is truly a place of wonder where the demons dwell, where the banshees live and they do live well. The prehistoric monument has been the source of a great deal of speculation over its meaning, purpose and construction. Here are some of the theories surrounding those ancient stones.

Merlin did it

Not as popular a theory among historians as it once was, the Merlin Hypothesis suggests that King Arthur’s pet wizard had Stonehenge constucted with the help of a local giant, the Devil or his own mysterious magic. Notable fabulist Geoffrey of Monmouth was a big supporter of this theory, which was pretty popular into the 14th century.

From archaeologists to modern-day pagans to Spinal Tap fans, Stonehenge is truly a place of wonder where the demons dwell, where the banshees live and they do live well. The prehistoric monument has been the source of a great deal of speculation over its meaning, purpose and construction. Here are some of the theories surrounding those ancient stones.

Merlin did it

Not as popular a theory among historians as it once was, the Merlin Hypothesis suggests that King Arthur’s pet wizard had Stonehenge constucted with the help of a local giant, the Devil or his own mysterious magic. Notable fabulist Geoffrey of Monmouth was a big supporter of this theory, which was pretty popular into the 14th century.

It was a very fancy cemetery

Over the years, the remains of 63 different people have been exhumed from the site – in the form of more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments. Apparently the burials occured way back around 3000BC, roughly 100 years after the first stones were placed on the site. Given those rubbery figures, its possible the initial structure was designed as an over-the-top headstone arrangement.

It was designed for healing and pilgrimage

There’s another theory about why those remains were found there, and it’s based on the fact that a lot of them appear to have suffered from illness or injury. This suggests that people saw Stonehenge as a place to travel when you weren’t well, in the hope of getting magical first aid. Further investigation revealed fragments of the first stones had been chipped away, which could have been so people could craft them into healing talismans. (Or they were just touristy vandals.)

Aliens did it

There was once a strong school of thought that held that ancient people were idiots who couldn’t build anything as amazing as the wonders still standing among us today, so they must have had help. Obviously Merlin and his fairy minions are ridiculous, but aliens – well, it makes sense that they would pop down and help our forebears construct monolithic calculators. All you have to do is squint, fudge a few measurements, take liberties in the interpretation of ancient artworks and/or Bible passages, and it makes perfect sense.

Druids used it as a measuring instrument

If you want to know exactly when the Winter Solstice is coming, Stonehenge can help you calculate that. The avenue connecting Stonehenge to the River Avon aligns with the sun that day. Apparently there are key points around the complex that could have been used to predict eclipses, too, which is pretty cool if true. By the way, the “Druids did it” theory began in 1640 but has been pretty well debunked. Sorry.

It was a feel-good collaboration to celebrate unity

And by “unity”, we mean “you’ve all been conquered, now help us build a stone circle so you’ll never forget it”. Everyone except the alien and fairy enthusiasts agree the work of bringing these stones to the site and erecting them in a circle would have required the efforts of many people working together. Under this theory, the Neolithic locals spontaneously banded together to create the ancient equivalent of the Statue of Liberty.

It’s monolithic porn

Look, it seems unlikely, but in 2003 one researcher claimed Stonehenge looked like female genitalia and was meant to celebrate the Earth Mother. This theory requires even more squinting than the alien one.
By Shane Cubis SBS

Join the Stonehenge experts and a guided tour and hear all the latest theories

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It is the day with the least sunlight with the winter solstice having been celebrated for thousands of years.

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A druid ceremony is held during the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

THE winter solstice: the shortest day and longest night of the year.

So what is so important about this date? What about it possesses people to dress in unicorn masks and visit Stonehenge?

Here, we take a look at just what the winter solstice is – and why a day with so little sunlight is worth celebrating.

What is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice is a phenomenon that marks the shortest day of the year.

Often referred to as the official beginning of winter, the solstice generally only occurs for a moment.

The true solstice occurs when the Earth is tilted the furthest away from the Sun on its axis.

Despite it only lasting a moment, the full day is recognised.

When is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice generally falls between December 20 and 23.

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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour

In 2016, it will fall on Wednesday, December 21.

This means, for the UK, the sun will rise at 8.04am and set at 3.54pm – meaning we will have just 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.

A winter solstice also occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, with the day occurring in late June.

How is it celebrated?

The day is one that is celebrated by pagans and druids, with rituals of rebirth performed throughout history on the day.

One of the biggest celebrations in the UK occurs at Stonehenge with crowds gathering to watch the sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice.

The crowds of devotees, often dressed for the occasion, regularly gather at the historic site.

It is just one of the many pagan festivals, which include midwinter, midsummer and inbolc – the day that traditionally marks the start of spring.

The importance placed on the day comes from how people were previously so ecoenomically dependent on the seasons with straveation common in the first months of winter.

Will the days start to get longer?

After the solstice, the days will start to get longer.

The process is gradual, with minutes added everyday.

The days will eventually lengthen until the summer solstice, which is expected on Wednesday June 21.
Article source: By BRITTANY VONOW The Sun Online

Join us on a guided tour from London or Bath and join the Pagan celebrations at sunrise on the Winter Solstice:
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour

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Staying in London, Bath or Salisbury and want to visit Stonehenge and experience the inner circle at sunrise or sunset?

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There is an overwhelming choice of Stonehenge tours online, some better than others. We operate our own small group guided tours private access tours and specialise in arranging customised private guided tours for families and groups. We also deal with all the best U.K tour operators and our customer service team would be delighted to email your best options, we have made it simple for you by getting tours from the leading suppliers all in one place. You can just see Stonehenge, or you can also visit some of the leading Britain’s top tourist attractions on the same day as touring Stonehenge. Compare prices and tours and make the most informed choice.

Carefully consider your options before signing up and please give the experts an opportunity to send your best possible Stonehenge tour options and all current availability along with any special offers and discounts.

Let us Arrange a Stonehenge Special Access Visit for You
Simply contact us with your preferred date, the number of people travelling and if you prefer sunrise or sunset access inside the Stones.  We will email your best touring options.

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Stonehenge Private Access Visit or Regular Tourist Visit During Normal Hours?

For those of you who have not visited Stonehenge before, we should mention that the

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Regular Crowded Stonehenge visit

monument is roped off. Visitors observe the stones from a distance and are not permitted within the inner circle and for most tourists this is perfectly adequate. Since the new English Heritage visitor centre opened in 2013 the monument can often see over 1000 people per hour circling the Stone Circle at distances up to 100 meters away.

Walk Among The Stones At Stonehenge Without The Crowds

For the more discerning traveller and those who are really, really interested in Stonehenge it is possible to go beyond the rope fence and walk among the stones with just a handful of people. These visits are called Special Access visits and take place outside public opening hours and are very early in the morning or late in the evening, often at sunset or sunrise. This is the only time you will be able to walk amongst the stones at Stonehenge.  There are periods, noticeably the months of October and November where no Special Access slots are made available at all due to conservation reasons. The days around the summer solstice at the end of June are also blacked out.

Organised Guided Stonehenge Special Access Tours
We have arranged with English Heritage for you to experience a unique guided visit to this ancient sacred site – beyond the fences and after the crowds have gone home. Walk amongst the stones and experience the magical atmosphere within the inner circle. We are the early pioneers of this magical experience and hope you will join one of our exclusive scheduled small group Stonehenge special  access tours or organise a custom VIP private viewing tour, ideal for individuals, families or small groups.

Our tour guides are Stonehenge experts and will bring to life its many myths, legends and mysteries and share all the latest theories and archaeological discoveries,  a truly magical experience.  We have a close relationship with Stonehenge ticketing and all approved tour operators and can often arrange these access visits, even at sunset or sunrise when others can’t. A truly magical experience!

Let us Arrange a Special Access Visit for You
Simply contact us with your preferred date, the number of people travelling and if you prefer sunrise or sunset access inside the Stones.  We will then promptly email your best touring options.  We’ll make sure that you get the very best out of this historic and mysterious Stone Circle!
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