An unforgettable opportunity to spend time inside the tranquil circle of Stonehenge. Stone Circle Experience at Stonehenge takes you up close to this world-famous monument.

Before 1978 you were free to walk around inside the stone circle at Stonehenge once you’d paid your admission fee. The lack of any guards overnight meant people also hopped the fence once the site had closed.

Stonehenge at dawn.  A special access ‘inner circle’ visit .

Finally, in response to the over 800,000 annual visitors, access was restricted. An article entitled “Heritage Under Siege” in New Scientist (Sept 27th, 1979) reports the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings as saying:

“The whole problem of Stonehenge is numbers … all through the year. What menaces Stonehenge are the millions of feet (and hands) of the ordinary visitors.”

… and continues:

“An archaeologist calculated that if each visitor walked around the central area just twice during his or her visit, the effect would be the same as having one man standing on each square foot inside the ring and jumping up and down on that spot 62 times every day throughout the year.”

After March 1978, everyone was banned from inside the circle – including archaeologists and other researchers, much to their annoyance. Department of the Environment officials said that the plans to allow out-of-hours access to “those with a special interest” had to be abandoned because the custodians were unwilling to work overtime. And so it remained for a long time.

Eventually things changed and these days it’s possible to book to go inside the stone circle on what is called a “Stone Circle Access” or “Special Access” visit. These are one-hour long slots before and after the monument is open to the public during the day, and a maximum of 30 people are allowed inside at a time.

You can book as an individual, or via Stonehenge Guided Tours who will provide a well-informed tour guide to show you some of the hidden features that you might otherwise miss. Many of their tours are at sunrise or sunset.

Stonehenge VIP Access. Walk amongst the ancient stones at dawn or dusk.
wren

Once inside, if the light’s right you can pick out some of the hundreds of examples of carved initials and names on the stones. One of them might even be that of Christopher Wren – a local lad who made good and went on to design the new St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

One thing that a lot of people fail to notice is the sound of the place – there’s a definite sense of entering into an enclosed, peaceful space a soon as you come in through the primary entrance beneath the central lintel of the three on the northeast side of the circle.

It’s only when you’re up really close to the monument that the epic scale of the stones really strikes you – the tallest one is over 7m from grass to top, and there’s a further 2.5m in the ground. Weighing in at over 40 tons it’s a beautifully shaped monolith that was part of the tallest trilithon on the site. Sadly its partner upright fell and broke long ago, leaving the lintel they both supported lying on its side in the southwest part of the central area.

The bluestones, though much smaller than the sarsens, are still impressive rocks – the tallest one stands leaning in front of the highest sarsen stone and has a wide groove worked all the way down one edge. No-one knows why.

There are a few rules – no standing on the stones, no touching them, no smoking – but apart from that you’re free to wander around and properly appreciate both the enormity of the large sarsen blocks, the elegance of the bluestone pillars and the ingenuity of the builders who created the monument over 4,500 years ago.

If you have the chance, by far the best way to see Stonehenge is through a Stone Circle Access visit.  

Stonehenge Guided Tours pioneered these Stonehenge access tours and offer frequent scheduled coach tours at sunrise and sunset. They also arrange private custom inner circle tours with expert Stonehenge tour guides.

Take a look at our Instagram account for amazing Stonehenge photos, view our YouTube videos and follow us on Twitter for frequent news

Stonehenge Guided Tours
WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
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Stonehenge normally receives over one million visitors a year. During peak periods, there are over 10,000 visitors a day with queues stretching up to 100 meters from the ticket office to the car park. Due to current travel restrictions and very few overseas visitors, capacity has reduced to a fifth of what it is normally. We operate daily Stonehenge tours from London, Bath and Salisbury plus our private guided tours and walking tours are easy to arrange and economical. If you have your own transport and wish to visit Stonehenge independently then this blog will help you make the most of your visit.

The English Heritage Stonehenge experience as an independent visitor:

I’m sure that if you’re planning a trip to Stonehenge you already have an idea of how special the monument is. Stonehenge is full of mystery; its construction and very existence are still open to interpretation even in our technologically advanced world. Stonehenge boasts an amazing and unique design. Many believe that the stones possess healing powers. All this is true and visiting Stonehenge is almost an ethereal experience, perhaps because of the mysteries surrounding it. I want you to get the most out of your visit so here are a few of my top tips – enjoy!

There are special buses from local towns such as Salisbury and Bath that offer direct pick up / drop off services to Stonehenge. Remember to check their timetables and give yourself plenty of time to get back to the bus stop. Once the last one has gone there is no service until the next day and although the security guards are very friendly and informative they will not let you stay overnight to sleep by the trilithons, under the stars!

When you arrive as an independent traveler the first thing you’ll notice is the visitor centre. It was moved away from the monument itself a few years ago giving a far better experience than previously.

Currently all Stonehenge tickets must be brought in advance and visitor numbers are limited. You must present your booking confirmation on arrival. [something about it being a good opportunity as there are usually large crowds]
Tickets cost £22.80 per adult

Although it’s very tempting to show your ticket confirmation and rush straight to the stones, take the time to go to the visitor centre and exhibition space first. Take in the atmosphere of the World Heritage Site, allow yourself to step into the landscape of when the Henge was constructed 4,500 years ago.

I’d highly recommend you use English Heritage’s complementary wifi to download the free multi-language audio guide. Covering the exhibition and the monument itself, it’s a fantastic way to learn about the local landscape and the most famous prehistoric monument in the world!

In the exhibition you’ll discover more than 250 significant archaeological artefacts showing how local Neolithic people lived, worked and played around the monument. You’ll see hand tools including antler picks, jewellery, Grooved Ware pottery, Arrowheads, Battle Axes, as well as ancient human remains. One of my favourite exhibits uses advanced technology to reconstruct a man’s face from a skull discovered locally. It really helped me connect with the people who erected the monument.

Once you leave the exhibition, you’ll find a large scale map of the UNESCO World Heritage Site local landscape including Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and Avebury as well as Stonehenge. It shows how Stonehenge is best considered in its ancient landscape and not in isolation as we often think of it today.

Half a dozen Neolithic houses have been lovingly recreated just outside the visitor and exhibition centre. They are very closely based on archaeological evidence from 100 plus houses in a huge ceremonial earthworks enclosure discovered in 2006/7 about a mile away at Durrington Walls. They dated from about the same time as the erection of the large Sarsen stones at Stonehenge. The houses are constructed with local hazel wood weaved around supporting stakes, with thatched straw roofs and walls of chalk daub. They give a fascinating clue to where the builders of Stonehenge lived during its construction.

There are two Touching Stones, one of the same material as the Blue Stones and the other of the Sarsens. Feel how they radiate heat from the sun differently, remembering you cannot touch the stones of the monument itself. Right by the touching stones is the ‘Pull A Sarsen’ experience, you can have a go at trying to move a real scale Sarsen that shows how many people it takes to move it if they all pulled as hard as you!

The most important thing to remember before you head up to the stones themselves is to use the public facilities as there is no toilet / washroom up at the monument!

The stones are just over a mile away from the visitor centre and there are two ways to get there. The quickest is the complimentary shuttle bus which runs every ten minutes and takes five minutes. The best way, if you are up for it, is to arrive at Stonehenge on foot, through the landscape. You get to experience the unchanged landscape just as our Neolithic ancestors did.

I can walk up to the stones in 15-20 minutes walking at my usual pace so give yourself a leisurely half hour. Fargo Wood marks a halfway point to the stones and is a great place to get close up to one of the many burial mounds. You can’t miss them – they look like big overturned dessert bowls covered in grass and are not giant mole hills! As you walk up to the stones, use the audio guide to for information about The Long Barrow, The Avenue and Cursus.

Once at the monument itself I recommend you walk in a clockwise direction, towards the Heel Stone (which marks the place on the horizon where the summer solstice sunrise appears when viewed from the centre of the stone circle) and The Avenue, connecting the River Avon with Stonehenge. Here you’ll get a great opportunity to take photos of the best views of the monument – the Heel Stone and section of outer ring of Sarsen stones that are still capped with their lintels. Once you have that Iconic shot remember to take it all in, enjoy your time by the stones! There is a rope barrier around the monument that takes you away from the site to get a good feel of the Henge (earth works) that the stones are set inside, before it allows you to the closest point of your visit for some great up close photos. If the stones are wet you may be able to see some of the carved graffiti – see if you can spot where Sir Christopher Wren (architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral) carved his name twice on the stones!

Now you can choose to walk back to the visitor centre through the landscape you will now be so aware of or get the shuttle bus if your feet are tired.

Once back at the visitor centre you can’t ignore the shop for a memento of your visit. My favourite items have ‘Stonehenge Rocks’ emblazoned on them! There’s everything from postcards and pop-up books to beautiful bespoke jewellery and even a limited edition Stonehenge Monopoly!

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Before you leave there is also the cafe to grab a coffee and reflect on your experience at one of the most iconic monuments in the world.

If you want a more intimate experience it is possible to organise ‘Stonehenge VIP Special Access‘ where you visit the monument before or after the site is open and you are allowed to walk freely into the inner circle.

Visit Stonehenge Relevant Links:

Ticking Stonehenge off your bucket list. Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge Special Access Experience. Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge Walking Tours. Enhance your Stonehenge visit and book a local expert tour guide.

Salisbury Reds have frequent tour buses departing from Salisbury city centre and can also include Old Sarum Hill Fort.

Visit Wiltshire. Tourist Information and events guide.

English Heritage Membership. Join today and visit Stonehenge and 400 U.K sites for free.


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

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

Stonehenge Guided Tours. The Megalitic Experts
WINNER: Best Stonehenge Tour Specialists 2020 / 2021
WINNER: Best ‘Historical Tour’ Operator 2020 / 2021
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Looking for a unique bucket list gift? Make someone you care about happier through the gift of a unique Stonehenge experience. Perfect for any occasion, birthday, anniversary, a thank you or Christmas. Give stories, not stuff.

Make someone you care about happier through the gift of a unique Stonehenge experience.

Nothing beats being gifted an experience, it’s a present they won’t forget. And the joy of experience day Christmas gifts is that you have the luxury of also going with them if you fancy. So, it’s a gift for both you and them.

Get them started on that Bucket List while there’s time and health to finish it, with a tangible, physical bucket. They can pick an experience whenever life permits. It’s a gift that gives them the opportunity to make unforgettable memories, rather than giving them a reason to make more cupboard space.

It could be that they don’t need anymore physical items or that it would be nice for them to have something exciting to look forward to after coronavirus lockdown.

Whatever the reason, here is a round-up of our best Stonehenge experience gifts for individuals, couples, families or groups of friends. Hopefully these will help create some beautiful, fun, exciting and possibly spiritual moments that your loved ones cherish forever.

Stonehenge Spring Equinox Tour
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tour
Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Tour
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour

Full on bragging rights are delivered to the lucky recipient of this gift evoucher, allowing them to choose one of the coolest Stonehenge experiences – you can almost imagine the stories that they will tell once they’ve done this. Give stories, not stuff.

Tour gift vouchers are valid for 24 months from date of issue and can be used for any future Stonehenge Solstice or Equinox Experience.

We will send an Egift voucher and you can even add your own personal message

THE eGIFT VOUCHER
The recipient can book any of our Solstice / Equinox tours (March / June / September / December)
Stonehenge gift vouchers are redeemable across the whole of 2021 / 2022 Solstice and Equinox experiences.
The Tour gift is valid for 2 years, so they have plenty of time to redeem it.
Print at home, receive our physical gift by post or send an email gift!
That’s it! When the day comes they enjoy their chosen experience and create beautiful memories for a lifetime!

These tours are exclusive to Stonehenge Guided Tours and can not be purchased anywhere else.

Visiting Stonehenge once?   Do it with the experts!!!!!

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

Now You Can Explore the Sights and Sounds of Stonehenge on Your iPhone 

Stonehenge has been mystifying people for quite a long time, but getting to the massive circle of standing stones could pose a problem for many. Happily, the Stonehenge Experience app for iOS tackles this problem with gusto, aiming to bring you the sights and even the sounds of Stonehenge regardless of where you may be.

The app was released earlier this month for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch by Ribui Ltd. Once activated, the app goes through several interactive vignettes explaining the arrangement of the stones, when they were erected, how we think the pillars were constructed, and so on. It’s sort of like a virtual tour of the site, being narrated by an unseen woman with a fabulous British accent.

Though the idea of a tour-in-your-pocket might sound disappointing, each “section” of the tour is interactive in some way. You can pinch and slide your view around all of the presentations, and scrub the slider back and forth to advance. In some cases, this moves time backward and forward on screen, causing stones to rise up out of the ground or the sun to move across the sky. You can also jump straight to a menu that allows you to access each segment at your leisure.

In addition to the stones themselves, the app also encompasses several nearby sites, including burials and earthworks. These are presented, Google Maps fashion, from the menu page. While light on information, the app lets you “excavate” some of these sites by swiping your finger across the screen. This is kind of silly, but does introduce the user to some of the region’s permanent residents.

By far, the most impressive feature of the app is a 360º view of the stones from within the circle. It’s designed to deliver an alternate-reality experience, where moving your phone or iPad around changes the view. That’s pretty neat, but the Stonehenge Experience goes a step further and uses your device’s built-in microphone to deliver what the app’s creators claim is the sensation of hearing what it’s like within the stones. One of the apps designers explains:

This is by far the most fun part of the app, which seems kind of silly since it’s just an audio filter. However, it adds a level of interaction that’s surprisingly fun

Having never been to Stonehenge, I can’t say if the app lives up to its claims of faithfully recreating the entire experience. However, I can say that I had an enjoyable time playing around with it. The actual educational content of the app seemed pretty on-mark, although I am far from an expert. That said, the $2.99 price point might seem a bit steep for a little toy like this, with limited re-use value.

If you’re looking to experience Stonehenge on a phone, I am not sure you can do much better.

(The Stonehenge Experience via New Scientist)
Mary Sue:  http://www.themarysue.com/stonehenge-app/

Stonehenge Guided Tours offer a free download of this app for all their customers.

Stonehenge Tour Guide