Stonehenge has long intrigued scholars and explorers with its mysterious origins and its otherworldly appearance. This prehistoric stone circle is found in England, and was built sometime between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago. Researchers have concluded that it continued to evolve over a period of nearly 10,000 years, but other than that…well, nobody really knows why the stones are there.
What we do know is that Stonehenge was built to complement a much larger, sacred landscape. The biggest stones here tower up to 30 feet tall and weigh 25 tons, and were brought to the Stonehenge site from as far away as 20 miles. Others came from Wales, transported over 140 miles. How? Well, that’s a mystery too. We know that a LOT of people did a LOT of work for a LONG amount of time, so the site clearly held enormous significance.
If you’re looking to explore Stonehenge, we’ll tell you how you can make the most of your trip. Visiting Stonehenge is one of the most unique things to do in England!
Places to Visit Around Stonehenge
- Amesbury prehistoric site
- Amesbury town
- Old Sarum original Salisbury settlement
Unique Things to See and Do at Stonehenge
- Take a guided tour of the stone circles
- Watch the sunset behind Stonehenge
- Take a tour of Avebury Henge
- See the rest of Salisbury Plain
How and Why Stonehenge Was Built
Researchers are still uncovering evidence about why Stonehenge exists, but it’s just one small part of a much larger picture. Salisbury Plain, where Stonehenge is found, was considered a sacred ground even before Stonehenge was built. Prehistoric hunting was done here, and scientists have uncovered animal bones and over 12,500 flint tools dating back as far as 7500 BC. There’s also been evidence found of burial rituals, including shrines.
Stonehenge was gradually built over time, with the first earthworks erected around 5,500 years ago. 500 years later, bluestones were propped up, and then 400 years later a double circle was made using dozens of other bluestones. Another 200 years later, and sarsen stones were erected in a horseshoe shape, with others on top of them. Construction seemed to stop altogether 4000 years ago, but considering the timeframe, the workload was enormous. Even dragging the stones to the site is a task too difficult to comprehend!
Other than knowing Stonehenge was a sacred site that many people likely travelled to, nobody really knows why it’s there. But considering people came from all over the area — including those who actually worked on the site — we know Stonehenge was significant. It’s one of the finer mysteries of life!
Getting to Stonehenge
Hiring a local guide to take you to Stonehenge is always a great idea, especially if you want to learn more about this fascinating site.
The small town of Amesbury is a great starting point to exploring Stonehenge. Just grab a bus, or you can walk a quick two miles. You can also hire a rental car.
Other people prefer exploring Stonehenge from Salisbury, since it’s a busier town, and a beautiful one. You can spend a few days in town and then make your way to Stonehenge at your leisure.
Did you know…?
It’s likely that Stonehenge required 30-million hours of labour.
Flickr photo by Chris Wheale
Did you ALSO know…?
Avebury, another ancient stone complex near Stonehenge, is one of the best-preserved prehistoric earthworks on the planet.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Stonehenge
Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit England in general. Temperatures tend to be more pleasant between the months of May to September, and if you’re going to be taking pictures and walking around the site, you’ll want good weather.
The site is open year-round, however, so you can visit even in the winter. The busiest tourism season is most definitely July and August. If you’re looking to avoid the hordes of people, April to early July is your best bet. If you are coming during the summer, show up early in the morning and you may have the site mostly to yourself.
Ready to plan your visit to England? Check out these popular guides and trips.