Stonehenge and Avebury are two of the most famous prehistoric sites located in the county of Wiltshire, in the southern part of England, and these sites, along with some other nearby locations, make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s an overview of Stonehenge Avebury and Associated Sites:
Stonehenge Avebury and Associated Sites
1. Stonehenge: Stonehenge is a world-renowned prehistoric monument composed of a circular arrangement of large standing stones. It is believed to have been constructed in several phases over a span of thousands of years, with the main phase of construction taking place around 2500 BC.
Stonehenge Facts and History
The purpose of Stonehenge remains a subject of debate among archaeologists and scholars, but it is widely believed to have had religious, ceremonial, and astronomical significance. The monument’s alignment with the solstices and other celestial events suggests an understanding of astronomy by its builders. Stonehenge is an iconic symbol of ancient British history and attracts visitors from around the world.
2. Avebury: Avebury is another Neolithic site located not far from Stonehenge. It consists of a large circular bank and ditch enclosure, within which are three stone circles. The Avebury stone circles are among the largest and most impressive in Europe. Like Stonehenge, Avebury is believed to have been constructed for ceremonial and ritualistic purposes.
The site is unique in that it was constructed as a fully integrated landscape, with the stone circles forming part of a larger complex that includes avenues, barrows, and other earthworks. The village of Avebury is actually situated within the stone circle, giving the site a distinctive and mysterious atmosphere.
3. Associated Sites: The UNESCO World Heritage Site of “Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites” includes not only Stonehenge and Avebury but also other nearby ancient sites and monuments that form an interconnected prehistoric landscape.
These sites include Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, and other barrows, avenues, and earthworks. Together, these sites provide insight into the beliefs, practices, and social structures of the people who lived in the area during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.
The “Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites” UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important cultural and historical landmark that offers a glimpse into the lives and activities of ancient societies in England. It continues to be a subject of research and exploration as archaeologists and historians seek to uncover more about the people who built and used these remarkable monuments.
Tips for Visiting Stonehenge
Things to do Stonehenge Avebury and Associated Sites: While Stonehenge itself is a fascinating and iconic site, there are several other interesting attractions and activities to enjoy in the surrounding area of Wiltshire, England. Here are some things to do and places to visit around Stonehenge:
4. Avebury Stone Circle: As mentioned earlier, Avebury is another significant stone circle and World Heritage Site. It’s much larger than Stonehenge and offers a unique opportunity to get up close to the stones. You can explore the village nestled within the circle and visit Avebury Manor and Garden.
5. Salisbury: The historic city of Salisbury is not far from Stonehenge and is home to the stunning Salisbury Cathedral. The cathedral boasts an impressive spire and houses the Magna Carta, one of the most important documents in English history.
6. Old Sarum: This is the site of the original Salisbury settlement before the city was moved to its current location. You can explore the ruins of the old castle and take in panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
7. Wiltshire Museum: Located in Devizes, this museum offers a comprehensive look at the history and archaeology of Wiltshire. It has a great collection of artifacts from the Neolithic period, including those related to Stonehenge and Avebury.
8. Silbury Hill: This is the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe, located near Avebury. While you can’t climb the hill itself, it’s an interesting site to explore and ponder its purpose.
9. West Kennet Long Barrow: This Neolithic burial mound is located near Avebury and is open to the public. It’s an atmospheric site and gives you a glimpse into the burial practices of the ancient inhabitants.
10. Stourhead: A bit further afield, Stourhead is a stunning 18th-century landscape garden with a picturesque lake, classical architecture, and beautiful walking paths.
11. Countryside Walks: The Wiltshire countryside surrounding Stonehenge is beautiful and offers plenty of opportunities for walks and hikes. The trails often lead you through historical sites, charming villages, and scenic landscapes.
12. Stonehenge Visitor Center: Don’t forget to explore the visitor center at Stonehenge, which provides additional information about the site’s history, construction, and significance. There are also interactive exhibits and a gift shop.
13. Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour can enhance your experience by providing insights and information from knowledgeable guides. Some tours may also include visits to lesser-known archaeological sites in the area.
14. Seasonal Events: Check if there are any special events, such as solstice celebrations, happening around Stonehenge. These events can provide a unique perspective on the site’s astronomical significance. Remember to check the opening hours and any entry requirements for the sites you plan to visit, as they might be subject to changes.
How to get to Stonehenge, England, from London
Stonehenge is located in Wiltshire, which is about 88 miles (142 km) southwest of London. There are several ways to get to Stonehenge from London:
15. Train and Bus: Take a train from London’s Paddington Station to Salisbury, which is the nearest major town to Stonehenge. From Salisbury, you can take a bus operated by the Stonehenge Tour or local public buses that run to Stonehenge. The journey takes around 30 minutes.
16. Guided Tours: There are many tour operators that offer day trips from London to Stonehenge, often combined with visits to other nearby attractions like Bath or Windsor Castle. These tours typically include transportation, entrance fees, and sometimes guided commentary.
17. Car Rental: If you prefer a self-guided trip, you can rent a car in London and drive to Stonehenge. The drive takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and route.
18. Coaches: Several coach companies offer day trips from London to Stonehenge. These coaches are usually more affordable than train and guided tour options, but the travel time might be longer.
19. Private Transportation: You can hire a private driver or a taxi to take you directly from London to Stonehenge. This option offers flexibility and convenience, but it tends to be more expensive.
When planning your trip, make sure to consider factors such as transportation costs, travel time, and your preferred level of convenience. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check the opening hours and any entry requirements for Stonehenge before you go, as these can vary based on the time of year.