A prehistoric monument & one of the wonders of the world – Stonehenge is just a day trip from London
England Travel Guide
Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the world is right at our doorstep! This pre-historic monument has wowed many and continues to intrigue all visitors here. It is definitely, an engineering masterpiece given that it was built with simple tools and technologies during the Neolithic times. It is another of those structures in the world that make visitors and scientists wonder to the theories behind its construction – Why it was constructed and by whom, to the extend that it could have been an alien creation or the much popularised legend of King Arthur by historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Anyways, here’s Stonehenge for you in a nutshell – pay us a visit – mystical or magical – you decide.
English Heritage is reviving the Victorian tradition of falconry and hawking in the skies above Stonehenge. Go to Falconry at Stonehenge to learn more.
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1 | Stonehenge – A sophisticated architecture
The monument known as Stonehenge, was erected with precise interlocking joints, unseen at any other prehistoric monument. According to its history, it was built in several stages, with the first monument being constructed around 5,000 years ago.
2 | Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This unique prehistoric masterpiece sits on a rich archaeological landscape and the area, Avebury and Stonehenge form a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated and unique places to visit.
3 | Where is Stonehenge exactly?
Stonehenge is located on Salisbury Plain, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Its GPS coordinates are:
If you haven’t been to Stonehenge, click on the link to Google Earth and get a first hand, up close and personal experience of this mysterious wonderment. Watch the awesomeness of this majestic structure that has puzzled many historians and remains a mystery! It will sure to blow you away too!
4 | The Stone Circle
The Stone Circle at Stonehenge is an iconic symbol of Britain with each stone standing at 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighing around 25 tons. It is believed to have been constructed between 3000 BC and 2000 BC. This sophisticated architecture is the only surviving lintelled stone circle in the world.
I was instantly wowed at the gigantic stones and intrigued at how cleverly it was “constructed”. I did feel a little “tiny” in the midst of all these and the vastness of the area. There is certainly a lot to discover here.
As mentioned earlier, this iconic sophisticated architecture throws more questions than answers as to the “Why’s” and “Who” – here’s what I found out but be rest assured that there are a lot more theories and opinions out there.
5 | Stonehenge – The theories
5.1 | Stonehenge Decoded
According to Hawkins, the cluster of stones were constructed in phases between 3100 BC through 1600 BC and its purpose was to relate to an ancient astronomical observatory calendar, to predict movements of the sun and stars. His hypothesis identified 165 separate points on the construction, and he links them to the two solstices, equinoxes, lunar and solar eclipses. The stones are aligned in such a way that at dawn on the summer solstice the sun glides from behind the Heel Stone to above the stones and shine onto the centre of the circle – the sun and stones all aligning perfectly. Similarly, at the winter solstice on December 21, one can experience much the same at sunset. It would seem that Stonehenge was created to showcase the summer solstice.
In this book, Hawkins decodes the mystery behind Stonehenge and illustrates his findings that gave rise to controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.
Gerald S. Hawkins, 1965 (Hardcover)
However, Hawkins’ theory had been criticised by historians for it gave too much credit to ancient builders who did not have the sophistication or the tools necessary to predict astrological events. Despite its criticisms, Hawkins theory does lend more legitimacy than the 12th century legend associated with King Arthur by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of Kings of Britain
5.2 | History of Kings of Britain
According to Geoffrey, the massacre called the Night of the Long Knives in 449 A.D. occurred at a monastery on the Salisbury Plain. To honour the dead soldiers, the then King, Ambrosius Aurelianus consulted the wizard, Merlin to help him select an appropriate monument. The wizard suggested that the King’s Ring from Mount Killarus in Ireland be dismantled and brought to England. An expedition of soldiers were sent to bring the stones to Stonehenge where Merlin reconstructs with his magical powers, a monument on the Salisbury Plain honouring the dead in the monastery cemetery.
5.3 | A modern twist
A modern twist to this tale seems that it was aliens rather than Merlin who constructed the ingenious architecture. Some of these rocks weigh 50 tons and cannot be explained how ordinary humans could have moved such masses., hence aliens. In addition, Alfred Watkin in the 1920s suggested his theory of “ley lines” in his book “The Old Straight Track“, published in 1925. He suggested that Stonehenge connected with other sites which once served as landmarks or ancient sites in a given alignment between, and across the dense island but since vanished. Other theories surrounding this ancient monument relate to it being a healing ground because archaeologists have discovered skeletons with crude wounds, an indication of rudimentary surgery.
5.4 | Recent Discovery at Stonehenge
In recent years, archaeologists have discovered skeletal remains at Stonehenge which dated to a 500-year period beginning in 3000 B.C.. The discovery suggests that the remains belong to a select group of elite ancient people, hence providing the most solid evidence yet that the site was used as a burial ground. However, this does not preclude Stonehenge as an astrological calendar or as a religious site.
5.5 | The mystery continues…
So, a conclusive answer to the “Who” and “How” are yet to be found and the mystery of Stonehenge continues to puzzle archaeologists, historians and ordinary people alike. One thing for sure, that it will continue to attract thousands especially on another equinox when the sun rises and sets, for one to experience the magical or mystical vibes in this mysterious part of Salisbury, Wiltshire.
6 | Popularity of Stonehenge
Stonehenge is one of the popular destinations in UK for tourists with almost 1.5 million visitors a year. It is also a popular destination for the thousands who are drawn here during the summer and winter solstices, for whom it symbolises a sacred place. It invokes a great sense of awe and humility. Stonehenge is especially significant for members of the Druid and Pagan community, who perform rituals and celebrations at the summer and winter solstices.
6.1 Summer and Winter Solstices
Solstices have been celebrated here for centuries. People gather here to welcome the sunrise on the longest day of the year with cheering and revelling. On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the stone circle, and sunlight is channelled into the centre of the monument. It is also a day when the English Heritage opens-up the stones to the public.
Whatever the true story of this monument, anyone and everyone can enjoy the spectacular sunrise behind these stones at the solstices.
Mystical, magical – You decide!
When I visited Stonehenge in late summer, it was after a rain and before a storm. I witnessed these mystic clouds, which appeared above one of the Stone Circle, giving it a sense of solitude and magic. I thought the clouds were rather unusual.
Just so you know, there are a few recorded experiences where one was overcome with feelings of sadness and loss, while some have felt coldness and isolation. Though none of these can be explained and I did not experience any of these feelings, I was totally amazed at the uniqueness of the structure. I would highly recommend that you visit this sophisticated architecture – a bucket list experience for sure.
There is an Asian proverb that says, “Better to see something once, then to hear about it a thousand times.” So, if you haven’t been here, get it onto your itinerary and experience this iconic ancient achievement. Return and share your stories 😊
Travel tips and Useful information on Stonehenge:
Travelling to Stonehenge during Covid-19 Safety Measures – What you need to know:
Update from English Heritage: Aug 2020
- For safety reasons, visitor numbers are limited;
- Visits MUST be booked in advance. You must have a booking confirmation to show for the chosen arrival time;
- Bring a face covering along – you can’t enter the cafe or the shop without face coverings;
- Safety and social distancing measures are in place for everyone’s safety;
Opening and closing times | Tickets
Opening and Closing times:
Summer: 0900 – 2000
Winter: 0930 – 1700
Last entry is 2 hours before closing
Entrance to Stonehenge is through timed tickets. Advance booking is the only way to guarantee entry on the day and time of your choice. So, you Must book these tickets in advance.
By booking in advance you will also benefit from an advanced booking discount.
Become a Member of English Heritage
English Heritage is guardian to some of the nation’s most treasured and iconic buildings and monuments, including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle, Osborne, Hadrian’s Wall and Dover Castle. They ensure that our heritage is protected for future generations.
From only £48 for a whole year, English Heritage members enjoy the following benefits:
English Heritage and National Trust members must also book in advance for their FREE visit.
Read next: WindsorCastle and Windsor in One Day
Get onboard and enjoy a Ride on the Royal Windsor Steam Express
Visiting Stonehenge from London | London to Stonehenge | Easy ways to get to Stonehenge from London
When visiting London, you may find Stonehenge makes a nice little day trip from London. You have a choice of either making your way to Salisbury by train or coach OR join one the value for money guided tours. There are a variety of guided tours to select from, from half-a-day to full day tours. There is a half a day tour to Stonehenge only and the full day tours are often combined with a tour to the Historic City of Bath and Windsor Castle. Personally, I prefer the full day tour that combines Stonehenge with Bath and the West Country.
Here’s how you can visit Stonehenge from London:
1 | From London to Stonehenge by train
The nearest train station to Stonehenge is Salisbury and the distance from Salisbury to Stonehenge is less than 15 kilometres (9 miles).
Leg 1: From London to Salisbury
Take the train from London Waterloo Station to Salisbury Station on the South Western Railway. There are trains every 30-40 minutes from 6:30 am to 23:40 pm with a slightly altered timetable at weekends. The journey from London to Stonehenge takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The price of your train ticket only applies to this part of your journey.
Note: There are Additional costs involved for transportation between Salisbury and Stonehenge
Leg 2: From Salisbury to Stonehenge
Upon arriving at Salisbury, there are taxis, private car hire, bus services serving the route to and from Stonehenge as well as the Stonehenge Bus Tour offering a hop on hop off service. Stonehenge Bus Tour operates every 30 minutes or so.
2 | From London to Stonehenge by coach
If you wish to visit Stonehenge by coach, you need to make your way from Salisbury to Stonehenge as described above.
As for a coach/bus from London to Salisbury, here’s how you can make that journey:
Take the National Express from Victoria coach station to Ringwood. This service runs from 6.30 am to 7.30 pm. There are around 4 coaches running throughout the day, every 3-4 hours.
When you reach Ringwood, you will then need to change at Ringwood and take the X3 to Salisbury. From Salisbury, your onward journey to Stonehenge will be via local buses, taxis, private car hire or the hop on hop off Salisbury Tour Bus.
For return journey to London, the first coach leaves Ringwood at 6.45 am and the last coach leaves at 6.40 pm. There are around 4-5 coaches throughout the day.
The X3 from Ringwood towards Salisbury and return is operated by the Salisbury Reds. This journey takes around 40 minutes. The service runs from 5.57 am to 11.32 pm Monday to Saturday and from 8.43 am until 8.43 pm on Sundays and public holidays. The X3 runs from Salisbury to Ringwood from 6.40 am to 9.45 pm Monday to Saturday and from 9.40 am until 9.40 pm on Sundays and public holidays.
Read next: Isle of Wight & the Victorian Love Affair
Whether this monument is mystical or magical, being present among this incredible, ingenious architecture will have you in awe and wonder! It is an experience that I strongly recommend.
Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Stonehenge? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.
Happy adventures and have a splendid time exploring Stonehenge!
August 2020, Update
Updated AUG 29, 2020
Visiting Stonehenge during Covid-19 Safety Measures:
- Visitor numbers are limited;
- Visits must be booked online prior to visiting this monument;
- Bring a face covering along.
Hello there! Welcome to mytimelessfootsteps – a travelogue of Georgina’s adventures and a space where she shares her insights into travel. Bringing you only the best, from her very many years of discovering this beautiful world, to support your independent travels and your well-being whilst travelling. Though Georgina’s focus is upper upscale and millennial lifestyle, the detailed travel guides and information herein are valuable for all travellers of any age. To learn more and her motivation for this blog, go to About Georgina.
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