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Stone Henge in Wiltshire

This page is about Stone Henge near Amesbury, Wiltshire

The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world. What visitors see today are the substantial remnants of the last in a sequence of such monuments erected between circa 3000BC and 1600BC. Each monument was a circular structure, aligned with the rising of the sun at the midsummer solstice.There has always been intense debate over quite what purpose Stonehenge served. Certainly, it was the focal point in a landscape filled with prehistoric ceremonial structures. It also represented an enormous investment of labour and time. A huge effort and great organisation was needed to carry the stones tens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles by land and water and then to shape and raise them. Only a sophisticated society could have mustered so large a workforce and the design and construction skills necessary to produce Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments.Stonehenge's orientation in relation to the rising and setting sun has always been one of its most remarkable features. Whether this was because its builders came from a sun-worshipping culture or because - as some scholars have asserted - the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery. What cannot be denied is the ingenuity of the builders of Stonehenge. With only very basic tools at their disposal, they shaped the stones and formed the mortises and tenons that linked uprights to lintels. Using antlers and bones, they dug the pits to hold the stones and made the banks and ditches that enclosed them.There are direct links with the people who built Stonehenge in their tools, artefacts, pottery and even the contents of their graves. Some of these are displayed in the museums at Salisbury and Devizes. Burial mounds, possibly containing the graves of ruling families, are also integral to the landscape. Neolithic long barrows and the various types of circular barrows that came later are still visible. So too are other earthworks and monuments. Some remain enigmatic, such as the long oval earthwork to the north, the Cursus - once thought to be a chariot racecourse. You can visit the Cursus and other parts of the Stonehenge landscape.Woodhenge, two miles to the north east, was a wooden oval-post structure, also aligned with the summer solstice sunrise. It is believed to be contemporary with the first phase of Stonehenge. Now a World Heritage Site, Stonehenge and all its surroundings remain powerful witnesses to the once great civilisations of the Stone and Bronze Ages, between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. What visitors see today of Stonehenge are the remnants of the last in a sequence of monuments erected between C. 3000BC and 1600BC. It is now a World Heritage Site.

Contact details

Click to visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehengewww.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge

telephone: 01722 343834
address:  Near Amesbury
Wiltshire
SP4 7DE

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Prices

Adult: 13.90
Child: 8.30
Concession: 12.50
Family Ticket: 36.10

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