Stonehenge is a wonderful impressive ruin. It lies at the centre of Stonehenge Down, a landscape rich in prehistoric remains and is recognised as a World Heritage Site. Visitors are amazed by what is believed to have been built as a temple, but no-one really knows.
On the edge of Salisbury Plain, stand these awe-inspiring circles of towering stones, the most celebrated Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in England and probably the best known pre-historic monument in the World. The monument dates from between 2000 and 1400 B.C. It is difficult to imagine how men, with only primitive tools, could possibly have transported and erected these massive stones. The Blue Stones, as many as eighty of them, came from the Prescelly Mountains in Wales. The larger Sarsen Stones, were transported from North Wiltshire.
Stonehenge’s origins and purpose are shrouded in mystery, but it seems it was built to calculate the annual calendar and seasons. Its axis is carefully aligned with the sunrise on 21st June, the longest day in the year. No wonder Thomas Hardy set the ending of his tragic novel, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” here, amongst his “Temple of the Winds.”
Stonehenge now benefits from vastly improved facilities, which opened in December 2013. The new visitor centre, built of wood and glass, is not visible from Stonehenge, which is accessible by a ten minute shuttle ride from the centre. It contains museum quality exhibitions and a 110 seat capacity café, which also provides outdoor refreshment facilities. The centre is open every day, apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it must be emphasised that booking in advance is now required to guarantee access to Stonehenge by a timed ticket.