Observations and activities at Stonehenge

Observations and activities at Stonehenge

You can visit the famous stone circle at Stonehenge guide in England for free. It’s one of those things that you have to do before you die (or at least until the day the world ends). Here are five ways to see this awe-inspiring megalithic structure without having to spend a dime. 

If you’re not familiar with Stonehenge, it is most famous as the burial place for King Arthur and his knights. The site was built between 3100 and 2200 B.C., and consists of three rings of stones arranged around an inner ring of up to 40 large, tall standing stones. Some of the stones weigh 30 tons (27 metric tons) or more. There are also about 200 smaller menhirs (ancient standing stones) scattered throughout the area. 

The largest surviving stones date from approximately 2500 B.C., but there are many others buried beneath the soil. If you want to know how the monument was constructed, archaeologists believe that it took 15 years to erect each ring. And since the outermost ring was added last, they estimate that construction began sometime between 2700 and 2300 B.C. 

There is no written record of who commissioned the building of Stonehenge, but experts speculate that it may have been dedicated to some sort of astronomical calendar. One theory holds that all four sides of the monument were aligned with certain stars during solstices and equinoxes, which would have provided the best opportunity to observe the stars’ motion across the sky above the horizon. Other theories suggest that the structure may have been a religious shrine, or perhaps a gathering space for local people. 

In any event, the monument became a popular tourist destination by about 1500 B.C., when people started paying to view the site through a toll booth. The first visitors to the site probably came on foot because there is no evidence of roads leading to Stonehenge prior to that time. But in 1751, the first road was cut into the chalk soil, and a path to the main entrance was built. In 1884, the landowner charged a penny per person to enter the site. By 1930, the visitor numbers had increased so much that the landowner raised the price to 1 shilling. Today admission costs £9 ($12.50 USD) for adults and £6 ($8.25 USD) for children. 

  1. Walk Around Outside the Site 

One of the easiest ways to get a feel for Stonehenge is to walk around outside the site itself. You’ll be able to see the massive lintels (the upright slabs that hold together the horizontal beams), the ditch (a circular trench dug around the base of the stones), and the entrance archway (which looks like a giant doorway). The stones themselves aren’t visible except for two on the northeast side of the site. 

  1. Go Inside the Museum 

Another good way to experience the monument is to go inside the museum. It’s open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Admission is free, although donations are appreciated. The permanent exhibition features models of Stonehenge, photographs of excavations, information about the site’s history, and various other artifacts found at the site. 

  1. Get a Tour 

If you want to learn more about how Stonehenge was built, you should take advantage of a guided tour of the site. Tours are offered year round. They begin every half hour starting at 10:30 A.M. and last about 45 minutes. You can sign up online or book tickets at the visitor center. 

  1. Listen to a Lecture 

You can listen to lectures about the stones and their builders at the visitor center. These tours are usually given by volunteers wearing period costumes. Unfortunately, they don’t give tours on the actual days that they meet, so you might have to wait several months between tours. On the other hand, if you want to hear someone speak about the site at length, these sessions are very entertaining. They start at 11:30 A.M. and run until 4:30 P.M. 

  1. See the Stones 

Of course, you could always just skip the lecture and head straight to the stones themselves. There are three stones that are clearly visible at ground level. The tallest of them, known as “Sarsen A,” stands about 26 feet (7.9 meters) high and weighs about 33 tons (29 metric tons). It would look enormous even if it weren’t surrounded by dozens of other stones! 

The second is “Sarsen B.” It’s slightly shorter than Sarsen A and weighs about 20 tons (17 metric tons). The third is “Sarsen C”–it’s the smallest of the three and only stands about 13 feet (4 meters) high. 

Each stone has its own story. For example, Sarsen A is said to represent a man, while Sarsen B is thought to symbolize a woman. And even though they weigh hundreds of times more than human beings, the stones are still considered to be part of the sacred landscape. 

So whether you decide to see the stones for yourself or read a few pages about them, you will gain great appreciation for the incredible amount of labor involved in building such a massive structure. 

It’s difficult to imagine what it must have taken to move those monolithic blocks from the quarries where they were carved to the site where they were erected. If you think about it, the entire thing is made up of about 30 separate pieces. And those pieces were transported overland using rollers. Imagine trying to roll one of the stones more than 100 miles (160 kilometers)! 

Even today, the work of moving the stones is far from complete. When you stand near the stones, you can see how some of the lintels bear marks from tools used in earlier stages of construction. These are called “carvings,” and they provide clues to how the builders moved the stones.