Spotlight on Stonehenge
Over 5,000 years ago, our ancestors built what would become one of the world's most iconic monuments. Stonehenge's mysteries are still the focus of speculation, celebration and intense research today.
Discover what we know - and what we don't - on a day out at this incredible place.
Why We Love Stonehenge
"We love a day out at Stonehenge. There is a certain magical quality up there, so peaceful, so mysterious, so my two boys (10 and 8) and I were very excited." - Sarah, English Heritage Member (via Facebook)
"The transport to the stones was excellent. After viewing the stones we went on a 10 mile walk to look at the southern landscape, which was really interesting." - Christina, English Heritage Member (via Facebook)Plan your visit
Take a Closer Look
This is the face of a man who was born 5,500 years ago.
That's about 500 years before the first monument was built at Stonehenge itself, but at a time when the wider landscape was becoming important to our Neolithic ancestors. The man's features have been forensically reconstructed from his skeleton, which was discovered in the 1860s.
His skeleton has provided us with fascinating glimpses into his life. He moved to the area around Stonehenge a few years after being born in Wales. We know that he was from a well-to-do family for a number of reasons. He was taller than average, ate more meat than other people at the time, and in the years after his death his burial mound was extended to become one of the largest in Neolithic Britain.Discover the History of Stonehenge
What Makes Stonehenge Special?
Medieval people thought Stonehenge was built by Merlin, and 17th century antiquarians couldn't agree on whether it had been built by Romans or Druids. We now know that the unique stone circle was built by ancient Britons around 2500 BC, but many questions remain unanswered.
Was it a centre of healing, or sun-worship? A place of burial? Did worshippers dance around the stones? Were the stones painted, or garlanded in flowers? This enduring mystery - as much as its enduring physical presence - is a large part of what makes Stonehenge so special.
Stonehenge: then and now
Above: A guide shows visitors around Stonehenge during Professor Atkinson's archaeological and restoration work in 1958. Behind the visitors are Stones 28, 29 and 30 of the outer sarsen circle, compared with the same view today.
3 Things To Look Out For At Stonehenge
- The birds - "The jackdaws nest under the lintel stones," explains Carol, who has worked at Stonehenge for twenty years. "We also have rooks that come up. They're very gentle, and very tame. There's one or two that sit on our hands for us to feed them."
- Neolithic houses - Outside the visitor centre, wander around the Neolithic houses, and step inside to imagine life 4,500 years ago. Speak to our volunteers to discover how the houses were built using authentic materials and techniques, and see demonstrations of ancient domestic crafts.
- The Avenue - Leading into the earthwork enclosure, the Avenue was built to connect Stonehenge with the river Avon and West Amesbury. Today it can still be seen as low parallel banks forming a corridor around 12 metres across.
Alongside the main exhibition, the visitor centre is currently home to a temporary Wish You Were Here exhibition, which explores the history of Stonehenge as a visitor attraction and a worldwide icon. Charting a century of tourism through historical souvenirs, guidebooks, postcards, photographs and even music records, this unique exhibition features items which can't be seen anywhere else, and entry is included in the regular Stonehenge ticket price.Find out more
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