Visit Stonehenge ...
A brief history and top ten places of interest nearby
Brief history of Stonehenge
is Europe's most famous neolithic monument dating from 2800 BC. Stonehenge
was built in four main stages from 2800 BC - 1550 BC. This is a temple
to the sun, moon, planets and stars, an astronomical clock.
The site at Stonehenge does not give you the impression that it was
an ideal place for a settlement or temple, so why build there? Stonehenge
occupies a central position with regards to ancient tracks or natural
chalk ridges, the most famous stretching from Dover to Exeter in the
South West, these are known as the north and south Downs. These routes
were the main roads for all immigrants from Europe up until 8000 BC
when a land-bridge still connected Britain to main land. Also, five
rivers are located nearby and Stonehenge is one days march to the coast.
Henges (circular monuments) are mystical, haunting and spiritual places
and many hundreds were constructed and over 100 survive. Two of the
most famous of all are
located in Wessex, Stonehenge and Avebury. Stonehenge was not built
at one time, but built over a period of 1700 years straddling the stone
age and bronze age periods. Phase one started around 2800 BC and consisted
of a bank and ditch over 90 meters across with an entrance and a series
of 56 holes inside the bank. Also during this phase the heel stone was
erected just outside the entrance, much like a 35 ton humpback whale
emerging from the ocean.
Phase two began around 2100 BC with the addition of the four station
stones placed in a large rectangle which has astronomical significance,
for example one alignment marks the most northerly position the moon
sets. Within this period the blue stones from Wales (over 240 miles
away) were erected, which could relate to the phases of the moon.
Phase three begins around 2000 BC and this is when Stonehenge starts
to really take shape, the huge triathlons hors hoe and sarsen stone
circle is raised. The 30 sarsens may relate to the monthly cycle of
the moon, each stone weighs around 25 tonnes and each is linked to each
other with a 7 tonne lintel. The massive horshoe triathlon is made up
of a set of five monuments, each with two up rights connected with lintels.
The set of five may represent the planets we can see with the naked
eye - Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, venus, Saturn and of course the sun and
moon completing our seven day week.
Total abandonment of the monument occurred around 1100 BC and modern
interest in the monument began in the 17th century and has continued
Top ten places of interest nearby
Avebury stone circle is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Stones weigh up to 45 tonnes with massive earth works which are more
than 300 meters across. There may have been 247 standing stones and
400 making avenues outside the henge - truly impressive.
2) Silbury hill is the largest man made mound in Europe,
standing 130 ft high, covering 5 acres with a flat top of 100 ft across.
Silbury hill remains a complete mystery.
3) West Kennet long barrow is the most famous ancient
burial chamber. The barrow contains five lined burial chambers part
of a 100 structure. The barrow is also haunted by a ferocious hound.
Stourhead house and Garden is an outstanding example of the
English landscape style of garden. Famous for its large collection of
exotic trees, magnificent vistas with carefully placed classical temples.
5) Longleat House set within 900 acres of landscaped
grounds, the house is regarded as one of the greatest examples of Elizabethan
architecture in Britain. The house was built by Sir John Thynne from
1568 and is the current home of the 7th Marques of Bath. Longleat also
feature the UK's first animal safari park, see Lions, Tigers and Bears!
Salisbury Cathedral is one of Europe's greatest medieval buildings.
The spire reaches 404 ft and surely must be described as a medieval
sky scraper. Built in style of architecture in a just over 38 years
(1220-1258), which is remarkable for the period. Churches of this magnitude
usually take hundreds of years and is testament to the power of the
church in the 13th century. See one of the four original copies of the
Magna Carta in the chapter house. The chapter house features a 14th
century frieze of exceptional quality detailing the story of the old
testament. The Cathedral close is also one of the most beautiful in
7) Heale Gardens is the first winner of the Christies/hha
garden of the year award. The garden provides a wonderfully varied collection
of plants, shrubs and roses. In January witness great drifts of snowdrops.
The garden is lovely in spring and autumn is the water garden surrounding
an authentic Japanese tea house.
8) Wilton House has been the ancestral home of the
earl of Pembroke for 450 years. The house was rebuilt in the 17th century
and feature the amazing single and double cube rooms. The house also
contains one of the finest art collections in Europe, with over 230
original paintings. The collection includes work by Van Dyck, Rubens
and sir Joshua Reynolds. The garden here are also wonderful, see the
old English rose garden, Water and Cloister garden.
9) Mompesson House is an elegant 18th century house
in Salisbury Cathedral close. Featured in the award -winning film
Sense and Sensibility. The house has fine plaster work and good
quality period furniture the house also contains the Turnball collection
of 18th century drinking glasses.
10) Corsham Court is an Elizabethan house of 1582 and
was bought by Paul Methuen in the mid 18th century, to house a collection
of 16th and 17th century Italian and Flemish master paintings and statuary.
Woner through the elegant state rooms and marvel at the Chippendale
furniture, bronzes and paintings by Rubens. The gardens include a lily
pool, a rose garden and herbaceous borders.