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Stonehenge: Worth the Trip?

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Stonehenge is one of Britain’s (the world’s) most well-known icons, and is probably the one we know the least about. This prehistoric monument has had countless theories about how it was built, why it was built and when.  And the answers? Well, nobody really knows.

On my quest to discover more about my own country, Great Britain, this place clearly had to be on the list. But I’m afraid I’m going to let down my own hometown and say…it wasn’t my best tourist experience. Sorry.

The thing about these stones is that they have, surrounding them, a mysterious, almost mythical aura. Trying to imagine how on earth people thousands of years ago had the tools, knowledge, and strength to create this place boggles the mind. And the alignment with the stars and sun makes it all that much more fascinating. I think that a lot of times we imagine or assume that understanding and knowledge of the astrological calendar is something we have gained in the years AD. But places like Stonehenge remind us that there were people long before us who knew a lot more than we give them credit for.

Ideally, I really wanted to walk through the stones, touch them, and try to imagine how it all came about. Unfortunately, in regular visiting hours, this is no longer the experience you get. It was how it worked once upon a time, but now in the interest of protecting the stones from damage, the experience is very different. Visiting the stones involves walking in a big circle around a rope, several dozen yards away from the stones with a bunch of other tourists. Not the experience I wanted.

I was expecting the tourist crowds, naturally, and I did know about the rope, but it was still disappointing.

So my tip for visiting Stonehenge: book WAY in advance, and organise a special Stone Circle Access. You still won’t be allowed to touch the stones, but you’ll be in a limited group early in the morning, or in the evening outside of normal hours and you’ll get to stand in the centre of the stone circle. This is something I would love to do since it would make the whole experience more inspiring.

Or of course there’s always the druids. On winter and summer solstice every year, the druids come out to play at Stonehenge. The events are a lot more controlled now, again to protect the stones, but if you happen to be near Salisbury at that time of year it’s probably the best time to see Stonehenge “in action”.

Unfortunately, my timing meant I had the standard tourist experience of Stonehenge, and as much as I would love to recommend it, it’s hard to do so. However – this is one of the biggest icons we have in the world so perhaps it’s worth the far-away views simply to witness one of the world’s best mysteries. I’ll leave it up to you.

About the Author: Marianne McPhee writes for Go Girl, an online magazine about the global perspectives of adventurous, independent women. Read more articles by her and other Go Girls and connect with the community at 

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12 Replies to “Stonehenge: Worth the Trip?”

September 30, 2011
Thanks for the article. It's too bad you can't touch the stones, because I would really love to.
Linda Pohlman
October 22, 2011
Several years ago we took our sons to see Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circles, Dartmoor's Merrivale Stone Rows, and Spinster's Rock to name a few. We were thrilled up close and hands on, but still marveled behind the rope at Stonehenge's awesomeness. I had been enthrall to Stonehenge's mysteries since I was a child and imparted my enthusiasm to my boys. Even my engineer husband thought it was a remarkable experience. Sometimes it's what we bring to the travel experience that secures what we take away.
Roger Moore
December 12, 2011
Steve, They must have changed the policy shortly after our visit. I visited Stonehenge in 2009 and did the Stone Circle Access. My wife and daughter posed between two of them during our visit. I posted a link because we also visited Salisbury during the trip.
    December 13, 2011
    Hopefully they will bring the stone circle access back someday...
January 23, 2013
When I heard about the rope I did wonder what the experience would be like, like you sat it's just not the same anymore, sorry to hear it was disappointing.
    January 25, 2013
    Yeah maybe someday they will take it down again but doubtful...
February 5, 2013
We visited Stonehenge in September. I was less than thrilled about the experience. I was disappointed by the size and access to the stones. Several yards from the stones is the main road. I guess I just expected more than what was there.
    February 6, 2013
    Yeah we totally agree...
September 11, 2015
I'd suggest that if your time in the UK is in any way limited, give Stonehenge a miss. It's impressive because of what it represents, but the reality is rather bland and disappointing. I've lived in the UK most of my life and have visited Stonehenge once. I'm very unlikely to return, unless a foreign guest vigorously persuaded me. You're far better off to read some of the excellent monographs that explain the monument and to avoid the more wild-eyed mystical speculations.
September 27, 2015
Great post and i know that it has so many theories to why its out there. I am visiting England soon and I am ready go see it by myself.
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