STONEHENGE is one of Britain’s most recognisable landmarks, attracting a huge flock of tourists every year. But where are the legendary standing stone
STONEHENGE is one of Britain’s most recognisable landmarks, attracting a huge flock of tourists every year.
But where are the legendary standing stones and – more importantly – who put them there? Here’s all we know…
Getty Images Stonehenge is one of the most recognisable and Instagrammed landmarks spots in Britain, but do you know its history?
What is Stonehenge?
Instantly recognisable from the surrounding roads, Stonehenge is made up of a ring of standing stones – each of which are around 13ft (4.1 metres) high, 6ft 11in (2.1m) wide and weighing 25 tons.
The stones are set within a group of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, as well as several hundred burial mounds.
Stonehenge was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, and is one of the most Instagrammed tourist attractions in Britain.
In 1915, wealthy Shrewton resident Sir Cecil Chubb became Stonehenge’s last private owner when he bought the site for £6,600. It is now estimated to be worth a huge £51 million.
He formally handed it over to the state three years later, with a number of conditions.
The site is managed by English Heritage – and is the third best view in Britain, according to a recent poll.
Getty Images Sunrise at Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Where is Stonehenge and how can I visit?
Stonehenge is located near Amesbury, in Wiltshire.
If you don’t fancy driving, the easiest way to travel is to get a train to Salisbury and take The Stonehenge Tour bus from there.
The site is a two-and-a-half hour drive from London, and an hour from Bath.
Adult tickets cost £16.50, concessions cost £14.90, kids cost £9.90 and members can visit for free – but must book online in advance to do so.
Anyone else can turn up and pay on the day.
What is the history of Stonehenge?
Stonehenge was built in three stages, with some parts being a huge 5,000 years old.
The outer bank of Stonehenge was made in around 3000 BC, while the stone settings were built in 2500 BC.
Hundreds of people helped to construct the landmark – transporting the stones from the nearby Marlborough Downs and Preseli Hills, in south-west Wales.
The stones were then worked into shape using sarsen and flint hammerstones.
Reuters Hundreds of people gather for dawn on the Summer Solstice 2017
Today, Stonehenge is linked to the druids – and many people wrongly think they built the structure.
However, archaeologists believe it was constructed by three groups – the Neolithics, the Beaker people and the Wessex Peoples – who are said to have finalised the site into what we see today.
The latest theory, advanced by archaeologist and writer Mike Pitts, is that the rocks were there “millions of years before humans arrived”.
His theory, which was published in British Archaeology, suggest that the rocks’ alignment with the solstice sun was merely a coincidence.
It was this accidental alignment that got the boulders noticed by early Brits, who then decided to build it up into a proper monument.
What happens during the Winter Solstice Festival?
Every year, hundreds of people gather at Stonehenge for The Winter Solstice, which falls around December 21.
It is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
On the solstice, people gather at Stonehenge in the early morning to watch the sun rise over the stones.
People also gather at Stonehenge on the eve of Midsumer’s Day, to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
At dawn on the longest day of the summer – which normally falls between June 20 and 22 – pagans, druids and other spectators gather to celebrate and watch the sunrise.
Spring Equinox, which falls around March 20, is also marked at the historic site.