Read Our Stonehenge Guide 2023
What is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is one of the world’s most recognisable and renowned prehistoric monuments. It originally consisted of a ring of giant stones (a henge), capped with more massive stones and set in a landscape of earthworks, including hundreds of burial mounds, sacred to the ancients. Archaeologists believe it was built in the late Neolithic Age around 3000 BC. Today the stones that remain standing on the site are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site and are one of the UK’s most visited tourist attractions, managed by the English Heritage organisation.
Where is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is in south-west England, situated on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, two miles to the west of the town of Amesbury and around 9 miles north-east of the city of Salisbury. It is easily accessed by car from the nearest major road, the A303 (the entrance is on the A334). The nearest railway station is in Salisbury, from where a dedicated Stonehenge bus connects to the monument.
Stonehenge stands proud in a flat, green chalk grassland plain in Wiltshire, England not far from the River Avon. The geographic coordinates of Stonehenge are 51.1789° N, 1.8262° W. The monument, managed by English Heritage, stands on 850 ha of land known as the Stonehenge Landscape which is owned by the National Trust.
The postcode for Stonehenge is SP4 7DE.
A minimum of two hours is recommended to make the most of a visit to Stonehenge. You’ll arrive at the English Heritage Visitor Centre, which is about a mile from the monument, and can spend some time picking up souvenir guides, audio guides and viewing the fascinating museum exhibitions and audio-visual presentations telling the history of Stonehenge. The visitor’s centre with spectacular views is also equipped with a spacious café, gift shop and toilets.
Outside the visitor’s centre you’ll find a collection of thatched Neolithic houses, recreated with authentic materials and techniques to demonstrate how people lived near Stonehenge 4,500 years ago.
Board the shuttle bus at the visitor’s centre to take you on the 10-minute ride to the stones, which you’ll see on the horizon as you approach. (You can walk if you prefer, or the bus will stop and let you walk half way if you require).
You can walk around the stone circle and marvel at this feat of historic engineering, soaking up the spiritual atmosphere.
Stonehenge is open most days of the year except for December 24 and 25, and for the summer solstice which is celebrated at Stonehenge on 20/21 June each year. Opening hours are generally 9.30am to 5pm, although during the height of summer (June to August) the monument stays open until 8pm.
Parking is available on the Stonehenge site outside the visitor centre, and is free for English Heritage members and those holding advanced booked tickets for Stonehenge. Parking tickets cost £5.00 and are available from ticket kiosks on the site. During peak busy periods there may be stewards on duty controlling access to the car park and tickets can be bought from them for cash only on entry. A visitor shuttle service operates between the car park and the monument itself – a journey of about 10 minutes.
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Entry to Stonehenge is organised on a timed ticket basis, and to be sure of getting in it’s wise to book tickets in advance on the English Heritage website. Only a few “walk-in” tickets are held in reserve each day. Online tickets also have a discounted price.
Although English Heritage and National Trust members can visit Stonehenge for free they must still hold tickets for a timed entry slot, and thus should also book in advance.
Current Stonehenge ticket prices are:
Without Gift Aid
With Gift Aid
Child (5-17 years)
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children)
Last admissions are two hours before closing time.
Stonehenge Summer Solstice
Every year thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun rise over the Heel Stone and shine onto the centre of the circle on June 21, the date of the Summer Solstice – meteorologically the first day of summer in the UK. It’s a ritual that has been repeated for thousands of years. Modern religious sects like Druids and Pagans along with thousands of other spiritual revellers and tourists celebrate the coming of summer in a festive atmosphere, dancing around the stones and worshiping the sun and mystique of the monument. It’s the only time of the year that English Heritage – guardians of Stonehenge – open the area in and around the stones to the public. It’s free to attend the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. The site opens at 7pm the night before, and closes at 8am the following morning (June 21). If you’re going you’re encouraged to use public transport, especially the shuttle service put on specially from Salisbury railway station.
Winter Solstice Stonehenge
Although the Summer Solstice is the event that draws the biggest crowds at Stonehenge, it is the Winter Solstice on December 22 that many believe the Neolithic builders of the monument aligned the megalithic stones most deliberately towards. When the sun rises on the shortest day of the year it falls precisely behind the Trilothon (two uprights topped with another slab), heralding the coming end to the dark, cold days of winter. Revellers are welcome to view the Winter Solstice sunrise at Stonehenge for free, with the monument field opening around 7.45am and closing at 10am (sunrise is usually just after 8am). If you plan to go, don’t forget it will be very chilly!
There is so much to see and do, you’ll never be stuck for ideas.
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