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Stonehenge: England’s ancient and mysterious heritage

Visitors use an audio guide as they walk the path around Stonehenge.
Visitors use an audio guide as they walk the path around Stonehenge.Leslee Haralson

The ancient sarsen stones of Stonehenge are one of the most famous and visited sites England. Towering nearly 25 feet above the grassy earth in their circular formation, the stones were somehow transported with immense effort to their current location for purposes not entirely clear. The mystery is fascinating, the stones are captivating.

Located about two and a half hours outside London in the Wiltshire district, just off the main highway atop a rolling pastoral hill of the Salisbury Plain, sits the Stonehenge monument. A peaceful country setting with flocks of sheep as the nearest neighbor. Fragile red poppies grow wild on the side of the road with occasional fields almost completely crimson with the flower.

Archealogist opinion varies on details surrounding the megalith, but it is generally agreed the structure was started around 3000 BC and completed over a course of hundreds of years by different groups of people. Suffice it to say it was an enormous undertaking.

The formation is made up of two types of stones: the outer ring is composed of sarsen stones, a sandstone from the Marlborough Downs nearby, the second, bluestones, are considered the most important to the feature and were brought from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, 140 miles away. The distance for the time period is staggering and scientists are still not sure how the feat was accomplished.

Parking is in an adjacent field not far from roaming sheep. Facilities on location include restrooms, a gift shop, and several food kiosks. It is possible to join tour groups from London or Salisbury. These tours usually include Stonehenge and Bath, some include Stratford-upon-Avon. TIP: Salisbury is a quaint town with an amazing cathedral, beautiful streets, and great shops. It is only about 10 miles from Stonehenge and worth a visit.

The entrance fee to Stonehenge is eight pounds sterling which includes an audio guide and map to the site. Numbered signs around the site guide visitors in getting information about specific stones in the formation.

Due to past vandalism guests are no longer allowed to roam among the towering rocks, but instead stay on a circular path some distance away from the sarsens. Even from several yards away it is an impressive sight. Modern-day druids visit Stonehenge and have permission to use the site for rituals, so it is possible if not likely, to interact with colorful characters on a visit to Stonehenge.

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