Stonehenge: Is it Worth It?

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Like the Great Pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House, Stonehenge is one of those attractions that is immediately recognizable.

Mostly because there are so many photos of it floating around out there, and it's on a lot of people's “must-visit” lists.

Stonehenge

But why? Is Stonehenge actually worth the visit?

The mystery

Stonehenge is nothing more than a ring of large stones, many of which have toppled over and broken over the years. The real draw of the site is not the stones, but the mystery behind them – the fact that no one knows exactly how or why the ring was built in the first place.

Stonehenge

The site dates back to at least 2000 BC (though scientists can't really agree on that date, either), but the rest of its history is anybody's guess. Theories about how and why Stonehenge was built range from it being a religious site erected by the Druids to a work of Merlin of Arthurian legend. If it wasn't for this mystery, chances are this little ring of stones wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

Stonehenge

The size

When you see it in photos, Stonehenge looks pretty big; pretty impressive. But, in real life? Well let's just say that you're likely to hear “I thought it'd be bigger” (that'swhatshesaid) while you're walking around the site. The stones are quite tall, but by no means mammoth.

Stonehenge

The commercialization

Over the years, as Stonehenge has grown in popularity as a novelty site in England, it has also become highly commercialized. AKA very touristy.

Stonehenge

Today, you cannot get up close to the ring of stones for preservation's sake (and also for safety reasons, since they've decided to just let nature take its course and no longer reinforce the stones that are falling over).

You park at the visitor's center (with requisite cafe and gift shop) about a mile away, are bussed to the stones, and then are kept from getting to close by low ropes.

Stonehenge

The visitor's center IS much better these days than it used to be (there's a cool 360-degree video presentation inside that lets you feel like you're standing in the middle of the circle), but it's bound to be crowded with busloads of people day tripping to Stonehenge from London.

Stonehenge

If it's peace and tranquility you want while pondering the significance of a ring of standing stones, then Stonehenge probably isn't the site you want to visit (go to Avebury instead).

The verdict

So, considering the above, is Stonehenge worth a visit?

Well, believe it or not, I still think it is.

Stonehenge

The site does have a curious history, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's very easy to get to from London.

Plus it's just kind of cool to say you saw it in person.

However, I wouldn't recommend making a visit to Stonehenge the only motivation for a day trip from London. Pair it with Bath or Salisbury or another place of interest to make it worth your time. You'll be sorely disappointed if you drive all that way only to realize that you really only need about 30 minutes to fully experience this mysterious ring of stones.

Do YOU think Stonehenge is worth a visit?

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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61 Comments on “Stonehenge: Is it Worth It?

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  1. Stonehenge is a poetic experience, if you discover it for yourself.
    I am in love with Stonehenge,
    though not for any of the reasons that you often hear about.
    It is not a tourist destination to me
    It is a truly sacred poetic spot in the world,
    for those who can get there in the quiet and if you can manage to be near to it before many arrive,
    If the light, the situation, your imagination, and the stones can be what they are -in relation just to you
    you will experience the subtle power of Stonehenge and leave with something that will never leave you.
    Well, that’s what happened to me.

    I traveled to Scotland/England/Wales/Northern Ireland for my Honeymoon as well as to visit family August 2016 -October 2016.
    I took my Wife on a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge via a tour company. It was affordable and a small group.
    Stonehenge sits in a Military base so if you go be prepared for Military Ground Vehicle Traffic as well as Aircraft Multiple types of Helicopters loudly flying overhead. Military vehicles have the right of way on the roads and they do not stop. We witnessed several Civilian/Military run ins. Just as we received a warning by the tour staff and bus driver to have our seatbelts in case of possible collision. Which had recently occurred with a different tour company bus and a large armoured vehicle.
    We got there an hour before they started Tramming visitors from the visitors center to the Henge itself. The location was all ready extremely crowded dozens of tour buses and passenger cars. It took forever to get the Tram we actually just walked down the road to the Stones.
    It was too crowded and became a huge hassle with other visitors colliding repeatedly into you, interrupting your picture taking, it was like being caught in a flood of people exiting a U2 concert at a massive arena rock concert. Basically we initially it was a mad house. I’m 6’6 280lb Former Rugby player. I got hit in head with so many wayward selfie sticks I received more blows to my head in an hour then my entire university and professional Rugby career. I probably have Traumatic Brain Injury. It started to become a volatile situation so I grabbed my wife and bulldozed out of the mayhem and to the outer perimeter. There’s not much to see and the crowd thin quickly it went from Deluge of Clueless Rude people to spread out space conscious polite mannered individuals and respectful quiet aware groups.
    It was totally worth the visit, even with having swim upstream through the Mindless Ravenous Randomly Roaming Selfie-Stick Brandishing Zombie Hoard then the subsequent waiting in the sidelines for the Hoard to ramble on into Military Traffic.
    I have been back twice once with similar experiences and the final time with a expensive private tour which allowed the small group of us to see everything up close, hands on, lean on and touch anything. The Archaeologist that guided the group pointed out fading Runic language inscriptions carved into some of the stone. All in unusual spots, the theory that they currently believe is that those barely visible worn inscription are graffiti left behind by the builders or stone movers. Hilarious.

    Well worth a visit make a proper day out then go to Woodhenge at Durrington our children never heard of them followed by a trip to the Stones at Avebury where you can get pub lunch. Have a good day

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