All you need to know about Stonehenge in Wiltshire
What is it?
Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
It is a huge man-made circle of standing stones, built over hundreds of years. Nobody knows exactly why Stonehenge was built, but people probably gathered there for religious ceremonies.
Research shows that the site has continuously evolved over 10,000 years. The structure that we call Stonehenge was built between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago and was once part of a larger sacred landscape.
With over 10 million visitors a year, Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions
Where is it?
It stands on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, England and its giant stones can be seen from miles around.
There is a £27 million visitor centre, 1.5 miles from the stones, which opened in 2013. There is plenty of free parking and it is very nicely done.
Once you’ve got your tickets you can go into the new museum. Our children were encouraged to enter through a ‘magic door’ into a 360-degree video of Stonehenge in all weathers.
Our children loved pretending it was really snowing and it got them excited about the museum.
A 5,500-year-old skeleton and a timeline of Stonehenge proved the other most interesting items for our seven and three-year-old children in this museum.
Outside there are examples of how hard it was to move the huge stones and recreations of Neolithic Houses. You can go inside them to see how some of the earliest settlers lived.
Reaching the stones
You can walk but it is 1.5 miles and would take a long time with small children. Stonehenge put on regular buses, every five minutes, shuttling from the visitors centre to the stones and back.
Our three-year-old loved the bus ride and it made the experience more exciting for her. You can stop off half way and walk up to the stones if you prefer but in February it was easier for us to take the bus all the way.
Visitors are dropped off a few hundred yards away and then make their way up a wide path.
You can get within about 30 yards of the stones, there are a range of viewing points but on a busy day it can be a battle to find a clear spot to take a photo.
Part of the fun is seeing tourists from around the world posing for their snaps – we even found one American doing a handstand! There are information boards around the site, which are child-friendly.
The facilities, which also include a shop and busy cafe, are good. The museum, although small, is thoughtfully done and the 4,500 year old stones inspired all ages.
At £50, it isn’t a cheap way to spend a couple of hours but this is a child-friendly attraction.
It costs £50 for a family ticket to Stonehenge but it is free to English Heritage and National Trust in England members (not National Trust Scotland members) if booked in advance.
If you take into account that family membership of either is around £100 per year (National Trust £114, English Heritage £96) it is worth joining before you visit.
If you are paying on the day, £50 is quite a lot for what will probably only take a couple of hours – unless you are going for a long walk in the woods on site.
Food: Picnics are welcome and there is a cafe near the shop in the visitor centre.
Opening hours: Varies depending on the time of year. Entrance through timed tickets.
Cost: Entry costs £49.40 for a family. Adult entry is £19.00, child (5-15) is £11.40. Free entry for National Trust in England (not Scotland) and English Heritage members if booked in advance.
Best for: ages eight to 15
Time needed: Two hours
Access and restrictions: The main areas are accessible by wheelchair.
Address: Stonehenge, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE
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