At home I’m not far from Stonehenge. One of the great things about driving past it on the way back to London, is seeing all the rock huggers. (Though the BEST place for seeing them is Avebury).
I really do NOT understand the need to hug rocks! Or stand around the rock in a circle holding hands. Why bother playing guitar to it? The rock does not have ears. Maybe you could get away with telling the rock those dark secrets, but that’s just a bit weird. Pose with the rock for your engagement photos if you like, but the rocks aren’t the prettiest backdrop. Do yoga with them if that floats your boat, I’m sure the rocks won’t mind.
Maybe I’m just being mean? There’s lots of info out there and stories to suggest the stones have a spiritual presence; ghostly sightings and ‘weird feelings’ also seem to be common. But I find it hard to believe in any of that malarkey…
Recently (ok not so recently, maybe 2-3 years ago), the road that went straight past (a few metres) beside Stonehenge was closed and the National Trust have spent a lot of time building a whopping visitor centre and changing the way you can visit Stonehenge.
The mothership and I decided to give the ‘new’ Stonehenge a whirl.
Naturally, we went straight to the gift shop. I recommend the new range of ‘Stonehenge wine’ in flavours like strawberry and plum, pretty niche. A nice quirky gift to show how cultured you are that you’ve been to visit Stonehenge. We also bought some ‘chocolate rocks’, there’s an endless selection of Stonehenge branded odds and ends (I didn’t want to explicitly say tat…). You could even treat yourself for a Stonehenge hoodie, a steal at £60! I love looking at things like this, very easily entertained.
As expected, there’s a similarily big cafe. The food didn’t look very nice, it’s the hub for the coach loads of tourists arriving, and only uncomfortable plastic chairs and tables. I’d suggest bringing your own chocolate and only popping in to top up your supply, or to pick up some drinks to carry round with you.
Once outside, various huts built in the traditional way using local mud/clay have been constructed. Fantastic if you fancy your hand at some medieval reenactment.
There isn’t much to see inside them, but I did spot a little mouse in the straw roof of one.
In a funny way you could imagine them feeling quite cosy with the fire going and some sausages cooking on top of it. It wouldn’t surprise me if those huts soon become a budding Air BnB business for Stonehenge.
Then, you have a special ticket (the whole operation is strictly managed!) to let you hop aboard the Stonehenge-express! Or walk if you’d prefer.
There they are! They look a lot nicer on a sunny day, and with better photography skills…
Strangely, you’re no longer allowed within a 15 metre radius of the scared stones. I’m not sure why, as during the summer solstice you’re allowed to do whatever you like! See here for some terrific Daily Mail photos of rock shenanigans at its finest.
Anyway, being totally hardcore. I jumped over the 10cm rope warning people ‘no entry’ and ran to touch a stone. Afterwards, the stone wardens came over to give me a telling off.
I can see why the stones are cordoned off, apparently people used to bring chisels and chip off some of the stone to keep a little bit of ‘one of the seven wonders of the world’ for themselves. Also it doesn’t make a good photo when you have lots of hippies in the way.
*On the left I’m posing (on one leg – not sure why) with my Stonehenge cup of tea and being a badass on the naughty side of the rope.
At the visitor centre, we weren’t allowed in with hot drinks. Not that there was anything to spill them on, everything was either written on the wall or in a glass case?! It seemed like quite unnecessarily strict door policing. Despite sterling attempts to charm him by my coffee-loving Mother, he was undeterred. Customer service could be better.
There isn’t much to look at in the visitor centre, you first walk in to a kind of bubble room, with a dome ceiling showing repeated film of the stones from sunrise to sunset. It was pretty, but didn’t didn’t really have the ‘wow’ factor I think it was supposed to.
The visitor centre is quite small compared to the size of the building as a whole and you can comfortably spend a maximum of about 20-30 mins there. There are some great quotes and it’s interesting reading people’s thinking over the years about the purpose of the peculiar rock circle.
However, it was a cold day and Mummy had heard enough about stones for the day, choosing to cradle the strawberry wine instead.
I’m looking forward to writing an updated review soon!