Stonehenge

Here are a few images from our quick trip to Stonehenge and a little report.

I love seeing prehistoric sites! It’s really fascinating to me to imagine a society with the skills and wherewithal to build something grand and lasting — and yet we know almost nothing about them. I always wonder if their lives were very, very different from mine — or essentially the same. Did they get grumpy when they were hungry? Did they have leisure time? What was their concept of love and happiness?

Stonehenge didn’t disappoint. It’s old and big and mysterious. We learned that the current circle of stones is the third one that was built on that site — and that the site is older than the pyramids!

You can’t get really close and touch the stones, but you can get close enough for decent pictures. There is roped off path that takes you around the whole site and it provides some pretty spectacular views. If you’re dying to get up close and personal with the stones, Avebury is not too far. It’s another ancient stone circle that’s much bigger than Stonehenge, but far less touristy.

The tickets include a little handset-on-a-cord you can wear around your neck and hold up to your ear, which was great. But it was cold and windy! We wished we were wearing mittens and hats. Stonehenge is kind of in the middle of nowhere — just off the road and surrounded by fields of grazing sheep. The countryside couldn’t have been more charming.


Our trip was short. We played with the idea of visiting Stonehenge plus some other area sites, but really, it was more of an experiment to see if we really could take a decent trip to England on a Saturday+Sunday without missing work or school. Instead of doing more site-seeing we went straight from Stonehenge to the hotel so the kids could swim and go to a movie — in English! — which felt like a treat. We thought our little trip was a success! Next time, we’d really like to visit Bath, and see more of the English countryside.

How about you? Have you ever been to Stonehenge or another prehistoric site? Are you fascinated by them like me? Do you think weekend trips are worth the effort?

P.S. — Our visit to prehistoric caves.


58 thoughts on “Stonehenge”

  1. No little kids over here, which obviously makes it a lot easier, but we love taking weekend trips to other parts of the UK – it’s always nice to shake things up, and even just getting away and appreciating the prettiness of another town is surprisingly refreshing.

    It’s a couple of hours further, but I hope you’ll get the chance to visit other parts of the UK, too – North Wales is beautiful for walks, and Edinburgh is fabulous for the whole family. According to the Visit Britain adverts on at the moment, there are actually lots of discounts this year in non-London areas, to celebrate the year of the Jubilee AND the Olympics!

    Lola

  2. How fun! We visited Stonehenge in January (also on a cold and windy day!) and it was amazing. Did you have a chance to visit nearby Avebury? It’s another stone circle but unlike Stonehenge, you can actually get up close and walk among them. Awe inspiring! Here’s my post on it, if you want a peek for future trip planning purposes. I highly recommend going! Thanks for sharing your images of Stonehenge!
    http://scottgossip.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/hold-me-now.html

  3. I think visiting prehistoric sites or natural parks – anything that feels ancient – is so humbling. So many came before us and so many will come after us. I always leave with a sense of wanting to make the world a better place while I am here.

    BATH! I can’t wait. I finally got to go when I was 18 and I was over the moon to see the site of Northanger Abbey. Looking forward to the report of your future visit.

  4. Absolutely, weekend trips are worth it. Although I have to imagine the effort it takes to get your crew out of the house is probably more than what it takes my little family of 4:)

    Bath is amazing!! We lived in London from 2007-2009 and I constantly heard people raving about it. I honestly wasn’t sure it would live up to the hype but boy was I wrong. We did a day trip from West London…rode the train up and wandered all day. Bath has a glow about it….even on a gray day….everything is the most wonderful honey color!

  5. When I was a little girl my parents often stopped off at Stonehenge on the way back from family holidays in the West Country. In those far off days, long ago, you could not only go right up to the stones, but touch them and clamber over them! People even carved their names on them. Shocking really and it is a wonder that they ever survived such treatment. I think your family will really enjoy Bath. It is such a beautiful city! If you have the time to do one of the free, daily walking tours of the city, you will not be disappointed.

  6. Your kids are going to have great stories to tell when they grow up…all the places they’ve visited…that’s awesome.

  7. We lived in the UK for 4.5 years (we’re now back in Canada) and we loved doing short trips around the UK.

    I’ll second someone else’s suggestion of North Wales. Also, your family might love surfing in Cornwall (not as cold as you’d expect!).

    Also, exploring the amazing parks of London could keep you happy for ages: Hampstead Heath (ponds for swimming!), Kew Gardens, Richmond Park etc… One of the greenest cities on earth.

    I think you’ve already explored some of the many museums in London, right? Most are free and they are (obviously) world class.

  8. I visited Stonehenge many moons ago (mid-90’s ?) when you could walk in amongst the stones and imagine what strange ceremonies took place there. It was interesting to see how they lined up the stones with other nearby monuments (Avebury). Many other ancient sites around UK.

    I hope you get up to the Lake District and hike the hills (there are some circles there too). Postcard perfect.

  9. When I was 14 I took a trip to Europe (my only trip to Europe so far) and while staying in London we took a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. It’s so interesting seeing those ancient sites!

  10. I loved Stonehenge. I went by myself and it was such an eerie and lovely adventure. I had lunch afterward in Salisbury in a tiny pub that was built in the 1200s. It was such a good day. I think it was Valentines day and there weren’t many people about.

  11. Weekend trips are definitely worth it. I loved those as a kid: they have a wonderful impromptu feeling to them. Even now, it feels so great to just throw some necessities together and go exploring.

    I know what you mean about prehistoric sites. We have recently visited the Horseshoe Canyon in Utah with its breathtaking petroglyphs and I kept wondering what kind of people lived here and how they felt about their art and how it tied into their lives and… well, you know.

    Thank you for sharing!

  12. PS: Thought you might like to know that I visited those caves when I was just three years old, and I still remember them remarkably clearly. Now THAT’S leaving an impression!

  13. I did the semester abroad thing in college (Edinburgh), but I was never able to make it down to Stonehenge while I was there, which is a bummer. What a great impromptu trip!

    I love making little day or weekend trips like this in general: Going to new places where there’s so much to see, the tendency can be to try to pack too much in, and then I just end up feeling overwhelmed and rushed, like I didn’t actually get to enjoy any of it. Having some strict time limits forces me to focus on one or two smaller things, and it actually frees me up to really explore and enjoy them more — and the trip is that much more memorable for it.

    Hope you guys get to make more little visits like this one!

  14. As a family of four, including a prego mama, we went to Machu Picchu. It was so great and wouldn’t have been the same without my kiddos. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and they did too. My kids noticed things that I didn’t and I could really admire their curiosity in a way that was unique to vacation, as opposed to the every day.

  15. We visited last year on a trip to England. Didn’t know about Avebury, will put that on the list for next time :) It was also cold and windy (and a little rainy) when we were there last May.
    I absolutely think the weekend trips are worth it! Well, I only had once child and she is grown now so my weekend trip planning and executing is ridiculously easier than yours :)
    We also visited Bath, very interesting.

  16. I still don’t know how we got the hook up, but when I did London Study Abroad with BYU, we went after hours and we were allowed in between the rocks! It was awesome. They let us touch the rocks, too, and feel the different temperatures. It was us and a few practicing Druids (seriously).
    DO NOT miss Bath. The Roman bath is incredible and the rest of the town is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen with my own eyes!

  17. I love this, Stonehenge is one of those magical places where you just feel like something otherworldly was going on. If you make it to Ireland on one of your weekend trips, head to Newgrange. It is a series of amazing stone age passage tombs, you can climb on top and go inside some of the smaller ones. All from around the same period as Stonehenge. Amazing.

  18. I got to visit Stonehenge during college. I remember being fascinated at first that all the stones weren’t still standing. In my mind I had always pictured it as it had originally been built. I did enjoy seeing it and learning how the structure was most likely erected.
    Bath is beautiful and would not disappoint you. I would love to live there someday!

  19. When I went to Stonehenge in 2003 we found a tour site, Astra tours I think, that allowed us access after the park closed. I was able to stand within the circle, touch the stones (and I know that might not be a big thing but it was awesome to me) and take some great sunset shots through the stones. It was terrific!

  20. Clair McLaughlin

    Stonehenge is amazing, but I enjoyed Avebury more as you are able to actually touch the stones; and just imagining those hands that first placed those stones there and the amount of history they have seen was amazing for me!

  21. H i Gabrielle,
    If you are into prehistoric site there are an abundance of stone alignments in Bretagne which is just a few hours away from you. Check out the Carnac Alignments (Alignements de Menhirs de Carnac) in the Folf of Morbihan, Bretagne. The Asterix and sort of thing!
    Have fun exploring,
    Maxie

  22. I’ve been looking forward to your report and pictures from Stonehenge! Looks fascinating – and chilly! I love prehistoric sites too – this reminds me a little bit of one we visited in Ireland (Poulnabrone Dolmen). They really do spark the imagination, don’t they?

  23. I absolutely think weekend trips are worth the trouble! We visited Poulnabrone Domen in Ireland also. It is fascinating! Really, Europe is just so interesting as a whole because of how much older their countries are. I remember thinking that the castle we stayed in was older than the U.S.!

  24. I was lucky enough to visit Stonehenge (and Bath) in the late 80s, when you could still walk among the stones. I actually lived in England for a few years-it was a fabulous experience. Day trips to castles and museums were commonplace, as was hopping the train to London or a ferry to Belgium. Even our house was a converted building from the 1700s. Sigh.
    This was before I had children. Now I’m on a quest to move the whole family(all seven of us) to Europe. I’ve been avidly following your adventures!

  25. Our family lived in England for about 9 months. We spent the weekends visiting many of the historic sites. One thing I loved was the handheld recorders that allowed you to tour the venue at your leisure and pace. We had a wonderful time! And when we visited Stonehenge (early November) it looked just like your photos and it was soooo cold and windy. It made me think about the culture who built the henge and if enduring such cold and wind and gray and mist was a big part of their life.

  26. I live with a history buff and love ancient anything myself! I visited Stonehenge and Avebury with a close English friend of mine during my first trip overseas. I was just as amazed by Avebury as by Stonehenge. There is — or was — a fabulous vegetarian restaurant at Avebury called Stones. I bought their cookbook. I also went to Bath on the same trip. And Oxford. Loved it all. The countryside is so lovely.

  27. We were there 10 years ago around the same time (Easter) and have the same wind blown chilly look in our photos as do yours.

    Cute family!!

  28. wonderful photos of your lovely and extremely photogenic family! just looking at your photos gives me the shivers. not only because i remember how cold it was there but because a prehistoric site like that just leaves me in awe. and i like your wonderings about the people who lived there before. you are such a naturally curious person. here’s to more awe-inspiring travels!

  29. Susy Alarcon Arriaga

    I wonder if it’s ever warm at Stonehenge? We were there in late May & while it didn’t rain, it sure was blustery. It’s an amazing feat of strength and who knows what else? We stayed in Bath and enjoyed a half day in Salisbury – great cathedral there and a tour of a castle. And we managed to do all that in a weekend.
    Your photos brought back great memories. Thanks.

  30. Oh I wish we had stopped to see Stonehenge – seriously!!! I love the beautiful green countryside!!! You will love Bath – it is wonderful, we went there for a day a couple of years back: The abbey is beautiful, lots of pretty and exquisite shops… and of course the Roman Baths – which is a great kid friendly outing. My daughter was just four at the time and totally transfixed by the tour around the Baths!!! You can scroll down this post to read about Bath… (http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/03/19/what-to-do-between-london-and-wales) and would love to go back!!!

  31. Oh I wish I had read earlier you were going. I went to visit Stonehenge in 2005 and we were able to get inside and touch the stones! There is one tour company with inside access and it was totally worth it. So glad you got to see it! Definitely go back to Bath, it’s a town thy doesn’t disappoint!

  32. My husband is English so we’ve made a few trips across the pond. The first time I saw Stonehenge was through the rear window of our car on our way from London to Sherborne. That satisfied my desire to see Stonehenge. If you could still get close I might have changed my mind. We are visiting in June and are going to let the kids decide if we stop this time.

  33. Bath is wonderful, but I think York topped it for me. The city is surrounded by a stone wall that you can walk on, and there is even a tour of an old viking settlement under the current buildings that the kids would love. The cobbled streets, narrow roads and beautiful buildings took my breath away. I truly felt I was walking in the past.

  34. I visited Stonehenge with my family when I was in high school – but I didn’t appreciate it then because all I could think was that I was staring at a bunch of rocks! In hindsight, it’s a fascinating place.

    If you’re in the mood for a GREAT read about stone circles, I highly highly highly suggest Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s got history, romance, wit, kilts… and did I mention the dreamiest male character ever put into fiction? It’s the first book in a series. (Just a warning, this is not for your kids. :-) My grandmother read it after me – I was 18 – and she was a little horrified that I had been exposed to such descriptions!)

  35. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    Did Stonehenge in 84. You could indeed get up close. I agree, it was mysterious and wonderful.
    We were there at the Summer Solstice and there was a massive gathering of people there for religious reasons and many for just plain illegal debauchery. I actually saw a sign someone was holding that said Drugs That Way with an arrow. Loads of musicians and drunk people. It was a strange mix and I wondered how the pagans would possibly have any holy time in an environment like that.
    Yes! Go to Bath! Loved it.
    Someone else mentioned The Lakes District. If you want to know what being in a fairy garden might be like that is the place to be. It is lush and charming.
    So many places to go!

  36. I went to Stonehenge when I was in college and studying abroad. We were able to walk among the stones and touch them and all that. I loved it! I wonder why we could back then, but you can’t now?

    *this question could have been answered in the comments above, but I didn’t have time to read through them.

  37. When I was an Au pair in Switzerland, I went with the family to Egypt. We stayed in a beach resort area called Sharm El Sheik, but I had a day off there and flew with a group to Cairo. An amazing experience. I saw went to the Pyramids, but part of me didn’t enjoy it because I was constantly bombarded by men/boys trying to sell me things and get money from me. It was pretty out of control. I would walk 5 steps and another one of them would come to me. I just wanted to be by myself and take it all in! If i had known better I would have left my purse in the van, because they figured I had money since I had my bag with me. So sad how it’s become like that.

  38. Gabrielle – you guys should come to Oxford! You can get here on the train from London in an hour, it’s a very walkable (and beautiful) city, with loads to do and see. I’d be happy to play tour guide… Emma

  39. Loved Stonehenge: Went there in 1972 for the first time as a kid, where one could still touch the stones. And please don’t miss Bath, one of my brothers lives there if you need any handy tips..the Roman Baths are wonderful and they have a great audio guide system (like you used at Stonehenge) for Kids and adults. Also the fantastic Georgian terraces are great to see as well as the abbey, the pump room (more if you’re into Jane Austen) the other museums (there even also an American Museum……) And: If you need any tips for Berlin I’ve got a brother there as well…Grania (now from Hamburg)

  40. Stonehenge is amazing! When I visited on study abroad with BYU (10 years ago) we were lucky enough to get admission at sunset when the ticket office closed. The Druids were filming a movie among the stones and we were able to walk in between the stones – seemed like such a special opportunity.

    If you do make trips back to England, definitely hit up Bath. Prior Park is nearby with this beautiful palladian bridge and gorgeous views. A weekend stay on the shore in Whitby would be another great trip. There are abbey ruins on a cliff top overlooking the ocean. The beach has a rainbow row of beach houses. I’d love to reminisce through your photos if you make a trip there!

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