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18. The magic stones of Stonehenge

An old dream to discover the stones of Stonehenge, admired many times on social networks, but never approached, despite several stays not very far from them. This time we stopped, and the least we can say is that we didn't regret it! It was magical, really.

Route : 450 km and 5 hours drive from Grange-over-Sands to reach Stonehenge, mainly on expressways with 3 or 2 lanes of traffic. The kilometers are long, but the traffic is fluid, except near Birmingham where it is much denser.


Located in Wiltshire and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is one of the most visited megalithic sanctuaries in the world, with its alignment of standing stones with astronomical meanings still unexplained today.

In addition to a set of trilithons (giant menhirs 7 meters high), it includes many other remains, such as the Avenue, the Cursus, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and the largest concentration of burial mounds in Britain. These are witnesses to ceremonies and funerary rites dating from the Neolithic and the Bronze Age (3,700 to 1,600 BC). The whole thing is impressive and the number of sites discovered nearby testify to the sacred and important character of the place. The size of the stones and their organization accounts largely for its international reputation. It's simply breathtaking when Stonehenge jumps at you from the A303 road.

The large stones are made of sarsen sandstone and some weigh more than 35 tonnes. They come from the region, within a radius of 30 kilometers. The smallest, the blue stones, come from the Preseli Hills mountains, more than 240 kilometers away and can weigh up to 2 tonnes for the heaviest. Their transport, their shaping and the way in which the men of the time erected them is a feat.

What is also quite incredible is the degree of technicality at the time to hold such a building together. As can be seen in the images above, the stones were cut with a mortise and tenon system. According to the researchers, the site was remodeled several times and the stones, particularly the blue stones, were repeatedly moved.

Their alignment is not left to chance either. The stones are stacked in the axis of the sun during the summer and winter solstices.

The hypotheses on the motivations for the creation of such a building are as numerous as, for some, unusual. Among the most common, Stonehenge could be:

  • A place of worship, dedicated to the worship of the sun, due to the alignment of the stones (alignment on the axis of sunrise at the summer and winter solstices).

  • A place dedicated to funeral rites, many bodies having been burned and buried there.

  • A place for predicting and studying the planets, linked to the seasons and agriculture

  • A place of healing, the excavations having revealed that the skeletons found there came from very far away, some of them and were all suffering from illnesses or injuries.

  • A giant musical instrument, the blue stones of the henge seeming to sing when tapped.

What was it really? We will probably never know completely and that is what makes Stonehenge such a magical place.

Stonehenge is also a magnificent, ultra-modern reception area, with an exhibition on the remains found nearby and a moving 360-degree film which reconstructs the axis of the sun during the solstices and the stones in the different seasons. . You will also discover the reconstruction of an ancient prehistoric village.

Info : The parking lot is huge and allows access to large vehicles. Go first to reception to get your ticket, you can then board one of the shuttles, the site of the stones being 2 kilometers away. When you return, you can visit the museum. On site, you will find WC, a shop and self-service. The audio guides are in 10 languages and so is the site brochure.


The many monuments and mounds in the surrounding area are easily accessible on foot. It's best to plan a day to visit a few of them, as they are relatively remote. For our part, we started with the mounds of the Cursus, an astonishing ensemble, because they are relatively high and all aligned in the same axis, parallel to the Cursus of Stonehenge, a long strip of land in which the bodies were cremated at a older era.


We continued on to Woodhenge, an astonishing ensemble, even if it is a reconstruction. Spotted in 1925 using aerial photography, it was a circle of wooden piles, aligned in a manner similar to Stonehenge. The stakes were perhaps decorated or painted. Pottery and animal bones were discovered during the excavations, as well as the skeleton of a child in the center. For the trip, we cheated a little, we took the bikes.

Right next door, we stopped to admire the location of Durrington Walls, the world of the living (in opposition to Stonehenge, the world of the dead, made of stones which are durable over time), with its wooden houses, obviously since disappeared. a long time. We also passed near the Cuckoo flat stone, which would have been used for cremations and various rites.

Info : for the night, the best spot is to park on the path near Stonehenge. It is full of holes and slopes depending on the place, but admiring the sunrise over the stones is worth all the gold in the world. On this path, you will meet passing tourists, but also people who have settled permanently in makeshift shelters and old caravans, as if to benefit from the magical effect of the stones on health and illness. It just goes to show that Stonehenge still attracts.

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