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Stonehenge, Avebury and Prehistoric Britain

22/09/2020 by James Long

Stonehenge would probably be pretty high on any non-Brit tourist’s wish list. Some of us get a bit blase about our history in Britain, we’re forever tripping over castles, stately homes and prehistoric monoliths. I must have driven past Stonehenge 20 times in my life and never, ever, stopped. Not because I don’t think it’s cool, just because it’s kinda normal to me.

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Yesterday I did, we pulled off the busy main road ( A303) to take a couple of quick photos.

The kids were beside themselves with excitement to finally see Stonehenge. Why? Because of Doctor Who!

The Pandorica was buried under Britain’s favourite stone circle. I’ve mentioned before that Doctor Who is a fantastic educational jumping off point, if a child is interested in something, they’re more than happy to learn more about it.

Stonehenge Has a New Visitors’ Centre

English Heritage opened the new visitors centre just before Christmas. From February 1st ( some years ago, please check current situation for yourself) you will have to book a time slot in advance, you can’t just turn up to visit Stonehenge. One of the roads that ran beside Stonehenge is now closed, so it’s tricky to get a decent view, the road we stopped on (A303) was very fast-moving and it was a bit of a dangerous maneuver

Admission to the visitor centre for our family of 4 would have cost us just under $80 AU. We haven’t got that sort of cash to splash, so we happily saw what we needed to see and then came back to our ( rather lovely) hotel and watched films about prehistoric standing stones on You Tube instead. Cheap or frugal, whatever you want to call it, it works for us!

I’ve seen the new visitors centre on TV, it does look good, but we’ll save it for a trip with a bigger budget.

Want To Touch a Prehistoric Stone? Try Avebury

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Kids being the touchy feely creatures they are, I knew they’d want to actually touch one of these amazing old stones. The best place to do that was Avebury, about an hour up the road.

Avebury doesn’t have an admission fee for the stones themselves, they’re clustered in the centre of Avebury village and through the surrounding fields.

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You will have to pay for car parking (about $8 AU), the museum has a charge too. We just wanted to have a bit of a walk and scan a few stones with sonic screwdrivers, we weren’t bothered about the museum. We didn’t detect any alien lifeforms, you’re safe, don’t worry.

Avebury church England UK
St James’ Church Avebury

Other Strange and Interesting Sights in the Area

There is more to this corner of Britain than just Stonehenge, it’s a shame that many tourists miss seeing some of the other attractions.

From the Avebury car park you can see Silbury Hill, a huge man-made mound, again, about 5,000 years old.

This whole area is now famous for UFOs, crop circles and other interesting goings on. Sibury Hill is a bit of a UFO watching hot spot.

Woodhenge is roughly 2 miles from Stonehenge in Wiltshire. As the name suggests, it’s a henge, made of wood. Huge logs set in concentric circles. It dates from around 2,500 BC.

You’re also in the right area for the Oxfordshire and Wiltshire chalk horses. One, the Uffington Horse is around 3,000 years old, the others are relatively modern.

The Cerne Abbas Giant, a huge mystery figure carved into the chalk downs, is nearby in Dorset. Nobody really knows what it was for or who made it. We made a separate trip to Cerne Abbas from Bournemouth, by car.

So it was a big day yesterday. We were driving from a friend’s house in Norfolk, down to Bournemouth on the Dorset coast and we took in a few sights on the way. The learning going on here is quite phenomenal at the moment. The boys have been finding out about crop circles all morning on You Tube, another thing featured in Doctor Who. D just told me that the book he is reading features Stonehenge, it’s Stigg of the Dump, it’s amazing how things slot together to give a well rounded learning experience. I think we’re possibly getting more out of the UK than we did from our 6 months in Asia. We hope the USA continues the trend, only 8 more sleeps and we’re on that cruise ship. Stick with us!

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