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.
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
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.
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.
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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Thursday 9th of January 2014
Hello Alyson, the UK part of your trip sounds exhausting but very rewarding. We once ended up in Hanging Rock, Victoria, about ten years ago (one of the kids desperately needed to poo...) and as we had to pay to get in, we decided to have a look around, and finally spend the day there! It defenitely was our most expensive poo ever - but we had the most wonderful day there!
Thursday 9th of January 2014
Your in our neck of the woods! It really reminds me that we need to get out and make the most of the wonders on our doorstep! I hope the rest of your time here is as useful and fun x
Thursday 9th of January 2014
"We just wanted to...scan a few stones with sonic screwdrivers." Awesome
How old were the boys when they started watching the Doctor? My 6 yr old has only watched one -- in the library with the skeletons in space suits. She said, "who turned off the lights" to me for weeks. =)
Saturday 11th of January 2014
I think they've actually watched it since birth Suzi. Ollie has been a huge fan for the last couple of years at least, he's 7 now. I've never hidden it from them if I was watching. I really encourage watching quality TV over the endless dross on the kids' channels these days. I'm not a big TV fan Doctor Who is about the only thing I watch, so it's a bit of an event in our house. They've never been scared by it, other than weeping angels for Dylan, probably because I always talk about actors, building suspense, computer animation, all those things. But weeping angels are creepy!