Visiting the World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury
My son is loving his topic this year after a long anticipated return to school - the Stone Age! He is also turning 8 and sadly, is joining countless other children in 'Lockdown Birthdays'. So we decided to take him out for a birthday camp, and have hotdogs cooked on a stick and s'mores, take his telescope for some stargazing and the surprise bit for him was visiting Stonehenge and meeting his best friend there who was coming along for the camping trip.
Stonehenge was better than I remembered and had a good exhibition explaining how Stonehenge was built and the tools they would have used, and a 360 projection that puts you in the heart of Stonehenge as it would have been fully built and not the ruin we see today.
Afterwards you step outside to a real Stone Age dwellings and a very friendly and knowledgable man called David was showing our son all the tools that were made and what they were made out of and what they were used for. It was very informative. Then you take the 1.5 mile walk up to Stonehenge itself which never fails to amaze me when I see it. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the whole world, while Avebury (not too far away) is the largest.
Stonehenge is one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments in the world on account of the sheer size of its megaliths, the sophistication of its concentric plan and architectural design, the shaping of the stones - uniquely using both Wiltshire Sarsen Sandstone and Pembroke Bluestone - and the precision with which it was built.
We walk around it marvelling how these massive megaliths were transported and placed, particularly the lintels across the top. The are also a lot of bronze age barrows surrounding the site.
We then make our way to our campsite. We were staying nearby at the Stonehenge Campsite and Glamping. The site is lovely with good facilities, excellent shop serving fresh croissants in the morning and a pop up pizza tent (which we had to have alongside our hotdogs as they looked too good to miss). They certainly were worth it. The only slight drawback was the noise from the road and not a brilliant view, although lots of space and you can have your own fire pits, so definitely a brilliant overnighter. The next day we say goodbye to our friends and want to make the most of the beautiful weather we had today. We decided to continue our Stone Age theme by visiting Avebury (the largest stone circle in the world).
At Avebury, the massive Henge, containing the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world, and Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, demonstrate the outstanding engineering skills which were used to create masterpieces of earthen and megalithic architecture.
Silbury Hill, is the largest prehistoric mound in Europe. Built around 2400 BC, it stands 39.5 m high and comprises half a million tonnes of chalk. The purpose of this imposing, skilfully engineered monument remains obscure. For these reasons we chose to walk around Avebury village, around the henge there then down to Silbury Hill and back again on a loop. The stone circle in Avebury isn't as breathtaking as Stonehenge but it is much bigger and you can walk amongst the stones and touch them so it feels a bit more intimate and a more personal experience. There were all sorts of people there meditating, banging drums, singing it felt like a collective of souls connecting with nature and our historical past. Walking along the chalk path our eldest found some flint which he was excited to use to make tools with (who needs that Longleat ticket that I was looking at before realising they were shut anyway!). You then make your way down the stone avenue of West Kennet Avenue then turn right up Waden Hill, when you get to the top you will see the very impressive Silsbury Hill. It is impressive because it was man-made using only cattle bones. Its incredible the amount of manpower that went into that. After Silbury Hill you take a path that leads you straight back to the car park. We stopped off for some tea on the way home and then two very weary boys crashed out in the car. A surprisingly good weekend for the birthday boy! If you want to book your visit to Stonehenge visit: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge
If you want to go to Avebury and do the same walk we did, download it here https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/trails/around-silbury-hill (although we did the walk in reverse as we wanted to pick up some lunch for our picnic at the shop before hand).