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stonehenge visitor centreI was so very pleased to have visited the New Stonehenge Visitor Centre this week. Pleased because, at long last, this world heritage site now has a world-class visitor centre befitting its status. Increasing numbers of people want to come and discover the meanings behind Stonehenge and learn about the civilisation that built it. This is more and more true as we learn more about this amazing site and its surroundings.

The 27 million pound project features an exhibition of 250 prehistoric artefacts of museum quality and an audio-visual experience like non-other. All the artefacts have been discovered on the site of Stonehenge itself, or at least nearby on neighbouring historical sites. Much of the display has never been seen outside of the scientific community.

stonehenge tours of englandOne of the highlights of the new exhibition was a glimpse 5000 years into our past with a very life-like reconstruction of an early Neolithic man’s face. The re-construction was based on a near-complete skeleton found buried in a ‘long barrow’ burial site near Stonehenge.

Other exhibits include two rare 14th Century manuscripts, Roman coins and jewellery, and early surveying equipment.

The new shop is more spacious than before and there is a good quality indoor cafeteria.
The visitor is treated to a wonderful audio-visual experience explaining the development of the ‘henge’ over the last five millennia. Then the new road train service takes you on a 2km ride to the stones themselves.

stonehenge tourAnother part of the project for this year is the re-creation of a series of neolithic huts within the new visitor complex. I was most fortunate to meet one of the highly skilled craftsmen who are helping to demonstrate how these people lived. The nearby site of Durrington Walls, one of the many neolithic sites in the area, has provided much of the archaeological evidence that supports the project.

We have a variety of exciting tours in this geographical area, including the amazing Stonehenge. This compliments well with other historically interesting places such as Windsor, Salisbury or Bath. However, for visitors wanting to uncover and delve into other aspects of neolithic Britain, including burial mounds, the mysterious Cursus and the village of Avebury, we can also visit Stonehenge and explore the surrounding areas.

Visit the English Heritage web site for Stonehenge

As an art historian I am probably guilty of over criticism of gallery curating, none more so than at Tate Britain during and since its completed redevelopment last year. To be frank I have not enjoyed my visits there for some considerable time. Today I visited the Late Turner exhibition, which as I expected, I… Continue Reading

I recently had occasion to visit Blenheim Palace with a small family group unaware of a current exhibition there by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. It first registered with me as I entered the great hall where I was confronted with an overlarge chandelier, and thinking ‘I don’t remember seeing that here before”.… Continue Reading

Those of you in the USA who, like me, are Downton Abbey fans, will be eagerly anticipating viewing the new series which begins after Christmas. In Britain we have seen the new season, creating a greater desire in the home market to visit Highclere Castle this summer, where much of the filming is done. The… Continue Reading

With all the excitement concerning the art installation of the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London now past, I decided to go on a little pilgrimage of my own to see other ‘installations’ commemorating the First World War. I have witnessed the development of the poppy installation almost from day one on my frequent… Continue Reading