I 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.
One 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.
Another 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