Approximately 40 minutes drive time away from By the Byre is the world renowned stone circle, Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the UK's most popular attractions.
To help others either visiting or staying on their self catering holidays in Somerset we've provided more details below plus some of Sally's own "insider" top tips when it comes to visiting Stonehenge!
If you’re looking to visit Stonehenge and experience its ancient mysteries during your stay then we say the best time to go is during the week; typically Mondays to Thursdays. In our experience Stonehenge is much busier on a Summer afternoon, Fridays and Saturdays with weekend visitors and during the school holidays. If the weather forecast looks poor - typically strong winds and heavy rain - then you may find you have the stones pretty much to yourself.
The best time to visit Stonehenge during the day is generally before 11am - the number of people arriving from further afield, some driving down from London, increases after this time and by mid afternoon the place can be heaving.
Let’s just say it costs more than you might think to gain admission to Stonehenge! Ticket prices for entrance vary dependent on the time of day (off peak/standard/peak), your age, whether you booked online or showed up at the visitor centre and if you’re part of a larger group taking advantage of a family ticket.
Each ticket gives the holder access to Stonehenge itself, the shuttle over to it and the amazing Visitor Centre.
Prices for tickets to Stonehenge are as follows (correct as at 2023):
Peak: £29 each
Standard: £24 each
Off-Peak: £22 each
Child 5 to 17 Years
Peak: £18.80 each
Standard: £14.40 each
Off-Peak: £13.20 each
Child under 5:
Peak: £26 each
Standard: £21.60 each
Off-Peak: £19.80 each
Family Ticket - 2 Adults, 3 Children:
Peak: £76 per family
Standard: £62.40 per family
Off-Peak: £57.80 per family
Family Ticket 2 - 1 Adult, 3 Children:
Peak: £47 per family
Standard: £38.40 per family
Off-Peak: £35.20 per family
You can gain access to Stonehenge's café and gift shop for free if you’re not worried about seeing the standing stones up close and personal. We’d really recommend against this though!
If you want to get near the Stonehenge circle “for free” then you’ll have to be a paid up member of English Heritage, who happen to be the owners of Stonehenge. You will need to book a time slot to visit with your membership.
There are public footpaths you can use that bring you to Stonehenge and allow you closer for free - more details here though do note you'll have to walk across a number of open fields so wearing stout footwear is a must.
Unless you’re parking in off-peak or standard time periods, you’ll find you have to pay for parking your car in Peak times. Happily you can get a full refund on your parking if you purchase tickets to gain entry to Stonehenge.
The stones are a mile or so away from the car park and the visitor centre, but don’t fret you’ll find a free and convenient shuttle bus running throughout the day to take the strain for you, but it is possible to walk up to them too.
It can get pretty busy on the A303 that runs alongside Stonehenge and traffic can end up crawling in both directions so we’d recommend getting into the area fairly early and avoiding the worst of it.
Local roads and the A303 on Friday afternoons – certainly in the summer months – can easilky get snarled up so leave plenty of time to get to Stonehenge just in case there are traffic problems.
Stonehenge sits 331 feet above sea level but occupies an exposed open spot so can be subject to the vagaries of the great British weather and wind, lowering the average temperature. We’d recommend – unless it’s a particularly hot summer day – you take some clothing layers to help keep out the cold. Don’t forget to take a spare waterproof jacket just in case it rains too.
If you want more precise weather forecasts at Stonehenge then we suggest trying the following websites to help you:
Here’s 10 fun facts about Stonehenge you might like to know about before you go:
We've attempted to answer the frequently asked questions our visitors ask us about Stonehenge. If you have a question that needs answering and it isn't below do get in touch and we will do our best to help you.
You wouldn’t think a “pile of stones” would hold such significance but they have helped us understand how ceremonies and burials took place in Neolithic and Bronze Age times. Being likely the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, it also offers insights into how Stone Age technology and tools may have been used.
It would probably be better to ask when Stonehenge was first “officially” excavated AND findings recorded as its lintelled stone circle has stood out on the Wiltshire landscape since at least 2500 BC.
Records show Stonehenge was excavated in the 1620s on the instructions of King James I, followed by further excavations in the 18th and 19th century (which corrected the belief that Stonehenge was built by the Romans!)
It does always surprise me that no ancient (or not so ancient!) locals ever came along and hacked the stones to pieces to use to create walls or buildings of their own, as seems to have befallen many other British ancient antiquities.
No, you cannot and must not.
Due to concerns of erosion a rope barrier encircles the henge keeping the majority of visitors away and out of reach of the megaliths. Some visitors are lucky enough to gain special access within the inner circle on certain days – like Summer and Winter Solstice - but you are asked to not touch, sit or stand on the stones.
Outer access allows you to come as close as a few feet to the stones but with inner access you are right next to them – both experiences though are completely awe inspiring.
Due to Mesolithic hunter gatherers not keeping records we can’t say for certain what purpose Stonehenge was built for. It is likely the Wiltshire Chalk Downs it sits on would have had far less trees, when the rest of the British Isles was covered in dense forest. This would have allowed people to get a better view of the sun, the stars and the moon, so it’s main purpose – it is thought - would have been as an astronomical calendar to help mark the seasons. Stonehenge is also orientated with sunrise at the Summer Solstice and sunset at the Winter Solstice which further serves to back up this theory.
Stonehenge can be found on the southern edge of Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire. Easily seen from the main A303 road, you’ll find it located west of the town of Amesbury and north of the City of Salisbury. The iconic circle is easily reachable from Bath, Frome or London though vehicle traffic can be heavy in peak periods.
It’s old. Very, very old, that’s for sure!
The first evidence of human history at Stonehenge goes as far back as 7000BC (9000 years ago, not long after the end of the Ice Age) with evidence showing 3 wooden tree trunks were raised close to where the original stones were ultimately positioned.
Around 5000 years ago the first stones – called Bluestone boulders - were brought to the site, having been quarried and then dragged from the Preseli Hills, 210 miles away in South West Wales.
Around 2500 years, larger stones – called Sarsen stones – were brought in from the Marlborough Downs which is around 22 miles to the north. Each stone is likely to have needed a minimum of 200 people to move them and historians believe it would have taken many years to clear a route and bring them to the area. These “sarsen stones” are what gives Stonehenge its world-famous silhouette.
Due to the complexities of constructing Stonehenge, it had to be built and repositioned in several stages over a period of a thousand years. Even in modern times it would be a serious understanding, so for Stone Age hunters to achieve this without modern machinery or tools makes it even more of a magnificent undertaking. Awe inspiring really!
Stones would have been dragged across land for many miles, probably via wooden logs or on sleds greased to allow easier manoeuvring over rough ground.
Once on site, stone age engineers would have had to use counter-weights and dig pits, levering the stones up a bank and drop inside and then backfill with rubble. Someone at that time sat down and worked this out without being able to record their thoughts. An incredible achievement.
For more information on how we think Stonehenge was constructed this page below takes some beating!
During the medieval period through to the Victorian era many people assumed it was the Romans that had constructed Stonehenge. With the marvels of modern technology, archaeologists now know it was constructed by early Mesolithic hunter gatherers who, due to their nomadic ways, left very little trace of their activities. It just adds to the mystery of it all…
Regarded around the world as one of the most famous of British icons, Stonehenge is recognised as one of the most sophisticated prehistory masterpieces in the world. To this today it is the only surviving example of a lintelled stone circle.
Not only that, it has also given up evidence that shows it was one of the largest cremation cemeteries ever in Neolithic Britain, placing it at the very leading edge of modern archaeology techniques.
The inner circle stones are around 20 feet tall, though one is about 30 feet tall. The outer stones are slightly smaller at 13 feet tall.
Something to note is that the standing stones were made slightly wider at the top which alters their appearance when viewed from below.
To make things easier we've provided a couple of maps below for people to look at before visiting Stonehenge. Zoom in on the map below to get more detail.
You can virtually explore Stonehenge via Google Earth too - Google also helpfully offers a highly immersive look via its Art and Culture section.
Once you're physically at this historical landmark we'd say it's best to use maps from the Visitor Centre to help you get around (though its fairly simple to be honest).
After all that walking - certainly if you decline to take the bus you might want to find a pub or restaurant near Stonehenge to help you refuel. A few you might like to check out are as follows:
If you're heading back north after your trip then why not check out Country Pubs near Frome blog post? We've got a good dozen for you to check out.
Living fairly close by I've taken the kids and visiting friends and family to Stonehenge on a good number of occasions and along the way I've picked up some "insider" tips that you might find quite useful:
To find out more why not watch this fascinating 360 video from English Heritage and find out more about this awe inspiring ancient monument?
Dan Snow also presents an hour long episode on the mysteries of Stonehenge, it's worth a watch.
With over 1 million visitors a year and it being one of the most popular attractions in the UK it comes as no surprise Stonehenge has its own Instgram page!
View this post on Instagram
Hopefully my detailed visitors guide to Stonehenge has given you enough details to make the trip (it's worth it) but if you think there is something missing do let me know and I'll look to add it.
If ancient history is your thing then Somerset has plenty of ancient Iron Age sites too for you to explore.
After all that you might just want to rest and relax, over the county border, in some of the best country pubs in Somerset!