As a tourist driving down the A34 if you blink you will miss it, but Amesbury is one of Wiltshires smaller towns which is rich in history. It is the closest town to Stonehenge, being just 2 miles away and also the home of Sarum Castle and Woodhenge.
Although nobody can be 100% specific, the monument is said to date back to around 3100 BC and was built in three stages over 2 millennia. Unfortunately due to previous damage the stones are now cordoned off, so although visitors are welcome, they are unable to actually touch and walk amongst the stones.
Initially Stonehenge was just a large earthwork, construction was approximately 3100 BC, at this time it was just an earthwork, made up of a ditch, mound and some holes in the ground, however it appears to have soon been abandoned and then left for around 1000 years. Then around 2150 BC the 82 blue stones were hauled to the site from Wales, they are said to have travelled for 240 miles both dragged overland on wooden rollers and floated down rivers on rafts, these stones were then erected on the site in a double (but incomplete) circle formation and the start of the avenue was also begun. At around 2000 BC the third phase sees the introduction of the enormous Sarsen stones, which most likely came from the Marlborough downs approximately 25 miles away, whilst they did not travel the same distance, some of these are estimated to weigh in at 50 tons! Finally around 1500 BC some of the smaller stones were re-arranged to create the formation we still see today.
Old Sarum Castle
Salisbury was not always where it now stands, Old Sarum is the original site with it’s impressive hill fort still standing. This was constructed by the Celts in the iron age and named Sorviadum, however it was taken by the romans and several roman roads converge on the site to this day. Parts of the Doomsday book were written at this site, only in 1219 when the bishop moved the cathedral to the current site of Salisbury did the emphasis begin to move. It is also a notable rotten borough, and numerous rich would buy the site to gain a seat in parliament. Now it is of course derelict but well maintained standing on the outskirts of Amesbury and one of wiltshires many tourist attractions.
Only discovered in 1928 when excavated after being spotted by a military pilot as the flew over the site, one of the most impressive tourist attractions is wood henge, it is one of the UK’s most recent significant discoveries. It’s 76 metres in diameter and probably used to consist of ditches, banks and wooden posts, most of this has now been lost but markers have now been put in their place.
If you are planning to visit the area it’s worth a look at the visit wiltshire website, they have information about all the local towns including Amesbury which is the closest, plus information on accommodation in Amesbury from hotels to B&B’s.