Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Wiltshire weekend

Another chance to use my English heritage membership, this time it was Stonehenge while visiting family in Wiltshire. It was an early start on the Sunday, but even so the site was already swarming with foreign tourists

It was just as well that I didn't have to pay as you don't get much for your money. My earlier memories of the site were of wandering among the centre stones, now you can't get within 20m of them at the closest point. Apart from the audio guide there is no interpretative material at all.

It was much better wandering over the nearby tumuli and the cursus, which did have signboards up.

It was then onto the Westbury White Horse and nearby hill fort before returning for tea. Again a disappointment as the surface is all concrete, It was done in the late 50s so I must have been quite young when I last visited and remembered the rough stone finish and grass eye.

Our Monday return included a trip to Kenilworth, which must still be one of the most impressive castles in England and far better in terms of presentation than Stonehenge.

Part of the highlight was the new Tudor rose garden. quite impressive.


johnpreece said...

Stonehenge must be our greatest national disgrace. Why could we not have developed the site as a millenium project?

Drive off the dual caraigeway into a special underground carpark with top quality restaurants and toilets take a trolley car along underground tunnels through an interactive series of displays finally emerging into the ring of stones. walk around in a raised platform just out of reach of the stones.

Oh no! let's spend the money on a giant plastic tent that will be a derelict eyesore in five years time.

Oh, I am sorry, I seem to be ranting on your blog. May I just say , go to Avebury instead. Walk around as much as you like and quite a reasonable pub on site.

Mad Carew said...

My best memories of Stonehenge are wandering around inside too. Shame. Have to agree with John. Avebury is still a real experience (best done in the autumn when there are fewer people). Over here in Ireland the heritage people have done an excellent job with Newgrange - well worth the trip.

Fraxinus said...

Avebury is best the visitor experience is more 'organised' now with the Nat Trust in charge...the expensive sandwichs fund the site I think! Best seen on a spring dawn with rising mist before 'tourism' kicks off.

Fire at Will said...

Gentlemen I agree with all your comments. I didn't visit Avebury this time because I've done it more recently. But perhaps I should have gone there as well so my daughters could get a feel for a better site.

ps. I'm planning to get a NT membership next year to ring the changes.

pps My best experience was my first year in work (1976) while I was still a "EH member" and arriving at the Tower of London and walking in ahead of the queues and getting to see the crown jewels before the hordes arrived - stunning!