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Why Stonehenge Remains A Popular Tourist Destination

Mar 6, 2008
Stonehenge is structure of stones that sit upon Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. It is a popular destination for foreign and domestic tourists who seek to see a monument that was part of the ancient landscape as much as it is a part of todays.

There are still many theories to do with the construction of Stonehenge; some are considerably fanciful while others are a little more factual. As it has stood sine around 2000BC it is unsurprising that there is such an array of theories of the construction and use of this magical monument.

There is a wealth of writers who have turned their hands to developing theories about Stonehenge. Of these the early historians tended to attribute the monument to supernatural forces with no semblance of factual basis. Some believed that Merlin; the sage of Arthurian legend, enlisted a giant to build the structure, picking up the stones from Mount Killaraus in Ireland. Other supernatural theories put the construction of Stonehenge into the hands of the devil.

Later, slightly more believable theories were developed; during the seventeenth century the monument was attributed to the work of the Romans and was considered a Roman temple. Other commentators equally put the construction of Stonehenge down to the Danes or Saxon inhabitants. Druids were also cited as builders, leading to the sites true nature. After the first comprehensive drawings were drafted, the calender and astronomical roles of the site were finally discovered.

The site is a brilliant tourist destination. Wiltshire can be considered one of the quintessential counties in England and offers a unique insight into country life. Besides Stonehenge there are a variety of small villages that offer fine dining and great pub atmosphere.

Hotels in the region are widespread and most are independent rather than the chain hotels present around the major cities. Salisbury Plain is vast and for those who like to walk and take in the most basic of country pleasures, it is a great way to get away from it all.

It was not until the early nineteenth century that the true dating of Stonehenge took place. After a comprehensive archaeological excavation it was deduced that the site was predominantly used throughout the Bronze Age due to the discovery of Bronze Age finds in and around the site. Its uses however remain a hot debate in the historical community; the crux is whether the site was used as a religious location or scientific observatory, either way its alignment with the sun and lunar calendar is hard to dispute.

It is more likely that Stonehenge combined religion and science in a way that is non-comprehendible to modern commentators. As the site tracks the movements of the sun and stars it could well have been used to predict the seasons, important in a predominantly agricultural society.

As astronomy at this time was most probably carried out by learned elders the twinning of science and religion is easily possible. The preference for many to see the site as a purely Celtish religious focus point is most likely to do with modern interpretations of Celtish culture and how many like to re-enact what they perceive as popular celebrations such as the solstices.

Visitors to the site do report strange feelings that overcome them when in the presence of the stones. Whether this is a psychosomatic response to the perceived magical properties of the stones is unclear. What is doubtless is that as a tourist destination it remains popular, whether this is due to the 'magic' of the area or purely its worldwide fame as an ancient archaeological site. Tourists come form all over the planet to see this unique attraction.
About the Author
Travel expert Thomas Pretty has visited England many times and considers Stonehenge as one of the primary attractions. To find out more please visit http://www.classic-england.com/day_eng_tour.htm
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