Stonehenge: a visitors’ site since the Bronze Age.

Nowadays Stonehenge may be associated with the trendy, esoteric pagan and druid-style yearly gatherings which celebrate the summer and winter solstices but recent discoveries indicate that people have been visiting Stonehenge from afar since the Bronze Age.

Previously thought to be a healing centre dating back to 2300 BC, an excavation in 2008 put the stones' arrival at 3000 BC, earlier than originally thought and suggested it was mainly a burial site.

In 2005 the remains of a teenager who died 3,550 years ago were discovered next to a Bronze Age burial mound; he was buried with a distinctive amber necklace, suggesting he was of significant status, reports the BBC.

Chemical tests on teeth of the ‘Boy with the Amber Necklace’ indicate that he grew up around the Mediterranean Sea, whereas a previous skeleton, the 'Amesbury Archer', was raised in a colder climate, probably in the Alpine foothills of Germany, highlighting the diversity of people who came to Stonehenge from across Europe.

Professor Jane Evans of the British Geological Survey likened Stonehenge in the Bronze Age to Westminster Abbey today, a place where the ‘great and good’ were buried.

This World Heritage Site near Salisbury, in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, never fails to impress at any time of year but you can catch the winter solstice, expected at dawn on the 22nd December, this year when access is usually free. It’s a much quieter and gentler affair than its summer counterpart and regulars have noticed that its popularity has grown. People of different or no faiths seem to be taking a quick break from the pressures of an increasingly commercial Christmas.

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