Monday 30th September 2013
Stonehenge visitors will soon be able to trace the route along which people in prehistoric Britain made their way to the monument, when new visitor facilities open to the public.
From 18 December visitors will be able to walk along the newly completed Stonehenge Avenue, which will have been reconnected to the stone circle after being severed by the A344 road for centuries.
They will also be able to explore an exhibition of almost 300 prehistoric artefacts such as tools, jewellery and pottery.
Visitors will enjoy a 360-degree virtual, immersive experience, allowing them to ‘stand in the stones’, before they enter a gallery presenting the facts and theories surrounding Stonehenge through artefacts.
Many of the artefacts will be on show for the first time.
The permanent exhibition, curated by English Heritage experts, will be housed in a new visitor building located 1.5 miles to the west of Stonehenge.
The centre boasts indoor and outdoor seating for up to 260 people, a dedicated education space, and new, downloadable and hand-held free audio guides in 10 languages.
The £27m project also includes grassing over a section of the A344, which was closed permanently in June.
Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “This world famous monument, perpetually described as a mystery, finally has a place in which to tell its story.
“The exhibition, created with imagination and rigour, will change the way people experience and think about Stonehenge forever – beyond the clichés and towards a meaningful inquiry into an extraordinary human achievement in the distant past.
“The exhibition will put at its centre the individuals associated with its creation and use, and I am very proud with what we have to unveil to the world in December.”
Stonehenge started as an early form of henge monument, built around 5,000 years ago, where prehistoric people buried their cremated dead.
It was built in several stages, with the lintelled stone circle being erected in the Neolithic period in around 2,500 BC.
Stonehenge remained important into the early Bronze Age (2,200–1,500 BC), when many burial mounds were built nearby.