Stonehenge Visitor Centre

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Stonehenge

Today’s the big day. It might be a miserable start with rain and wind but English Heritage’s £27 million visitor centre opens at Stonehenge.

Well, not really – it’s a mile away; a bit like a Ryanair flight – it gets you within a train ride of the place you were thought you were going to. And yes there is a sort of train ride to get you that final journey. A land train will transport people direct from the visitor centre to the stone circle. Alternatively, you have the option of walking, or getting off the train halfway and walking the rest of the way.

Rowan Moore, the architect and writer wrote a plaintive story in last Sunday’s Observer about how long it had taken to construct a centre worthy of what he called “the country’s ultimate ancient monument.”

And we are still learning about it. In December 2011, geologists from University of Leicester and the National Museum of Wales announced the discovery of the exact source of the rock used to create Stonehenge’s first stone circle, an outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin in north Pembrokeshire.

Stonehenge joined the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury Henge and whilst English Heritage manages the site on behalf of the Crown, it is the National Trust that owns the surrounding land. With three days to go before the winter solstice and the regular visit of “druids” and other worshipers at least they – and the more usual type of visitor – will be able to have a cup of tea and a bite whch is more than can be said of those who have visited it in the past.

And somewhere to avoid the foul weather!

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