Last Updated on June 1, 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Located close to Stonehenge, Woodhenge is yet another Neolithic site which dates back around 2,500 years and holds as much allure as it does mystery. Here’s how to visit the ancient site, as well as a little history, and what to know before you go.
A history of Woodhenge
Originally the site comprised of six concentric oval circles of timber pillars spanning an area of 40 metres long and 36 metres wide. The entire site was surrounded by a mound and a ditch, the mound and ditch of which are still visible to this day. In total, there were 168 post holes. Most of the holes were thought to have contained wooden poles, though a few were used to erect stones.
As you can imagine, over the millennia, the wood of the pillars has rotted away. The site was originally re-discovered in the 19th-century. At this time, it was thought that the area was used as a Bronze Age disc barrow. The site was referred to as ‘Dough Cover’.
It wasn’t until Squadron Leader, Gilbert Insall, flew over the site in 1925 and took an aerial photo of the area that the true nature of the site was discovered. The aerial photo revealed that there were dark marks in the crop field, which thus led to further archaeological digs.
The digs undertaken between 1926–7 by Ben and Maud Cunnington revealed that the site was actually a ‘henge,’ much like the nearby and much more famed Stonehenge. The couple then purchased the land and in 1929 branded it ‘Woodhenge’ on account of its similarities to the nearby Stonehenge.
Ben and Maud Cunnington also erected the concrete pillars on the site of where the wooden pillars would have been, pillars of which can still be seen today. Finds of interest during the excavation include grooved ware pottery, antler picks, carved chalk, human bone fragments, and at least one cremation.
Two people were found to have been buried at the site. One of the burials was of a child, at the centre of the ring. This is now marked by a flint and concrete cairn. Woodhenge is now noted as part of the Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO World Heritage site.
How to Visit Woodhenge
Woodhenge is now owned and managed by English Heritage. However, unlike its nearby neighbour of Stonehenge (which lies 2 miles south-west), Woodhenge is completely free to visit. The closest town is Durrington (home to the Durrington Walls), though it can also be visited as a day trip from Salisbury.
There are several parking spaces close to the site, which are free to park at. There’s even a garbage can close to the parking so you don’t have to take your litter home with you. Be sure to take care when crossing the road to reach the site, particularly if you are visiting with children.
Once at Woodhenge, there are several informational panels where you can learn more at the site, and see artist mockups of what it’s assumed the site would have looked like some two and a half thousand years ago.
Since there is little to actually see at the site, I would personally recommend not going out of your way to see Woodhenge, but instead seeing it as part of a wider day out such as together with Stonehenge or on your way to Avebury (home to the Avebury Stones, Avebury Manor, and St James’ Church).
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