The chalk downs of the ancient kingdom of Wessex have been a focus for monumental building and funerary ritual over more than five millennia. Henges, burial mounds of all shapes and sizes, causewayed camps, early field systems and ‘cursus’ monuments are scattered everywhere, forming a landscape full of clues and interest.
This was the very first Andante Tour, and our experts have been introducing people to these monuments for several decades now. This very privileged tour includes private access inside the stones at Stonehenge in the early morning. Extraordinary access to Britain’s best-known archaeological site, whose monumental bluestones have graced the landscape for thousands of years.
- Enjoy a private visit inside the stones at Stonehenge in the early morning
- Explore a landscape of rites and ritual
- Receive special access to Devizes Museum, with a guided tour by the Museum Director, followed by dinner at the museum
- Cultural Excursion
- Special Access
- Low Single Supplement
- Just One Hotel
- All Inclusive
We meet in the picturesque market town of Devizes, Wiltshire, our base for the next two nights.
After checking in to our gorgeous hotel, we enjoy an introductory lecture from our guide – the perfect way to prime us for our Wessex weekend – before tucking in to a delicious welcome dinner and drinks.
Our adventure begins at the great Neolithic henge of Avebury, a UNESCO World Heritage site so large that part of a modern village lies within it. Having retained intact ditch and bank fortifications, Avebury is one of the best-preserved and biggest henges in Europe, and is still used as a sacred place for pagan ceremonies.
From here we walk to West Kennet Long Barrow, a chambered tomb constructed in around 4,000 BC – the final resting place for almost 50 people. Recent evidence suggests that some of the remains were periodically removed and replaced here – most likely for ritual purposes.
We also pass by the mysterious mound at Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe, rising imposingly out of the fields. Comparable in size to the Pyramids of Giza, no evidence of burials has been found here. As a result, Silbury’s purpose remains tantalisingly unknown...
This evening we enjoy special access to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, home to an award-winning collection that features gold work retrieved from the Stonehenge area. Here we embark on a tour led personally by the Museum Director, followed by a private dinner within the museum itself. An exceptional end to an exceptional day.
We start early this morning, in order to take full advantage of our privileged access to Stonehenge. As the sun rises, prepare for an unforgettable encounter with these enigmatic stones, well away from the usual crowds.
After stopping at the site’s new visitor centre – where we find some 250 artefacts unearthed around the monument – we take a thought-provoking walk through the wider prehistoric landscape. En route we view the Greater Cursus, a Neolithic structure thought to have been used in ceremonial processions. We also wander the ancient Avenue, at the end of which Bluestonehenge was recently found, as well as the wooded King Barrows.
After lunch at a local restaurant we visit Salisbury Museum to view the excellent new Wessex Gallery, a rich exhibition of archaeological treasures, that traces the human occupation of the area back to its earliest days. While here we also enjoy a private demonstration of flint-knapping – the fashioning of beautiful tools from unyielding stone – allowing us a unique insight into the skill and craftsmanship of our prehistoric forebears.
This afternoon we return to Devizes, where, after making our fond farewells, we go our separate ways.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
2 nights in a former coaching in situated in the heart of historic Devizes. The site has been a meeting place for travellers since 1432, and the luxurious rooms benefit from attractive period features.
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