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Here's an interesting one day driving tour around Salisbury.

You'll visit a range of fascinating pre-historic artifacts, not as well known as Stonehenge, but at least as interesting and mysterious.

 
 
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Touring around the Salisbury Area

Stones, Horses and Prehistory
 

Stonehenge, very close to Salisbury in Wiltshire, is probably the best known stone circle in the world.

Within a short driving distance there are many other equally interesting stone circles and other strange artifacts dating back to prehistory.

Part 4 of a 4 part series - click for Parts  One  Two  Three  Four

 

 

Enjoy a day of self-guided touring around Wiltshire.  See better/bigger stone circles than Stonehenge, a bevy of white horses, and other mysterious prehistoric creations.


Start from Salisbury

Starting from Salisbury, make your way north to Castle Rd, also known as the A345. A short distance out of the main downtown area, as you go up a hill, you’ll see the side road off to Old Sarum on your left. This could be your first stop.

Next, continue six miles north on the A345, to the A303. Go west (left) on the A303 for 1 miles and turn right where the road forks onto the A344. Turn right into the Stonehenge Carpark.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is amazing – slightly mysterious in purpose (but now generally believed to be a type of star based calendar, perhaps used to plan when to plant the crops), very old (the original construction dates back 5000 years, with modifications and changes occurring over the next 1500 years), and undoubtedly impressive. Standing alone on an empty plain, it commands the landscape for miles around, and a visit to Stonehenge is a de rigeur part of any trip to this region.

Admission is 5, but sadly these days you’re no longer able to walk among the stones themselves. All visitors are restricted to a path around a perimeter, set some distance back from the stones. Alternatively, you can save your money, especially if you only have a short time to stop - great views are available from the side of the road for free! Open all year except for 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan. Stonehenge is an English Heritage site, and admission is free with a GB Heritage Pass.

Woodhenge

Next, retrace your path back to the A345 and go north (left) about half a mile to Woodhenge, on your left. This is believed to have been a bronze age structure, but instead of stones, had wooden posts in large circles. The wood has long since disappeared, and all that remains now are stubby concrete posts to mark where the rings of posts had been. Admission is free. Not worth making a special visit to see, but because you’ll be driving past, you might want to stop and have a look.

Pewsey White Horse

Next, continue north on the A345 almost twelve miles, then turn right onto the small side road just before Pewsey (Swan Rd) and right again onto Everleigh Rd. Follow this half a mile or more and you’ll see the Pewsey White Horse on the hill to your left. This is a fairly new horse, having been cut into the ground in 1937. There is parking on the road just above the white horse if you want to get a closer look at it.

Alton Barnes White Horse

Return to the A345. You can either continue north up to Marlborough and then go west (left) on the A4 to Silbury Hill and the West Kennett Long Barrow (about five miles west on the A4), or if you wish to add another White Horse, go north on the A345 about two miles, then turn left onto the road to West Stowell and Alton Barnes. About 3.3 miles along this road, turn right at a ‘T’ intersection, and drive along this road about half a mile. The Alton Barnes White Horse, dating back to 1812, is on the left.

Silbury Hill and the West Kennett Long Barrow

Next, continue north on this country road for about 2.6 miles then turn left onto another road that will take you to the A4 in about 1.7 miles. Go left and within 0.8 of a mile, you’re at the West Kennett Long Barrow (limited parking on the left) and Silbury Hill (more generous parking on your right.
The West Kennett Long Barrow is a 100 yard long chamber tomb dating back to about 3250 BC. It is not visible from the A4, but you can walk over the fields to where it is located, about half a mile away, and once there, you can enter the first part of the tomb.

On the other side of the A4, and only a couple of hundred yards further west, is Silbury Hill – the largest prehistoric mound in Europe (130 ft tall). No-one understands exactly why this was constructed, making it another prehistoric mystery to ponder. Silbury Hill is right next to the road, but you can’t actually climb up it.

Avebury Stone Circles

Next, you’ll visit the incredible stones at Avebury, now designated a World Heritage site. Due to the extensive nature of the stone circles there, Avebury is even more awe inspiring than Stonehenge.

Go back east along the A4 about 0.6 miles then go north (left) one mile up the B4003 and follow this through the village of Avebury so as to get an overall feeling of the scale of the village and the stones. You can then either turn around and drive back through the village on the A4361 to the carpark on the right hand side, just south of the village, or continue a short distance north to see two more White Horses before turning around to return to Avebury.

Hackpen and Broad Town White Horses

The first of these White Horses is at Hackpen. Go 4.5 miles north on the A4361, then turn right on the country road. About a mile and a half down you’ll see the white horse sort of straight ahead (the road does a quick zig-zag up the hill the White Horse is on). The Hackpen White Horse is thought to date back to 1838.

Then return the way you came to the A4361, turn right onto the A4361 then immediately left onto Summers Lane, and follow this 1.7 miles to Broad Town, where you’ll see the Broad Town White Horse on the right hand side, dating to 1864.

Return back to the A4361 and drive back to Avebury and to the car park. You can then walk around the stones in the fields around the village – the ring of stones is so large the village fits in its center. There are no restrictions on going up to the stones and touching them, and neither is there an admission fee. In addition to the main stone circle, there is an ‘avenue’ of stones and some others, primarily on the south side of the village. Information in the car park shows you where all the different stone formations can be found.

In the small village itself there is a haunted hotel – the Red Lion pub – perhaps you might like to stop in for a drink!

Cherhill White Horse, Oldbury Castle and Lansdowne Monument

Next, continue south on the A4361 back down to the A4, where you can either continue on down the A4361 or make a slight detour west on the A4 to another White Horse at Cherhill – 2.7 miles away on the left hand side. The Cherhill White Horse, dating back to 1780, is the second oldest of the White Horses, and is just below the Oldbury Castle Iron-age hill fort (not a ‘castle’ as such). The obelisk nearby is the Lansdowne Monument, which was erected in 1845 by the Third Marquis of Lansdowne to commemorate his ancestor, Sir William Petty. This gentle rise is the highest point between London and Bristol - England is a very flat country!

Devizes White Horse

Return back to the A4361 and then continue south about 6.3 miles into the outskirts of Devizes. After going through three roundabouts, turn right up Follow Rd. The Devizes White Horse is about 0.7 miles up on the right. This is the most modern White Horse – it was cut in 1999 as part of Britain’s millennium celebrations.

Westbury White Horse

Return back to the A4361 and drive south then west 8.5 miles to the A350, and take that south 4 miles to a roundabout and then another 2.5 miles south to Westbury. In Westbury, turn left onto Warminster Rd and then right onto Bratton Rd (the B3098). Proceed about 1 miles along Bratton Rd and you’ll see, on the right, the Westbury White Horse, the oldest of the horses, which is thought to date back to the late 1600s. The horse has been restored over the centuries, and now the white is made by a layer of painted concrete.

Back to Salisbury

To return back to Salisbury, continue along the B3098 about 7.1 miles to the A360. Turn right (south) and then follow the A360 in to Salisbury – a short distance of only 19 miles.

Note :  A Garmin compatible GPS route is available for this driving itinerary.

 

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Originally published 15 Apr 2003, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
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