A kings view
This walk explores chalk downland at the heart of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
Enter a prehistoric ceremonial landscape
From Bronze Age burial mounds to ancient ceremonial pathways, the landscape surrounding Britain's most famous prehistoric monument is full of intriguing archaeology. There's also a fantastic array of wildlife to look out for all year round.
Opposite Stonehenge, grid ref: SU123422
From the bridleway opposite Stonehenge, go through the pedestrian gate into a grass field. Head right and walk towards the barrow mounds on the horizon.
The famous Stone Circle is just one part of a complex ceremonial landscape on Salisbury Plain. This developed over the course of 2,000 years, during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age - starting more than 5,000 years ago.
Once at the barrows go through the pedestrian gate. After exploring the barrows leave through the pedestrian gate opposite the one you came and then turn right and walk towards the trackway again.
Barrows are burial mounds, built to house the remains of the most important people in Bronze Age society. The Cursus Barrows at Stonehenge were excavated by antiquarians in Victorian times and earlier, and were found to contain decorated pottery, bronze spearheads, flint arrowheads and glass beads. Some of these barrows are around 4,000 years old. Please help them last another 4,000 years by not climbing them.
Go through the gate and follow the byway left, away from Stonehenge.
Take a right into the field from the byway at the next available gate; look south for a striking view of the Stone Circle. Continue downhill along the route of the Cursus.
This huge enclosure just north of Stonehenge is thought to be around 500 years older than Stonehenge itself. Stretching 1.75 miles (2.8km) long from east to west, its low earthworks form a massive thin oblong. The name 'Cursus' is Latin for 'raceway', a name given to it by 18th-century antiquarian William Stukeley, who thought it was a Roman chariot track.
Go through the gate at the valley bottom and head uphill keeping the fence line with conifers on your left.
At the end of the field go through the gate and walk towards an information panel. Continue to a crossroads of paths and turn right along the bridleway.
We have restored the chalk grassland around Stonehenge after many years of intensive farming. As you walk along King Barrow Ridge keep an eye out for colourful wildflower displays in summer, that attract butterflies such as the Marbled White. Sheep and cattle grazing helps to keep the grasslands rich in wildlife.
At the next junction, turn right through a gate and follow the grassy bridleway ahead. Follow the track around until you reach a line of ancient beech trees at New King Barrows for a fine view of Stonehenge and its surroundings. A great place to stop for a picnic and read the information panel.
King Barrow Ridge
Many of the oldest barrows in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site stand along King Barrow Ridge. A line of 200-year-old beech trees make impressive viewing all year. Keep an eye out for Great Spotted, and Green, woodpeckers.
Retrace your steps to the pedestrian gate on your left and enter the field. Now follow the course of the Avenue, heading in the direction of the Cursus Barrows. In the valley, known as Stonehenge Bottom, pass through the gate and walk towards the next information panel.
From here, stay left of the panel and head in the direction of Stonehenge. As you ascend the slope you will be able to see the ditches of the Avenue leading towards the Stones. End your walk by returning to Stonehenge.
This ancient ceremonial pathway stretches two miles (3.2km) from the Stone Circle to the River Avon. Much of its ditch-and-bank-lined track is barely visible above ground, but the earthworks can still be seen approaching the stones. This last approach to the Stone Circle is aligned on the midsummer and midwinter solstices.
Opposite Stonehenge, grid ref: SU123422
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