Stonehenge Landscape Winterbourne Stoke barrows
Ranger's highlight: "This walk is all about the views - the panorama from the Winterbourne Stoke barrows, the first glimpse of Stonehenge as you make your way through the fields, the rolling farmland with thousands of years of history within it - simply breath-taking. The Winterbourne Stoke Barrows are particularly impressive and are a good refuge for chalk grassland flora, a highlight is the flowers and butterflies to be seen in this area in the late summer."
Along the way
The famous stone circle is just one part of the enormous ceremonial landscape on Salisbury Plain, development of which started more than 5000 years ago. Stonehenge contains the densest concentration of round barrows, ancient tombs containing the remains of people, anywhere is Britain. Through work of the National Trust, much of the landscape has been returned to chalk grassland, which protects the ancient monuments and grazing by sheep and cattle helps ensure you can enjoy wildflower displays, insects and birds in spring and summer.
Stonehenge SP4 7DE
Standing at the byway crossroads, with Stonehenge behind you, turn left onto the byway and look for a kissing gate on your right.
Enter the field through the gate and head diagonally left towards two grassy mounds. A giant, prehistoric, wooden palisade once stood along here, dividing the landscape. This was also the site of the Stonehenge Aerodrome which lay to the west of Stonehenge a hundred years ago.
You can go through the gate and explore the two burial mounds (known as barrows). There are hundreds of barrows like this in the Stonehenge Landscape where some of the earliest people to use metal are buried. You can leave by the larger gate opposite. Continue slightly diagonally to your left, aiming for the road where you will find a gate into the next field.
Go through gate No. 25 then head diagonally to your right, aiming for the right hand side of the row of barrows you can just see ahead of you.
Go through the gate and enter the barrow cemetery. When you've read the information panel next to the gate, feel free to explore the barrow cemetery. The Winterbourne Stoke barrows are an important barrow group containing every different type of Bronze Age barrow. This is a great place for chalk flowers such as knapweed and field scabious as well as beautiful butterflies. After exploring the barrows, retrace your steps to the information panel.
Go through gate No. 23 and turn left to follow the fence line. Go through gate No. 21 and continue straight on along the fence line. Stonehenge Visitor Centre should be visible on your left and Stonehenge itself should just come into view on the right.
When you come to the end of the third field go over the stile in front of you and bear slightly right onto a track. Carry on straight ahead and go through a small wooden gate, No 20. Cross directly over the road watching out for Stonehenge shuttle buses which use the road. Climb over the stile in front of you. You are now entering the Fargo wood which contains several Bronze Age barrows; it has areas of hazel coppice and glades which attract butterflies in the summer months.
Continue straight on along the path until you reach the large barrow known as the Monarch of the Plain; this is one of the largest Bronze Age barrows in the Stonehenge Landscape. Skirt around the right-hand side of it and leave by the path on the opposite side. Follow the wood chipped path in front of you, then at the T-junction (with a metal gate in front of you), turn right. Ignoring all the gates to your left, continue on along the curving track, through another clearing with a large barrow in it, until you reach a large information panel.
After reading the information panel go through the gate in front of you and veer left towards the large grassy mounds of the Cursus Barrows.
Enter the Barrows through a pedestrian gate on the left hand side of the mounds. After reading the information panel leave through the pedestrian gate opposite the one you came through and head downhill towards Stonehenge and where you began your walk. If you have a ticket from the Visitor Centre then you can head to the stone circle.
Stonehenge SP4 7DE
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