Excursion to Stonehenge and Salisbury

Excursion to Stonehenge and Salisbury


The southern English city Southampton was the most important port in England in the Middle Ages and the following centuries. The metropolitan area is currently one of the four most important ports in the United Kingdom in terms of goods throughput. The greater Southampton area is home to two oil refineries, the city is the seat of national authorities and two major universities.

Southampton ahead

Southampton ahead


Southampton - destination of cruise ships

Southampton is also England's main cruise port. In 2019, before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, more than 1,8 million passengers used the four terminals located on the Itchen River. The fifth "Horizon Cruise Terminal", which opened in September 2021, is of future importance for cruise tourism. The 55 million pound new building equips the cruise destination Southampton for further growth. The facility has been dubbed Britain's 'greenest' cruise terminal due to its 2.000 solar panels and shore-side power supply.

Southampton-Horizon Cruise Terminal


Southampton-Horizon Cruise Terminal


Southampton-Horizon Cruise Terminal


Southampton-Horizon Cruise Terminal 


Southampton is the port of departure and destination for most British guests on board cruise ships. In addition, the city is an attractive destination for stopovers because of its diverse sights in the near and far. Unforgettable country destinations are Winchester in north-east Southampton or the New Forest National Park. The largest undeveloped nature reserve in southern England covers approximately 375 square kilometers of pasture, heathland and mature woodland. What is special about the area are the thousands of ponies and donkeys that roam freely in the area. They are not wild animals; all ponies and donkeys have owners. Be careful when driving through the forest because of the roaming animals. Pigs, for example, lie right next to the thoroughfare, and they don't let themselves be disturbed by passing buses.

On the way in the New Forest National Park

On the way in the New Forest National Park


Well over one and a half million visitors from all over the world are drawn to the legendary cult site of Stonehenge, 50 kilometers from Southampton, every year. On the way to the stone circles is the provincial town of Salisbury with its famous cathedral. Our one-day visit applies to both goals.

Visit to the mystical Stonehenge

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Stonehenge is known worldwide. Countless myths and stories are entwined around the Neolithic complex. As far as the original purpose of the monument is concerned, there is no verifiable information. Whatever the purpose of the stone circle, the gigantic complex is well worth a visit when the cruise ship calls in Southampton.

Stonehenge - Visitor Center

Organized cruise company excursions, public transport or taxis bring guests from Southampton or Salisbury to the ultra-modern visitor center a few kilometers from the stone circle.

The Stonehenge Visitor Center


The Stonehenge Visitor Center


The Stonehenge Visitor Center


The Stonehenge Visitor Center 


In the spacious building, visitors receive information about the stone circle, they use the cafeteria for a snack or they look around in the adjoining souvenir shop.
Several Neolithic houses have been recreated within sight of the visitor center to show how people lived at Stonehenge during the Stone Age.

Neolithic huts at Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Neolithic huts at Stonehenge Visitor Centre


The place of worship is not visible from the visitor center. A footpath and a road lead to the destination, which is about three kilometers away. Buses commute between the center and the stone circle at short intervals.

Stonehenge Visitor Center shuttle bus

Stonehenge Visitor Center shuttle bus


The stone circle of Stonehenge

The shuttle bus stops at the required distance from the Stone Age monument. A level, well-maintained path surrounds the property, which is off-limits to ordinary guests. This is not necessary as the monument looks best from the given distance. Markings for the position of the sun on the summer and winter solstices are embedded on the circular path.

The stone circle of Stonehenge

The stone circle of Stonehenge


The facility is 5.000 or more years old. Recent research shows that around 3.000 BC at the site of the stone circle there was a ring wall, a ditch and 56 holes in the ground. Around 600 years later, the sarsen stones, which weighed up to 50 tons and were up to seven meters long, were transported to Stonehenge in an unexplained manner. Scientists recently used X-ray technology to prove that the stones came from the West Woods hills, 25 kilometers away. It is a mystery how they got to Stonehenge and with what tools. The sarsen stones formed a closed circle. They were connected to each other by capstones. According to the usual interpretations, Stonehenge was a place of worship, a place of astrological observations, a place of execution or a burial ground.

The stone circle of Stonehenge
The stone circle of Stonehenge
The stone circle of Stonehenge
The stone circle of Stonehenge
The stone circle of Stonehenge - details
The stone circle of Stonehenge - detail
The stone circle of Stonehenge
The stone circle of Stonehenge

useful hints

How to get there?
Cruise ship guests can easily book excursions to Stonehenge and neighboring Salisbury. – As individualists, we avoid – if possible – booking organized excursions. Trains run frequently between Southampton and Salisbury. From Salisbury train station, the Stonehenge Tour bus takes visitors to the visitor center 16 miles away. If the cruise ship is not too short in berth, you can visit the stone circle on your own.

The Stonehenge Tour Bus

The Stonehenge Tour Bus


Daily opening times
from 9:00am to 17:00pm (mid-October to February)
to 19:00pm (March to May; September to mid-October)
until 20:00pm (June to August); last admission two hours before closing.

entrance fees
Adults £19 (22 euros), children £11,40 (13,30 euros).

Salisbury - lovely town near Stonehenge

Salisbury, in the county of Wiltshire, has a population of just over 46.000 (as of 2020). In the 4th century BC, the first settlers erected a rampart called "Old Sarum", three kilometers from present-day Salisbury. Later, in the 11th century AD, the Normans expanded the complex into a fortress. Located just outside Old Sarum, 'New Sarum' was the site of a cathedral from 1258. The people of Old Sarum sought proximity to the new place of worship and moved to New Sarum, in what is now Salisbury.

For a long time, the city was a center of textile production. It was also the seat of a renowned college. Several battles raged near Salisbury during the English Civil War in the mid-17th century. The place subsequently lost its importance. For a long time it was characterized exclusively by agriculture. Today tourism is the main source of income in Salisbury.

In Salisbury city centre

In Salisbury city centre


points of interest & sights

Salisbury is rightly a tourist destination, benefiting from its proximity to Stonehenge and the fame of its stunning cathedral. Apart from that, the city has other, albeit less important, sights.

Kathedrale

At the top of our ranking is the Gothic cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Anglican church, officially "The Cathedral Church of St Mary", is the episcopal see of the Diocese of Salisbury. The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258. The 123 meter high crossing tower, the tallest church tower in Great Britain, was built some 80 years later. The attached cloister is the largest in the British Isles. A copy of the "Magna Charta" is on display in the neighboring chapter house. The agreement concluded between King John and the revolutionary nobility is said to have established British parliamentarianism.

Salisbury - The Cathedral Church of St Mary
Salisbury - The Cathedral Church of St Mary - Cloister
Salisbury - The Cathedral Church of St Mary and its cloister
Salisbury - Illustration of the Magna Carta

As visitors approach the cathedral, they admire the impressive facade. After restoration work at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, the church received its present furnishings. Inside, the building is clearly structured. Worth seeing are the stained glass windows, the choir, the main altar and (since 2008) the modern baptismal font, in which the stained glass windows are reflected. The cathedral features a number of elaborate tombs, a medieval clock that is open to the public, and several regimental flags.

Salisbury - Cathedral facade
Salisbury - Nave of the Cathedral
Salisbury - Cathedral - Choir with main altar
Salisbury - Cathedral - the new baptismal font
Salisbury - Cathedral - Stained glass window
Salisbury - Cathedral - Stained glass window reflected from the baptismal font
Salisbury - Cathedral - North Transept
Salisbury - Cathedral - Tomb
Salisbury - Cathedral - Tomb of Lord Wyndham
Salisbury - Cathedral - St Martin's Chapel
Salisbury - Cathedral - Medieval Clockwork
Salisbury - Cathedral - Regimental Ensigns

Note:
Cathedral, Cloisters and Chapter House (Magna Carta) ticket: Adults £10 (11,80 euros).

The cathedral's excellently prepared website strongly recommends booking a visit time in advance. If you ask an Englishman about the fear of not getting into the cathedral without such a "time slot", the following reaction occurs: The person addressed grins broadly and then says with a smile "You are so German...". In other words, advance booking of a visit is superfluous. And that's actually how it was during our visit in April 2022.

St Thomas's Church

Named after Thomas of Canterbury, Salisbury Town Church stands in St Thomas's Square in central Salisbury. According to hearsay, the first church was built around 1220, probably made of wood. The current structure dates from the 15th century.

Salisbury - St Thomas's Church


Salisbury - St Thomas's Church


Salisbury - Burial grounds adjacent to St Thomas's Church


Salisbury - Burial grounds adjacent to St Thomas's Church 


Salisbury's Market Place with the Guildhall

One of our tourist destinations in Salisbury is the sprawling, historic market square. On the south side of the square is the listed Guildhall, which is used as a meeting place for the City Council. The representative building was erected towards the end of the 18th century.

Salisbury - Market Place
Salisbury - Guildhall in Market Square
Salisbury - Market Square Pubs
Salisbury - Market Place

On the south side are several visually appealing houses, mainly used by pubs.

The Poultry Cross – Market Cross

The listed market cross stands on the edge of the market. It is called Poultry Cross. The monument marked the location of a market. As the name suggests, the market traded poultry, fruit and vegetables. The Poultry Cross was built towards the end of the 15th century. Later it underwent significant structural changes.

Salisbury-Poultry Cross

Salisbury-Poultry Cross


North Gate

On the way from the city center to the cathedral, visitors inevitably pass through the North Gate, which is also listed. The city gate was built in the first half of the 14th century and gave access to the quarter surrounding the cathedral. The statue in the center of the North Gate represents King Edward VII.

Salisbury-North Gate


Salisbury-North Gate


Salisbury - North Gate with King Edward VII


Salisbury - North Gate - with the statue of King Edward VII.


Next to the North Gate is the College of Matrons. The representative building originally served to accommodate ten widows of clerical dignitaries. Single women still live in the charitable institution. However, they no longer have to be widows or daughters of clergymen.

Salisbury - College of Matrons

Salisbury - College of Matrons


Mompesson House

Within sight of the cathedral is the Mompession House, among other buildings worth seeing. Named after a Member of Parliament, Sir Thomas Mompession, the house dates from the late 17th century. Subsequent owners had the house remodeled. Since 1975 it has belonged to the National Trust, a non-profit organization. The uses the building as an exhibition space for historical drinking glasses and ceramic works.

Mompesson House

Mompesson House


Salisbury Clock Tower - Little Ben

Another amusing and notable Victorian structure is the Salisbury Clock Tower. In 1892 Doctor John Roberts had it built in memory of his late wife. Because of a certain resemblance to London's Big Ben, locals call it "Little Ben".

Salisbury - Avon River and Clock Tower


Salisbury - Avon River and Clock Tower


Salisbury - Clock Tower


Salisbury - Clock Tower 


April 2022