How Close Can You Get To Stonehenge?

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Stonehenge is one of the oldest wonders of the world.

Standing for over 5,000 years, the ancient monument has become a famous tourist attraction in England.

However, you can’t just walk into the stone circle on a normal day when you visit.

The closest you can get is about 15 yards away.

How Close Can You Get To Stonehenge?

Stonehenge stands strong even after centuries.

Today, over 1 million people visit this UNESCO world heritage site. With this many visitors, it becomes crucial to safeguard the monument.

If you book your ticket to Wiltshire to see the oldest and only remaining seven wonders of the ancient world, you can only get so close to the stones.

Famous tourist attraction in England
Visiting Stonehenge UK

After getting to Wiltshire, you travel another 2 miles before seeing Stonehenge.

During normal opening hours, you cannot touch the stones. However, you can marvel at the stones from about 15 yards.

The site attraction has a thin rope that bars people from getting too close to the stones.

The low perimeter fence is a protective measure enforced to preserve the monument for future tourists.

However, there are periods when people are allowed into the circle.

Can You Touch The Stones At Stonehenge?

If you are really interested in seeing what the inner circle at Stonehenge looks like, you may have to wake up earlier or stay a little longer at the monument’s site.

So, yes, you can touch the stones at Stonehenge.

Do not touch the stones at Stonehenge
Can you touch the stones at Stonehenge

There are special instances when you can walk up to Stonehenge and touch the stones.

These visits are called Special Access visits, and they come with limitations.

For Instance – You can only be one of 26 people allowed into the stone circle per session. Also, these visits happen during the wee hours of the morning or very late in the evening.

On the bright side, you get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch the stones at Stonehenge and take atmospheric photos of the sunrise or sunset.

These special access visits happen must be arranged in advance.

Most importantly, you can only visit the inner circle during select time slots announced to the public.

You may pay a little extra for these visits and hire a guide. In addition, you may have to drive to and from the site.

Besides the announced dates, tourists are also allowed into the inner circle of Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstices and the Autumn and Winter equinoxes.

When Did They Ban Touching Stonehenge?

Back in the 1960s, tourists visiting Stonehenge were even allowed to climb the stones.

Before that, visitors were handed chisels to break off a small piece of the monument as a souvenir.

However, the number of tourists visiting Stonehenge increased steeply in the late 70s, leading to the Department of Environment in England raising concerns about the increased foot traffic in the area.

Stonehenge ban 1977 rules
Stonehenge ban 1977

The then gatekeepers of this historic monument claimed that the increased number of visitors was causing erosion of the ground surfaces below the stones.

The department flagged this concern as detrimental to Stonehenge’s long-term preservation.

As a Result – The stone circle was closed to the public in 1977. The Department of Environment, which was then in charge of the monument, built a low fence to keep visitors away from the stone circle.

In the next year, after closing off the stone circle, the gravel area in the center of the circle was replaced by grass, and a path following the old track was created to allow tourists to get close to the monument.

Today, if you want to touch the stones, you must make prior arrangements with the site team.

What Is The Punishment For Touching Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is a valued and protected monument.

So, if you destroy it, either accidentally or intentionally, you will face some form of penalty.

It could be in fines or an arrest. You will, however, find yourself in court.

preserve Stonehenge for future generations
Touching Stonehenge punishment

There was a case of a group of pagans who entered the Stone circle in 2018 to sing, touch the stones, and charge crystals.

They were practicing their religious beliefs.

However, the local authorities arrested them, and they had an arraignment in court, which they lost, coming out of it with a conditional discharge.

So, if you want to try your luck, you are guaranteed to come out of the stone circle with a penalty.

This is because, to the court, your rights as an individual have no fair balance with the interests of the community, which seeks to preserve Stonehenge for future generations.

Heads Up! The bottom line is it is illegal to touch or climb Stonehenge stones. Anyone caught entering the circle center or touching the stones commits a criminal offense.

4 Tips For Visiting Stonehenge

Visiting Stonehenge is a lifetime opportunity, but touching the stones puts you in the top 10% of modern-day tourists.

Unfortunately, you cannot walk up to the monument, cross the barrier, or touch the stones.

Stonehenge tips for tourists
Tips for visiting Stonehenge

So, how can you get the best experience at Stonehenge in Wiltshire?

Here are a few tips for visiting Stonehenge.

1. Always have proper traveling plans

Stonehenge lies roughly a 90-minute drive outside of London.

The journey is short and manageable, but it requires proper planning.

You also need to be more vigilant if you make special arrangements to visit the circle’s center during special access visits.

You can rent a car, go on a group tour or use public transportation.

2. Tour the new visitors’ center

Traveling for hours to see Stonehenge can be tiring.

So, when you get to the site, you can explore the new visitor’s center.

Here, you get to stretch your feet, grab a bite, and see prehistoric objects that will beef you up for the up-close view of Stonehenge.

3. Book your ticket in advance

There are only 4 periods in a year when you can visit Stonehenge without prior notice and touch the stones.

Booking tickets
Book tour tickets Stonehenge

And during these visits, the number of visitors on site is high, which always makes headlines the next day.

Make sure to book your ticket in advance to avoid the commotion and have ample time to view the stones, touching and taking dawn or dusk skyline photos.

4. Get there early

Most of the special access visits at Stonehenge happen during the early morning hours or later in the evening.

So, if you want to enjoy the sunrise while leaning against the stones, make a point to start your journey to Wiltshire early.

Final Thoughts

While they remain the only surviving wonders of the ancient world, Stonehenge raises more questions than answers.

So, when you visit, be ready to go home with more mysteries.

However, the views are amazing, and with proper planning, you can even touch and take photos of beautiful sunsets in the stone circle.

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