Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle made famous by Spinal Tap, has finally got the visitor centre it deserves. English Heritage has spent £27 million to create a fully immersive visitors centre, bristling with ancient artifacts and sensitively designed to fit into the rolling landscape of Salisbury Plains. Busy roads have been diverted and grassed over to ensure that the experience for visitors is more in keeping with the famous monument’s original purpose.
The centre will be opened just in time for the Winter Solstice, one of the busiest times for the site. Stonehenge currently attracts 900,000 visitors a year, 70% of whom come from abroad. English Heritage is hoping the improvements will help push up visitor numbers.
COMMENT: The old Stonehenge visitor’s centre (with entry/exit and ticketing) had all the ambience of a skanky lay-by. The queues could be miserable. And it made both an awful first and last impression. The visitor’s centre isn’t likely to attract more visitors, but it will make the experience far less awful and might even get visitors to linger and maybe spend a bit more.