AMH and I were up and out the door at 3am to start the 2 1/2 hour drive from Port Talbot, Wales to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England to make our 6am tour time. You might be wondering why we had to be at Stonehenge so early. Well...we had private access to the stone circle! 

Through English Heritage we secured a timed private access to Stonehenge. This is different that the regular tour you can book on their site and means it is a little more expensive. The regular visit is £15.50 per person, and the private stone access is £31.80 per person. But I promise it is worth every additional penny, or pound, as it were. To book the private access you fill out a form, pay over the phone and receive an email confirmation. It is this email confirmation that you show to the staff on site and they will direct you to the waiting area for the bus to drive you to the stones. The groups to access the stones are restricted to a set number, we only have about 15 other people on our tour, and you have roughly 45 minutes with the stones. 

The only downside to visiting as part of the private stone access is there is no tour guide on site, just security to make sure you do not touch or damage the stones. Lucky for us, we chatted with a security guard who was very knowledgeable about the stones. Also, there are lots of plaques with information (I have included a few photos of them for you to read). 

I figured it was safe to stand under the archway since it has been standing for thousands of years. 

It was a cold and wet morning which resulted in fog all around us. The sun did peak out for a few moments but I preferred the fog. It enhanced the mystery and spookiness of the stones. 

Tell me I am not the only one that can see a face in this stone. 

This is probably the weirdest stone there. See how it looks as if it's wrapped around another stone?

This is why British Heritage had to start making restrictions when visiting the stones. The graffiti and name carving was getting out of hand. You can see rather deep graffiti in the form of peoples names and even some finer graffiti. At the bottom you can just make out the carving of a dagger and axe, carved into the stones during the Bronze Age (2300 BC)

I've added a few circles to where the dagger and axe are. It was the friendly security guard who showed us these. I had no idea they were there and would have probably missed them altogether. 

This stone is one of a few very special stones that make up a smaller inner circle. These are bluestones from Wales, 140 miles away. That's right, the builders of Stonehenge somehow moved these heavy stones over 140 miles! This article provides more information and believes that the Welsh bluestones were erected 400 years before the larger stones, called giant sarsens.

And then I was caught by the hubby taking a selfie with the stones.

So I made him join in on one! 

The giant stone on the ground was actually once standing.

That stone, and the stone that lay on top to make an archway, fell directly on top of "the alter". This was a giant stone embedded into the ground where they believe important people would stand to get attention. So of course, I had to stand on a piece of the roped off alter stone! This is the only part of the inner circle that is roped off. 

The slaughter stone. Don't let the name fool you, there were no sacrifices made here. This stone, set away from the actual circle, was originally standing. It fell some years ago and is so embedded into the ground only the top of the stone is showing. When rain water falls on the stone there is a chemical reaction that turns the water red. Someone along the way dubbed it "the slaughter stone".

See how far away I am? This is the regular access view. I'm telling you, it is so worth getting up early and spending the extra money for the private access. 

This is the most recognized side of Stonehenge. 

Off in the distance you can see the burial mounds. 

This plague states that they chose this site as they wanted to bury their dead within site of Stonehenge. 

You can see that the centre stones are aligned. Actually, the entire structure is aligned with the sun! How on earth were these primitive peoples able to chart the sun with such accuracy? 

Another view from the roped off area. Again, I really think the private access was worth it. 

The heel stone is set away from the circle. It is very special because on the summer solstice the sun rises in alignment with the heel stone, which is perfectly aligned with the circle of stones! I'm still in utter amazement that they were able to figure this all out. Also, I see a funny face in this stone too! 

A few ideas on why Stonehenge was built here. But of course, no one really knows for sure, or how they actually built the circle. 

A last look while walking back to the bus. 

The bus dropping off the next group (that was pretty full, my guess 30-40 people). We got lucky with our small group.  

The Airmen's Cross is the first and last thing to meet you before you enter the Stonehenge visitors centre. Because there is so much flat land surrounding Stonehenge that this space was used as a flying practice area during the first world war. Capt. Loraine and Staff Sergeant Wilson perished in a tragic accident on this site on July 5th, 1912.

A look at the visitor's centre. It was not yet opened when we were there but the bathrooms are outside and always available. Lucky for us the gift shop opened just as were were leaving and we did pick up a few things to bring home including a wool blanket because I was freezing! The damp air chilled me to my bones!

On the drive to and from Stonehenge we saw many tank crossing signs but unfortunately did not encounter any. 

It is such a pretty drive out to Stonehenge and I recommend you do it yourself, as opposed to taking a tour bus. There are so many little towns along the way and a multitude of photo opportunities. I was in love with the yellow fields but I was not giving up my heated seat so I only have pictures from inside the car. 

I will admit that I knew very little about Stonehenge before my visit. It was one of those cool experiences that my husband happened to stumble upon while looking up things to do in the UK. I am so glad we did it and for the next few weeks I plan on watching every documentary I can find! They are fascinating and I am so glad we took part in this experience.