Stonehenge Receives a Revamped Visitor CenterBy: Brian Powell - December 17, 2013
One of the most mysterious entities in the universe – besides the existence of both Bigfoot and aliens – has been Stonehenge. For hundreds of years now, people have pondered the meaning behind the ancient stone circle. Did it truly start as an ancient burial ground? Did it serve as a calendar of some sorts, or perhaps as a religious ceremonial center? The world may never know the true answers to these questions, but that will not stop historians, anthropologists, and average folk from trying to solve this mystery.
Luckily for those groups striving to reduce the ambiguity in their lives, English Heritage, the public organization in charge of overseeing Stonehenge, has decided to revamp the ancient monument and build a new visitor center. The center, which will be located 1.5 miles away from the monument itself, cost $44 million to construct. The majority of the money used to build the new center came from donations and profits stemming from Britain’s national lottery.
Unfortunately for the 1 million tourists who visit Stonehenge each year, though, the price of tickets has risen to alleviate the economic impact upon the English Heritage. Tickets, which were once priced at $13, will now cost $23.
The price increase is not without boons, however. The new visitor center will eliminate one of the roads which passes near Stonehenge, eliminating the eye and ear sores of having anachronistic traffic pass by while one is attempting to view a majestic, ancient monument. Not only will the road be replaced with grass, but the surrounding sites, such as the old visitor center, will be demolished to leave the landscape surrounding Stonehenge barren of man-made constructions.
The visitor center itself will house up to 250 never-before-seen prehistoric relics which have been uncovered from many archeological digs over the years. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the new visitor center, though, will be the reconstruction of a Neolithic man’s face, based upon a skull that was excavated from a 5,000 year old grave. Oscar Nilsson, the forensic sculptor responsible for reconstructing the face, commented on the attractiveness of the Neolithic man, stating, “The women here at English Heritage are very fond of him.”
When one visits Stonehenge from here on out, the journey will begin at the visitor center. Once there , visitors can experience a virtual tour of the monument and learn more about the Britons who originally constructed the site. After all is learned at the visitor center, tourists then have the option of taking a shuttle to the site or hiking the 1.5 miles along the ancient processional trail.
Perhaps the best part of the new experience for British visitors, however, is the creation of a cafe which serves tea: “There’s been no exhibition, no opportunities for people to even have a cup of tea,” stated Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage. Now that all qualms against Stonehenge for not offering tea have been allayed, Stonehenge can stand as one of the greatest wonders ever on Earth.